A local’s guide to Reykjavík, Iceland: the best bars, cafes, beaches and geothermal pools | Reykjavik holidays


When downtown rents dropped due to the pandemic, a number of bold retailers, cafes and eating places ended up launching consequently. There’s an actual sense of revitalisation within the metropolis.

A vegan cafe referred to as Plantan just lately opened close to my favorite swimming pool; their soups, sandwiches and baked items are actually good – particularly after a dip. One other favorite spot is Kaffi Ó-le. The supervisor, Tom, makes the most effective espresso on the town, and the most effective matcha lattes.

In 2020, my childhood pals Númi, Atli and Aðalsteinn opened somewhat restaurant referred to as Hosiló. There are at all times three predominant course choices – fish, meat, vegan. I’ve had some wonderful seafood and gnocchi there. Every thing’s handmade and it’s not too dear. It’s a small place so finest to e book a desk upfront.


The Marshall House.
The Marshall Home. {Photograph}: Alamy

Marshall Home is a cultural centre in a former fish manufacturing unit close to the previous harbour. There are two galleries below one roof: artist-run Kling & Bang hosts exhibitions by younger artists from the underground scene in addition to greater, extra established names.

Nýló, the Residing Artwork Museum, is one other grassroots establishment showcasing up to date works. It’s actually enjoyable to go for Italian meals and drinks at La Primavera on the bottom ground of the constructing, then head upstairs to expertise the inspiring artwork. Entry to each galleries is free.

Additionally, Mengi is a tremendous venue that hosts artwork occasions and live shows and every little thing in-between, so it’s value checking to see what’s on if you’re on the town.


Operating up the slender, cobbled streets of Grjótaþorp (Rock Village) are these stunning previous homes in one of many oldest areas within the metropolis. On the nook of Fischersund and Mjóstræti, stands the small pink Gröndal’s Home, the place artist and naturalist Benedikt Gröndal lived till his loss of life in 1907.

It’s now a cultural home and artists’ residency with common occasions marketed on the Reykjavik Unesco Metropolis of Literature web site.

Inexperienced (and blue) house

Nauthólsvik geothermal beach.
Nauthólsvik geothermal seashore. {Photograph}: Icelandic Photograph Company/Alamy

The native swimming swimming pools are a lifeline for us Icelanders – it’s the place all of us go to catch up within the sizzling tubs. The stunning Sundhöllinn is the oldest indoor pool in Reykjavík, designed by the Guðjón Samúelsson. One other good choice is Vesturbæjarlaug, a reasonably 20-minute stroll from Tjörnin lake.

Nauthólsvik seashore can be a pleasant spot to go to. The ocean water is geothermally heated with temperatures reaching 15-19C in summer time. Individuals swim within the human-made lagoon then benefit from the sizzling tubs and sand and steam-baths. Some locals swim right here in winter, too.

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As for green space, at Heiðmörk, about 15 minutes’ drive beyond Reykjavík, there’s a forest, a beautiful lake and lots of trails to explore among the lava formations.


Maybe because of the relative smallness of Reykjavík, we don’t have huge, standalone clubs. Instead, bars transform into clubs and people dance late into the night. I like Röngten. It does great cocktails and I’ll always bump into somebody I know there. Then at a certain time, a DJ comes on and everyone’s dancing until the early hours. There’s also a really cool wine bar called Mikki Refur – it’s a cafe by day, then at night it serves natural wines and small plates. Vínstúkan is a similar concept and serves some amazing wines.


Hotel Holt
Hotel Holt. Photograph: Barry Lewis/Alamy

There are fancy new hotels popping up everywhere, but I love Hotel Holt. (doubles from £290 room only). It’s expensive, but it’s been around since the 1960s and filled with beautiful artwork by big names such as Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval – whose work you can also see at Reykjavík Art Museum.

Attached to our store there’s also Reykjavík Treasure B&B (doubles from £220 B&B), run by the amazing Steinunn. It’s very cosy and well located in the old town; from here you can walk in all directions to interesting places such as the Icelandic Phallological Museum. My old teacher opened it many years ago, and it’s now a very popular destination.

A cheaper option is KEX Hostel (doubles from £125), in a former biscuit factory on the waterfront. There’s a bar on the main floor, where local musicians and DJs play.

Lilja Birgisdóttir is an artist and one of the owners of Fischersund, a family-run Reykjavík perfumery where visitors can experience scent, sound and art

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