If visiting Iceland, more than likely you will be staying in the capital, Reykjavik. Either for your entire visit or for a few days before venturing off into the rest of the country. The city is vibrant and colorful, as well as the country’s cultural, economic and governmental center. Reykjavik is recognized as one of the safest, greenest, and cleanest cities in the world. This makes it nice for exploring the city during both daytime and nighttime.
Now I will add that downtown Reykjavik is a very lively place, and if you choose to stay in the area, be prepared to sleep with ear plugs. We had rented a flat in a three story building that was above, and next to many popular bars and restaurants. When we were unpacking our luggage, we noticed bowls of earplugs around the sleeping areas of the flat. We all wondered why there were so many ear plugs. That night and through the rest of the week, we realized why.
Despite several sleepless nights in Reykjavik, I found the city to be exciting and friendly. The colorful buildings, the neighborhoods, the local history, the food, all of it made for a memorable time in the capital city of Iceland.
The city of Reykjavík was established in 874 CE and is thought to be the first permanent settlement in Iceland. In 1786, the city was officially founded as a trading town, which grew steadily over the decades. The city has evolved into a modern urban sprawl with restaurants, bars, shops and various activities happening within the city.
If visiting Reykjavik and would like personal recommendations of places to see, activities to do, foods to eat, then please read on. Enjoy!
Now this was unexpected! On one of our nights in Reykjavik, we all decided to do an ATV Excursion after visiting the city’s visitor center. The excursion was just outside of the city in a location with muddy and marshy trails, along hillsides, and a small lake. It was an exhilarating experience, and full of top notch adventure. Riding on the back of the ATV while my friend drove it, was the best part. If it were me driving, my story would be ending differently!
There are many tour companies that offer ATV excursions in Reykjavik and other cities. You can go to the city’s visitor center like we did to inquire or do your own research online to find the right one for you.
Since Iceland has been recognized as the safest country in the world, taking a nightly stroll through Reykjavik was one of my favorite things. We had visited in October, and the autumn weather was chilly but not freezing, with nice on and off rain. It made the night walks wonderful, with the lighted streets gleaming, and the evening air brisk.
Einar Jonsson Sculpture Garden
On one of our evening walks, we discovered the Einar Jonsson Sculpture Garden and Museum. The sculpture garden is what caught our attention, especially at night when each piece was gloriously illuminated.
In total, there are 26 bronze casts work of Einar Jonssons in the Garden. Entrance is free and the garden is open year round, it is one of the city’s popular sites no matter the time of day. Although I found it the most brilliant at night.
There are many interesting shopping opportunities in Reykjavik Yes, there are your typical shops selling plastic Viking hats, postcards, and fridge magnets. There are also beautiful stores that offer high-end unique items such as sheepskin rugs, wool blankets and sweaters, artisan jewelry, and even taxidermized puffins.
One extraordinary find from a Reykjavik boutique, was this big fur winter hat with ear coverings (above photo). It was outrageous, it was very extra, and right up my alley.
Reykjavík Popular Foods
There were two delicious eateries recommended to me by friends, who had already visited Reykjavik. They were also two of the city’s most popular eats- Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur and Reykjavik Chips. Yes, that is correct- hot dogs and fries!
Hot dogs in this country are often called the ‘National Food of Iceland”, and the best place to eat them is from a small stand that is not to far from the harbor. When you order a hot dog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur make sure you ask for “The Works” as they do not mess around. “The Works” include ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onion, raw onion and remolaði, a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish. Yeah, I pretty much inhaled it.
Who doesn’t enjoy chips (fries)? Reykjavik chips were perfect, and the best part about this place was the choice of sauces. There are ten tasty sauces that range from a pickle sauce, garlic sauce, to just plain ketchup. Also, you are give a wooden skewer to spear your chips, and to dip your chips, to keep your fingers clean.
Iceland Food Blog
Eating in Iceland was not as exploratory as it could have gone since I draw the line on certain meats. I will not eat a puffin or horse meat, which is normally consumed in Iceland. It is their customs, and I am okay with that, it is just not my bag. Now, I did try wild goose and reindeer which I did like, so I am proud of myself that I did try something new.
What I did find in Iceland was a lot of delicious seafood, fresh ingrediants, and great fusion cuisine. All of it was fantastic, and I am ready to go back for ‘Round Two’!
From the best soup that I have ever eaten to eating chips with a skewer, my list of ‘What I ate in ICELAND- A Food Journal’.
Just go. Go see all the beauty in the world…
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre