Reykjavík, the most densely populated location in all of Iceland, offers up an urban flair with beautiful light-haired people taking to the streets, wonderful museums, waterfront landscapes and delicious food. We enjoyed our time in the city, but to be honest, we came to connect with nature and after a while, the city felt claustrophobic and flooded our ears with urban noise. Our next post will divulge how we enjoyed a perfect mix of city life and country landscapes. Stay tuned!
For the few days we did spend in the city, we certainly indulged in some sweet cafés, fabulous museum exhibits, lovely fish and chips, and enjoyed people watching at the local skate park.
C is For Cookie – A sweet little café that serves up a killer Swiss Mocha and a beautiful cappuccino, with friendly service, a cozy atmosphere, crayons with awesome Icelandic names and a quirky playground of sorts that entertained our children for a while in the warmth of the sun.
Laundromat Café – A funky, eclectic joint that serves up smoothies, muesli, burgers and a slew of other mealtime treats. A great place to sit outside and people watch, or move inside to browse their rainbow display of books. Friendly service, decent food at a reasonable price and a very pleasant atmosphere, plus if you do have a load of laundry, throw it in downstairs while you enjoy a nice cup of coffee or a meal.
Reykjavík Fish and Chips – Our entire family truly enjoyed our early dinner of sweet potato and classic fries served in small little pots, along with some fresh fish. With a variety of homemade sauces for dipping, the whole family was happy.
Uno – A random dinner choice in the middle of town with a delicious result, though the prices were rather steep. Overall, a nice place to dine, but careful with your wallet! Yikes!
We visited the Reykjavík Museum of Photography to see the work of RAX or (Ragnar Axelsson) and were thrilled with its free entry, captivated by the magnificently huge photographs that jumped off the canvas and a movie that profiled the life and work of this truly talented photographer. This museum was certainly worth the visit and left us longing to make some sizable purchases. To learn more about Ragnar and his life work, we found this short film. If you came to Iceland to take some photos, his work is sure to inspire.
Volcano House – Is essentially a movie house with a small display of various volcanic rocks and ash. The two short films shown profiled the devastating 1973 volcano eruption on the Westman Islands and the second film included details of the 2010 explosion of Eyjafjallajökull. Both films showed how destructive volcanoes on the island can be for those who reside in close contact and how determined the Icelandic people are to restore their land.
Hallgrimskirkja – The Lutheran church in Reykjavík, which opened its doors in 1986. Is a striking structure (that our son lovingly called the “rocket ship”) which offers a beautiful view of Reykjavík for six euros, those interested can take the lift to the top of the building, climb a set of stairs and enjoy an aerial view of the city.
Athena Guesthouse – Located on a weathered street, the Athena Guesthouse is a modest accommodation, which shares four rooms with random guests. We had the privilege of meeting an aunt and niece from Israel and Europe and a sweet, well-traveled couple from Canada. The owner/manager is as chill and laid-back as humanly possible and restored our faith in humanity. The house worked for us, with a communal kitchen, a well – stocked fridge for making your own breakfasts, and within walking distance from the city center.
Laxnes Hotel – The reviews were quite favorable, but our impression was just ordinary. Our room was certainly spacious for our family of four and we appreciated the fact that it was indeed clean, but the breakfast could have been skipped all together, (there is however, a lovely bakery not far up the road that we can highly recommend) and the location of the hotel was essentially a bit out-of-the-way. Would we stay there again, probably not, but overall it met our rooming needs.
The Blue Lagoon
Yes, it certainly is expensive and a tourist destination, but to visit Iceland and not make a trip to the Blue Lagoon, feels like visiting Florida and not going to the beach. You have to go! The atmosphere is essentially like nothing we have ever experienced and our children enjoyed the warm soak with pretty cool views. It was the perfect way to get into the flow of Iceland, as this was our first destination to visit once our plane landed. A travel tip that saved us the frustration of waiting in a long line and paying a touch extra was to buy our tickets online in advance. We simply printed the receipt, showed the woman at the front door and moved forward to get our wristbands and proceed with our afternoon of relaxation. We also elected to bring our own towels and slippers to save some additional cash.
Oh, and for all those prude Americans, you will need to shower naked (oh the audacity) yep, that means without your bathing suit before entering the lagoon. No worries, you can slip back into your suit before enjoying the warmth.
Reykjavík might be hard to spell, but is certainly easy to enjoy. Our overall impression of Reykjavík was quite favorable, but again, Iceland is for the love of the land, so don’t stay too long in the city, get out and explore this remarkable country.