Reykjavik City Touring from our AirBnB
After taking day trips on the Golden Circle and the South Coast, we took it easy on our own self guided Reykjavik City Touring. Our AirBnB was in a perfect location at the eastern end of Laugavegur St. Laugavegur is worth walking any time of day. The street is popular with tourists for restaurants, shopping and people watching. At the western end of Laugavegur, you will find historic buildings, museums and parks.
If you visit at sunset, walk up to Hallgrímskirkja, the Lutheran Church of Iceland. Hallgrímskirkja Church is styled after basalt columns. A statue of Leif Erikson is placed at the front of the church. When the setting sun lights the front of the church, it’s awesome. Another nice spot to visit at sunset is the Sun Voyager sculpture on the harbor, just a couple blocks away from Laugavegur Street.
Reykjavik City Touring – Harpa
Almost any time of day is a good time to visit Harpa. The Harpa concert hall is open to the public for free from early in the morning to late at night. The concert hall’s design of colored glass is unique. We chose to watch their heavily advised Iceland in 3D, but I don’t recommend it. Although the idea of viewing from 4 simultaneously synced cameras sounds cool, the film is not shot with even HD quality. Any 4K film of Iceland will produce a better result. Visit Harpa after sunset and watch the simulated northern lights on the gigantic glass side of the building. In the winter, head to the Perlan for dinner with a chance for views of the real northern lights.
Reykjavik City Touring – Perlan
The Perlan is a tourist attraction a few minutes drive from the main tourist area in Reykjavik. We caught the free shuttle between the Harpa Concert Hall and the Perlan, which makes it easy to visit. The Perlan offers a number of exhibits including an ice cave to walk through, a two story replica of birds nesting on sea cliffs and a planetarium that will open in November 2018. The photography of Iceland’s recent volcanic activity at Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 and at Bárðarbunga in 2014 was amazing.
We also enjoyed the interactive Glaciers Exhibit. The Glaciers Exhibit allows you control a map of Iceland to view the size of the diminishing ice sheets by year. Sadly, puffins are predicted to leave Iceland permanently in the near future, because it’s getting too warm for them. The Perlan also has 360 degree views of Reykjavik from the observation deck. Visit the restaurant in winter and you might catch views of the northern lights while dining.
Reykjavik City Touring – Restaurants
Restaurants in Iceland are expensive. In fact everything in Iceland is expensive. Once you adjust to paying $25 US for two small coffees and a couple of pastries, you will find it easier to pay for quality meals. We enjoyed some of the standard recommendations during our Reykjavik City Touring. Glo is a popular vegetarian choice in the downtown tourist area. Typical of many restaurants, you order, pay and then sit down to eat. Another popular choice in the downtown area is Reykjavik Fish-Restaurant. The fish is great whether it’s deep fried or in their plokkari fish & potato soup. The fish skin lamp lighting makes for a special atmosphere.
Reykjavik City Touring – Hot Dog Stand, Bakery
Tourists flock to the Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog stand near the harbor for its famous hotdogs. We visited on a Sunday at noon and the line ups were very long. Another popular spot on a Sunday morning is the Braud & Co bakery. The bakery service was fast even though the line went out onto the street.
Reykjavik City Touring – Hlemmur – Mathöll
We really enjoyed the more modern feel at the new Hlemmur – Mathöll mini restaurant mall at the bus interchange near our AirBnB. In the morning we enjoyed lattes at Te Kaffi and pastry from a small outlet of the well known Braud & Co. Bakery. For lunch there was a sandwich & pizza place. In the evenings Vietnamese pho soup or the Krost restaurant menu were available. Hlemmur – Mathöll also has a gelato vendor. It’s a greet place to eat any time of day.
We really enjoyed our Reykjavik City Touring day. We felt like more like locals instead of tourists rushing to see all the attractions.