Insider’s guide to the world: Reykjavík, Iceland

Your first stop in Iceland should be full of local flavours and colours. 


Here’s our insider’s guide to capital Reykjavik, thanks to Jóhannes Ásbjörnsson, owner of Tower Suites, Reykjavík.

What is the one thing people should know about Reykjavík before visiting?

Trust the locals: walk around town and engage in conversation with Icelanders. Dive into the laid-back feeling of Reykjavík and be open-minded.


What are the three things visitors should do when they are there to really own the claim that they have seen the best of the city?

That’s a tough one. We would recommend going swimming in one of our wonderful pools; Icelanders have a strange love affair with hot tubs. If the weather is OK then hire a bike to see the best of the city in a few hours, while getting a good bit of exercise. After a nice bike ride it is essential to sink into one of Reykjavík’s craft beer bars and take in the atmosphere. We would put Skúli Craft Bar on the top of that list.


Where are the best places to shop?

For Icelandic cutting-edge design, go to Jör. Kiosk is filled with Icelandic fashion and a visit to Geysir for stylish knitwear is a must.


Is there an experience that will give visitors a real insider’s view?

That would definitely come from pub crawling and talking with the locals. They are more than happy to share their views on the best of Reykjavík with travellers.


Where do locals like to eat and drink?

For the best burger, try The Hamburger Factory. They are doing crazy stuff with their gourmet, square hamburgers such as the first Icelandic lamb burger. If you book well in advance you might be able to reserve a table at Dill, the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Iceland.


What is your favourite lesser known museum in the city?

For something totally different and unique, The Icelandic Phallological Museum, the world’s only penis museum, is a must see.


What neighbourhoods should people explore in ReykjavÍk to get an insight into everyday life there?

A walk through the Grandi area (the old harbour), which is filled with delicacy shops and designer stores, is always a pleasure. And a pure Icelandic one.


It can get quite cold in Iceland – what are the essential things to pack to stay cosy?

Iceland is not as cold as one might think. But pack your scarf and a pair of mittens and you will be fine. If not, the streets of downtown Reykjavík are packed with stores that will keep you warm.


What do you recommend doing for the perfect Sunday in your city?

Sundays are perfect for strolling around the city centre and checking out some of the contemporary art galleries, such as i8 Gallery. It’s free entry and offers a monthly program from a stable of top contemporary Icelandic and overseas artists. Just across the street is Hafnarhúsið, a museum that boasts a large collection of Icelandic art.


What is the one thing visitors should take home from your city?

If you’re here during the summer, make sure you take a selfie at nighttime. It’s going to be full-on daylight; the sun doesn’t set.



MORE: Think Iceland is too expensive? Yes, you can do Reykjavík on a budget 


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This article appeared in issue 29


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