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Reykjavik

Photo © Utrecht

Travel Guide Europe Iceland Reykjavik

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Introduction

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and, not without reason, has become more popular in recent years. Still more travellers find their way to one of the smallest capitals in Europe and although many combine a visit to the city with some sights inland, like the Golden Triangle (Gulfoss, Thingvellir and Geysir), other travellers choose to visit Reykjavik only as a weekend trip. It has numerous bars and restaurants, but especially the alcoholic drinks don't come cheap here, so be prepared! Apart from nightlife and shopping, the city has several cultural things to see as well, like the Hallgrimskirkja and the famous house where presidents Gorbatsjov of the Sovjetunion and Reagan of the USA met in 1986. It's even a good place to visit in winter, as temperatures are surprisingly mild this time of year and you might enjoy the nordic lights (aurora borealis). In summer though, the sun shines 24 hours a day, and although still not warm, people enjoy being outside on the main shopping street or one of several squares in the centre of town.

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Events and Festivals

  • Þrettándinn (06 Jan 2014) - The Twelfth Night, the last day of Yule, is celebrated in a colourful festive manner like New Years. Dinners, bonfires, parades and loads of fireworks celebrate the end of the Christmas season. It's a time for friends and family to gather around bonfires and share Icelandic folklore.
  • Dark Music Days (Lat January/Early February) - This contemporary music festival has performances from the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, choir performances and various workshops and other concerts occur too!
  • Museum Night (08 Feb 2014) - All of Reykjavik's museums stay open late into the night, often past midnight with a special night bus that travels between the museums. All entrance is free in the celebration of culture and is a fantastic opportunity for tourists and locals to check out the museums in a unique way. Special events, such as theater, visual arts and dance are put on as well making it a fun night.
  • Imagine Peace - Yoko Ono's work of art to commemorate John Lennon is in the form of a wishing well with a tall tower of light emerging from within. The words Imagine Peace are inscribed on the well in 24 languages. The light will be relit on October 9th 2012 by Yoko Ono and will relight every night until Dec 8th, then Dec 21st–28th & Dec 31st 2012.
  • Thorrinn (25 Jan 2015 - 22 Feb 2014) - Full of laughter and fun, this festival celebrates the annual Thorrablot (the Midwinter Feast). Thorrablot takes place in the coldest dark days of the year and is a Scandinavian tradition with lots of Viking history. Traditional Viking food is served, followed by Brennivin which is a strong Icelandic spirit. Dancing in the evening continues into the early morn where the celebrations end.
  • The Iceland Airwaves Festival (31 Oct 2013 - 04 Nov 2013) - It's Scandinavia's largest music festival that is spread in 8 main venues in downtown Reykjavik. Some of the World' most exciting artists have performed here.
  • Reykjavik Art Festival (Mid-May) - It is one of Northern Europe's oldest and most respected arts festivals as it has been going annually since the 1970's. For two weeks, international and national artists/performers host concerts, exhibitions, dance, theater, and opera performances to promote Icelandic culture and art.
  • Festival of the Sea (First Sunday in June) - The history of sailors and the sea is of great importance to Iceland's economy and people. This festival celebrates by bringing every ship into harbour and allowing every sailor the day off. There is a diverse program of events which include sailors competing in rowing, strongmen competitions, Ocean Rescue demonstrations, arts and crafts, sailing and aerobatic airplane stunts. It's a light hearted day of fun for everyone.
  • First Day of Summer (19 Apr 2014) - Icelanders celebrate the First Day of Summer with parades, sporting events and entertainment. The arrival of summer is always welcomed after a cold Icelandic dark Winter.

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Weather

Temperatures in Reykjavik rarely drop below -12 °C in winter and rarely rise above 15 °C in summer. 20 °C is almost a heatwave and if it gets this warm, it is mostly just a matter of days (or hours!). You can have literally 4 seasons in one day.

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Getting There

By Plane

International
Keflavik International Airport, about 50 kilometres from the capital Reykjavik is where you will land when visiting Reykjavik or Iceland as a whole.
The national carrier is Icelandair which has flights to most major destinations in the western half of Europe and the eastern half of North America. Note that off season (wintertime) some destinations might not be served or have a reduced schedule at least.

In addition, IcelandExpress has budget flights to and from several European destinations.

Domestic
Air Iceland operates regular scheduled flights from Reykjavík to major domestic airports in all parts of the country, like Akureyri and Egilsstaðir. Landsflug also has flights to smaller airstrips around the country, for example several daily flights from Reykjavík to Vestmannaeyjar.

To/from the airport
Buses travel between the airport and Reykjavik on a regular basis, taking around 45 minutes. Expensive taxis are available as well and there are many options with rental car companies like Hertz and Avis.

By Train

There are no train services to and from Reykjavik.

By Bus

There is an extensive bus service to most parts of the country and seasonal to the highlands. The Flybus travels between the international airport in Keflavik and the capital Reykjavik. Note that bus services are limited from October to May. June to September is your best bet.
Check BSI for an overview on bus companies. Otherwise check the bus companies directly: Austurleid for South and East Iceand, SBK Travels for the Keflavik and Reykjanes area, Stjornubilar for the Westfjords and Trex for West and North Iceland.

By Boat

The Icelandic cargo ship Eimskip has two vessels, the Dettifoss and Goðafoss which travel the route Rotterdam-Hamburg-Göteborg-Århus-Fredrikstad-Tórshavn-Reykjavík. It takes 8 days in total and the return trip goes via eastern Iceland and Tórshavn only. The vessel can take a maximum of 3 passengers but only between mid-April and mid-October.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
101 GuesthouseLaugavegur 101 Snorrabraut 29Guesthouse90
4th Floor HotelLaugavegur 101Hotel-
Alba GuesthouseEskihlid 3 HlidarGuesthouse89
Alfholl-GuesthouseRanargata 8Guesthouse-
Baldursbra Guesthouselaufasvegur 41Guesthouse89
Blaklukka GuesthouseHvammsgerdi 12Guesthouse85
Bolholt ApartmentsBolholt 6Guesthouse-
Domus GuesthouseVeghusastigur 7 101 ReykjavikGuesthouse86
Einholt ApartmentsEinholt 2 ReykjavikGuesthouse-
Guesthouse BB 44Borgarholtsbraut 44 Nýbýlavegur 16Guesthouse-
Guesthouse Egilsborgverhoult 20 101GUESTHOUSE81
Guesthouse OdinnOdinsgata 9Guesthouse89
Guesthouse PaviBrautarholti 4Guesthouse71
HeidashomeHverfisgata 102Guesthouse87
Hotel FlokiFlokagata 1Hostel-
Reykjavik BackpackersLaugavegur 28Hostel84
Reykjavik City HostelSundlaugavegur 34 IS-105 ReykjavikHOSTEL84
Reykjavik Downtown HostelVesturgata 17Hostel90
The Capital-InnSudurhlid 35dGuesthouse80
Thor GuesthouseSkolavordustig 16Guesthouse87
Travel InnSoleyjargata 31Guesthouse78
Guesthouse TunguvegurTunguvegur 23APARTMENT79
Guesthouse GaltafellLaufásvegur 46Guesthouse91
Guesthouse PalshusEinarsnesi 58Guesthouse89
Aurora GuesthouseFreyjugata 24Guesthouse87
Kriunes HotelVatnsenda 203 KopavogurGuesthouse-
Guesthouse VonLaugavegi 55Guesthouse-
Metropolitan HotelRánargötu 4aHotel-
FIT GuestHouseA23 Guesthouse Auðbrekka 23 KópavogurGuesthouse-
AbodeSkólavörðustígur 35Apartment84
Our HouseKarastigur 12GUESTHOUSE91
Grettisgata ApartmentsGrettisgata 43 101 ReykjavikApartment-
Blue House B&BValhusabraut 19 SeltjarnarnesGUESTHOUSE-
Reykjavik residence HotelHverfisgata 45Hotel-
Igdlo GuesthouseGunnarsbraut 46GUESTHOUSE89
KEX HostelSkúlagata 28HOSTEL89
Bina GuesthouseBugdulaekur 1GUESTHOUSE-
Abode LittleOdinsgata 17, 101 GroundfloorApartment88
Loki 101 guesthouseLokastigur 24AGuesthouse83
Hotel LaxnesHaholt 7HOTEL-
AR GuesthouseBraedraborgarstigur 3GUESTHOUSE83
Reykjavik Peace CenterVogasel 1GUESTHOUSE-
Heytjörn CabinsLaufasvegur 2Guesthouse83
Flying Viking GuesthouseKrókhálsi 5aGuesthouse-
Fjord GuesthouseHverafold 33GUESTHOUSE-
Konrads B&BLokastigur 11GUESTHOUSE86
Grettisborg aparmtentsGrettisgata 53bApartment-
Grettir GuesthouseLaugavegur 28aGUESTHOUSE85
Hotel GardurHringbraut 29HOTEL-
Arctic Comfort HotelSidumula 19HOTEL-
Pisa GuesthouseLækjargata 6bGuesthouse-
Ranargata 23Ranargata 23APARTMENT-
Rentice GuesthouseKvistavellir 15 221 HafnarfjörðurGuesthouse-
Loft HostelBankastraeti 7HOSTEL-
Hlemmur SquareLaugavegur 105HOSTEL-
Central GuesthouseRánargata 10 ReykjavíkGuesthouse-
Bus Hostel ReykjavikSkogarhlid 10HOSTEL-
Hostel B47Baronsstigur 47HOSTEL-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Most of Iceland is well connected. Most homes have ADSL connections which work well most of the time. There is however a firewall which can cause connections problems especially at busy times. Most hotels, guesthouses, hostels, cafés etc. have a working Wi-Fi network. Generally it's free of charge, but sometimes there might be a small fee or limited amount of time. There are a couple of public computers at the University of Iceland and the National Library that you can use for free and without the need to log in.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The international telephone code is 354. National numbers in Iceland are seven digits long and generally written in the form xxx xxxx or xxx-xxxx.
There are no area codes in this closed numbering plan and the international call prefix is 00. Numbers of mobile phones tend to begin with either 6xx xxxx, 7xx xxxx or 8xx xxxx, while land line numbers start with 5xx xxxx (in Reykjavík) or 4xx xxxx (the country side). The Icelandic emergency number is 112 for all services.

Internally, phone calls in Iceland are very reasonable priced and most providers offer friends and family discounts or free calls/messaging to same network phones. International calling cards are available in most convenience stores which can significantly reduce the cost of international calls.

There are three main companies who supply personal internet connections: siminn Vodafone and Talk. It is very important to get full details of the charges and excess charges as it is very easy to run up a huge bill without being aware of it, especially on a mobile connection. You can buy a local SIM card, if you have an unlocked mobile phone. The major internet companies can supply 3G mobile internet on a monthly basis. If you are travelling be sure to check the coverage because the mobile connection is not as wide as the mobile phone connection.

Post

Iceland's Postal Service (tel. 580-1200) is reliable and efficient. General post office hours in Reykjavík are 9:00am to 6:00pm weekdays, but post offices close earlier elsewhere. Mailboxes are bright red and marked Pósturinn. Stamps are sold at many locations, including Nóatún supermarkets; N1, Olís, and Shell gas stations; and some bookstores. Mail typically takes 3 to 5 business days to reach Europe or the United States. If you are importing goods through the post, it takes a while to sort out the customs and tax based on the value of the item, so be sure to have receipts readily available. For sending packages you can also use international courier companies like TNT, UPS, FedEx or DHL, since they are fast, reliable and generally competitively priced as well.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 64.135338
  • Longitude: -21.89521

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This is version 26. Last edited at 15:12 on Feb 25, 14 by Utrecht. 47 articles link to this page.

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