If you're headed on vacay to Iceland, the country's bustling major city will be your home base. There, you will come to understand that Reykjavík is a thriving, sophisticated community with beautiful, colorful rooftops and an eclectic, to say the least, culture. —INGRAIN, Fall/Winter 2019
STORY / Kirill Taranouchtchenko
It’s also a pretty great place to eat and, in the summertime, to stay up drinking beer until the wee hours—because at midnight, it’s still light out. (A quick side note: Some people still believe in elves and trolls, so you’ll see statues of them scattered around.)
Be sure to pack these useful phrases and tips from travel expert and designer Mary Cecchini of Living Big Travel.
Hello Halló (“how-low”)
Thank you Þakka þér (“pa-ka pierre”)
Cheers Skál (“scowl”)
Where is the bathroom? Hvar er baðherbergið? (“ha-var er bar-hair-bear-go?”)
Yes Já (“ya’ll”)
No Nei (“nay”)
Laugavegur 20b, +354 581 2200
The city’s first microbrewery with a Viking-era feel.
Vesturgata 2, +354 865 8389
Hard-to-find craft brews, many local.
Hverfisgata 12, +354 437 0203
Danish brewery with a great vibe (entrance is on the side of the building).
Coffee brewed from locally roasted beans.
Lokastígur 28, +354 466 2828
Authentic Icelandic fare; try the cured fish for breakfast.
Tryggvagata 1, +354 511 1566
Pylsu Icelandic Dogs done right by the best street stand in town.
Pizza, the global comfort food (delivery available to some hotels).
Tryggvagata 11, +354 511 1118
Not your average fried fish, this comes fresh from the docks.
Austurstræti 9, +354 587 7555
Cool bar with satisfying burgers and sandwiches.
Matarkjallarinn (The Food Cellar)
Aðalstræti 2, +354 558 0000
Stellar seafood and great cocktails.
Skólavörðustígur 8, +354 562 2772
Local specialties (smoked fish, goose, lamb, pickled vegetables).
Geirsgata 8, +354 553 1500
Not-to-miss lobster soup; also, meat skewers (no reservations–expect to wait in line).
Sæmundur í Sparifötu (KEX hotel)
Skúlagata 28, +354 561 606
Icelandic-inspired gastropub fare (look for the nondescript door with a large “28”).
Various tour companies
A good way to explore the city (book in advance).
Hallgrimskirkja Church (aka Big Church)
Ride the elevator to the top of this 70-meter-tall church for 360-degree views of the city.
Laugavegur 116, +354 561 6663
Study everything related to the penis, including the penis of every known mammal on display.
Suðurgata 41, +354 530 2200
Explore Icelandic artifacts on display in the many permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Grandagarður 8, +354 411 6300
Learn about the impact of the fishing trade on the local economy.
Aðalstræti 16, +354 411 6370
Take a step back in time to the Viking Age.
Norðurljósavegur 11, 240 Grindavík, +354 420 8800
A geothermal spa with milk-blue waters (rich with silica) and breathtaking scenery; pre-pay for faster check-in and slather your hair with conditioner before you get in the water (the minerals will make it brittle for days). A good stop after an overnight flight (20 km from the airport; arrange a shuttle in advance). Lava Restaurant Fine dining in a robe friendly atmosphere.
The Northern Lights Hall, Ingólfsgarður, Capital Region (downtown)
A comedy of Icelandic history acted out onstage (in English).
Check out different companies; many provide warm overalls, hats, gloves, and helmets.
Tour the beautiful countryside and sites outside the city. Private and group car services are available. Ask for a guide who speaks English and, most importantly, knows a great place to stop for lunch.