Reykjavik City GuideAnne Christine Persson, Wednesday 20 September 2017
If you are planning a weekend getaway to the Icelandic capital, this Reykavik city guide is what you need. I have visited several times and although it is a small city, I love the atmosphere and the people. You will most likely meet the locals and spot them several during your stay. It has a village vibe but with an Icelandic sophistication. A weekend is ample time to explore the city, but just an hour outside the city there is plenty to see. So perhaps stay a few more days. And the great thing for the Scandinavians, Icelandair takes you there direct in just three hours.
Where to stay
This newly opened combination of a hotel/hostel is quite unique. And it is probably the most fun place to spend the night. The rooms are colourful with a modern Icelandic feel with views to the bay. I have only spent the night in one of the hotel rooms, but the dormitories look equally chic and not very hostel like. The bathrooms are Instagram friendly with pink fixtures. In the lobby, you will find a great café and a lovely restaurant and there is always a lively atmosphere. The hotel offers yoga classes, a soundproof karaoke bar and a hot tub on the roof top. Hringbraut 121
Canopy by Hilton
The hotel is newly opened and it is a new boutique concept from the Hilton corporation. The rooms are big and comfy with amazing beds, where you will sleep like a baby. And beware – they leave an entire bar of chocolate, not just a mint on your pillow. There is café with great coffee in the lobby and happy hour every evening at 18.00 with a local cocktail and snack. Borrow one of the hotel’s bicycles and explore the city. Smiðjustígur 4
Where to eat
Located in the harbour of the Reykjavik in an old baiting house is the cosy restaurant, Coocoo’s Nest. The menu/theme changes according to different days of the week and on the weekends come for a late brunch with pancakes or eggs benedict. The décor with wooden walls and furniture is Nordic minimalism with an artsy, vintage twist. Grandagardur 23
Hands down the best meal in the city. And also the most simple. They do not take reservation and the place is an institution, so you come and stand in line with tourists and locals alike. You order your food and are seated at communal long tables. Order the lobster soup, it is divine and the lobster is fresh. If you feel adventurous, order a piece of whale meat. When in Rome… You end up chatting with the people sitting next to you at the table. We met someone who were back for the third night in a row. Geirsgata 8
This is the classic French bistro with an Icelandic twist. Come for the steak or ‘the catch of the day’, which has literally just been caught outside of Reykjavik the same day. The evening vibe is busy and fun, and you are bound to run into someone you just met in the street earlier the same day. It is a small city and the Icelandic are open and friendly people. Thórsgata 1
For coffee, this is the place to go. I do not drink coffee, but my Icelandic friend said that this is the best coffee in the city. However, tear drinkers fear not; their tea is equally warm, tasty and ideal to warm you up after an afternoon of Reykjavik exploration. Kárastígur 1
If you are looking for the New Nordic Cuisine experience, Dill is just the right place. Nordic haute cuisine at its best. Changing set menus of 5-7 courses of intriguing Icelandic flavours. On the top floor in the same building you can find a (Danish) Mikkeller Beer Bar. Hverfisgata 12
Where to shop
No trip to Iceland without gearing up in the Icelandic brand 66 North. Here you will find the right outfit for whatever kinds of outdoor activities you are going for in Iceland. Warm parkas, wind- and waterproof Goretex jackets and woollen underwear. They have a couple of flagship stores in the city, but the biggest is located on Laugavegur in the 101 district of Reykjavik. Laugavegur 17
One of the best multi-brand stores in Reykjavik and they sell many of the best Danish fashion brands. Also, a great selection of jewellery and sneakers. There are actually two stores close to each other, one with womenswear and another with menswear.
There are several locations of this shop around the city and they feature their own brand Geysir along a couple of international fashion brands. Wool sweaters and blankets are the best investment.
The best flea market in Reykjavik. It is located in a large industrial warehouse and you can find anything from Icelandic wool sweaters to knick knacks. It is only open on the weekends and with all markets, make sure to go early to avoid crowds. Tryggvagötu 19
What to see
The Marshall House
In an old herring factory, this multi-functional art building located in the harbour features some of the best art. A chic restaurant in the lobby and higher up in the building are galleries and a museum. Be sure to visit the two floors of the studio of the renowned Icelandic/Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. Grandagarður 20
The modern opera house is located right by the harbour with the stunning backdrop of the bay and the mountains. Designed by the Danish architect Henning Larsen in collaboration with Olafur Eliasson. The building itself is beautiful and the main attraction and at night time it lights up as a rainbow in the dark night. Asturbakki 2
The impressive architectural structure is for most people the trademark of the city. The church is located atop a hill and is spotted from faraway. Take the elevator (or walk) to the top of the church tower for an astonishing view of the city. On windy days make sure to hold on tight. Hallgrímstorg 1
This is the former home and studio of the Icelandic sculptor Ásmundar Sveinsson, who designed and constructed the building himself. The builing in itself is quite impressive, inspired by Egyptian pyramids and Middle Eastern mosques. The collection of sculptures in- and outside the building is worth seeing as well. Sigtun, 105
When to go:
the weather in Reykjavik is ever changing with snow, sun, rain and hail, which is part of the charm. So come anytime. However, if you want to experience the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, come from late September to March.
How to get there:
Icelandair has direct flights from the Scandinavian countries to Heklavik Airport, which is 45 minutes outside Reykjavik.
the people, the nature and the Northern lights.