SD › Reykjavik Travel Guide
Updated: January 21, 2021
The 84 best hotels, restaurants, shops, craft breweries, bars, cafes, museums, markets, tours, neighborhoods, and things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland.
1. Apotek Hotel • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$$
Located in the heart of Reykjavik, this hotel is nestled inside one of the city’s oldest historic buildings, the Reykjavikurapótek (the city’s main pharmacy). The decor blends original features (elegant marble staircase, curved walls) with contemporary neutral tones and clean lines. In keeping with the building’s history, resident “pharmacists” mix medicinal-themed cocktails at the hotel bar. • +354 512 9000
2. 101 Hotel • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$$
Unassuming from the outside, this hotel doubles as a contemporary art gallery, while the cozy lounge and library with an open fireplace bring to mind a ski chalet. The open-plan, immaculately appointed guest rooms are all slate-greys, whites, and volcanic blacks, while the basement spa features a geothermally heated jacuzzi. Terrific Icelandic/European dining onsite, complete with killer cocktails. • +354 580 0101
3. Hotel Óðinsvé • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$$
Steps away from Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s nightlife and shopping street, this stylish, midrange option puts many of the city’s main attractions right on your doorstep. Minimalist rooms blend early 19th-century architecture and slate-grey and charcoal decor, decorated with striking black-and-white landscape photos of Iceland. The hotel’s award-winning bistro, Snaps, serves French-inspired dishes and excellent cocktails. • +354 511 6200
4. Hotel Borg • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$
Near the Icelandic Parliament, Iceland’s oldest luxury hotel blends its 1930s Art Deco ambiance with contemporary, monochromatic rooms – all with custom-made furnishings, Bang & Olufsen TVs, and atmospheric photos of Reykjavik a century ago. There’s a good spa and relaxation annex, and the much-lauded restaurant serves excellent hot and cold buffet breakfasts, as well as refined Icelandic dishes. • +354 551 1440
5. Canopy by Hilton • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$$
Spread across six buildings of a former furniture factory a few minutes’ walk from lively Laugavegur street, the rooms here are a nod to Icelandic landscapes; blues and volcanic greys livened up with contemporary pieces by local artists. There’s an onsite library specializing in Icelandic literature, and the Geiri Smart restaurant pairs Icelandic fish and locally-farmed dry-aged meat with an impressive list of cold climate wine. The Canopy Central Bistro & Bar holds nightly tastings of local beers, spirits, and snacks. • +354 528 7000
6. Kvosin Downtown Hotel • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$
Comprising suites that range from Junior to Valkyrie, Kvosin is a 19th-century building given a 21st-century facelift by local designers. The apartments – the city’s largest – exude Scandinavian minimalism, livened up by documentary-style photos of Reykjavik life. The 24-hour service is excellent and the adjacent Klaustur bar is among Reykjavik’s best. The city’s best restaurants, plus many attractions, are right nearby. • +354 571 4460
7. Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel • Hlídar • $$$
A warm haven to retreat to after chasing the northern lights, rooms here are both stylish and snug, with four-poster beds and natural sheepskin and cowhide strewn throughout. There’s an emphasis on sustainability, from local and organic produce at the onsite restaurant to eco-friendly toiletries, plus killer views of Esja Mountain from half the rooms. Main attractions are within a 20-minute walk (or short bicycle ride) from the hotel. • +354 519 7300
8. Hlemmur Square Hotel and Hostel • Hlídar • $$$$/$
This hip urban hotel opposite the bus station is two-in-one: a boutique hotel of slick, minimalist rooms with welcome crimson and orange accents and contemporary art, and a hostel with dorms and simple private rooms. There’s a terrific cocktail and craft beer bar onsite, with more bars and dining options found along Laugavegur street, a few minutes’ walk away. • +354 415 1600
9. Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$
Right in the heart of downtown Reykjavik, this converted high-end department store is all browns and muted oranges inside, with well-appointed, spacious rooms popular with business travelers. An excellent spa, pool and award-winning chef are among the perks here. Konsulat is a short walk from the harbor, Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik Art Museum, and a plethora of restaurants and bars. • +354 514 6800
10. Fiskmarkaðurinn • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$$
‘Fish Market’ does everything right. The menu is succinct and well-executed, from lumpfish roe with fermented potatoes and bitter-lemon-glazed Arctic char to elaborate sushi rolls and tempura. The creative desserts hit the spot, the setting is stylish yet understated, the service is friendly and efficient, and the cocktails are terrific. • +354 758 8877
11. Fiskfélagið • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$$
Fish is the star at ‘Fish Company’, with each dish given the global treatment: Mexican-style tuna seared with chipotle, Icelandic gravlax with a dash of Brennivin firewater, Fijian-style coconut lobster soup. Dine on the sunny outdoor terrace or inside the cozy stone-and-timber dining room. • +354 552 5300
12. Matur og Drykkur • Old Harbour • $$
Attached to the Saga Museum, this smart bistro serves inventive takes on traditional Icelandic recipes. Expect the likes of lamb with smoked almonds, salt cod with rutabaga mash, and skyr (Icelandic yogurt) with caramel and Arctic thyme biscuit. Book ahead for dinner. • +354 571 8877
13. Apotek • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$
Beautiful Icelandic dishes inside the hotel of the same name. Choose between a spread of small plates, from lamb tartar and puffin to slow-cooked sea trout, or go for a more substantial rack of lamb or plaice with samphire. The artisan cocktail list is divided into ‘stimulant’, ‘painkiller’ and ‘tranquiliser’ categories. • +354 551 0011
14. Grillmarkaðurinn • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$
All volcanic rock, dark wood and glass, the Grill Market particularly excels at meat and seafood dishes, cooked over the coals of their custom-made grill. Most ingredients are sourced from local farmers and there are stellar cocktails to boot. • +354 571 7777
15. Dill • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$$
Iceland’s sole Michelin-starred restaurant, Dill embraces ‘New Nordic’ cuisine and takes Icelandic ingredients to new heights. Choose between a 5 and 7-course tasting menu, each consisting of delicate, beautifully put-together dishes. Sit at the bar overlooking the open kitchen or opt for a candlelit table. Reservations essential. • +354 552 1522
16. Sumac Grill + Drinks • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$
Icelandic seasonal ingredients meet Lebanese and Moroccan spices and cooking techniques at Sumac. Perch at the counter of the open kitchen and watch the chefs at work or get assorted meze – harissa chicken wings, grilled eggplant with pomegranate, deep-fried cod cheeks with sumac aioli – for the whole table. • +354 537 9900
17. Kol Restaurant • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$
Icelandic comfort food with an international twist, Kol does wonderful things with largely local ingredients. Standout dishes include lamb sirloin with honey-pickled rutabaga, Icelandic scallops with dill mayo and beef tenderloin with black garlic. Splurge on the tasting menu and don’t miss the terrific cocktails • +354 517 7474
18. Messinn • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$
Pan-fried catch of the day, accompanied by buttery potatoes and salad, is the specialty at this casual, homey restaurant. Particularly popular at lunchtime. • +354 546 0095
19. ROK • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$
Hip yet unpretentious, ROK encourages communal dining with its emphasis on small plates for sharing. These range from traditional Icelandic fish pie and cured reindeer with blue cheese to spicy mushroom burgers with jalapeno mayo. The tasting menus are worth the splurge and it’s champagne happy hour from 4 to 7pm daily. • +354 544 4443
20. Snaps Bistro • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$
Wildly popular with locals, this affordable bistro is Iceland meets France. Expect steak bearnaise with French fries and seafood bouillabaisse. Lunch specials are a bargain and the glassed-in porch is a top spot for brunch. Reserve ahead. • +354 511 6677
21. Geysir • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Icelandic woolen goodies and more. Come here for traditional Icelandic sweaters and blankets, as well as more contemporary designs. Also sells men’s and women’s shoes and accessories. • +354 519 6030
22. Orrifinn • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Unique, Iceland-themed jewelry. Inspired by Iceland’s landscape and history, this jeweler specializes in delicate pendants and rings involving axes, keys, serpents, anchors, and more. • +354 789 7616
23. 12 Tónar • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Independent record store. Come to this two-story shop and independent record label for a complimentary espresso, a chat with local musicians, and a browse through stacks of Icelandic and international vinyl. • +354 511 5656
24. 66° North • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
Quality outdoor gear. With three stores scattered around downtown Reykjavik, 66º North has been designing sporty outerwear since 1926. Parkas, windbreakers, hiking pants, fleeces, and more.
25. Aftur • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Eco-aware local designer. Sleek, urban designer apparel for men and women, with an emphasis on recycling and upcycling. Current owner also handpicks clothing and accessories by labels that share her aesthetic. • +354 775 1000
26. Mál og Menning • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Terrific independent bookshop. Three-story Icelandic institution, with an excellent selection of English-language books on Iceland’s history, nature, and culture. Also international titles covering all major genres. • +354 580 5000
27. Smekkleysa • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Legendary record store and infamous record label. “Bad Taste” is all about punk rock and other alternative music – singer Bjork is one of the label’s founders. Music aside, Smekkleysa also sells poetry, novels, and offbeat greetings cards. • +354 551 3730
28. Rammagerdin • Downtown/101/Miðborg
One of the city’s best souvenir shops. Plenty of woolen goods, T-shirts with unique designs, made from recycled materials, Iceland-inspired lava jewelry, lava salt, and more. Several branches around the city.
29. Hrim • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Creative Scandinavian design store. This is mostly funky, beautifully made kitchenware, from cheese boards to wine glasses. Also some nifty gifts, such as raven-shaped lamps. • +354 553 3003
30. Ófeigur Björnsson • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
Bespoke gold- and silverwork. Master craftsman Björnsson designs unique silver and gold jewellery inset with lava and other natural material. His wife is a dressmaker and you can find her creations and accessories here as well. • +354 551 1161
Reykjavik Craft Beer
31. Skúli Craft Bar • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
Arguably Iceland’s classiest and best craft beer bar, with up to 14 local brews on tap, mostly from the award-winning Borg brewery. Come during happy hour (2-7pm) to take advantage of the cheaper prices. Brews to try include the experimental Leifur, Úlfur IPA, and Garún (imperial stout). • +354 519 6455
32. MicroBar • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
One of the oldest craft beer bars in Iceland, MicroBar has ten local draughts on tap from the Gæðingur brewery in north Iceland, as well as a plethora of bottled beers from all over the world. Darker, stronger brews are best here. Can’t make up your mind? Try the beer flight. • +354 865 8389
33. Mikkeler & Friends • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Inside one of the oldest buildings in downtown Reykjavik, the colorful interior of this Danish craft beer pub was designed by a famous film set designer and features a theatrical/circus theme. There are 20 rotating beers on tap, from Mikkeler’s own to Icelandic craft brews. Great pizzeria below. • +354 437 0203
34. Kaldi Bar • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Popular with students and arty types, Kaldi usually has four beers on tap from Kaldi Brewery – Iceland’s original microbrewery. The beers are brewed using the centuries-old Czech method; the unfiltered Kaldi brew is a local favorite. Light pub food served. • +354 581 2200
35. Icelandic Craft Bar • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
This super-central bar focuses exclusively on Icelandic brews, with six on tap and 14 bottled beers from Börg, Einstök, Víking, and the rarer Austri from east Iceland. If you’re hungry, you can bring food here from Icelandic Street Food, a sister business several doors down. Occasional live music in the basement. • +354 691 3350
36. Bryggjan Brugghús • Old Harbour
This independent brewery by the harbor takes its beers seriously. There’s a daily “beer academy” where you can learn all about their craft, and 30-minute beer tours, complete with flights of their top brews. Don’t miss the Paint It Black stout, the fruity yet bitter IPA or the spiced Mashing Pumpkins red ale. There’s a bistro here as well. • +354 456 4040
37. Slippbarinn • Old Harbour
Iceland’s first cocktail bar inside the Hotel Reykjavik Marina has a frequently changing cocktail menu that includes both traditional favorites and original creations, such as the mezcal- and vermouth-infused Smokin’ Aces and 21st Century, with house-made birch and cacao liqueur. Occasional live jazz. • +354 560 8080
38. Kolabrautin • Old Harbour
Apart from the stellar location overlooking the harbor at the top of the Harpa Concert Hall, multi-level Kolabrautin is particularly good for exotic cocktails. The attached restaurant is terrific as well, with a short but sweet menu of Icelandic-Italian fusion dishes. • +354 519 9700
39. Aldamót • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
Inside Kvosin Downtown Hotel, this classy establishment takes the study of hops, wine and spirits seriously. Particularly renowned for its craft martinis that use fresh fruit and herbs, though there are also rotating Icelandic craft brews on tap, as well as carefully selected wines. • +354 571 4421
40. Kaffibarinn • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Pass through the door decorated with a London Underground sign to enter one of the city’s hippest bars, part-owned by Damon from the band Blur. The candlelit interior, some of the longest happy hours in Reykjavik (3-8pm), on-point DJs, and a great selection of beers, shots, and more make this a good place for a drink anytime. • +354 551 1588
41. DRINX Bar • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Attached to KEX Hostel, this popular bar inside a former cookie factory is a favorite nightspot for locals and visitor alike. Excellent drink selection; from local lagers, craft beers, and ales to carefully selected wines. The attached gastropub serves Icelandic cuisine with emphasis on local and foraged ingredients. Great sea views. • +354 561 6060
42. Bar Ananas • Downtown/101/Miðborg
This colorful, Hawaiian-themed beach bar in the heart of Reykjavik is all about tropical cocktails. There’s a tiny dance floor, as well, for those who want to shake it to reggae and dub beats. • +354 774 4404
Reykjavik Coffee Shops and Bakeries
43. Reykjavik Roasters • Downtown/101/Miðborg
This minimalist coffee shop imports its Fair Trade beans directly from Nicaragua and Colombia and roasts them onsite. Great pastries, too. Three downtown locations.
44. Kaffitár • Downtown/101/Miðborg
This Icelandic coffee roaster has five branches around the city and is known for its ecological practices and specialty coffees from around the world. Freshly made cakes and pastries also. Great place to sit with a laptop.
45. Kaffi Vinyl • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Lively café with occasional live music, open daily. Pair your coffee with delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes. • +354 537 1332
46. Mokka Kaffi • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Reykjavik’s original coffee shop. The Art Deco decor hasn’t changed much since the 1950s, and the coffee is good and strong. • +354 552 1174
47. Brauð & Co • Downtown/101/Miðborg
This colorful, mural-covered bakery is hard to miss. Come here for some of the city’s best, freshly-baked bread and scrumptious pastries. • +354 456 7777
48. Café Haiti • Old Harbour
The Haitian owner imports her beans from the island and roasts and grinds them onsite. Don’t miss out on the cakes, either. • +354 588 8484
49. Te og Kaffi Micro Roast • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
This coffee roastery specializes in numerous ways of coffee brewing and favors small batch coffees. Numerous gourmet teas also. • +354 527 2883
50. Bakari Sandholt • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Arguably the most popular bakery in the city. Fresh croissants, pastries, baguettes, and sandwiches are all on offer here, as well as beautiful, elaborate cakes. • +354 551 3524
Reykjavik Tours and Things to Do
51. Soak in the Blue Lagoon
Iceland’s most famous thermal springs. Incredibly popular, the steaming teal waters of Blue Lagoon fill up with visitors who paint themselves with the mineral-rich white mud. The hot springs are an easy day trip from Reykjavik, and you can even go for a soak just before catching your flight home, since it’s right near the airport. Book your slot online well ahead; evenings and early mornings are least crowded.
52. Drive the Golden Circle
Geysers, waterfalls, and ancient sites. This driving trip from Reykjavik can easily be done in a day, stopping at three key attractions, all of them within 100km o the city. Geysir is a powerful spouting hot spring that shoots scalding jets of water into the air at regular intervals. Gullfoss is an impressive waterfall with boardwalks that take you up to the spray, while Þingvellir was the site of Alþingi, the world’s first democratic parliament, established by the Vikings.
53. Go Whale-Watching and Puffin-Spotting
Wildlife-spotting boat tours. Departing from the Old Harbour, numerous boat companies run whale and puffin-watching tours year-round. There are more departures during the summer months, when whale sightings are more common. Recommended companies include Reykjavik Sailors and Whale Safari. Alternatively, sail in the reconstructed Viking longboat, Gaukstad, with Viking Adventure.
54. Go Inside the Volcano
Extinct volcano and magma chamber. Adventure tour outfitter Inside The Volcano runs day trips inside the dormant Þríhnúkagígur volcano, a three-hour ride from the city (complimentary pick-up, or drive yourself). Groups hike for an hour to the crater and then take the elevator 120m down into a 4000-year-old magma chamber that once bubbled with lava. Over-12s only.
55. Go Glacier-walking and Ice Climbing
Year-round adventures on the Sólheimajökull glacier. Icelandic Mountain Guides and Arctic Adventures run popular day trips to the most accessible part of the immense Mýrdalsjökull glacier. You can choose between walking on the glacier, exploring the ice cave under the Katla Volcano, or combining the two. Ice-climbing jaunts run from September to April; participants must be relatively fit.
56. Chase the Northern Lights
Fire in the sky. During the winter months, most outdoor adventure companies offer evening jaunts into the countryside to try and spot the eerie ribbons of the aurora borealis unfurling across the sky. Trips last around 4 hours and depart at 9 or 10pm. If you’re in Reykjavik during the warmer months, you can catch a northern lights simulation at Aurora Reykjavik, near the harbor.
57. Go Snowmobiling
Year-round snowmobile tours. Mountaineers of Iceland run entertaining half-day tours on the Langjökull glacier near the Gullfoss waterfall. You need your own wheels to get out there, but no prior experience is needed for the actual ride through the Icelandic highlands.
58. Visit the Hallgrímskirkja
Reykjavik’s iconic church. Built between 1945 and 1986, this striking white-conctrete church dominates the hilltop in central Reykjavik. Inside, this Lutheran church is rather austere, but worth a peek for its impressive 5275-pipe organ. Take the elevator up the 74.5m-high tower for fantastic panoramic views of the city. • +354 510 1000
59. Tour the Harpa Concert Hall
Award-winning music venue. Its many facets glistening on the waterfront, Harpa combines striking modern architecture with terrific acoustics. It’s home to Icelandic Opera and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and hosts numerous music festivals, such as Dark Music Days, Reykjavik Jazz Festival, and Reykjavik Midsummer Music. Even if you don’t attend a concert, it’s well worth taking one of the daily guided tours of the building. • +354 515 7733
60. Explore the Perlan
Planetarium and exhibitions on Icelandic nature. This dome is both a planetarium and a well-designed exhibition centre. Wonders of Iceland introduces you to the land of ice and fire. Get up close and personal with aquatic creatures in Underwater Journey, wander through a man-made Ice Cave, and wonder at the fiery photos of active volcanoes. Don’t miss 360-degree views of the city from the wrap-around viewing deck. • +354 566 9000
61. Take the kids to the Reykjavik Zoo & Family Park
Iceland’s wild animals next to a play park. A favorite with families, Reykjavik Zoo is a great place to see foxes, seals, and the famous Icelandic ponies. There’s also a petting zoo, and next door is a play park with a mini racetrack, huge trampoline, and fairground rides for younger kids. • +354 411 5900
62. Admire the Sun Voyager
Reykjavik’s iconic sculpture. Head for the waterfront to check out the Sun Voyager, an almost ethereal Viking longboat by artist Jón Gunnar Árnason. The artist’s intention was to convey the promise of undiscovered territory, freedom, and hope. It’s also a favorite spot for sunset-watching, with the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
63. Take the Omnom Chocolate Tour
Reykjavik’s gourmet chocolate factory. Come and find out how Iceland’s bean to bar chocolate is made and taste numerous unusual flavours, from sea salt and licorice and black and burnt barley to drunk raisins and coffee. Tours take place at 2pm on weekdays and last around an hour; book online at least one day in advance. • +354 519 5959
64. Visit Viðey Island
Tiny uninhabited island. Frequent daily boats run to Viðey, 1km north of the cruise ship harbor, where you can wander the footpaths past an abandoned fishing village and the remains of a 13th century monastery. The island is great for birdwatching, as well as modern art: on the northwest coast, Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower shoots a ray of light into tme sky every night between John Lennon’s birthday and the anniversary of his death.
65. Go Horseback Riding
Ride sturdy little Icelandic horses through lava fields. Several stables near Reykjavik offer horseback riding jaunts for all levels of experience, ranging from 90-minute outings to multi-day trips through the countryside. Recommended operators include Laxnes, Islenski Hesturinn, and Reykjavik Riding Centre.
66. Explore Reykjavik on Foot
Themed walking tours. Citywalk runs free history and culture walking tours that takes in the city’s main sights, as well as pub crawls. Super-popular Haunted Walk delves into Icelandic folklore and takes visitors ghost-spotting, while the Reykjavik City Library runs the 90-minute Dark Deeds tour that focuses on crime fiction.
Reykjavik Museums and Art Galleries
67. Reykjavik Art Museum • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
Contemporary Icelandic art. Spread over three locations, this terrific museum presents the best of contemporary Icelandic talent, from installations and abstract sculpture to paintings, photography, and video. The Hafnarhús – a soaring steel and concrete exhibition space – is the most central of the three. • +354 411 6400
68. Whales of Iceland • Old Harbour
The largest whale museum in Europe. Stroll under the lifesize models of the 23 species of whales you’re likely to encounter in Icelandic waters, from bowhead and blue whales to sperm whales and the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. Well worth downloading the museum’s app before you visit. • +354 571 0077
69. Reykjavik Maritime Museum • Old Harbour
Iceland’s seafaring heritage. This former fish-freezing factory celebrates Iceland’s centuries-old relationship with the sea, from Viking voyages to the country’s lifeblood – it’s fishing industry. Learn about piracy and daring coastguard rescues, and check out the dried cod. Occasional guided tours aboard the coastguard ship Óðinn. • +354 411 6340
70. Saga Museum • Old Harbour
Icelandic history come to life. Walk your way through centuries of Iceland’s turbulent history since its first settlement by Norsemen in the 9th century AD. Key moments, including the devastation wreaked by the Black Death, are brought to life by the realisitic-looking tableaux of mannequins – visitors can play dress-up too. • +354 511 1517
71. Icelandic Phallological Museum • Hlídar
Huge collection of penises. This unique, educational museum is home to pickled and petrified manhoods representing all Icelandic land mammals as well as ones further afield – porpoises, polar bears, walruses, blue whales… Look out for silver castings of all members of the Icelandic handball team. • +354 561 6663
72. National Gallery of Iceland • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
The most comprehensive collection of Icelandic art. The light, bright marble galleries display some of the museum’s 10,000 pieces on rotation and there are frequent special exhibitions by the likes of Sigurjón Ólafsson, Jóhannes Kjarval, and other prominent Icelandic artists. • +354 515 9600
73. National Museum • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
The history of Iceland from the earliest Nordic settlement to the present day. This excellent museum is the perfect starting point for getting a handle on the country’s history and culture, from the Making of a Nation exhibition to a wealth of historical artifacts, such as elaborately carved drinking horns, weaponry, and household objects through the ages. • +354 530 2200
74. Einar Jónsson Museum • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Works by Iceland’s first sculptor. Drawing inspiration from Icelandic folklore, Jónsson was particularly renowned for his intense symbolist works, some of which are scattered around central Reykjavik. Look out for Outlaws, The Birth of Psyche, and Fate – and don’t miss the sculpture garden out back. • +354 551 3797
75. Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum • Laugardalur
Abstract sculpture in a seafront location. Reachable via the windswept waterfront path from central Reykjavik, the former studio of sculptor Sigurjón Ólafsson showcases driftwood totem poles, figures cut from rusted tin, carvings and abstract sculpture. • +354 553 2906
76. Árbær Open Air Museum • Outskirts
Historic houses and kid-friendly exhibitions. Some 4km southeast of Reykjavik, this fun museum consists of 20 or so historic buildings from the 1840s onwards, including a turf-roofed church, smithy, boathouses and stables. There’s an exhibition of toys through the ages, family-friendly activities, and a summer café. • +354 411 6304
Food and Flea Markets
77. Kolaportid Flea Market • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
Enormous flea and food market. Held on weekends in a massive industrial building by the waterfront, this market has numerous stalls selling vintage clothing, old toys, and assorted bric-a-brac. The food stalls are a good place to sample such traditional delicacies as rúgbrauð (geothermically baked rye bread) and hákarl (fermented shark). • +354 562 5030
78. Grandi Mathöll • Old Harbour
Pioneering street food hall by the harbor. This refurbished fish factory has been transformed into Reykjavik’s first food hall. Chose between traditional Icelandic cuisine (such as smoked lamb) and Vietnamese and Korean street food, pair smoked seafood with bubbles, and wash it all down with quality coffee, craft beer on tap, and wine. • +354 787 6200
79. Hlemmur Mathöll • Hlídar
Street food hall attached to the bus station. An excellent variety of eateries and food stalls spanning the globe, from L.A.-style fish tacos and Vietnamese banh mi to dishes put together from foraged Icelanic ingredients and pizza. Also branches of the city’s most popular bakeries and coffee shops. • +354 577 6200
The compact city center, comprising a number of historic buildings and remains of the original settlement. Narrow streets here are lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and craft shops, and the Icelandic Parliament, town hall, and several attractions are located within a few minutes’ walk of each other. The city center is flanked by Tjörnin lake to the south, beyond which is Iceland’s National Museum. Adjacent to the harbor, and Downtown/101.
Best stuff: Apotek Hotel • Hotel Borg • Kvosin Downtown Hotel • Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel • Reykjavik Art Museum – Hafnarhús (cutting-edge, contemporary Icelandic art) • Settlement Exhibition (remains of the original settlement brought to life) • Reykjavik Museum of Photography • National Museum (Iceland’s best museum spans the country’s history) • Volcano House (films about Iceland’s most famous volcanoes and hands-on lava exhibit) • Kolaportið Flea Market (bric-a-brac and traditional Icelandic food) • Fiskmarkaðurinn (celebrated seafood restaurant, great sushi and cocktails also) • Fiskfélagið (Icelandic seafood recipes given the global treatment) • Apotek (former pharmacy; small sharing plates, original cocktails) • Lobster Hut (food truck serving lobster sandwiches, salads and soups) • Hornið (Art Deco pizzeria) • Messinn (inexpensive, tasty fish dishes, large portions) • Grillmarkaðurinn (striking decor, innovative dishes from locally sourced ingredients) • Aldamót (bar renowned for martinis; also Icelandic craft beer) • Icelandic Craft Bar (extensive range of Icelandic craft beer) • MicroBar (one of Iceland’s oldest craft beer bars, bottled brews sources worldwide) • Skúli Craft Bar (Reykjavik’s best craft beer bar) • Icelandic Street Food (hearty stews, pancakes and cake) • Te og Kaffi Micro Roast (great coffee, gourmet teas).
81. Old Harbour
Bordering the historic city center to the north is the Old Harbour. Formerly the hub for fisheries and trade, thanks to which Reykjavik grew into a proper city, it’s now the jumping-off point for whale- and puffin-spotting cruises, as well as northern lights cruises. At the east end of the harbor is the visually stunning Harpa concert hall. Bookending the neighborhood to the west is an industrial area that juts into the harbor; several of the warehouses there have been converted into excellent museums, a food hall, and a chocolate factory. Along the waterfront, you’ll also find several good restaurants and cafes.
Best stuff: • Harpa Concert Hall (architectural wonder with terrific acoustics) • Whales of Iceland (kid-friendly museum with life-size models of whales) • reykjavik Maritime Museum (Iceland’s maritime history) • Saga Museum • Aurora Reykjavik (northern lights simulation) • Omnom Chocolate (take a tour and sample gourmet chocolates) • Coocoo’s Nest (popular brunches, good cocktails) • Matur og Drykkur (inventive takes on traditional Icelandic fare) • Grandi Mathöll (gourmet food hall spanning the globe) • Kopar (9-course tasting menu of Icelandic flavours) • Ristorante Caruso (authentic Italian pizza, great harbor views) • Valdís (Reykjavik’s best ice cream) • Bryggjan Brugghús (harborside microbrewery also serving great fish and meat dishes) • Kolabrautin (innovative spins on Icelandic fare) • Café Haiti (coffee from Haiti, delectable cakes) • Slippbarinn (buzzy cocktail bar).
This bustling, easily walkable neighborhood is Reykjavik’s beating heart, and where you’ll find several notable attractions, as well as one of the city’s most famous landmarks – its contemporary hilltop church. Adjacent to Old Reykjavik, Downtown is bisected by Laugavegur street, where many of Reykjavik’s bars, shops, and restaurants are found. Another lively street is colorful Skólavörðstígur, leading from Laugavegur to the Hallgrímkirkja. Numerous accommodations to suit all budgets. National Museum, Old Harbour and other points of interest a short walk away.
Best stuff: 101 Hotel • Hotel Óðinsvé • Canopy Hotel by Hilton • Hallgrímskirkja (striking church, great views from tower) • Culture House (terrific exhibition on Iceland’s artistic and cultural heritage) • National Gallery of Iceland (the best of Iceland’s art) • Einar Jónsson Museum (works by Iceland’s first sculptor) • Sun Voyager (striking waterfront sculpture) • Sumac (upmarket Middle Eastern fare) • Dill (Reykjavik’s Michelin-starred restaurant, tasting menu) • Kol (tasting menus with seasonal ingredients, original cocktails) • Snaps Bistro (super-popular, French-Icelandic dishes) • ROK (creative small plates for sharing, good beer and wine) • Krua Thai (authentic Thai curries and noodle dishes) • Bastard Brew & Food • Gló (airy, largely vegetarian restaurant) • Reykjavik Roasters (terrific coffee, roasted onsite) • Kaffitár (laptop-friendly café) • Brauð & Co (colorful bakery) • Mikkeller and Friends (Danish and Icelandic craft beer, friendly ambience) • Kaldi Bar (terrific own microbrews) • Kaffibarinn (hip candlelit bar, DJs) • DRINX Bar (excellent drink selection, gastropub attached) • Bar Ananas (tropical cocktails, reggae music) • Húrra (live music and DJs most nights).
This largely residential neighborhood is adjacent to the Downtown action and within walking distance of most attractions, yet very quiet, guaranteeing a good night’s rest after a day of sightseeing. It’s also home to a branch of the Reykjavik Art Museum and the offbeat Phallological Museum, as well the city’s public bus hub. South of Hlídar and reachable by bus are Reykjavik’s domestic airport, the Perlan planetarium and exhibition center, as well as a geothermal beach. The hotels dotted around Hlídar fall mostly into the midrange category. There is also a street food hall and several worthwhile restaurants.
Best stuff: Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel • Hlemmur Square Hotel and Hostel • Phallological Museum (manhoods of the animal kingdom) • Reykjavik Art Museum – Kjarvalsstaðir (Icelandic 20th century art) • Perlan (stunning exhibitions on Iceland’s ice and fire) • Nauthólsvik Geothermal Beach • Hlemmur Mathöll (gourmet street food from Vietnam, California and more) • Reykjavik Kitchen (Icelandic comfort food) • Ísbúðin Herdís (some of the city’s best ice cream) • Fine Restaurant (inexpensive, Sichuan-style noodles, dumplings, and other Chinese dishes) • Perlan Restaurant (bistro-style dining with a view) • Roadhouse Restaurant (American-style diner specializing in burgers, ribs and pulled pork) • Reykjavik Roasters (great coffee, popular for brunch).
This largely residential neighborhood with one of the city’s largest green spaces – Laugardalur park – is a good place to stay if you’re traveling with young children. Laugardalur is home to the Reykjavik Zoo & Family Park, plus the botanic gardens, two art museums, and a large, child-friendly, geothermal pool. Downtown attractions are reachable via a long walk or a short bus ride. Just north of Laugardalur is the cruise ship port, as well as the boat dock for Viðey Island and the pedestrian seafront promenade that stretches all the way to the Harpa concert hall. There are several midrange hotels in the neighborhood, as well as a hostel and campsite.
Best stuff: Reykjavik Zoo & Family Park • Reykjavik Art Museum – Asmundarsafn (works by Icelandic sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson) • Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum (carvings and totem poles by the sea) • Viðey Island (uninhabited island with walking paths, seabird nesting sites and Yoko Ono work) • Flóran Café (wholesome soups, salads and homemade cake in the botanic gardens) • VOX Restaurant (refined New Nordic cuisine inside the Hilton).
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