A Dam Essential Guide to Reykjavik, Iceland - You asked for it. Well, according to google you did, with Reykjavik, Iceland topping the most searched cities of 2016.
Pronounced Ray-Key-Ya-Vik, known as one of the most expensive places in the world, and being temporary home to the author, we thought we'd arm you with some local knowledge to ensure you save some money and get the most out of your stay in the Northernmost Capital of the world.
How to get there?
With a bunch of airlines offering cheap direct flights via the US, UK or mainland Europe, Iceland has seen a surge in scenic hungry holiday goers. With Iceland being a main stopover from the US into mainland Europe, you'll find no shortage of European bound Americans floating around the blue lagoon or filling cafes in downtown.
After flying into the only International aiprort (Keflavik airport), you'll need to jump on a 45 minute bus ride to Reykjavik. There's two options here the Flybus or Eurolines which you're guaranteed a seat on, day or night - and can book tickets online here, or when you arrive in either USD, Euros or ISK.
Where to stay?
With literally 1000's of Airbnb's becoming available in recent years (to many, (Non-AirBnb -owning) locals disapproval), they're a good option for small groups or couples.
For the solo traveler or the seasoned hosteler, Kex or Loft hostels are the jewels in the Reykjavik crown. Both centrally located in 101 Reykjavik, reasonably priced and providing weekly entertainment, you might even bump into some locals as the hostel bars play host to regular gigs and events throughout the week.
For those coming in the warmer months and planning on camping, check out Reykjavik campsite - an environmental friendly campsite located in a green area in the city, around 3km from the centre, and accommodating up to 650 people in tents, cabins, cars or caravans. Unless you know someone with a spare couch, this is your cheapest option.
What to expect?
Resembling a Nordic fairytale juxtaposed against a harsh and extreme backdrop. With polarizing long summer days and equally long winter nights, Reykjavik often makes for a sensory overload. With Mt Esja looming in the background, framing the postcard like rows of children's coloring book inspired houses and art installations, you'll be stuck for choice for that next insta post.
What to do?
With plenty of activities, a friendly local vibe, lively nightlife and assortment of pricey, but cosy bars and cafes, you'll have no trouble filling a few days, and likely no trouble draining your bank account.
Soak in a Hot Pool
The English have pubs, the Dutch have coffeeshops and the Icelanders, hot pots. Chilling in a pool of hot water chatting with your mates is as Icelandic as Icelandic gets. The local Hot Pools are publicly owned so If you're in town for awhile or want to visit a few different pools, ask about a multi visit pass to save some cash.
Go to the Nauthólsvík beach.
Tonnes of golden sand has been imported to create this city-side beach located next to the domestic airport. With accompanying hot pot, this beach is always a popular option with loclas to soak up the long, albeit not so hot summer days.
There's a bunch of affordable museums around town - learn some Icelandic heritage at the National Museum of Iceland or have your mind blown at Whales of Iceland.
Go to a Gig
The Icelanders don't just look the hipster part, they do a great job at playing it too. There's no doubt they're a talented bunch. We don't need to throw some ridiculous per capita stats or Bjork at you, just head downtown and check out some gigs for yourself.
Never miss an event - Download Whats Appening
For the most comprehensive list of gigs and events in Reykjavik, download the Appening App from the legends at the Reykjavik Grapevine.
Go to a big gig (Concert)
Harpa Concert Hall - Controversial, but architecturally impressive. Home to some epic cultural and musical performances and located in a great place to check out the sunset.
Catch a boat to Viðey Island
A short ferry ride to Viðey island to check out some ancient ruins and the Imagine Peace Tower in the winter months makes for a memorable experience and for some epic photos.
After instagramming your way through downtown, ticking off the epic view from the questionably shaped Church, and strolling down Laugevegur you'll be ready to..
Eat & Drink.
Not only talented, but equally thirsty, surprisingly beer was illegal in Iceland until 1989. Thankfully wiser minds prevailed, allowing the golden nectar to flow. Praise the lord did I hear you say? Due to a state run monopoly of alcohol stores known as "Vinbudin", a night on the juice could leave you short an arm and a leg.
Luckily for you (and I), there’s a solution - the geniuses (and most likely Icelandic) folk at the Reykjavik Grapevine, have created a solution that will have you bar hopping your way around 101 enjoying Iceland's finest (Cheapest) beer and wine at happy hour prices from dusk til dawn. The "Appy' hour" app provides an exhaustive and thirst quenching list of every happy hour in town , Skál to that!
Assuming sheep's head and fermented shark aren't your top pick after a day of exploring, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to fresh fish restaurants, so grab your wallet and head down to the harbor.
If a €30 fish and chips doesn't tickle your fancy (and wallet), do as the locals do and grab yourself A Pylsur, that's american hotdog to you, and finish it off with an Ice cream for good measure.
Wifi, Coffee & Chill.
Cosier than your grandmas house, Cafe Babalu is a tiny cafe just off Laugevegur serving coffee, sweet treats and offering a well priced soup and toastie special, daily. On warmer days enjoy the view and a cuppa' on the rooftop terrace looking over the hoards of tourists and puffin shops.
Sunlight hours and the Northern Lights
for With drastically changing sunlight hours, the midnight sun in summer allows for midnight frisbee golf which is cool and all. But when the sunlight starts rapidly changing, the real treat starts. Initally being treat to the most magnificent sunsets, soon the sun will struggle to rise, but fuck it! you say, as by night you'll be treat to a spectacle like no other.
Check out Vedur for a pretty accurate forecast of the dancing lights.
We hope this post helps you get the most out of your time and money in Iceland. If you know someone planning on visiting Reykjavik, share this blog with them or tag them below!
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