Iceland Mag

11 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Local Recommendations

What to see, do, drink, eat & shop in Reykjavík

By Jón Kaldal

  • Aftur store Unique womenswear made from recycled clothing with high-quality craftsmanship.

We at Iceland Magazine are always on the lookout for the best places to visit in Iceland, whether it's to shop, play, eat & drink or take a leisurely stroll around an interesting neighborhood. This list of things to do in Reykjavík is catered for locals and visitors alike.

Dip into a geothermal pool
The many public geothermal swimming pools of the capital area are one of the most appealing part of living in or visiting Reykjavík. They are, of course, great during the warmer months, but it’s even better to dip into a hot outdoor pool in the middle of a crazy winter blizzard.

Norræna húsið, nordic house

For a quiet moment
The beautiful Nordic House was designed by the brilliant Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Inside you’ll find a great little bistro and library bathed in a fantastic natural light. The building is located next to the University of Iceland. A great pit-stop for a quite moment. Photo/Stefán Karlsson

 

Watching football
Ölver Sports Bar is a great place to watch Champions League or English Premier League football matches live. It’s probably as close as you can get to be in a football stadium without being there, with many in the fervent crowd dressed in their team's kit. This honest and unpretentious bar is located on the ground floor of a small shopping mall in Laugardalur valley, within 10 minutes by car from downtown Reykjavík. 

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The best view of the capital
Built on top of Skólavörðuholt hill, Hallgrímskirkja church is Reykjavík’s most prominent landmark towering 75 meters (244 feet) over the city's old centre. On top, you have an observation tower, which probably offers the best view of the capital. The church dome is blessed with great acoustics and Iceland’s largest organ. On New Year’s Eve, the square in front of the church is the place to visit if fireworks are your thing. The locals will go berserk with the pyrotechnics. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

 

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Architecture and cats sightseeing
Maybe not quite like the famous Japanese cat island Tashirojima, but the old residential neighborhoods around Hallgrímskirkja church in downtown Reykjavík are packed with cats. These are no stray cats, but well-kept pets that are allowed to roam free. The architecture in the area defines the character of the capital. Photo/Jón Kaldal

 

For body & soul
If you want to pump some iron, hit the treadmill, join a fast paced Tabata session or sweat it out in hot yoga, when you are in Reykjavík, World Class has it all. The gym and health club has several branches. The flagship is in Laugardalur valley where it shares location with Iceland’s largest swimming pool, which actually is also a great destination on its own.

Kex hostel

Eat & drink at Kex Hostel
There is always something happening at Kex Hostel’s great restaurant and bar. They have their version of Oktoberfest, there is an annual four-day Beer Festival in March, in the spring sheep farmers from all over the country and international shearing grand masters compete for the Golden Shears and Kex is the must fun place to be during Iceland Airwaves in November when Seattle’s KEXP radio station hosts a series of live concerts. The food is solid and the selection of beer is excellent. And they have live jazz every Tuesday.

 

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For her
If you are a girl, you should visit Aftur. And if you are a guy that has a girl back home, you should also visit Aftur. You will find something that makes her happy. Local designer Bára Hólmgeirsdóttir is behind this label that creates womenswear from recycled clothing with high-quality craftsmanship. The small Laugavegur street store also has great range of products from other designers, local and international.

 

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For him
Húrra on Hverfisgata street is Reykjavík’s premier downtown menswear store. The owners are two dudes and although being young they are very well versed in men’s fashion. Húrra has an ambitious sneaker selection, and brands such as Edwin from Japan and Libertine-Libertine from Denmark.

 

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The perfect viewpoint
At the far end of the old Reykavík harbor area “Þúfan” or The Hillock sculpture is a perfect locale for viewing the capital and the surrounding mountains. The sculpture is a fantastic piece of work by artist Ólöf Nordal. It is eight metres (26 feet) high and resembles a grass-clad small hillock with a narrow stone path winding its way to the top. The area is called Grandi and is Reykjavík’s main fishing port, where boats have been bringing their catch to shore for decades and a dry dock, where big ships are still being repaired. More recently there have also sprung up small restaurants, specialty stores and museums in the area making it a favorite by locals and visitors. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

 

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