TRAVEL: Reykjavík, Iceland's Capital

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”)

Goodbye Bless

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 (“ya’ll”)

No Nei (“nay”)


Kaldi Bar

Laugavegur 20b, +354 581 2200

  • The city’s first microbrewery with a Viking-era feel.

Micro Bar

Vesturgata 2, +354 865 8389

  • Hard-to-find craft brews, many local.

Mikkeller & Friends

Hverfisgata 12, +354 437 0203

  • Danish brewery with a great vibe (entrance is on the side of the building).

Reykjavík Roasters

Multiple locations

  • Coffee brewed from locally roasted beans.


Café Loki

Lokastígur 28, +354 466 2828

  • Authentic Icelandic fare; try the cured fish for breakfast.

Bæjarins Beztu

Tryggvagata 1, +354 511 1566

  • Pylsu Icelandic Dogs done right by the best street stand in town.


Multiple locations

  • Pizza, the global comfort food (delivery available to some hotels).

Icelandic Fish and Chips

Tryggvagata 11, +354 511 1118

  • Not your average fried fish, this comes fresh from the docks.

Laundromat Café

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”).


Walking Tours

Various tour companies

  • A good way to explore the city (book in advance).

Hallgrimskirkja Church (aka Big Church)

Hallgrímstorg 1

  • Ride the elevator to the top of this 70-meter-tall church for 360-degree views of the city.

The Icelandic Phallologic Museum

Laugavegur 116, +354 561 6663

  • Study everything related to the penis, including the penis of every known mammal on display.

The National Museum of Iceland

Suðurgata 41, +354 530 2200

  • Explore Icelandic artifacts on display in the many permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Reykjavík Maritime Museum

Grandagarður 8, +354 411 6300

  • Learn about the impact of the fishing trade on the local economy.

The Settlement Exhibition

Aðalstræti 16, +354 411 6370

  • Take a step back in time to the Viking Age.


Blue Lagoon

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.

Icelandic Sagas Show

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.

Driving Tours

  • 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.

Ready to pack? Check out our travel tips for Iceland. Then take a peek at our other INGRAIN Travel stories.

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