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7 Nov 2016

Things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland

Oh Iceland, how you completely and utterly stole my heart.

Yes, I know everyone is so obsessed with going to Iceland atm so you’re probs sick of seeing pictures on fb and you’ve probs read approx 2000 blog posts about this little country already but I’m joining the trend and I ain’t even soz.

Cos Iceland was incredible and nothing is going to stop me from writing about it until even I’m bored. The only reason it’s taken me a good two months to sit down and begin typing is because we managed to fit in so much in the ten days that we were there that I didn’t even know where to begin when it came to writing it up.

But I think I’ve just about got an idea about how I want to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with you. Split into, ahem, several blog posts. I’m not sure of the exact number yet. I’M SORRY OKAY.

I’m being basic and starting with Reykjavik cos it just made more sense to start with the colourful capital.

For me, Reykjavik was a slow burner. I didn’t get there, wander around and immediately be like I LOVE IT HERE. I was actually a bit unimpressed at first. Bits of Reykjavik are run down, with graffiti and crap fast food places. In reality, I know all cities are like this but I felt like you could find the rubbish bits a lot easier in Reykjavik; it’s like they haven’t quite caught up with the sudden tourist interest yet.

But then there are the other bits. The bits that make you be like OH EM GEE WHAT IS THIS HEAVEN?! The bits that are worth chatting about. I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert or that we saw everything but we did end up spending about 3 days in Reykjavik all together, so this is my lowdown:

City Hall 

I will never forget how I felt when I saw the view above for the first time. It was on our first day in Reykjavik and so far everything we’d seen had been a bit meh. But then we walked down a hill and at the bottom was this and it gave me all the feels. I saw my first glimpse of what people love about Iceland and I was so excited for the next ten days. 

City Hall is the building with the pillars and sits on the edge of the prettiest lakes – as you can see. All the buildings are that wonderful Icelandic style, with the white wash and colourful rooftops. You just gotta walk around that lake. When we were there, the sky was so blue and reflecting beautifully on the water, and there was this big family of ducks – just to complete the picturesque scene. It was so gorgeous. I took eight million pics cos HI INSTAGRAM. 

Inside City Hall, there is this enormous 3D model of the entire country which is well worth a look. And there’s an entire wall made up of floor-to-ceiling windows which gives you more views of the lake and makes you feel like you’re in the water. 

When we were looking out of that window, there was this insane moment where a plane flew over the building ridiculously low and practically skimmed the water. Part of me did wonder whether it was about to crash but apparently planes just fly that low. They’re all casual af in Iceland. 

Oh and the lake freezes over in winter and people go ice skating on it: CAN YOU IMAGINE? *insert heart eye emoji*. 

Hallgrimskirkja church 

You’ve probably already seen a picture of this church cos they like to use it in all the tourist promotion shots. And who can blame them? Look at it against that blue sky, what a dream. I also loved the inside; it was all very simplistic. Homely and not remotely grand or intimidating. And the organ player was really quite something. 

The key thing though, is to go up to the top. THOSE VIEWS. For the photographers/general Instagram whores, this is where your best colourful-houses-of-Reykjavik shot is gonna be. 

The Volcano Show 

So there’s a guy called Villi Knudson and in the back streets, in a bright red outbuilding (by which I mean, a slightly fancy garage), he shows the exact same film every day. And has done for years. 

You’ve just gotta go. It’s a bit bizarre and you shouldn’t expect anything fancy. But this guy and his family have been documenting every single volcanic eruption in Iceland since 1947. All this footage has been put into a film and he shows it EVERY SINGLE DAY. And some of it, although now dated and a little grainy, will blow your mind. 

The size of the audience makes no difference to him; you get the impression that film runs no matter what. You leave feeling like he’s a tad eccentric (he dismissed the 2010 eruption that shut down airports across the world as ‘the funny one’) but equally full of admiration. 


Along the water. You can stand with your back to the city and, if you pretend you can’t hear the traffic, feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere looking out across the water to the mountains. 

There’s an artistic model of a Viking ship which, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a shot of without random tourists posing and, further a long, you’ll come to the opera house. Which you absolutely must go to have a nose at because it’s made purely of colourful glass and it’s mesmerising. If you have time, definitely go inside and see the effect from there as well. 

Next door to this, there is also the old harbour where you have a whole host of boat trips to choose from. Mainly whale watching. We went on a three-hour whale watching boat trip with waves higher than the boat and saw one, single, solitary… PUFFIN. But I’m sure plenty of other people have more luck, and the views were good. 


In Reykjavik 101 district. So many Icelandic jumper shops, you won’t be able to move. If that floats your boat, I’d say treat yo’self and get one. Those babies warmer than the volcanos and last forever. I went for an Icelandic blanket cos blankets are my bae <3 

My mum would describe this area as ‘trendy’. There’s a cute, quirky look to it, with lots of shops, restaurants and bars to meander around. And it’s all really colourful, in that Reykjavik-type way. 


Cinnamon swirls. No really. They seem to be a thing in Iceland and hell, I bloody love a cinnamon swirl. They are more of a biscuit consistency than pastry but that makes them a unique experience. Make sure you get one from a proper bakery, but they also sell bags of mini ones in the supermarket. I carried around a couple of bags in my rucksack for snack emergencies during the more remote locations of our trip. 

Also, Eldur and Is creperie right in the heart of Reykjavik 101 was so flippin’ good. Like Bertie Botts every flavour for crepes. And they do vegan and gluten free options. It’s also colourful and cute, and has garden furniture outside in the summer. 

In case anyone is interested, my sister is vegan and it wasn’t as hard as we thought it might be to cater for her. In general, I did find Iceland quite meat-and-cheese heavy and, obviously, avoid places advertising whale burgers but most other places accommodated for the vegan palate once we’d asked. The supermarkets also do a whole vegan range (which my sister informed me is actually more varied than in the UK) and we even found vegan sandwiches in a cafĂ© in the middle of nowhere. In Reykjavik, I absolutely recommend a place called Glo which was very Deliciously Ella and did a wide range of tasty vegan food and desserts. 

Have you been to Reykjavik? Lemme know any other suggestions because one day, I will be heading back to this dreamy country. I gotta win the lottery one day right? 

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