Reykjavik travel guide

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Reykjavik, iceland

Reykjavik travel guide

Backdropped by the hulking Mount Esja and perched on the southern shores of Faxaflói Bay, nature is never far away in Reykjavik.

Yet, despite its obvious natural beauties, the world’s most northerly capital is a vibrant place that’s home to rows of colourful houses and a populace that gives the concept of living for the moment a whole new meaning.

Reykjavik is where the great outdoors takes centre stage with sea, mountains, rivers, woodlands, parks and geothermal swimming pools, all intimately connected.

Start with a trip to the artificial beach at Nauthólsvík, where golden sands and a geothermal-heated sea water lagoon combine to pleasant effect. If you want something more energetic, activities like cycling, hiking, horse riding, sailing and fishing can all be enjoyed on Reykjavik’s doorstep.

Thought, these natural wonders can belie the fact that the city has much to offer in the way of urban attractions too. Reykjavik’s nightlife attracts legions of tourists keen to sample its legendary bars and clubs, and as nightspots tend to stay open until the early hours of the morning, visitors will need plenty of stamina as well money.

During the day, Reykjavik is a far more sedate place with trim houses, rubbish-free streets and an easygoing pace of life. There are bountiful cultural attractions from museums and art galleries to a cinema that shows non-stop footage of Iceland’s historic volcanic eruptions during the summer.

Those volcanoes, although still prone to the periodic eruption, have become part of the quintessential Iceland experience and are easily reached from the capital.

So too are the country’s many hot springs and geysers, while lurking offshore are vast pods of whales – many of which politely surface as whale watching boats approach.

Scandinavian in its egalitarianism, naturally beautiful and just plain old good fun, Reykjavik is a place you’ll keep coming back to.

Things to see in Reykjavik

 
This video guide provide by NextStop.TV

Iceland Tourist offices

Tourist Information Centre

Adalstraeti 2, Miðborg, Reykjavik, 101, Iceland
Tel: +354 5 901 550.
Opening Hours: Daily 0830-1900 (summer); Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat-Sun 1000-1400 (winter).
www.visitreykjavik.is

Passes:

Available for 24, 36 or 72 hours, the Reykjavik City Card (www.visitreykjavik.is/travel/reykjavik-city-card) offers unlimited transport on city buses as well as admission to seven geothermal swimming pools and most of the city’s museums and galleries. It can be purchased from the Tourist Information Centre, the BSI central bus station, hotels, guesthouses, museums and pools.

Heita Potturinn (Hot Pots)

Geothermal swimming pools and hot pots play a major part in Icelandic life. The largest in Reykjavik is Laugardalslaug, which has a 50m (150ft) pool, waterslide, five thermal pools of differing temperatures and a steam bath. Be warned: a nude shower is required before you get in.

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 0630-2200, Sat-Sun 0800-2200.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Laugardalur, Sundlaugavegur, Reykjavik, 105, Iceland
Telephone: +354 411 5100.
Website: www.itr.is
Listasafn Reykjavikur (Reykjavik Art Museum)

Known collectively as the Reykjavik Art Museum and housed in three locations around the city (Harbour House or Hafnarhúsid, Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum and the Kjarval Collection), this museum offers up a wealth of Icelandic culture. Expect changing exhibitions by Icelandic and international artists in a variety of media.

Opening Times: Mon-Sun 1300-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes (except for Mondays).
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Tryggvagötu 17, Asmundarsafn, Reykjavik, 101, Iceland
Telephone: +354 5 532 155.
Website: artmuseum.is
Reykjavik Maritime Museum

Visiting Iceland without learning something about its maritime tradition is like going to the UK and ignoring the royals. Housed in an old freezing plant by the harbour, the city’s marine museum charts the industry since its inception in the Viking period and contains thousands of ship and sea related artefacts – some quirky in the extreme.

Opening Times: Mon-Sun 1100-1700
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Grandagarður 8, Miðborg, Reykjavik, 101, Iceland
Telephone: +354 4 116 300.
Árbæjarsafn (Árbær Open-Air Folk Museum)

Árbæjarsafn is Reykjavík’s folk museum, and the largest open-air museum in Iceland. It comprises about 30 buildings dating from between 1820 and 1920. Events are scheduled every Sunday, though craftspeople are around daily and happy to demonstrate how local handicrafts are made.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-1700 (Jun-Aug); guided tours only (Sep-May).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Árbæjarsafn v/Kistuhyl, Stekkir, Reykjavik, 110, Iceland
Telephone: +354 4 116 300.
Listasafn Íslands (National Gallery of Iceland)

Iceland’s National Gallery houses a permanent collection of paintings and sculpture by Icelandic and international artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. It also stages temporary exhibitions of Icelandic art. Housed in a modernist building that was originally built for ice storage, it comprises four exhibition rooms, a cafe, lecture hall, art library and bookshop.

Opening Times: Tue-Sat 1000-1700 (15 May-15 Sep), Tue-Sat 1100-1700 (16 Sep-14 May).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Fríkirkjuvegur 7, Miðborg, Reykjavik, 101, Iceland
Telephone: +354 5 159 600.
Perlan (The Pearl)

Landscaped gardens, complete with artificial geyser, lead to the top of Öskjuhlíd Hill and Reykjavik’s architectural masterpiece – the Pearl. This magnificent glass structure houses a revolving restaurant and the Saga Museum, while the fourth floor boasts a viewing deck with spectacular views over Reykjavik.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-1800 (Apr-Sep); daily 1200-1700 (Oct-Mar) (museum).
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Öskjuhlíd Hill, Hlíðar, Reykjavik, 125, Iceland
Telephone: +354 562 0200.
Website: www.perlan.is
Thjódminjasafn Íslands (National Museum of Iceland)

Founded in 1863, the National Museum of Iceland has a huge range of relics and tools spanning 11 centuries of history. Beginning with the Viking period, it houses everything from medieval altar cloths to ancient pots, though its star attraction remains a 12th-century door depicting a Norse battle. It also hosts temporary exhibitions.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-1700 (May-Sep), 1100-1700 Tue-Sun (Sep-Apr).
Admission Fees: Yes (except Wednesdays).
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Sudurgata 41, Miðborg, Reykjavik, 101, Iceland
Telephone: +354 5 302 200.
Hallgrímskirkja (Church of Hallgrímur)

Reykjavik’s highest and most imposing structure, Hallgrímskirkja, is visible from over 20km (12 miles) away. Begun in the late 1940s and completed in 1986, the stark, light-filled interior of this church and its architectural resemblance to basaltic lava, elicits mixed reactions. Many visit to view the city from the tower – the panorama is superb.

Opening Times: Daily 0900-1700 (tower).
Admission Fees: No (charge for the tower).
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Skólavörðuholti, Miðborg, Reykjavik, 101, Iceland
Telephone: +354 5 101 000.
Reykjavik Park and Zoo

Ideal for a family outing, the zoo has 150 animals across 19 species as well as an aquarium. The seal feeding times are particularly popular with young visitors, while a number of activities are on offer including horse riding. The adjacent Family Park is crammed with action-packed rides for children.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-1800 (summer); daily 1000-1700 (winter).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Hafrafell, Laugarnesvegur, Reykjavik, 101, Iceland
Telephone: +354 5 757 800.
Website: www.mu.is
Sigurjon Olafsson Museum

This idiosyncratic museum is devoted to the life’s work of Sigurjon Olafsson, one of Iceland’s most famed artists. Alongside 80 of his sculptures, the museum showcases many of his sketches and drawings. Occasional temporary exhibitions (naturally Olafsson heavy) and regular summer concerts make this one of Reykjavik‘s most rewarding hideaways.

Opening Times: Tue-Sun 1400-1700 (Jun-Aug), Sat-Sun 1400-1700 (Sep-May).
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Laugarnestangi 70, Laugarnes, Reykjavik, 105, Iceland
Telephone: +354 5 532 906.
Website: www.lso.is

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