Reykjavík

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland and with an urban area population of around 200,000, it is the home to two-thirds of Iceland's population. It is the centre of culture and life of the Icelandic people as well as being one of the focal points of tourism in Iceland. The city itself is spread out, with sprawling suburbs. The city centre, however, is a very small area characterised by eclectic and colourful houses, with good shopping, dining and drinking.

Understand

History

Lake Tjörnin, with the city hall, is in the centre of Reykjavík

When it started to develop as a town in the 18th century, Reykjavík had already been inhabited for almost a thousand years. Legend has it that the first permanent settler in Iceland was a Norwegian named Ingólfur Arnarson. He is said to have thrown his seat pillars into the sea en route to Iceland, and decided to settle wherever the pillars were found. The pillars washed up in Reykjavík, and so that was where he set up his farm.

Although the story of Ingólfur Arnarson is not widely believed to be true by modern historians, it's clear that Reykjavík was one of the very first settlements in Iceland. Archaeological remains confirm that people were living there around the year 871, and for the first few centuries of Icelandic settlement Reykjavík was a large manor farm. Its fortunes steadily waned as other centres of power increased in importance. By the 18th century, the farm of Reykjavík was owned by the king of Denmark (under whose domain Iceland fell at the time). In 1752, the estate was donated to a firm, Innréttingarnar, led by Icelandic politician Skúli Magnússon. Innréttingarnar were meant to become an important industrial exporter and a source of development in Iceland, and their main base was in what is now the heart of Reykjavík. Although the company didn't achieve all its high ideals, it did lay the foundations of Reykjavík as it is today. In 1786, Reykjavík got a trading charter and it soon started to grow in importance.

The new Concert Hall Harpa in Reykjavik

The year 1801 is when Reykjavík went from being the largest town in the country, to its capital. That year a new supreme court, Landsyfirréttur, was set up in the city after the abolition of Alþingi (which no longer had any legislative functions). The same year the office of the Bishop of Iceland was founded in Reykjavík, merging the bishoprics of Hólar and Skálholt. In 1845, Alþingi was re-founded as an advisory council to the king on the affairs of Iceland, located in Reykjavík and in 1874 it regained legislative powers. As the sovereignty of the country grew, so too did Reykjavík, which by the beginning of the 20th century had been transformed from a small trading and fishing village to a fully fledged capital.

The Second World War was a boom era in Reykjavík. The city wasn't directly affected by the many horrors of the war, but the occupation of Iceland by first the UK and later the US provided increased employment opportunities and inflows of cash that enabled the rapid expansion and modernisation of the Icelandic fishing fleet. Reykjavík was a leader in this development and it grew very rapidly in the years following the war. New suburbs were built and the city started to reach across municipal limits, subsuming various surrounding communities. The city continued expanding until the financial collapse of 2008.

Due to its young age, and in particular its rapid expansion in the late 20th century, Reykjavík is very different from the other Nordic capitals. It lacks their grand buildings and the picturesque old quarters. Instead it has come to resemble American cities with their sprawling suburbs and big motorways, as was recommended by the urban planners of the post-World War 2 era. Nevertheless Reykjavík has a charm of its own, quite unique, shaped by the dualistic nature of this place which still doesn't seem to have made up its mind on whether it's a small town or a big city.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 1.9 2.8 3.2 5.7 9.4 11.7 13.3 13.0 10.1 6.8 3.4 2.2
Nightly lows (°C) -3.0 -2.1 -2.0 0.4 3.6 6.7 8.3 7.9 5.0 2.2 -1.3 -2.8
Precipitation (mm) 75.6 71.8 81.8 51.3 43.8 50.0 51.8 61.8 66.5 85.6 72.5 78.7

Averages 1961-1990, data from the World Meteorological Organisation.

Up to date weather information from the Icelandic Meteorological Office .

The weather in Reykjavík is notoriously unpredictable. One minute the sun may be shining on a nice summers day, the next it may change into a windy, rainy autumn. Temperatures in Reykjavík are quite bland: They don't go very high in the summer, nor do they go much below zero during winter. It follows that the differences between seasons are relatively small compared to what people experience on either side of the Atlantic.

January is the coldest month and usually has some snow, while there is frequently no snow on the ground during Christmas in December. Summer is without a doubt the favorite season of most Reykjavík inhabitants. Many of them seem to imagine their city is slightly warmer than it really is and it takes little to get them to start wearing shorts and t-shirts, or to go sunbathing in parks. Don't think too much about how silly it may seem, just join them in enjoying the season!

Wind is the main problem with the Reykjavík weather. The city is quite open to the seas, and the winds can be strong and chilling to the bone. Windy spots generally feel significantly colder than those with more shelter.

Literature

Tourist information

Get in

By plane

Most passenger flights to and from Keflavik are operated by Icelandair

Two airports serve the Reykjavík area, one for international flights and another for domestic flights. They are 50km away from each other.

To travel between the airport and Reykjavik city centre:

By bus

BSI terminal at the southern edge of Reykjavik downtown

Strætó operates busses from North, West and South Iceland, stretching from Egilsstaðir in the east to Höfn in the south-east. The main terminal for Strætó's long distance busses is Mjódd. Strætó also operates busses to the Reykjanes peninsula including the town of Keflavík, while Reykjavík Excursions and Gray Line operate busses between Reykjavík and Keflavík International Airport.

By car

Three main roads serve as entry points into Reykjavík:

If you're driving into town from South Iceland or West Iceland, beware of some quite heavy traffic jams on Sundays when people are going back home after a weekend away. This mainly applies during the summer, and becomes even worse on Mondays after three-day weekends, not to mention if the weather has been good.

Renting A Car

There are rental car services all over Iceland, and many in Reykjavík. The cheapest car at the cheapest dealer you may find would average out to about ISK5500 each day. If you intend to just stay in Reykjavík, renting a car is not necessary as the bus system is great and it is easy to walk around. If you plan to leave Reykjavík and go to the countryside, then renting a car is the best way to experience Iceland.

By boat

Boats in the harbor of Reykjavik

Several cruise liners stop in Reykjavík each summer, mostly arriving in Sundahöfn, which is 3km east from the city centre. Cruise Iceland is a website run by several companies that service cruise liners in the country and has a list of companies that sail to Iceland.

Reykjavík itself is not served by any ferries, but if you have an abundance of time it is possible to take the Smyril Line (a cruise company based out of the Faroe Islands) from Hanstholm or Esbjerg to Seyðisfjörður (a small town on the east of Iceland), via Tórshavn. This service is on the expensive side, and puts you on the other side of the country. However, it offers the possibility of bringing a car, which can be one of the best ways to travel around Iceland. If you take the ferry and drive from Seyðisfjörður to Reykjavík, you should plan to spend the night somewhere along the way.

Of course, if you have a boat capable of crossing the Atlantic it is possible to sail to Reykjavík. Check with the port authority, the United Ports of Faxaflói, to find out about harbour options.

Get around

On foot

Walking in Reykjavík is highly recommended, the downtown is very compact and many attractions are within walking distance from most hotels. The city is very beautiful, and the sidewalk and pathway system is first-rate. Reykjavík drivers are in general very friendly, and will sometimes stop for you even when there is no crossing facility.

Unknown to many tourists a very long and scenic pathway for walking and cycling circles almost the whole city. A good starting point is anywhere where the city touches the sea. The path leads by an outdoor swimming pool, a sandy beach, a golf course, and a salmon river.

By bus

Reykjavík has a public bus system that is clean and reliable, called Strætó. There are several different methods of payment:

One of the yellow public Strætó buses at Lækjargata, central Reykjavik

Hlemmur and Lækjartorg are the main bus interchanges in central Reykjavík, with busses that can take you to any part of the city. The Strætó system has busses going all the way east to Selfoss and north to Akranes, the former leaving from Mjódd and the latter from Háholt. Both of these stations can be reached from Hlemmur.

Note that while most areas of Reykjavík and the neighboring towns are accessible by bus, the last busses leave around 11PM and the city has no night busses. Also, on Sundays there are no bus services before noon.

By car

Driving in Reykjavík is the preferred method for most residents there. As a tourist though, you should be able to manage without a car if you're only staying in the city. Driving is recommended though for travel outside of Reykjavík and its suburbs. Note that many streets in central Reykjavík are one-way only and some of them are closed to cars in good weather.

Compared to most other modern European cities, Reykjavík actually manages to have a reasonable number of parking spaces, especially for a city that boasts the most cars per capita in the world. If you're in the centre and can't find a place to park, there are big parking lots by the harbour and in front of Kolaportið (the flea market). Parking spaces in the city centre generally have parking meters charging between 80 and 150 kr. per hour. The city recently introduced a new type of meters and you can now pay by card if you don't have coins on you. The fine for not paying is 2,400 kr.

By taxi

The main taxi companies in Reykjavík are Hreyfill-Bæjarleiðir (+354 588 5522), BSR (+354 561 0000) and Borgarleiðir (+354 422 2222). All taxis are metered and most are very clean and comfortable, but be warned that travelling by taxi is one of the most expensive ways of getting around Reykjavík. There is a start fee of 600-700 kr. and a fee of 200-400 kr. per kilometer. Taking a taxi is, however, the best way to get home after a night on the town. Paying by card is not a problem, nor is splitting the bill. You can either order a taxi by phone or find one at a taxi rank, of which there are several in the city. In central Reykjavík there is one rank by Lækjargata and another by Hallgrímskirkja.

By bicycle

It is easy to get around Reykjavík by bicycle, if you can deal with sometimes strong headwinds and a few hills. There are not many dedicated bicycle paths and so most cycling is done on the street or on the sidewalk (both are legal). When cycling on the street you must obey the same traffic rules as cars. When cycling on the sidewalk it's important to be considerate of people who are walking there, they have the right of way.

Where there are specially marked paths for cyclists these are frequently shared with pedestrians, with a painted white line indicating the division between the two forms of transport. In these cases the narrower section is the bicycle path. Dedicated bicycle paths are a new phenomenon in Reykjavík but their number is increasing every year. These mostly link the city centre with the suburbs.

Bicycles can be rented at the following locations:

See

Reykjavík's old town is small and easy to walk around. The houses have some very distinct features, most notably their brightly colored corrugated metal siding. Plan to spend at least a couple hours just wandering around, taking in the city. And for further feasts of the eyes, there are several museums and art galleries in the city, most of them within easy reach of the downtown area.

Parks and open areas

Tjörnin (the Pond)

Buildings

Althingi
Reykjavik cathedral

Reykjavík has a very eclectic building style, which is mainly the result of bad (or no) planning. Many of the oldest houses still standing are wooden buildings covered in brightly coloured corrugated iron. Don't be surprised to see that the next buildings down the street are an ultra-modernistic functionalist cube followed by early 20th century neoclassical concrete. Some of the most interesting buildings you'll see in Reykjavík are those you find wandering about. Some deserve a special mention, however.

Museums

Inside the National Museum
Archeological exhibits at the 871 +/-2 museum

There are several museums of art and of history found around the city.

Do

There is a lot to do in Reykjavík, despite being a small city. There is a vibrant music scene with concerts most evenings in the centre of the city. For theatre enthusiasts the city boasts two main theatres staging around 10 plays a year each, both domestic and foreign, as well as a number of smaller theatre groups specialising in different kinds of modern theatre.

There are a number of opportunities to experience at least a bit of Icelandic nature without leaving the city itself, and outdoors activities in the immediate vicinity of the city are easy to find. And no visit to Reykjavík would be complete without going to at least one of the geothermal pools.

For more information about tours and attractions, it may be a good idea to pay a visit to the Tourist Information Centre located in a beautifully renovated old building by Ingólfstorg.

Music and theatre

Reykjavík has a remarkably active cultural scene for a city of its size. There are a number of art galleries, theaters and concert venues. Some of these are listed below, but many of the places mentioned in the “drink” section below also frequently host concerts. There are no dedicated literary locations listed here, but for book readings it may be best to visit book stores and libraries and ask the staff what's coming up.

Festivals

At least three times a year, Reykjavík comes out to celebrate.

The city also annually hosts a music festival and an international film festival, both take place over several days in the city centre.

Get in touch with nature

Tour operator booths at the pier

If you want to experience some of Iceland's nature but don't have time to leave the capital for too long, don't worry, you have several options to get a good feel for nature and the countryside without actually leaving the city.

Horse riding

One of the most popular tourist activities in Iceland due to the special nature of the Icelandic Horse. Although by definition more of a rural activity, there are several companies offering riding tours on the outskirts of Reykjavík, this can be a good option for those not planning on travelling far from the city.

Geothermal Swimming Pools

Laugardalslaug geothermal pool

Outdoor geothermal swimming pools are an important part of Icelandic culture and a visit to them is a great way to relax with Icelanders. In fact it is not stretching the truth too far to suggest that because drinking is so expensive the hot-pots at these pools serve the same role that pubs and bars do in the rest of Europe.

It is possible to hire swimsuits and towels at all the pools. As Icelandic pools have very minimal amounts of chemicals in them it is very important to shower thoroughly naked beforehand, and pay attention to the notices and posters that highlight hygiene issues.

Learn

Being the main population centre of the country, Reykjavík is also the location of most of Iceland's education institutions. Close to the city centre is the University of Iceland, which offers courses in Icelandic as a second language. Most degree programmes are in Icelandic, but there are some specialised postgraduate degrees available relating to sustainable development and to medieval manuscripts taught in English.

Reykjavík University was founded as a business school under the auspices of the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce. It has evolved into an institution offering a wide range of degrees in the fields of business, law, computer science and engineering, with a higher number of English-language programmes than the University of Iceland.

At pre-higher education levels, Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð (Hamrahlíð College) offers an IB programme in English. Several smaller schools offer Icelandic language courses for foreigners, including Mímir and IceSchool.

Work

There's not much in way of employment opportunities in Reykjavík at the moment. Since the economic collapse of 2008, unemployment has risen to around 8% and unless you have special skills you're likely to be at a disadvantage as a foreigner in a job hunt. Additionally, it's extremely difficult for non-EEA citizens to get a visa unless they already have a job. If you are an EEA citizen, however, you can head over to Eures, a database of jobs advertised in the entire EEA. In Iceland it's run by the Directorate of Labour (Vinnumálastofnun) who may also be able to offer you further advice. If you're from one of the other Nordic countries and are aged between 18 and 28, you may be able to take use of the Nordjobb summer job program, funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Buy

Puffin souvenirs, anybody?
At Laugavegur there are a lot of small shops

  Laugavegur is the main shopping street of Reykjavík and has many funky boutiques, with both Icelandic and international designs.   Skólavörðustígur, running from Laugavegur up to Hallgrimskirkja, has a range of souvenir and craft shops where you can find a perfect gift for the family. Record shops and bookstores are also located on these streets, where you can find Icelandic music and literature as well as a wide range of foreign music and books in English. European plug adapters are available at the Eymundsson bookstore on Laugavegur.

Reykjavík has one flea market,   Kolaportið, located in a warehouse by the harbour and open 11AM-5PM Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to stalls selling clothes, antique furniture, old books, and other typical fleamarket wares, there is a food section where you can buy many Icelandic specialities as well as cheap and fresh fish and potatoes.

If you yearn for international chains such as Zara and Debenhams, then head to one of 2 malls in the capital area;   Kringlan in Reykjavík and the newer   Smáralind in neighboring Kópavogur. But keep in mind that everything in Iceland probably costs more than it does back home. Items can be as much as 3-4 times the price in neighboring countries, mainly because of taxes (24.5% sales tax on products, 7% on books), import duties and so on, though there are exceptions to this rule.

Sales tax is always included in the sticker price. All foreign visitors are entitled to claim back the tax if they spend 4,000 krona or more in one shop in one day. Iceland is not a member of the European Union, so visitors from all European countries are entitled to sales tax refunding. Icelanders living abroad are also entitled to sales tax refunding.

ATMs are found throughout the city, and they should accept any foreign cards. Currency exchange is mainly done at banks, there are very few special currency exchange shops. Icelanders themselves make very little use of cash, paying for even the smallest of things with their cards. Foreign cards will generally be accepted in stores and restaurants, although there may be problems with American Express in some places. A chip-and-PIN system is being introduced, so make sure you remember your PIN number. Minimal Icelandic cash is needed for a visit to Reykjavik.

Be aware that Iceland is one of only a few countries to actively participate in whaling and hunting of various marine mammals. Many shops have souvenirs made from seal pelts and sometimes even whale or dolphin bones. These are illegal to import or possess in most countries due to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (aka CITES) and attempting to bring back such goods might result in a hefty fine.

Please note that tipping isn't done in Iceland, not under any circumstances; not for any service, not for restaurants or for hotels, or any other place

Eat

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget ISK 2000 or less
Mid-range ISK 20005000
Splurge ISK 5000 or more

Budget

Food truck selling boiling hot lamb soup outside Hallgrimskirkja

Food in Iceland can be expensive. In order not to break the bank, you'll need to be smart when eating. On the budget side, you're mostly looking at international-type fast food options common to what you'd find in Europe and America. Alcohol in particular is expensive in restaurants: A pint of beer is typically ISK 1000-1300. Beer can be purchased for under ISK 300 in most convenience/grocery stores, but wine and liquor are available only in the few government-controlled liquor stores.

10-11 is a chain of convenience stores (open 24/7) with plenty of ready-to-eat items such as sandwiches, wraps, and surprisingly enough, tacos. 10-11 is always open but also more expensive than supermarkets, that's why you see most Icelanders shop for food at Bónus (open 10-18), a low-cost supermarket chain. Even better, you can find a fish shop which will sell you some ridiculously fresh and absolutely delicious fish, at a very reasonable price, and cook it yourself with some potatoes and vegetables. It will be really nice. The fish shop could be in Kolaportið, a downtown market which only opens on weekends, or alternatively you could look up one of the many fish shops (fiskbúð) all around town.

Try one of the hot dog places that are found everywhere. This German import has become thoroughly Iceland-ized. A dog should set you back 250-300 kr. Ask for "Eina með öllu", a hot dog with everything on it. Delicious.

Fast food – Apart from the usual suspects such as KFC and Subway (McDonald's was recently re-branded Metró by the local franchise holder, but the menu remains the same) and the hot dog stands mentioned above, Reykjavík has a number of home grown fast food restaurants. In the city centre many are open 24/7 in weekends, serving the partying crowd. Names include Nonnabiti and Hlöllabátar (subs and sandwiches), Kebabhúsið and Ali Baba (kebabs), Serrano (burritos) and Pizza Pronto (you can guess what they sell). You should be able to fill your stomach at each of these for ISK 1000 or less.

The most local street food you can find is kjötsúpa, Icelandic meat soup. It is a spicy vegetable soup with lamb meat. They have a vegetarian version of it too, that is just the same soup minus the meat. You can find vans selling it next to the Hallagrimskirkja and at the northeastern corner of Tjörnin. A small bowl costs about ISK 700 and a large one ISK 1100 as of August 2014.

Thai restaurants – Thais form, along with Poles, the largest immigrant community in Reykjavík and as a result there are a lot of good and cheap Thai restaurants around the capital, often run by Thai families. You will usually get large portions without paying much more than ISK 1000-1500. Options in central Reykjavík include Krua Thai (Tryggvagata 14) and Núðluhúsið (Laugavegur 59, 2nd floor).

There are tons of cafes everywhere in the city that are relatively inexpensive and a great place to sit, relax, and warm up. You can also check your e-mails if you bring your computer, as there is free Wi-Fi in most of them. Kaffitar and Te & Kaffi are comparatively large chains and serve great barrista style coffee, that might however be on the expensive side.

Bæjarins beztu pylsur in the port is somewhat of a local celebrity

Mid-range

The whaling ships in Reykjavík harbour.

There are many fantastic fish restaurants in Reykjavik. The more expensive ones are down by the harbour or in the centre, if you're not so rich try heading towards the old town. Though generally not listed here, most bars serve some food, often better than what you would expect from the look of the place but generally with relatively uninspired menus: Expect to see a few burgers, a pasta dish or two, some salads and maybe a burrito.

Plan on at least ISK2,000 for any meal not in a budget/fast-food restaurant. Seriously.

Splurge

If you're willing to spend the money, you'll have no problem finding world class dining in Reykjavík. In addition to some great fish restaurants, most of the world's popular cuisine is represented in Reykjavík's up-scale dining in one form or another.

Drink

Night in Reykjavik

Reykjavík is considered to have some of the best nightlife in all of Europe and it can be almost guaranteed that you haven't really "partied" until you've done it here. This fact is proven by the number of celebrities who come specifically for it.

Drinking is expensive - expect to pay between 600 and 900 ISK for a draft pint at a bar. Bottled beers and mixed drinks are more expensive, sometimes outlandishly so. Despite the cost, going out in Reykjavik is a fun experience. Since alcohol is expensive at Reykjavík bars and clubs, Icelanders usually buy their alcohol at the government owned liquor stores (Vínbúðin, called Ríkið by locals) and stay at home drinking until about midnight (or later), then they will wander to the bars. Do not expect bars and clubs to become crowded during weekends until about 1AM (at least). Cover charges are very rare in Reykjavík, unless there is live music or some other sort of event going on. Note that although the legal age for entering clubs is 18, the legal drinking age is 20 and many places set higher entry age limits themselves.

Bars are open to 1AM on weeknights, but most will stay open until 6 or 7AM on Friday and Saturday. The clubs and bars themselves are mostly found in a very small area of the city centre, it's easy to just walk around and follow the crowds. You're sure to find somewhere to go, but if you're not sure, groups of drunken Icelanders will usually be eager to help a tourist out! During weekends, live music is easy to find in some of Reykjavík's bars. During the day, be sure to pick up the free English-language magazine The Reykjavík Grapevine for information on live music events for that evening. It is easy to find in shops, restaurants and bars around the city.

There is an ice bar in Restaurant Reykjavík where all the furniture and the bar are made from glacial ice. This seems like an interesting place to go, however, as a warning, you will be charged 1300ISK for entry which includes a single vodka-based cocktail in what is effectively an atmosphere and music-free deep freezer. You cannot bring in or buy more drinks, if you are keen for novelty it is good, otherwise perhaps not worth the money.

Bars

Yes, you can get Viking beer on Iceland

The distinction between bars and clubs is not very clear in Iceland, with most clubs being more like bars until a little before midnight. However, the following venues can be said to be purely bars - places to go and drink with your friends, rather than to dance or listen to music.

Clubs

Reykjavík has a large number of clubs and when one closes, another is usually very quick to take its place. There would be no point in trying to list them all, the following are only a small taste. Most of them are quite small - don't expect the big dance halls of many European capitals - but that's part of the fun, the intimate spirit of the Reykjavík nightlife.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under 15,000 kr.
Mid-range 15,000-30,000 kr.
Splurge Over 30,000 kr.

Budget

Full moon over Reykjavik

Be warned that there is very little in the way of affordable lodging in Iceland, particularly if you are traveling with a family. The cheapest option in Reykjavík, by far, is to stay at the city's only campsite. If that's not for you, there are several hostels with affordable dorms located in and around the city centre. Fortunately for the traveller on a budget, this seems to be the fastest growing type of accommodation in Reykjavík. Most of these hostels also offer single or double bedrooms, and a few small guesthouses have rooms at similar prices.

Mid-range

Splurge

Radisson 1919, a white landmark in the harbour

Just as there are surprisingly few cheap accommodation options in Reykjavík, there are surprisingly many expensive ones.

Connect

Reykjavík has good mobile phone coverage (including 3G) and various providers, the largest being Síminn and Vodafone. Most foreign SIM cards should work without problems, but it may be best to check with your mobile phone provider at home before leaving. Payphones are almost nonexistent in Reykjavík.

Wi-fi is free at most cafés in Reykjavík and even at many bars. If there's a password required just ask the staff. Partly because of this, internet cafés have almost ceased to exist, but one such still in operation is GroundZero, Frakkastígur 8. Be aware that the clientel is mostly gamers. 1 hour costs 600 kr.

Though Icelandic is the official language, English is spoken quite fluently by almost everyone you will meet and you should have no problems when it comes to communication. Many people also speak a Scandinavian language.

Stay safe

Iceland is considered one of the safest countries in the world. Just be sure to avoid the fights that break out among the most intoxicated partiers in bars and most often on the street on weekends. However most people are incredibly friendly and police are also friendly and very helpful.

Recently, however, petty thefts in Reykjavík have occasionally occurred. In addition, the female traveler would do well to exercise good judgment when walking alone at night. Rape is rare, but occurs twice as often as in other Nordic countries, Still, even with these issues, Reykjavík is much safer than most other western cities, and certainly safer than the larger capitals of other countries.

Homeless people generally hang in the area around the Hlemmur bus station or on Austurvöllur park. They usually don't bother people, not even to ask for spare change even though they might seem to act strangely.

Cope

Bankastræti, Bank Street

Even though Reykjavík doesn´t have a large population, traffic during rush hour (roughly 7:45-9:00 and 16:30-18:30) can be heavy in certain parts of town. Expect jams and delays in narrow downtown streets and along the main Miklabraut artery.

Keep in mind that during the summer, the sun does not fully set, resulting in "dusk" between the hours of roughly Midnight and 3AM. While a novelty at first, the lack of night can quickly disrupt your sleeping habits and result in general fatigue. If visiting in the summer, be sure to bring a sleeping mask, even if the window shades largely keep the light out.

Toilets can be a little bit hard to find. Stores and restaurants tend to be rather small and almost never have them. There are a handful of public toilets downtown, to use them you will need to have some coins at hand.

If you can bear to be asked by almost every Icelander you meet "How do you like Iceland?" you're all set for the trip.

Press

Reykjavík has one English language magazine, The Reykjavík Grapevine, published bi-weekly in the summer and monthly in the winter. Although it started out as a publication mainly aimed at tourists (with events listings etc.) it has become respected in Iceland for at times very good research journalism and coverage of current events. Available for free at various locations around the city.

Some foreign newspapers are available at newsagents, but for same-day papers you can go to the Eymundsson bookstore at Austurstræti 18 and have them printed.

Religion

Lutheran churches are easily found throughout Reykjavík and most of them hold mass at 11AM every Sunday. There is a Catholic cathedral in central Reykjavík by Túngata, usually called Landakot church but formally known as the Cathedral of Christ the King. A Catholic mass is held there every day in Icelandic, as well as a mass in English 6PM on Sundays and in Polish 1:15PM the second and fourth Sunday of each month. The Russian Orthodox congregation has a house at Sólvallagata 10, holding mass 6PM on Saturdays and 10:30AM Sundays. There is no mosque in Reykjavík, but the Association of Muslims in Iceland holds Friday prayers at Ármúli 3, 3rd floor.

Embassies

Consulates

Go next

The first three are normally all included on the Golden Circle tour, a one-day circuit which can be done by coach trip or hire car.

By booking a trans-Atlantic ticket on Icelandair with a free "stop-over" of up to a week in Reykjavík, you can follow a visit to Iceland with a visit to London, Paris, Glasgow, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or another city in Europe, or to Washington, D.C., Boston, Orlando, New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, or another U.S. city.

Routes through Reykjavík

Akureyri Borgarnes  N  S  Hveragerði Egilsstaðir


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