The capital of Iceland, called Reykjavík, is one of the most beautiful and cute places in the world. The town houses have colorful roofs, they even look like toys! Do you know what’s most interesting? Although the city is the largest in the country and is home to 80% of Iceland’s population, it still has a country atmosphere.
Reykjavík is a great starting point for anyone who wants to know more places in the country, just like Paulo and I did. As Iceland is a very different place than we are used to, mainly because of its location, it is essential to consider some aspects of the place. I’ll tell you what I think is most important to know before you go and, of course, give some tips 🙂
The city center is one of the best places to stay. You would be close to the most famous tourist attractions and have easy walking around. I have already been to Iceland twice and the first time I stayed in a house I rented from Airbnb. This time last time, Paulo and I stayed in a hostel called KEX. It is close to the city center and the atmosphere is super cool. There are several different bands playing and there is a great restaurant! Even if you don’t stay in it, stop by to see it.
When to go
The weather in Iceland, in general, is quite cold by our standards. In summer, for example, the average is about 10º C. Very cold, right? At other times of the year, temperatures drop even further, reaching an average of -1ºC in winter. For those who like the cold, this is not such a problem. Go well prepared for the city’s climate, because our body is not used to such low temperatures. Thermal clothes are essential, see?
Ah, between September and February it rains a lot throughout the region, so take into account that this can hinder some tours. If you enjoy cultural festivals, a good time to go to Reykjavík is between April and May.
Iceland receives almost 24 hours of continuous light in the summer. Can you imagine? At this time of the year it never gets completely dark and the landscape is incredible! However, if you cannot sleep clearly, you will have some problems. In spring and autumn the hours of day and night are similar to ours in Brazil; so, if you don’t want a sudden change, this is a good option. Winter is, of course, the opposite of summer. The days are very short, usually with only 4 or 5 hours of light.
It is important to think about when you are going to travel and imagine what your trips would be like during each of these seasons. There is no point going there without being sure that you will enjoy it a lot 😉
Getting around the city
Getting around Reykjavík depends a lot on what kind of trip you will be taking. If you plan to travel to other cities in Iceland, I recommend that you rent a car! But, if you want to stay only in the capital and region, just use public transport or take a taxi when necessary. It is super nice to walk around the city and discover different shops and places. In addition, you can take the routes calmly and without worry, because the city is very safe.
The food in Iceland is just wonderful. Everything we ate was delicious, both savory and desserts. I will mention to you some of our favorite places. We went to Dill, which is considered the best restaurant in Iceland and, despite being well-attended it is very worthwhile. Make the reservation well in advance, see? Paulo and I had not gotten the reservation, but we were lucky to go there and have a free seat because of a withdrawal.
The hot dog is a very typical food of the region, if you want to try it go to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. As for sweets, be sure to eat the skyr that resembles a yogurt and is very tasty – you can buy a jar at any market there. Furthermore, drinking coffee is a very strong culture of Reykjavík. I recommend Mokka Kaffi, which serves wonderful sweets and is accompanied by whipped cream. I died of love for this place! It makes you want to spend hours in the cafe, talking or reading a book while eating something delicious.
What to visit
The landscapes and buildings of the city are incredible and you will hardly see anything like it anywhere else in the world. One of the mandatory stopping points is the Lutheran Church Hallgrímskirkja. In addition to the wonderful architecture, it is the tallest church in the country. If you are interested in having a view of the city from the top, climb on top of it. Just go to the eighth floor and then go up some steps. The view is breathtaking, I swear to you!
In addition to it, visit Harpa, which is a convention center. The architecture of this place is impressive and the geometric shapes that make it up make the environment even more beautiful. It is very common in the city constructions that resemble basalt, which is a very typical rock in Iceland.
Oh, don’t forget to visit the National Museum of Iceland and the Solfar Sculpture. Take some time to go toit is the Árbæjarsafn, Open Air Folklore Museum; it is fascinating for those who like to know a little more about the country’s culture.
Iceland is one of the places in the world that gives you a view of the northern lights! This visual spectacle is incredible and is an unforgettable experience. The city of Reykjavík is very busy and full of lights, which makes it difficult to see the northern lights. That is, if you want to have a better and even more incredible view of the phenomenon, go to Pingvellir National Park, which is close to the city.
To have a greater guarantee that you will see the dawn, plan your trip for the period between September and March. You can’t be sure that it will happen the day you’re there, so hope for luck. I’m sure you will be thrilled to see 😉
Streets to know
meaugavegur is the busiest street there and is also home to several shops, bookstores and restaurants. The point is very touristy and super nice to know. Paulo and I were walking there and also enjoying the street art of the city, which is very common in the center of Reykjavík.
Other famous streets there are Laekjargata and Skólavörðustígur. Skólavörðustígur is known for the huge rainbow painted on the street floor. These places are full of special corners and you will feel welcomed in all of them. Your only difficulty there will be to pronounce and write the names of the places!
Silfra is a little further from Reykjavík, but the visit is well worth it! It is, basically, a fissure located between the tectonic plates of North America and Europe. This crack forms a freshwater lake and the view is surreal. To improve, it is possible to take a dip in this very incredible part of our planet. The water temperature is very cold, but you will wear appropriate clothing and will have a preparation before the dive. If you are interested in the tour just take a look at the DIVE.IS website. They are well known for doing these tours and you can hire the service in Reykjavik.
Blue Lagoon is another place close to Reykjavík and worth visiting. It is basically a spa with thermal waters and great for those who want to escape a little from the cold. This type of tour is very common among Icelanders, so there is nothing better than doing something typical of the inhabitants of the region.
The natural pool has a wonderful blue color and is one of those places in the world that surprise you. The place is huge and there are several treatment options, you can easily spend a whole day there. Ah, it is important that you book this tour in advance, because it is very popular!
Paulo and I fell in love with Reykjavík and the other cities in Iceland. If you want to see our complete itinerary just click here. As always, we recorded everything and I’m sure that when watching the vlogs you will be even more willing to visit the country 😉