Reykjavik, the hip capital of Iceland. I have fond memories of this place from 2012. I remember cool cafes, a funky bar and a little bit of the right kind of odd street art. Sometimes quiet and cold, but if a sunny day comes around everyone is out and about soaking up the sun in the parks.
Getting in and where I stayed
I arrived by plane from Toronto on Icelandic Air. This was the first time I’d flown with them and it was very average. The five hour flight left at 9pm, lost 3hrs and arrived at 6am. There was no dinner despite paying $630 for my seat and I only had 3hrs to sleep – pretty rough. When I hopped on the plane and saw WiFi and touch screens I didn’t expect them to be a no frills airline. Next time I suppose I’ll try WOW or fly from Europe where there are more options and it’s cheaper.
The campsite was pretty modern and I have to say one of the best campsites I’ve stayed at! For 2,100ISK (saving 3,500ISK on a hostel which can cost $60+ in Reykjavik) you had WiFi, plenty of communal space, cooking, clean bathrooms and geothermal heated showers.
It’s super easy to take the #14 bus into Hlemmur station in town, but less easy to have the exact 420ISK change (they don’t give change on the bus). I just bought an apple on the way back from the ATM to get some coins.
So what’s all the fuss about?..
Well for me I needed to get my shit together first. I posted a bag full of excess belongings on to the next destination because I was doing a few one way hikes and I bought supplies from Bonus (a great discount supermarket like Kronan). Then I was able to relax and walk around.
The main walk is Laugavegur which is the paved street in the middle of town. Around there you’ll find heaps of shops, restaurants and information.
Up another paved side street you can find the iconic church. I’m not sure if this is a Nordic special, but I haven’t really seen any churches like this before.
If you walk down towards the coast you’ll pass a bunch of parks and find the vik in Reykjavik (aka the bay). You can see some of the many mountains you’re about to see as you explore Iceland.
The city is full of nice and simple Scandinavian style houses. I like the simple white windows and painted colours.
I walked along Laugavegur looking for a cafe we went to last time. I passed the restaurant where you can eat puffin and I found the building at least, but it didn’t seem the same inside. The amusing artwork describing all the different types of coffees was no longer there and it felt a bit boring so I moved on.
At the west end of the street though I found The Laundromat Cafe. I didn’t realise until I went to the bathroom downstairs, but there actually is a laundromat inside. They served up a pretty epic burger and milkshake for 3,900ISK, but a bit expensive as is all of Reykjavik. Free WiFi and backpacker friendly charging points.
Walking around the streets I found plenty more familiar places. It’s definitely an interesting base if you have plenty of cash.
I’m pretty sure I will be back here a third time. I think I’ve developed the courage and resolve to come back here in winter or at least a fringe season with more fresh snow and the darkness to see the Aurora Borealis. Mind you I haven’t seen the temperature over 16 even in summer and the summer snow line can be below 1000m here. It’s crazy!