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reykjavik

Iceland, Travel

11 fun, free things to do in Reykjavik

March 14, 2017

11 fun and free things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland

It’s true; Reykjavik is an expensive city (especially if you’re British because the exchange rate is so bad for us). Luckily, there are plenty of free things you can do while exploring Iceland’s capital city.

 

Reykjavik street art magic rainbow unicorn

Admire some weird and wonderful street art [Read: 10 pieces of Reykjavik street art you need to see & where to find it]

Reykjavik has a reputation for it’s street art. It’s plentiful and it is all kinds of weird and beautiful.

You really don’t have to look far to find it either because you’ll find some of it adorning shop fronts down Laugavegur, you’ll catch glimpses of it down side streets, and if you go wandering you’ll find it decorating neighbourhoods.

Reykjavik street art I miss you, I miss the smell of your hair

My personal favourite was this really simple but powerful piece. I saw it and these whole waves of the feels hit me.

 

 

Reykjavik Harpa

See the city from Harpa

Impossible to miss, Harpa is Reykjavik’s concert and exhibition hall. While the events are ticketed, anyone can wander into the building, and up the stairs to see the city from a height.

The building itself is really pretty, with oddly shaped windows, some of which are tinted, which make for a nice pattern against the city.

 

Reykjavik sea wall at sunrise

Walk along the sea wall

Once you’ve visited Harpa, take a left out of the building and walk along the seawall where you can let the crisp air hit your face and take in views of Mount Esja.

 

 

Sun voyager, Reykjavik

Photograph sun voyager

This sculpture on the seawall is one of the most touristy spots in the city. I mean, it’s easy to see why; it’s a beautiful sculpture depicting a ship with the sea and Mt Esja in the background. And if you go down at sunrise or sunset, your bound to get a brilliant photo. Though you might have to wait your turn because everyone wants a photo in front of it.

 

Reykjavik walking tour Tjornin

Take a free walking tour [Read: Discover Reykjavik on a free walking tour from CityWalks]

CityWalks offer a very popular two-hour walking tour around Reykjavik, covering the history of the city and the Icelandic culture. From personal experience I can tell you that this tour is absolutely worth it and is a brilliant way to see and learn about the city.

This tour is listed as free, as it doesn’t have any kind of ticket price, and you basically pay what you think the tour is worth. Technically, it’s free as you don’t have to pay your guide anything. But if you do pay your guide, it’s probably one of the cheapest activities you can do in Reykjavik and is certainly worth it.

 

Reykjavik snowy Tjornin

Stroll around Tjornin

Tjornin is the park next to city hall, where you can take a nice leisurely stroll around a lake and enjoy looking at the nice neighbourhoods around it.

 

Map of Iceland in Reykjavik city hall

Get up close with Iceland…and a vagina?

Ok, so I’m going to start on the one that caught your attention here; the vagina. So, Iceland’s mayor decided that the best way to celebrate 100 years of women being allowed to vote in Iceland was to unveil some artwork depicting a vagina. It’s not immensely obscene and to be honest I probably wouldn’t have realised what it was had I not been told.

I mean, I kinda see the major’s idea; people don’t say the word ‘vagina’ all that often and look you’ve read it four times in the last minute! On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like the most progressive way to stop sexism but Reykajvik does also have a penis museum, so I guess it balances out. Plus, it is a very liberal city.

Once you’ve gotten over that, take a look at the huge 3D map of Iceland.

 

Get a panoramic view at the Perlan

The viewing deck of the Perlan offers 360 degree views of the surrounding area, making it a perfect place to get a really good view of the city. (The best place is probably Hallgrimskirkja right in the city, but that’s not free.) It’s completely free to get to the viewing deck, but there is a restaurant and a cafe if you fancy a bite to eat.

 

Reykjavik Hallgrimskirkja

Admire Hallgrimskirkja

While it will cost you to get up to the top of Hallgrimskirkja, walking around it and admiring the church is completely free. You can also go inside the church for free. If you do want to get up to the top, get there early or prepare to queue.

 

Seeing the northern lights in Reykjavik

See the northern lights

If the conditions are right, it’s possible to see lady aurora from the city. We headed down to the sea wall on a clear night, when good solar activity was forecast (you’ll find the aurora forecast website handy), and we were rewarded with a patch of green in the sky.

It was hard to spot at first, and to begin with I wasn’t sure if it was a cloud and my brain was playing tricks on me and turning it green. But no. The green got stronger and we saw it for about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, I had broken my tri-pod the day before so my photos were not great (as you can see).

When it comes to the lights, it really is about having the perfect weather conditions, especially if you’re in a city where light pollution can make them even harder to see.

If you’re a keen photographer and want to head out of the city on a trip to see the lights, I cannot recommend Arctic Shots enough & you can read about my experience on their northern lights tour here.

 

Spot the Yule Lads

If you’re visiting Reykjavik during the festive period, make sure to keep your eye out for the Yule Lads being projected onto buildings.

The Yule Lads are part of Icelandic folklore. There are 13 of them and 13 days before Christmas, one comes into town each night.

Over Christmas, the Yule Lads can be seen projected onto buildings, which makes a pretty fun kinda treasure hunt; especially if you’ve got kids.

 

Would you add anything else to the list?

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Iceland, Travel

10 pieces of Reykjavik’s street art you need to see & where to find it

January 12, 2017

10 pieces of Reykjavik street art you need to see and where to find it

Reykjavik might not be the kind of city you’d associated with a big street art scene, but you cannot miss the colourful, and slightly bizarre, pieces plastered on shop fronts, peeking out from alleyways, and on the pavement.

This post is by no means an extensive list at all; it’s just the coolest stuff I saw that I think you should see too. I Heart Reykjavik lists some other great pieces.

According to Iceland Review, graffiti on public property is considered vandalism and is, as such, forbidden. Howe

Magical intergalactic rainbow unicorn

There is no better way to start any list of any kind than with an intergalactic rainbow unicorn, and my Mum is sure some kind of Davie Bowie reference needs to be added to that description too. We spotted this near Reykjavik’s city hall.

Where to see it: Near city hall, down Sudurgata. The exact location is here, and it’s the green building on Google Maps.

 

Reykjavik street art

Where to find them: You will spot the Reykjavik Design March piece on the end of a building on Vonarstraeti, and then the stamp piece will be right in front of you then; you can actually see that one on Google Maps too.

Godzilla and Bender attack Reykjavik

King Kong Reykjavik

Ok, so maybe this piece is my joint favourite. If Godzilla attacking Reykjavik isn’t cool enough on it’s own, Futurama’s Bender is also at it. And King Kong is just chilling round the corner.

Where to see it: About half way up Laugavegur; you can’t miss it.

 

Isey, Reykjavik

And while you’re searching for Godzilla and Bender, there’s no way you can miss Isey all painted pretty.

Where to see it: Isey on Laugavegur.

 

I love the detail and vastness of this piece. There’s just so much to look at, and I’m not entirely sure “what the message is”, but I like it.

Where to see it: Down Freyjugata. This is the exact location, but on Google Maps the building is blue and covered in ‘standard’ graffiti.

We won't be like them Reykjavik

I miss the smell of your hair reykjavik

This one really got to me. It’s just the simplicity of it; when I read it I could just feel someone’s longing, and since I wasn’t there with Daz and missed him, it got to me.

Where to see it: These are just a little down the road from the piece above, and on the end of a building that goes down the Valastigur alley. Again, this is the exact location but Google Maps is out of date. If you walk a few more metres down Valastigur, you’ll see a couple more pieces.

Wild Welva Reykjavik

I was really taken aback when I saw this piece; it’s just so detailed, and it reminded me of Rafiki from The Lion King. When I got home and did some research, the detail made sense. This piece was created by Wild Welva, a Spanish street artist, who first creates his work on paper and then pastes them onto walls. You can find out more about his work on his Facebook page

Where to see it: Keep going down from the magic hand piece towards Tjornin and you will come across this on the side of a building. This is the exact location, but the wall is just white on Maps.

Marley Coffee Reykjavik

Where to see it: Marley Coffee on the corner of Grettisgata.

Where’s the best street art you’ve seen?

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