Looking over Reykjavik city you see houses and trees just like many other cities. On this bright November day I want to invite you to a short mini weekend in Reykjavik. Think of it as a snapshot of interesting places or as if you were on a guided tour
The weather is nice today. In Iceland the weather is never to be trusted. Sometimes you are lucky and get a few good days in a row and sometimes the wind blows and the rain pours.
As the days are short I will have to hurry so there is enough daylight for all the places I want to show you.
Reykjavik as you will notice is fairly clean for a city. It has many open areas where people can get closer to nature. In Elliðaárdalur there is even a salmon fishing river flowing right through it.
On the other side of the river is the Árbæjarsafn museum. There you can see how Reykjavik houses looked like in the early 20th century. Ideal for a visit and there is even a tiny little church where people can get married.
Over the past years there has been a lot of growth in building new houses and offices.
Swimming pools are a hugely popular pastime for Icelanders. The pools are heated with geothermal water, just like all the houses. It is not expensive and you could easily spend the day in the Laugardalslaug pool.
The Laugardalur valley hosts a number of sporting facilities like this soccer field. Close by is the Laugardalshöll for handball as well as the tennis courts where I play regularly. In addition there is the family and animal garden where you can take the kids and have a barbeque.
The Höfði house where Reagan and Gorbachev met in 1986 marking the beginning of the end of the cold war. The Höfði house stands close by the seaside and is a beautiful building even though it is said to be haunted.
Right next to it is the headquarters of Kaupthing the last bank to fall in big bank crisis in Iceland. In the last years banking has grown to become 10 or 12 times bigger than the Icelandic GNP. That is about to change.
Going downtown be sure to walk the Laugavegur shopping street. Loads of small and friendly little shops and a relaxed atmosphere. This is also where the famous Reykjavik nightlife is at its best.
The house of Althingi on the right where the Icelandic parliament resides with
its 63 parliamentarians.
Not far is the Reykjavik pond full of ducks and swans as well as the recent Reykjavik town hall.
The charming Iðnó where the Reykjavik theatre held its shows for great many years.
Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík, “Reykjavik education school” is the oldest school still in full use. Considered by many to be the best pre-university school in Iceland.
Stjórnarráðið is the Icelandic Government house. Originally it was built as a prison.
Bernhöftstorfan is a group of very old houses right in the center. In the 70’s there were plans to demolish all the houses and build huge concrete boxes. Lucky for us the houses got saved and now they are used for restaurants and a tourist information center.
The oldest street in Reykjavik is Aðalstræti (“main street”). This is close to where the first Icelandic settler, Ingólfur Arnarson is thought to have had his farm…
…and a few years ago they even found building remains dated from around 870, just about when the sagas say Ingólfur settled in Reykjavik.
A number of the old houses have recently been restored just the way they originally looked. The small black house on the right side is the oldest house in Reykjavik, still sitting on the same turf it has always been.
Here is the very centre of Reykjavik.
One of the many Range Rovers you can see in Reykjavik. The jokers now call them “Hang Over” or “Game Over” in light of the recent economic collapse. The cars are still here although a number of them are being sold to other countries.
The catholic church.
Boating and fishing has always been a big part of the Icelandic economy. Although these whalers have been tied to the piers for decades, still waiting.
On the other side of the pier you can go whale watching.
The entrance to the harbor is protected by this wall with a small lighthouse. The unruly winter waves are constantly beating against it.
When I was a little boy there were old fishermen on tiny boats fishing right off the coast. The fishermen are long since gone but a couple of their huts are still standing as a souvenir of an era long past.
The Nordic house was architected by a famous Finish architect, Alvar Aalto. He is known in the Nordic countries as the father of modern architecture. The Nordic house in Reykjavik was built in 1965-68 and is therefore much older than it looks and is in my opinion one of the most beautiful houses in the city.
The University of Iceland main building is close by.
Reykjavik – At The End Of The Day
Perlan or the Pearl sits on a small hill overlooking most of Reykjavik. It is an excellent idea to stop by and enjoy the view from the balcony. Perlan is a group of six hot water tanks that are used as part of the geothermal water distribution system in Reykjavik. Under the big glass dome is a revolving restaurant.
When shopping in Reykjavik you can also go to one of the two big malls. The Kringlan is the older and in my opinion a little friendlier place to shop.
At the end of the day the color of the sky and the lights of the city.
I also just managed to get to most of the places I wanted to show you. I hope you get to spend at least a weekend in Reykjavik and get to see these places with your own eyes.