Reykjavik Travel

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: March 21, 2018

Reykjavik Travel Guide

Reykjavik Hotels

 Apotek Hotel • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$$
Located in the heart of Reykjavik, this hotel nestles inside one of Reykjavik’s oldest historic buildings, the Reykjavikurapótek (the city’s main pharmacy). The decor is a blend of original features (elegant marble staircase, curved walls), neutral tones and clean lines. In keeping with the building’s history, the resident “pharmacists” mix medicinal-themed cocktails at the hotel bar.
Review of Apotek Hotel • map • +354 512 9000
101 Hotel • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$$
Unassuming from the outside, this hotel doubles as a contemporary art gallery, while the cosy lounge and library with an open fireplace bring to mind a ski chalet. Its open-plan, immaculately appointed rooms are all slate-greys, whites, and volcanic blacks, while the basement spa features a geothermally heated jacuzzi. Terrific Icelandic/European dining onsite at Kitchen + Wine, complete with killer cocktails.

Review of 101 Hotel • map • +354 580 0101

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. It’s blend of early 19th century architecture and slate-grey and charcoal minimalist rooms, each decorated with characterful black-and-white landscape photos of Iceland. The hotel’s award-winning bistro, Snaps, serves French-inspired dishes and excellent cocktails.

Review of Hotel Óðinsvé • map • +354 511 6200

 Hotel Borg • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$
Near the Icelandic Parliament, Iceland’s oldest luxury hotel blends its 1930s Art Deco ambience 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.
Review of Hotel Borg • map • +354 551 1440

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, with blues and volcanic greys livened up with contemporary pieces by local artists. There’s an onsite library specialising in Icelandic literature, while the Geiri Smart restaurant pairs Icelandic fish and dry-aged meat from local farms with an impressive list of cold climate wine and the Canopy Central Bistro & Bar holds nightly tastings of local beers, spirits, and snacks.
Review of Canopy by Hilton • map • +354 528 7000

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.

Review of Kvosin Downtown Hotel • map • +354 571 4460

Eyja Guldsmeden • Hlídar • $$$
A warm haven to retreat to after chasing the northern lights, rooms here are both stylish and snug, with four-poster beds and natural sheepskin and cowhide strewn throughout. There’s an emphasis on sustainability, from local and organic produce at the onsite restaurant to eco-friendly toiletries, plus killer views of Esja Mountain from half the rooms. Main attractions are within a 20-minute walk (or short bicycle ride) from the hotel.
Review of Eyja Guldsmeden • map • +354 519 7300
Oddsson • Old Harbour • $$
A 1940s supermarket warehouse has been given new life as tehe city’s hippest hostel-hotel. Reykjavik-based design studio Döðlur has kept the original distressed concrete columns and exposed air ducts and added pastel colours and striking artwork to the rooms that vary from dorms to proper hotel rooms. Guests can use the yoga studio, soak in the roof hot tub and dine at the onsite Italian bistro.

Review of Oddsson • map • +354 511 3579

Hlemmur Square Hotel and Hostel • Hlídar • $$$$
This hip urban hotel opposite the bus station is split between a boutique hotel with slick, minimalist rooms with welcome crimson and orange accents and contemporary art, and hostel 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.

Review of Hlemmur Square Hotel and Hostel • map • +354 415 1600

Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$
Right in the heart of downtown Reykjavik, Konsulat is a short walk from the harbour, Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik Art Museum, and a plethora of restaurants and bars. The hotel – a converted high-end department store – is all browns and muted oranges inside, with well-appointed, spacious rooms popular with business travellers. An excellent spa, pool and award-winning chef are among the perks here.

Review of Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel • map • +354 514 6800

Reykjavik Restaurants

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. • map • +354 758 8877

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 cosy stone-and-timber dining room. • map • +354 552 5300

Matyr og Drykkur • Old Harbour • $$
Attached to the Saga Museum, this smart bistro serves inventive takes on traditional Icelandic recipes. Expect the likes of lamb with smoked almonds, salt cod with rutabaga mash, and skyr (Icelandic yogurt) with caramel and Arctic thyme biscuit. Book ahead for dinner. • map • +354 571 8877
Apotek • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$
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 cocktails come divided into ‘stimulant’, ‘painkiller’ and ‘tranquiliser’ categories. • map • +354 551 0011
Grillmarkaðurinn • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$$
All volcanic rock, dark wood and glass, the Grill Market particularly excels at meat and seafood dishes, cooked over the coals of their custom-made grill. Most ingredients are sourced from local farmers and there are stellar cocktails to boot. • map • +354 571 7777
 Dill • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$$
Iceland’s sole Michelin-starred restaurant, Dill embraces ‘New Nordic’ cuisine and takes Icelandic ingredients to new heights. Choose between a 5- and 7-course tasting menu, each consisting of delicate, beautifully put-together dishes. Sit at the bar overlooking the open kitchen or opt for a candlelit table. Reservations essential. • map • +354 552 1522
Sumac • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$
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. • map • +354 537 9900
Kol • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$
Icelandic comfort food with an international twist, Kol does wonderful things with largely local ingredients. Standout dishes include lamb sirloin with honey-pickled rutabaga, Icelandic scallops with dill mayo and beef tenderloin with black garlic. Splurge on the tasting menu and don’t miss the terrific cocktails • map • +354 517 7474
Messinn • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik • $$
Pan-fried catch of the day, accompanied by buttery potatoes and salad, is the specialty at this casual, homey restaurant. Particularly popular at lunchtimes. • map • +354 546 0095
Nostra • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$
Run by two maverick chefs who keep pushing Reykjavik’s culinary boundaries, Nostra is all about meticulous attention to detail. The 6-course tasting menus change daily, depending on which ingredients are freshly available, and kitchen leftovers are used to infuse alcohol at the cutting-edge cocktail bar next door. • map • +354 519 3535
ROK • Downtown/101/Miðborg • $$$
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. • map • +354 544 4443
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. • map • +354 511 6677
Shopping
Geysir • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Icelandic woollen 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. • map 
Orrifinn • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Unique, Iceland-themed jewellery. Inspired by Iceland’s landscape and history, this jeweller’s specialises in delicate pendants and rings involving axes, keys, serpents, anchors and more. • map 
12 Tónar • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Independent record store. Come to this two-storey shop and independent record label for a complimentary espresso, a chat with local musicians and a browse through stacks of Icelandic and international vinyl. • map 
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. • map 
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. • map 
Mál og Menning • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Terrific independent bookshop. Three-storey Icelandic institution, with an excellent selection of English-language books on Iceland’s history, nature and culture. Also international titles covering all major genres. • map 
Smekkleysa • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Legendary record store and infamous record label. “Bad Taste” is all about punks rock and other alternative music and singer Bjork is one of the label’s founders. Music aside, Smekkleysa sells poetry, novels and offbeat greetings cards. • map
Rammagerdin • Downtown/101/Miðborg
One of the city’s best souvenir shops. Plenty of woollen goods, T-shirts with unique designs, made from recycled materials, Iceland-inspired lava jewellery, lava salt and more. Several branches around the city. • map
Epal Icelandic Design • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Quirky Icelandic gifts. Apart from the obligatory collection of woollen sweaters, lava salt shakers and mint candy that promises to “make you sing like Bjork”, Epal stocks Icelandic black humour by local cartoonist Dagsson, and various other unusual gifts. • map
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. • map
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. • map
Craft Beer
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 the happy hour (2-7pm) to take advantage of the cheaper prices. Brews to try include the experimental Leifur, Úlfur IPA, and Garún (imperial stout). • map
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. • map
Mikkeler & Friends • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Inside one of the oldest buildings in downtown Reykjavik, the colourful 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. • map
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 and the unfiltered Kaldi brew is a local favourite. Light pub food served. • map
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. • map
Bryggjan Brugghús • Old Harbour
This independent brewery by the harbour 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. • map
Bars
Slipbarinn • Old Harbour
Iceland’s first cocktail bar inside the Hotel Reykjavik Marina has a frequently changing cocktail menu that includes both traditional favourites 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. • map
Kolabrautin • Old Harbour
Apart from the stellar location overlooking the harbour 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. • map
Klaustur Bar • 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. • map
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 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 makes this a good place for a drink anytime. • map
DRINX Bar • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Attached to KEX Hostel, this popular bar inside a former cookie factory is a favourite nightspot for locals and visitor alike. Excellent drink selection, from local lagers, craft beers and ales to carefully selected wines and the attached gastropub serves Icelandic cuisine with emphasis on local and foraged ingredients. Great sea views. • map
Bar Ananas • Downtown/101/Miðborg
This colourful, 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. • map
Loftið • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
One of the very few places in Reykjavik with a dress code (smart casual), this breezy upstairs lounge with comfortable leather armchairs and vintage wall hangings serves imaginative cocktails and an extensive selection of whiskies. Over 25s only. • map
Coffee Shops and Bakeries
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. • map
C is for Cookie • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Named in honour of Cookie Monster, this friendly café serves soups, salads and homemade cakes as well as good coffee. • map
Kaffitár • Downtown/101/Miðborg
This Icelandic coffee roaster has five branches around the city and is known for its ecological practises as well as speciality coffees from around the world. Freshly made cakes and pastries also. Great place to sit with a laptop. • map
Kaffi Vinyl • Downtown/101/Miðborg
Lively café with occasional live music, open daily. Pair your coffee with delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes. • map
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. • map
Brauð & Co • Downtown/101/Miðborg
This colourful, mural-covered bakery is hard to miss. Come here for some of the city’s best, freshly-baked bread and scrumptious pastries. • map
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. • map
Te og Kaffi Micro Roast • Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
This coffee roastery specialises in numerous ways of coffee brewing and favours small batch coffees. Numerous gourmet teas also. • map
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. • map
Things to Do
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. • map
Drive the Golden Circle
Geysers, waterfalls and ancient sites. This is a driving trip from Reykjavik that 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. • map
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 (www.reykjaviksailors.is) and Whale Safari (www.whalesafari.is). Alternatively, sail in the reconstructed Viking longboat, Gaukstad, with Reykjavik Viking Adventure (www.reykjavikvikingadventure.is). • map
Go Inside The Volcano 
Extinct volcano and magma chamber. Adventure tour outfitter Inside The Volcano (www.insidethevolcano.com) runs day trips inside the dormant Þríhnúkagígur volcano, a three-hour ride from the city. 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. • map
Go Glacier-walking and Ice Climbing
Year-round adventures on the Sólheimajökull glacier. Icelandic Mountain Guides (www.mountainguides.is) and Arctic Adventures (https://adventures.is) 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 and you have to be fit. • map
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 four 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 harbour. • map
Go Snowmobiling 
Year-round snowmobile tours. Mountaineers of Iceland (https://mountaineers.is) 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 needed for the actual ride through the Icelandic highlands. • map
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. • map
65. 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. • map
66. Explore exhibits on ice and fire inside the Perlan
Planetarium and exhibitions on Icelandic nature. This futuristic 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. • map
67. Take the kids to the Reykjavik Zoo & Family Park
Iceland’s wild animals next to a play park. A favourite with families, Reykjavik Zoo is a great place to see fozes, 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. • map
68. 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 favourite spot for sunset-watching, with the snow-capped mountains in the distance. • map
69. 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 liquorice 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. • map
70. Visit Viðey Island
Tiny uninhabited island. Frequent daily boats run to Viðey, 1km north of the cruiseship harbour, 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 the sky every night between John Lennon’s birthday and the anniversary of his death. • map
71. 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 (www.laxnes.is), Islenski Hesturinn (www.islenskihesturinn.is) and Reykjavik Riding Centre (https://reykjavikridingcentre.is). • map
72. Explore Reykjavik on Foot
Themed walking tours. Citywalk (https://citywalk.is) runs free history and culture walking tours that takes in the city’s main sights, as well as pub crawls. Super-popular Haunted Walk (www.hauntedwalk.is) delves into Icelandic folklore and takes visitors ghost-spotting, while the Reykjavik City Library (https://borgarbokasafn.is) runs the 90-minute Dark Deeds tour that focuses on crime fiction. • map
Museums and Art Galleries
73. 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 videos. The Hafnarhús – a soaring steel and concrete exhibition space – is the most central of the three. • map
77. Whales of Iceland • Old Harbour
The largest whale museum in Europe. Stroll under the lifesize models of 23 species of whales that 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. • map
78. 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, daring coastguard rescues and check out the dried cod. Occasional guided tours aboard the coastguard ship Óðinn. • map
79. 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 and visitors can play dress-up too. • map
80. 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. • map
81. 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. • map
82. 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 artefacts, such as elaborately carved drinking horns, weaponry and household objects through the ages. • map
82. 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, Fate, and don’t miss the sculpture garden out back. • map
82. 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. • map
83. 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. • map

Food and Flea Markets
83. 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). • map
84. Grandi Mathöll • Old Harbour
Pioneering street food hall by the harbour. 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. • map
85. 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. • map

Neighbourhoods
86. Vesturbær/Old Reykjavik
The compact city centre, comprising a number of historic buildings and remains of the original settlement, its narrow streets lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and craft shops. The Icelandic Parliament, town hall, and several attractions are located within a few minutes’ walk of each other. The city centre is flanked by Tjörnin lake to the south, beyond which is Iceland’s National Museum. Adjacent to the harbour, and Downtown/101.
Best stuff: 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) • Klaustur Bar (bar renowned for martinis; also Icelandic craft beer) • Loftið (high-end cocktails, older crowd) • 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).

87. Old Harbour
Bordering the historic city centre 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 harbour is the visually stunning Harpa concert hall. Bookending the harbour to the west is an industrial area that juts into the harbour; 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) • Vikin Maritime Museum (Iceland’s maritime history) • Saga Museum • Aurora Reykjavik (northern lights simulation) • Omnom Chocolate (take a tour and sample gourmet chocolates) • Cuckoo’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 harbour views) • Valdís (Reykjavik’s best ice cream) • Bryggjan Brugghús (harbourside microbrewery also serving great fish and meat dishes) • Kolabrautin (innovative spins on Icelandic fare) • Café Haiti (coffee from Haiti, delectable cakes) • Slipbarinn (buzzy cocktail bar).
88. Downtown/101/Miðborg
This bustling, easily walkable neighbourhood 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 colourful 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: Hallgrímkirkja (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) • Nostra (separate meat/fish/vegetarian tasting menus, creative cocktails, craft beer) • 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 (colourful 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).

89. Hlídar
This largely residential neighbourhood is adjacent to the Downtown action and within walking distance of most attractions, yet very quiet, so you can guarantee a good night’s rest. 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 centre, 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: 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 specialising in burgers, ribs and pulled pork) • Reykjavik Roasters (great coffee, popular for brunch).

90. Laugardalur
This largely residential neighbourhood with one of the city’s largest green spaces – Laugardalur park – is a good place to stay if you’re travelling 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 neighbourhood, 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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