WHAT TO DO
Reykjavik (pronounced rayk-ya-vik) is the world's northernmost capital and largest city in Iceland. The first permanent settlement in Iceland by Norsemen is believed to have been established at Reykjavik by Ingolfr Arnarson around 874 AD - this is described in Landnamabok, or the Book of Settlement. Steam from hot springs in the region is said to have inspired Reykjavik's name, which loosely translates to Smoky Bay. The year 1786 is regarded as the date of the city's founding, when Denmark set it up as a trading center. In 1944, the Republic of Iceland was created and the office of the president was placed in Reykjavik. In 1972, the city hosted the world chess championship between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. The 1986 Reykjavik Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev highlighted its international status. Reykjavik, which runs on geothermal power, is among the cleanest, greenest and safest cities in the world. Iceland is defined by its dramatic landscape with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, glaciers and lava fields. With its captivating art, impressive architecture, creative people, delicious cuisine and fascinating culture, the Land of Fire and Ice is a traveler's dream.
Begin your adventure in the city center at Hallgrimskirkja. This glorious, white concrete church dominates the skyline and is visible from up to 12 miles away. Situated on a hilltop - construction of the Lutheran church started in 1945 and ended in 1986. Hallgrimskirkja is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrimur Petursson, who wrote Iceland’s most popular hymn book: Passiusalmar (Passion Hymns). An elevator ride to the top of the 245 foot tall tower reveals commanding views of the city. The most magnificent feature inside the church is the enormous 5275 pipe organ, installed in 1992. The church’s size and radical design caused controversy, and its architect, Gudjon Samuelsson, never saw its completion. The columns on either side of the tower represent volcanic basalt, part of Samuelsson's desire to create a national architectural style. At the front, gazing proudly into the distance, is a statue of the Viking Leifur Eiriksson, the first European to discover America. Note: you can enjoy organ recitals and choir concerts at Hallgrimskirkja from mid June to late August. From the church, make your way to the National Museum of Iceland at Suourgata 41. Relics from settlement to the modern age fill the creative display spaces of this excellent museum. Exhibits give an outstanding overview of Iceland’s history and culture, and the free smartphone audio guide adds a wealth of detail. The strongest section describes the Settlement Era - including the rule of the chieftains and the introduction of Christianity - and features swords, drinking horns, silver hoards and a powerful bronze figure of Thor. The priceless 13th century Valbjofsstaoir church door is carved with the story of a knight, his faithful lion and a pack of dragons. Upstairs, collections span from 1600 to today and give a clear sense of how Iceland struggled under foreign rule and finally gained independence. Note: the museum is open every day from 10a-5p. Also, be sure to purchase a Reykjavik City Card - it offers free entry to many museums and other places of interest.
The Reykjavik Art Museum - Kjarvalsstaoir is located at Flokagata 24. This modern art gallery, which looks out onto Miklatun Park, is named for Johannes Kjarval, one of Iceland’s most popular classical artists. His wonderfully evocative landscapes share space alongside changing installations of mostly Icelandic 20th century paintings. Note: the museum is open every day from 10a-5p and admission also covers entry to the contemporary collections of the Reykjavik Art Museum - Hafnarhus at Tryggvagata 17. The National Gallery of Iceland can be found at Frikirkjuvegur 7. This pretty stack of marble atriums and spacious galleries overlooking Lake Tjornin offers ever changing exhibits drawn from a large collection. Shows range from 19th and 20th century paintings by Iceland’s favorite artists (including Johannes Kjarval and Nina Saemundsson) to sculptures by Sigurjon Olafsson and others. A short distance outside the city center is Perlan. Its mirrored dome, designed by Ingimundur Sveinsson, covers huge geothermal water tanks. Inside, the Wonders of Iceland exhibit features high tech, audiovisual recreations of chilly artificial glaciers and an ice cave, plus immersive exhibits on volcanoes, earthquakes and geothermal zones. The Perlan Planetarium has an entertaining show about the Aurora - Northern Lights. Note: the wraparound viewing deck offers a tremendous 360 degree panorama of Reykjavik and the surrounding mountains, islands and sea.
Next, head back to the city center and The Settlement Exhibition at Aoalstraeti 16. This fascinating archaeological ruin museum is based around a 10th century Viking longhouse unearthed here from 2001 to 2002 and other Settlement Era finds from central Reykjavik. It imaginatively combines technological wizardry and archaeology to give a glimpse into early Icelandic life. Don't miss the fragment of boundary wall at the back of the museum - it is the oldest human made structure in Reykjavik. Interactive multimedia tables explain the area's excavations and a space age panel allows you to steer through different layers of the longhouse construction. Artifacts range from great auk bones to fish oil lamps and an iron axe. Note: the museum is open every day from 10a-5p. Not far away at Hverfisgata 15 is the Culture House. This fantastic collaboration between the National Museum, National Gallery and four other organizations creates a superbly curated exhibition covering the artistic and cultural heritage of Iceland from settlement to today. Priceless relics are arranged by theme and highlights include 14th century manuscripts, contemporary art and the skeleton of a great auk (now extinct). The renovated 1908 building is beautiful and has great views of the harbor. Nearby at Austurbakki 2 is Harpa. With its ever changing facets glistening on the water's edge, Reykjavik’s sparkling concert hall and cultural center is a beauty to behold. In addition to a season of top notch shows, the shimmering interior with harbor vistas is worth stopping in for, or take a highly recommended 30 minute guided tour. Harpa dazzles the eye with an intricate grid of convex and concave glass panels that sparkle at night like the switchboard of an alien spaceship. Designed by Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects, Icelandic firm Batteriid Architects and Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, it opened in 2011. The Iceland Symphony and the Icelandic Opera are based here. Note: Harpa hosted significant performances by Sigur Ros in 2017 and Bjork in 2016. From Harpa, walk the pedestrian path along the water until you reach Sun Voyager. This Viking shiplike sculpture was created by Jon Gunnar Arnason and was unveiled in August of 1990. Scooping in a skeletal arc along the seaside, it offers a photo shoot with snowcapped mountains in the distance.
There are 2 quirky museums that are worth a visit, fairly close to one another in the city center. The first is the Icelandic Phallological Museum, located in Hafnartorg square at Kalkofnsvegur 2. This unique museum houses a huge collection of penises - from pickled pickles to petrified wood, there are 286 different members on display, representing all Icelandic mammals and beyond. Featured items include contributions from sperm whales and a polar bear, plus minuscule mouse bits. Note: the museum is open every day from 10a-7p. Just up the street at Bankastraeti 2 is the Icelandic Punk Museum. This tiny museum, in a former underground public toilet, is dedicated to the history of punk rock in Iceland. Spend time at the record players or play the instruments, regardless of musical talent of course. From there, head over to the Old Harbour. Largely a service harbor until recently, the Old Harbour and the neighboring Grandi area have blossomed into tourist hot spots - with key art galleries, several museums, volcano and Northern Lights films and excellent restaurants. Whale watching and puffin viewing trips depart from the pier. On the western edge of the harbor, the Grandi area, named after the fish factory there, is thriving with eateries and shops. Start at the Saga Museum, found at Grandagarour 2. This Viking museum is where Icelandic history is brought to life by eerie silicon models and a multi language soundtrack featuring the thud of axes and hair raising screams. Note: there is also a room for posing in Viking dress. Next door is Aurora Reykjavik, where you can learn about the classic tales explaining the Northern Lights, and the scientific explanation, then watch a 35 minute surround sound, panoramic high definition re creation of Icelandic auroras. Around the corner at Grandagarour 8 is the Reykjavik Maritime Museum. The crucial role fishing plays in Iceland's economy and culture is celebrated through the imaginative displays in this former fish freezing plant. The permanent exhibition Fish & folk evokes 150 years of the industry, using artifacts, old photos and interactive games to chart a course from the row boats of the late 1800s to the trawlers of the 21st century.
Make your way to the Marshall House at Grandagarour 20 in the Grandi area. This renovated building houses 3 cutting edge galleries - Studio Olafur Eliasson, Kling & Bang and The Living Art Museum (Nylo). Studio Olafur Eliasson is the internationally acclaimed artist's work space in Iceland. It features both work in progress and finished pieces - expect big installations, perhaps of driftwood, ribboning metal and textured light. Kling & Bang is an artist run exhibition space and a favorite with locals. Nylo is a dynamic center for emerging and established contemporary artists, live music and other performances. There are 2 specialty shops in the area that are not to be missed. The first is Omnom Chocolate, located at Holmasloo 4. You can tour this full service chocolate factory (almost as rad as Mr Wonka's factory), where you will see how cocoa beans are transformed into high end, scrumptious delights. The shop sells its stylish bars (packaged with specially designed labels) which come in a multitude of sophisticated flavors such as coffee + milk and sea salted almonds. Note: you can find the bars for sale in shops throughout Reykjavik. Just down the street at Fiskisloo 59 is Kaffibrugghusio. This modern coffee roastery is run by the delightful Sonja Grant - be sure to stop by and say hello. Back in the city center (Old Reykjavik) at Fischersund 3 is my favorite shop in town - Fischer. Formally the recording studio of Icelandic musician Jonsi, frontman of the extraordinary band Sigur Ros, this concept store feels like walking through an immersive exhibition. Perfumes, Icelandic herbs, hand crafted soaps and candles, ethereal music and visual artwork play with all of the senses. Note: the store is open Monday through Saturday from 12p-6p and is closed on Sunday. My favorite record shop in Reykjavik is Lucky Records, found at Rauoararstigur 10. This deep den of musical goodness holds loads of modern Icelandic music, but plenty of vintage vinyl too.
It is now time to take in all the natural beauty Reykjavik and its surroundings has to offer. Laugardalur encompasses a green stretch of land 2 miles east of the city center. It was once the main source of Reykjavik’s hot water supply - it translates as ‘Hot Springs Valley' and in the park's center you'll find relics from the old wash house. The park is a favorite with locals for its huge swimming complex, fed by the geothermal spring, alongside a spa, cafe, skating rink, botanical gardens, sporting and concert arenas, and a zoo. In the surrounding residential streets you'll find Fru Lauga farmers market. Reykjavik's trailblazing farmers market sources its ingredients from all over the countryside, featuring treats such as skyr (Icelandic yogurt) from Erpsstadir Creamery, organic vegetables, chocolates, honey and meat. A popular activity for locals and tourists alike is to spend a few hours soaking in one of the city's thermal pools. Experience pure geothermal energy - not only is it a great source of natural therapy, it is also an important part of Icelandic culture and a tonic for the body and mind. My 3 favorite pools in Reykjavik are Sundhollin, Vesturbaer and Laugardalur. Located at Baronsstigur 45, Sundhollin is the oldest pool in the city (opened in 1937). The building was designed by noted architect Gudjon Samuelsson, who also designed Hallgrimskirkja, which can be seen from the sundeck. Sundhollin is unique because it boasts an ample indoor pool along with an outdoor pool - most are primarily outside. This Reykjavik favorite has a hot tub fitted with jacuzzi jets, an outdoor sauna and steam room. Note: the pool is open every day from 8a-10p. Vesturbaer is one of the most charming pools in the area. Located close to the University of Iceland on the west side of town, it is usually filled with both locals and students. It has a fantastic outdoor pool, four hot tubs, a cold tub and a lovely steam room. Note: the pool is open every day from 9a-10p. The star of Icelandic swimming pools has to be Laugardalur - it is the most popular pool in Reykjavik. It can be found in Laugardalur park on the east side of town. It has two outdoor pools, seven hot tubs (one filled with saltwater) and a sauna. It's the perfect place to go on a sunny or snowy day. Note: the pool is open every day from 8a-10p.
Finally, one cannot visit Iceland without taking a trip to the countryside to explore all of the natural wonders. There are 2 full day tour excursions from Reykjavik that I highly recommend. Several tour companies operate these expeditions - I went with Nicetravel and Your Day Tours. The first journey takes in the famous Golden Circle route in Southern Iceland with stops at: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir & Haukadalur Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall, Kerid Volcanic Crater and the world famous Blue Lagoon. Thingvellir National Park lies within the belt of volcanic activity and fissures which pass across Iceland - a part of the mid Atlantic ridge, the junction of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It is a nice feeling to stand with your right foot in Europe and the left one in America. Geysir - the largest geysers of Haukadalur are Strokkur and Geysir itself, which gives the others their name. Strokkur erupts every 5 to 10 minutes, throwing a column of water into the air to a height of 100 feet. Gullfoss is one of the most amazing waterfalls in Iceland. It is a double drop waterfall with a cascade of more than 100 feet, producing endless sheets of spray as more than a million gallons a minute of water crash down into a narrow canyon. The dramatic red earth Kerid Volcanic Crater is 900 feet wide and more than 200 feet deep. There is a lake in the bottom of the crater which gives it a little bit of allure. You conclude the tour at the famed Blue Lagoon. Located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon is a magical place, where silky blue waters scatter black lava fields. A long soak in this geothermal hot spring is the perfect way to end your day.
The second day tour from Reykjavik covers Iceland's South Coast and makes a visit to the active Fagradalsfjall Volcano. Stops on this full day tour include: Skogafoss Waterfall, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Solheimajokull Glacier, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach and the Reynisdrangar Cliffs. Skogafoss is one of the most photogenic and visited waterfalls in Iceland. It is 200 feet high and 85 feet wide. There are a few ways to admire Skogafoss, either from the steps on the right side of the waterfall where you have a beautiful view from above or right in front of it where you can feel its awesome power. Seljalandsfoss is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland because in the summer you can walk directly behind the falling water. It is about 200 feet high and the water from the river is so pure that you can drink it. Solheimajokull Glacier is located between two of Iceland's most famous volcanoes, Eyjafjallajokull and Katla. The glacier is part of a bigger one called Myrdalsjokull and it is totally awesome. Reynisfjara is a unique place - it is the most famous black sand beach in the country and one of the most well known in the world. The landscape is picturesque, with basalt columns by the beach and beautiful Puffin birds on the cliffs. The three sea stacks called Reynisdrangar rise up in the ocean with the island Dyraholaey not far away, making for one of the most stunning panoramas in all of Iceland. You conclude the tour with a once in a lifetime experience - a hike up to Geldingadalur Valley to see an active volcano eruption. Fagradalsfjall Volcano started to erupt on the Reykjanes Peninsula in March 2021 and continues to blow lava to this day (at the time of this writing in July 2021). You will have the opportunity (weather permitting) to enjoy astonishing views of the eruption and lava flows - an experience of a lifetime indeed.
WHERE TO EAT
Reykjavik has a number of great places to eat and enjoy a drink or two. Start your day at Sandholt Bakery, located at Laugavegur 36. This family cafe always draws a crowd with its generous assortment of fresh baguettes, croissants, pastries and sandwiches. Do try the pancakes with blueberries, cream and maple syrup. Note: the bakery is open every day from 7a-6p. Around the corner at Frakkastigur 16 is the excellent Braud & Co Bakery. Look for the building covered in rainbow spray paint then line up for the best snudur (cinnamon roll) in town. Note: the bakery is open every day from 6a-5p. Just up the street at Karastigur 1 is Reykjavik Roasters. This chill cafe does a mean latte and has some delicious treats. Another relaxing spot in the city center is Mikki Refur, found at Hverfisgata 18. I enjoyed a silky milky along with a yummy cinnamon and hazelnut crumble cake. Note: the cafe doubles as a wine bar in the evening. Located in the Botanical Gardens east of the city center is Floran Cafe. This lovely greenhouse and terrace bistro specializes in wholesome local ingredients - some grown in the gardens themselves. Soups come with sourdough bread, while snacks range from cheese platters with nuts and honey to scrumptious sandwiches. Weekend brunch, great coffee and homemade cakes round it all out. Note: the cafe is open May through September.
I like soup and my go to spot in Reykjavik is Svarta Kaffid at Laugavegur 54. This upstairs joint does two soups daily in a sourdough bread bowl - one with meat and one vegetarian. Down the mostly pedestrian street at Laugavegur 21 is Kaffi Brennslan. Choose from the coffees, salads and sandwiches on offer while allowing continued people watching through the plate glass windows. There are 2 dynamite food halls in town that are a must visit. The first is Hlemmur Matholl, located at Laugavegur 107. If only all bus stations had a food court like this. Some ten vendors rustle up multicultural foods including Danish smorrebrod (rye bread), Mexican tacos and Vietnamese street food. My favorite of the bunch is SKAL! This place demands your attention - with its capital lettering and punctuation, but most emphatically with its food. Experimental offerings combine unusual flavors (fermented garlic, birch sugar, Arctic thyme salt) with Icelandic ingredients to impressive effect, best sampled on a stool at its neon topped bar. There's an extensive list of vegan creations and the top notch cocktails feature foraged herbs. Note: most of the stalls inside the food hall kick into action by lunchtime. The second spot is Grandi Matholl, found at Grandagardur 16 in the Old Harbour. There's no finer example of Grandi's rejuvenation than the transformation of this old fish factory into a pioneering street food hall. Long trestle tables sit beside stalls selling a diverse range of lamb, fish and veggie delights - look out for the Gastro Truck, its succulent signature chicken burger has quite a jalapeno kick. Nearby at Grandagardur 10 is Kaffivagninn. Established in 1935, this harborside eatery is Iceland's oldest restaurant. Enjoy fish and chips or the fish stew as you look out at the boats in the harbor. Also in the Old Harbour at Geirsgata 8 is Saegreifinn. This old school shack has the most famous lobster soup in the city. In addition, you can select from a fridge full of fresh fish skewers to be grilled on the spot.
Reykjavik has a few establishments for takeaway and the following 3 are the finest. First is Fish & Chips, found in the Old Harbour in front of the Maritime Museum. Delicious, piping hot fish and chips are on offer at this simple food truck. Second is Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, found at Tryggvagata 1. Icelanders swear the city's best hot dogs are found at this stand near the harbor. Note: be sure to use the vital phrase 'eina med ollu' (one with everything) to get the quintessential favorite with sweet mustard, ketchup and crunchy onions. The third is Valdis, located at Frakkastigur 10. Throughout summer happy patrons flock here, take a number and join the crowd waiting for a scoop chosen from the huge array of homemade ice creams. Yours truly destroyed creamy coffee gelato in a waffle cone. Note: there is another location at Grandagardur 21 in the Old Harbour.
Matarkjallarinn can be found at Adalstraeti 2 in the city center. The 'Food Cellar' does fantastic brasserie style dishes using Icelandic ingredients along with skillful cocktails. Do try the slow cooked cod, moss cured salmon or smoked Arctic char. Wash it all down with a Moscow Mule - on draft. Note: the restaurant is open every day starting at 5p. For outstanding seafood, make your way to Messinn at Laekjargata 6. The specialty here is the amazing pan fried dishes - your pick of fish is served up in a sizzling cast iron skillet, accompanied by buttery potatoes and a salad. Note: the restaurant is open every day starting at 5p. Just down the street at Laekjargata 2 is the superb Grillmarkadurinn (Barbecue Market). Top notch dining is the order of the day here, from the moment you enter the glass atrium with its golden globe lights to your first snazzy cocktail, and on throughout the meal. The service is impeccable, and locals and visitors alike rave about the food, which uses Icelandic ingredients prepared with culinary imagination by master chefs. Go with the tasting menu - it is an extravaganza of the best dishes. Note: the restaurant is open every day starting at 6p and reservations are recommended. Its sister restaurant, Fiskmarkadurinn (Fish Market), is located at Adalstraeti 12. Dramatic presentations of elaborate dishes fill the tables of this intimate, artistically lit restaurant, where chefs excel at infusing Icelandic seafood with Asian flavors such as lotus root. The tasting menu is acclaimed and the place is renowned for its excellent sushi bar. Note: the restaurant is open every day starting at 5p and reservations are essential.
There are 3 places that I especially enjoyed for traditional Icelandic cuisine: Matur og Drykkur, Thrir Frakkar and Cafe Loki. Located at Grandagardur 2 in the Old Harbour, Matur og Drykkur (Food and Drink) is one of Reykjavik's top high concept restaurants. The brainchild of brilliant chef Gisli Matthias Audunsson, it creates inventive versions of traditional Icelandic fare. The brave can take on the traditional cod's head or choose from fish, lamb or one of the exquisite tasting menus (including a vegetarian option). The desserts and wine list are out of this world. Note: the restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday starting at 6p and reservations are crucial. Thrir Frakkar (Three Coats) can be found at Baldursgata 14 in the city center. Chef Ulfar Eysteinsson has built up a consistently excellent reputation at this cozy little restaurant. Specialties range throughout the aquatic world from salt cod and halibut to plokkfiskur (fish stew) with black bread. Super traditional items on the menu include horse, whale and puffin (that adorable little sea bird). Cafe Loki is adjacent to Hallgrimskirkja at Lokastigur 28. This no frills cafe serves up homemade grub - house favorites include lamb meat soup, gratinated mashed fish and the gnarly fermented shark (which requires a shot of chilled Brennivin to make it go down). For your information, Brennivin is considered to be Iceland's signature distilled beverage - a type of aquavit. Be sure to save room for Loki’s unique rye bread ice cream. Note: sit upstairs for views of the church.
Kol is located at Skolavordustigur 40, just down from Hallgrimskirkja. Arrive early, snag a comfortable seat, marvel at the interior design and prepare yourself for a truly remarkable culinary expedition. Each dish at this fashionable restaurant is carefully paired with wine and delivered with a detailed narrative by the well informed staff. Choices to send your senses into overdrive include the seafood soup, charred salmon and an assemblage of delectable desserts. Note: the restaurant does a fantastic weekend brunch. For a taste of something different, head to the excellent Sumac at Laugavegur 28. Inspired by the nostalgic atmosphere of the city of Beirut, Sumac is a place where locals and visitors can enjoy delicious Middle Eastern Cuisine and handcrafted Mediterranean cocktails. Try to score a spot at the chef's counter and go with the seven course tasting menu. Highlights include grilled flatbread with baba ghanoush and hummus, grilled cabbage and oyster mushrooms, roasted cauliflower and grilled chicken thighs. For dessert, it's date cake and coconut ice cream. One of several tasty cocktails I enjoyed was the Sumac (gin, sumac, lime and ginger beer). Note: the restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday starting at 6pm and reservations are imperative. ROK can be found at Frakkastigur 26. Duck into this rustic timber house with a turf roof and sunny terrace across from Hallgrimskirkja for high concept small plates and superb wines. Do consider the ROK salad with avocado dressing and caramelized hazelnuts, lemon cured salmon with goat cheese, cucumber and dill on a roasted baguette, langoustine with green apples, garlic, onion and creamy sauce, and the cured reindeer with blue cheese, almonds and burned butter. Note: the restaurant is open every day, be sure to book ahead. Last but certainly not least is Dill, located on the second floor at Laugavegur 59. The finest in Reykjavik, Dill is the first restaurant in Iceland to be awarded a Michelin star in 2017. Founding chef Gunnar Karl Gislasson is at the helm of this exquisite New Nordic institution. Chef uses a small number of ingredients to create highly complex dishes in a parade of courses which pair perfectly with the organic wines. A few selections from the tasting menu include salt baked and butter roasted onion with caviar and buttermilk, wild goose with pickled bilberries and grilled butter, and smoked chocolate with rhubarb and chervil. Note: the restaurant is open Wednesday through Saturday starting at 6p and reservations need to be made well in advance.
End your evening in Reykjavik with a drink or two. Kaffibarinn can be found at Bergstadastraeti 1 in the city center. This old house with the London Underground symbol over the door contains one of the city's coolest bars - it even had a starring role in the cult movie 101 Reykjavik. Head upstairs for a pint of Gull or Einstok Icelandic beer. Located at Grandagardur 8 in the Old Harbour is Bryggjan Brugghus. Cavernous, dimly lit and dotted with vintage pub paraphernalia, this harborside hangout is the first independent microbrewery in Iceland. The brewhouse has over a dozen taps which dispense its own fresh tasting beers. For the best cocktail in town, head to Jungle Bar on the second floor at Austurstraeti 9. The atmosphere is chill, the staff is friendly and the drinks are dynamite. Do try the Defibrillator (brennivin, rhubarb, lemon and absinthe). Note: the bar opens at 5p and is closed on Tuesday. Another hip joint is Vedur, found at Klapparstigur 33. This fashionable spot has a beautifully lit bar, welcoming vibe, acclaimed cocktails and a long happy hour. Across the street is my favorite place in town. Kaldi is at Laugavegur 20 - despite the address, it is set just off Laugavegur, on Klapparstigur. Effortlessly cool with mismatched seats and teal banquettes, plus a popular courtyard, Kaldi is awesome for its range of five house microbrews and numerous Icelandic gins.
WHERE TO STAY
Reykjavik offers a number of places to call home during your stay and there are 2 that I especially enjoyed. Both are in prime locations and provide exceptional service, modern amenities and comfort. The first is Alda Hotel, located at Laugavegur 66. This upscale boutique hotel along the mostly pedestrian shopping street is a short walk from Hallgrimskirkja church and not far from the Sun Voyager sculpture. Contemporary rooms feature free WiFi, flat screen TVs, and tea and coffeemakers, as well as rainfall showers. Upgraded quarters add ocean or mountain views, balconies and separate living areas. Amenities include a hip bar with a chic stone fireplace, a rooftop terrace, a sauna and hot tub, and complimentary cell phones given to guests (all local calls and data are on the house).
A second option is Sand Hotel, located down the road at Laugavegur 34. On a street with shops and restaurants, this fashionable boutique hotel in a former townhouse is adjacent to the outstanding Sandholt Bakery and not far from Harpa concert hall. Featuring muted tones, hardwood floors and comfy beds with knotted headboards - the stylish rooms have complimentary WiFi, flat screen TVs, bluetooth speakers and Nespresso machines, as well as designer toiletries. Upgrades add cozy living rooms with sofas and slanting ceilings. Other perks include breakfast breads and pastries from the bakery which are, of course, superb.
Reykjavik has an abundance of natural beauty, wonderful art, delicious cuisine, impressive architecture and fascinating culture. It treated me well and I look forward to returning. Until next time, takk Island.