8 things you need to see and do in Reykjavík
The majority of foreign travellers that visit Iceland will spend some time in the country’s capital, Reykjavík. The city has much to offer, but here’s how you experience Reykjavík like a local.
1. Grandi harbour area
There is much to see and do at Grandi and one can easily spend the whole day strolling around the area. In the span of a year, Grandi has transformed into the ultimate food paradise offering a variety of new and exciting eating-out options and delicatessen shops.
Explore and enjoy!
2. A Viking excursion on sea
Reykjavík Viking Adventure brings guests on sailing tours around the Faxaflói bay on a Viking longboat. The tours are ideal for families with children.
During the tours, guides inform passengers on Iceland’s Viking history, old navigation techniques, and, if you are lucky, you’ll be able to spot some puffins on Engey island. The tours leave daily at 9.30 am, 11.30 am, 1.30 pm and 3.30 pm.
3. Cycling tour of Elliðaárdalur valley
The lush Elliaðaárdalur valley is best described as an urban oasis. A small river flows through the valley, which has been part of the city’s reforestation programme for decades. Cycling, hiking and horse-riding tracks run through the area.
We recommend you rent a bike, pack a lunch and ride past Nauthólsvík geothermal beach, Fossvogsdalur and all the way upp Elliðaárdalur to Árbæjarlaug swimming pool. It’s the most wonderful daytrip and will bring you through three of the city’s most popular recreational areas.
4. Kjarvalsstaðir museum
Kjarvalsstaðir Museum is located in a beautiful modern building in the heart of Klambratún Park. The museum maintains continuous exhibits from its collection of works by influential Icelandic painter Jóhannes Kjarval. The exhibitions at Kjarvalsstaðir focus mainly on paintings and sculptures of the established masters of modern art.
The building also includes a wonderful boutique, a fantastic café (with a gorgeous outdoor area open in summer) and a children’s space created by design studio Vík Prjónsdóttir.
Open: 10 am – 5 pm
5. Frú Lauga’s Farmers Market
Frú Lauga’s Farmers Market in Laugarlækur, Reykjavík, was founded in 2009 by husband and wife, Arnar Bjarnason and Rakel Halldórsdóttir. The beautiful, little shop carries a wide range of local produce, meat, and dairy products as well as selected products from abroad, including olive oil, chocolate, and Italian pasta.
6. The Nordic House
The Nordic House is a culture house operated by the Nordic Council of Ministries and is located in Vatnsmýri moorland. The building was designed in 1968 by acclaimed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and is the only building in Iceland designed by an internationally acclaimed architect. The centre hosts a vast number of cultural events every year. Inside one will find a library, a restaurant, a small cinema and a gallery.
The surrounding Vatnsmýrin moorland was designated a Nature Conservation area in 1981 and covers an area around 37,026 square metres (398,540 sq ft) in size. 83 species of vascular plants have been documented in the area.
Kiosk is a designer collective run by a group of young, local, aspiring fashion designers. The boutique is very popular among Reykjavik’s fashionistas and has been featured in numerous international fashion magazines. The wonderful designs are well worth the splurge and make for beautiful souvenirs to bring back home from your travels.
8. Mt Esja
Mount Esja (914 m/2999 feet), most often referred to as Esjan which translates directly to ‘The Esja’, is a volcanic mountain range situated on the south-west of Iceland and visible from most parts of Reykjavík.
Esja is comprised of basalt and tuff and the oldest part of the mountain range is around 3.2 million years old. There are many beautiful hiking trails up and around the mountain.
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