Did you know Reykjavik City means “Smokey Bay“ which comes from the abundant steam of the hot springs.
This is a random December weekend getaway for my friend Ching’s late birthday celebration, yet, a real feel for Winter . Where else could be the best place for a girly holiday other than Iceland! Who Am I to refuse, to be honest Iceland has been on the top of my bucket list for a while now.
As much as my friend is so excited for this holiday, I have booked my flight a day ahead, I wanted to explore the city a bit on my own. We stayed in Reykjavik “the most northernmost capital city of an independent nation“, and the smallest city capital in Europe. Winter time gets so dark as it is within the Artic circle, which only has 4 hours of daylight. But there was never a dull moment during wintertime, even if its dark! With my Reykjavik City Card at hand, I’m ready for my photography stroll.
So let’s get exploring. I visited these iconic buildings, such a great day for a stroll, even though it was raining and gloomy I have captured a picture perfect place.
What’s comes to mind when you think of Iceland, I bet Northern lights and Blue Lagoon! I wanted to venture Reykjavik history, experience the lively energy of the place. As we can see it’s the melting pot of culture, both influenced by Primal Vikings and life’s modernity. Come and let’s be enchanted with it’s diverse cultural life. Join me to explore the expensive city in the cheapest way possible.
Forget about the atrociously expensive day tours for Blue Lagoon and Northern lights. Are you a history nerd or Art loving person? Reykjavik for sure is the best place to go! Walking around the streets lit with simple to grandiose lights is inspiring. Visiting historical sites, wandering from one museum to another can be very impressive with the country’s colourful past whilst discovering the day to day lives of the Icelanders through their heritage in the years gone by.
While the weather is cold and wet! Yes its just like typical UK weather and a good time for indoor activities. Let’s browse the art galleries and museums. I decided to visit Reykjavik Art Museum was founded in 1973, it is considered the biggest visual art institution display in Iceland. It is housed in three different location, I only visited two location. The first one was Hafnarhus Art Museum which is located by the Old harbour. The building itself was historic, it was the Old Harbour Warehouse. The main display was from Erro is an Icelandic pop artist, his well known for his collage works from comics, controversial posters and advertisements. The other galleries comprises of interactive room activities like you can paint on the walls, and make your own masterpiece out of broken chinaware. Let those creative mind do it’s works!
Next Museum was the Asmundur Sveinson Sculpture Museum located in Laugardalur. The building itself is worth visiting, the unique building was the former house of the artist itself. He built and design the building, was inspired by Arab and some influence of Mediterranean style. The exhibit displays start from the outside, it is surrounded by his impressive human size sculptures. The indoor theme display, when I visited it was “Children of the Eye” theme. A display in collaboration with Porvaldur Skulason an Icelandic painter, a very interesting display. They never work together but at some point their work have similarity. Skulason abstract painting looks like the sculpture of Sveinson, it seems like a painting is dream and sculpture is reality.
We also visited the Kopavogur Art Museum by accident. We intended to visit Kopavogskirkja, the Oldest church in Kopavogur. A beautiful church built on the Borgarholt Hill with stunning sea view. The church was closed so instead we went to the museum nearby. It displays a temporary exhibitions by local Icelandic and international contemporary artist.
If you have a spare time when in the city, I suggest to visit Harpa. A quick visit to be amaze with its architectural design alone, or go and watch a shows. The outside and interior are marvelous, the quirky glass design and the reflection is so pretty. Visit inside and watch the world go by the cafe with cappuccino at hand, or browse the photo exhibits. Or just sit by the side and people watch or just enjoy the harbour view.
Right time to learn some history, shall we? I had a chance to visit the Grandi area. The waterfront is a best place to go for a walk. There are boat yard nearby with rows of old boat being abandoned and repaired. It is also the location of impressive museums such Reykjavik Maritime Museum, The Saga and Aurora Museum. I just visited the maritime and I was fascinated,with the rich history of how fishing evolution in the area. As well as the so called “ Cod War ”, the illegal fishing of British fisherman along the water territory of Iceland. Fish and chips anyone? Yes that’s where it was originated.
Now let’s experience how the Icelander relax, let’s indulge the Icelandic spa culture! What about a visit to the thermal pools. As the city is abundant with hot spring. There are numerous thermal pool around the area. With the city card it’s free entry and use of the facilities such as sauna, several hot tubs with different temperature, an indoor and outdoor pool. Who’s ready for pampering?
Your city visit isn’t complete without visiting the Hallgrimskirkja, the largest church most iconic and tallest building in the city. It is perched up the hill overlooking the entire city. Take the time to photograph the stunning architecture, a design that resembles the flowing basalt lava. Visit inside and watch the local kids for their song rehearsals, or admire the large pipe organ built by Johanes Klais a german organ builder.
Lastly lets visit Laugavegur, it used to be the street were the washerwomen walks through while carrying their laundry on the way to the geothermal pools. Now a days is the most crowded place , with rows of boutiques, cafes and restaurants. With last minute shopping for souvenir this is the best place to go.
Meeting amazing people during this trip was added bonus. Sharing meal and cheeky drinks is a great way to end a splendid city getaway. Thanks to Greg and John for the laughter.
How to get to the City to and from the Airport? There are different bus company to take from the airport. Buy your ticket online or at arrival terminal. I advise to buy your ticket one day before your departure, if you already have return ticket you can asked your hotel receptionist to book your seat and collection time from your hotel to the airport. Check out Flybus and airport express online for bus times and prices.
Having a Reykjavik City card will offer you free entry to the major selection of museums. Unlimited bus ride within the Reykjavik Capital Area. Discounts on various tours, in shops and restaurants. And lastly free entry to Reykjavik City Thermal pools.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Reykjavik Tourism Board for providing the city card which we have used during our stay. This is a personal experience and honest opinion, not influenced in any way.