Small town charm in the Icelandic metropolis Reykjavík #places

4 min read

Places can affect us, create a certain atmosphere that remains for a long time, and give us new impressions. What is a city like? Where does this feeling come from, the effect that you feel in the city? In our #places section, we take you to the European capitals – to introduce you to places, personalities, buildings that reflect the city in all its facets. Let’s go to … Reykjavík!

[Translate to englisch:] Skyline von Reykjavik mit schneebedeckten Bergen

#place: Reykjavík

Country: Island
Inhabitants: 123.246
Area: 277,1 km2
Famous Landmark: Hallgrímurs Church


In the very north of Europe is the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, which is the largest city in the country, but tiny compared to London, Berlin or Paris: Just about 120,000 inhabitants live here. In addition to northern lights, museums and hot springs you can discover a lot in Reykjavik - in a village-like ambience.

Sculpture Sun Voyager ba artist Jón Gunnar Árnason
street with houses and view of the mountains in the background


The sculpture „Sun Voyager“ (isl. Sólfar) was created by the artist Jón Gunnar Árnason in a competition that he won with his extraordinary work of art. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the city of Reykjavík, the city unveiled his sculpture on 18 August 1990 on the northern coastal road Sæbraut. "Sun Voyager" is made of stainless steel and according to its name aligned towards sunset in the north. Its resembles a Viking ship, because the Viking Ingolfur Anarson is said to have built his house at this very spot as the first permanent settler. Depending on the weather, the sculpture creates an impressive play of light and seems to glow at sunset - a perfect starting point for a relaxed stroll along the sea!

Address: Sæbraut, 101 Reykjavík

Entrance to the water-tank Perlan

Enjoy a unique panoramic view of the city - from the water reservoir Perlan. The building was designed by Ingimundur Sveinsson and opened in 1991. The tanks store warm water from the ground, which is used both to supply the population and to heat sidewalks and roads in winter. But there's another reason why you should definitely come here: the 360 ° viewing platform gives you a unique view of the entire city, which can also be enjoyed from the rotating restaurant on the top floor. There is also a planetarium and a museum in the building.

Address: Öskjuhlíð, Reykjavík, 105, Reykjavík

The Opera house Harpa from outside
[Translate to englisch:] Glaselemente im innern des Opernhauses Harpa

The Harpa Opera and Concert Hall, designed by Henning Larsen Architects, opened in 2011 and houses the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and Opera. The highlight of the building is the  façade by the artist Ólafur Elíasson, which consists of a honeycomb-like structure made of glass. Depending on the time of the day and the light, visitors can experience unique color effects.

Address: Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavík

Interesting Places

The Blue Lagoon near Reykjavík has become a tourist attraction. In the 37 to 42 ° C hot thermal bath you can enjoy the heat on 5000 sqm. At the same time the water should have a healing effect, because it contains mineral salts, silica and salts. Unfortunately, the Blue Grotto is often very crowded and the entrance fee is expensive. Our recommendation:Vvisit the Nauthólsvík geothermal bath during your holiday in Reykjavík, located on the outskirts of the city and frequented by many locals. There you will find a temperate pool, a sea water lagoon and of course the North Atlantic Ocean.

Address: Nauthólsvík, 108 Reykjavík

By the way: Many Icelanders believe in the existence of elves and trolls who live in the many rocks of the island. So it happens that buildings, roads or sidewalks are partially built around these rocks, so that the magical inhabitants are not disturbed. The construction office of the capital is even said to have hired an "Elf Commissioner".

Best Food

The Vinyl Bistro is not a classic cafe. With its DJ console, delicious dishes and a huge collection of records, it is an urban restaurant on the one hand and a music shop on the other. In addition to enjoying a delicious coffee drink, you can have a nice lunch here: whether soups, burgers or wraps - with meat, vegetarian or vegan, there is something for everyone. The owner is a music lover and has been collecting vinyl records of all genres for over 40 years. If you are interested, you can browse a bit and maybe you will find a rarity. It becomes particularly atmospheric when the bistro turns into a bar with its own DJ in the evening. The perfect place to stop for a quick lunch snack or to end the evening.

Address: Hverfisgata 76, 101 Reykjavík

Those who would like to have a small treat, should visit "Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur": A hot dog stand, which is said to offer the tastiest hot dogs in Europe. In total there are three stands in Reykjavik where the popular fast food snack with ketchup, sweet mustard, roasted and raw onions and of course a special remoulade are prepared. On well-attended days, all three booths together sell over 1,000 hot dogs. Since 1937 Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is located near the harbour, right in the city center of the Icelandic capital. Even Bill Clinton was a guest here to taste this delicious fast food specialty. Talking about fast food: Iceland is one of the few countries where there is not a single Mc Donald's restaurant!

Address: Tryggvagata 1, 101 Reykjavík

[Translate to englisch:] © I, User:Jóhann Heiðar Árnason, Bæjarins bestu, CC BY-SA 3.0


In 2005, the designer BergÞóra Guðnadóttir and the musician Jóel Pálsson founded the fashion label "Farmers Market". From original Icelandic Lopi wool, sweaters, jackets and other garments are made with traditional zigzags on sleeves and collars. The Lopapeysa, the classic Iceland pullover, was designed in the 1950s and was considered unfashionable for many years. Meanwhile, it is very popular again - for kids and grown-ups. In addition to these traditional woolen clothes you will also find shoes, books and records in the two beautifully designed shops.

Address: Holmaslod 2, Grandi, 101 Reykjavík und Laugavegur 37, 101 Reykjavík

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