Last March I spent a magical week exploring Iceland, and whilst most of that time was spent gallivanting across the frozen tundra, we did spend time in the city. Reykjavik is a pretty phenomenal city, frequently marred by the “so expensive” groan and just used as a jumping off spot for exploration, it’s so much more than that.
There are ways to do it cheaply (live on hotdogs, avoid $22 white russians) but mostly just wander around taking in the sights, there’s a lot to see.
Around the City
Down by the Water
The View from the top of Hallgrímskirkja
As evidenced by this gratuitous amount of photos, the view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja (a cathedral in the centre of Reykajavik) is a truly magnificent. Providing 360 views of all of Reykjavik and the surrounding mountains all for $9 lift fee to the top.
The Hallgrímskirkja itself (inside and outside) is equally as incredible. The outside is designed to be reminiscent of the basalt columns seen naturally all over Iceland, and inside the pipe organ is made up of over 5000 pipes. We were lucky enough to be inside as the organist started playing (including his torturous warm up, I can’t imagine the prep it takes to get going on this thing!)
Eating and Drinking in Reykjavik
Breakfast is major priority of mine, and Reykjavik has some really great options. Pictured top to bottom: Grai Kotturinn, Prikid and Sandholt Bakery.
Reykjavik has some amazing beer options, beer was illegal until 1989 so they’ve been making up for lost time. If beer is not your thing, the White Russians (there are 25 options) at Bar Lebowski are delicious if pricey. Pictured top to bottom: Skuli Craft Bar: amazing selection of local and Scandinavian beer, a White Russian at Bar Lebowski, Mikkeller Beer at Mikkeller and Friends. Not pictured, Micro Bar – again, great local beer selection.
Your cheapest option for a quick meal is Baejarins Beztu Pylsur (pictured right above) – the infamous Icelandic hotdog, it’s an institution and it’s actually delicious and well worth the wait (there’s usually a line – we fortunately did not have to wait. If you’re feeling splashy Fiskmarket (pictured above) is an amazing option (our three course meal + drinks ran about $100 each) and was divine, and don’t worry if you don’t like fish (I do not) there were plenty of fish alternatives (the lamb!!).
Mid-price options that were also excellent was the gastro-pub Saemundur- at Kex Hostel and Nora Magasin (get the lamb burger!).
Sweet tooth options are plentiful, especially if you love rhubarb. The candy store Vinberid has a huge supply of local chocolate. rhubarb candies and lots of salted licorice (a local speciality). The crepes at Eldur are a lovely late night treat (with vegan options) and the apple crumble at super adorable and kitsch spot Café Babulu was the best apple crumble I have ever had, bar none.
Reykjavik is a marvelous city worth exploring some more, even if you do have to live on hotdogs…