The small city of Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland. While it was small compared to cities like Oslo or Stockholm, the city being the centre of Iceland houses most of the country’s population here. Much of the culture and activities are centred around this small city. My journey in Reykjavik would take you through some monuments of architecture, quaint cafes and city streets.
Accommodation at Kex Hostel
Our journey begins at Kex Hostel after arriving Keflavik Airport. I pre-booked the airport transfer that takes me from the airport to the hostel. The journey there takes us through the moss covered land of Iceland.
When we arrived at Kex Hostel in the morning around 9am. Best decision to pick this hostel, the view across the hostel faces the sea and mountains.
The lobby of the hostel has a bar that serves affordable Icelandic beers and spirits. There are weekly live performances at the bar. Do check it out. I have attached a link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiC9JC4d76w Stay at KEX Hostel! It will be the experience of your life!
Every morning they have a buffet breakfast that you can eat for about 1850KR when pre-booked. If not pre-booked, it is 2100KR. I recommend the breakfast if you have a long drive ahead. Pack yourself with a heavy breakfast as meals can be hard to come across while you are on the road. You can also ‘dabao’ or pack your lunch with the buffet spread and pack into a ziplock.
Their breakfast serves oat porridge which you can top with ham, cheese, fruits or hardboiled eggs. There is also an assortment of breads, cakes and cookies that are sugary treats or energy life savers for a road trip.
*Blue Lagoon (Nordurljosavegur 9, 240 Grindavik, Iceland)
The Blue Lagoon is a major icon of Iceland when you google. If you want to head to the blue lagoon in Iceland, the best time is early in the morning when the hoards of tour buses have not arrived. Come around 8am to 9am~ If you have just arrived at Keflavik Airport, you can drive there if your first pit stop is Reykjavik as it is 10-15 minutes drive away. Or you could do the reverse and head there before flying out of Iceland.
The standard price is ISK 5400 which amounts to about 54 SGD that grants you entry, a locker with bathing facilities and free flow of silica mud mask from the thermal pools. For ISK 7400 that is 74 SGD, you will have an additional drink from the drink bar and an algae mask. It is likely you will need a drink from the bar after soaking for a period of time. I soaked for about 3 hours in the pool so that I could make my money worth. For other packages you could look at this link here: http://www.bluelagoon.com/blue-lagoon-spa/prices-and-packages/
It is worth the experience if you come to Iceland for the first time. Unless you are driving up to Lake Myavtn that also has another geothermal pool there, do give the Blue Lagoon a try. You have already made the way to Iceland. Complete the experience! The view as you soak in the warm pools makes the experience super magical.
Monuments and Architecture
1. Solfar (The Sun Voyager – Sculpture & Shore Walk, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland)
This is my one of my favourite sculpture in Iceland by Jón Gunnar Árnason. The sculpture is just opposite Kex Hostel located next to Sæbraut Road in Reykjavik. What I love about this sculpture is the sleekness and curves of the metal. It is suppose to reflect hope, progress and freedom. As the name suggest, it is an ode to the sun. It is worth the trip here to view the sculpture accompanied by the Icelandic landscape.
2. Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrímstorg 101, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland)
After the sculpture, the next must see monument is the famous church of Reykjavik. The unique architecture is inspired from Svartifoss in the south of Iceland.
I went to the church on a brighter day with sunlight and clear skies and this is what I got.
Step into the church and look at the magical interiors of the church. Take a moment, seat on the benches, light candles at the entrance. Feel the atmosphere.
You can also take a lift up to the top part of the church and get a 360 view of the whole city.
The best way to explore a city is to walk. Reykjavik is a small walkable city. There are many hidden spots in the city that are yet to be discovered. I chanced upon a small art studio and gallery and met the previous cultural minister of Greenland who designed the Greenlandic flag. He happened to be visiting with his wife who is a textile artist showing her work at a local art gallery.
3. Harpa (2, Austurbakki, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland)
The Harpa is the equivalent of Sydney’s Opera House and Singapore’s Esplanade. It is the concert hall of Iceland with a unique glass architecture. It is inspired from an iceberg. The evening sunset view is a unique experience. Don’t get scammed to take a tuk-tuk… The whole structure is made of glass and the interior design of the place is minimal and Scandinavian.
To be honest, I was attracted by the architecture and walked up here only to find out there’s nothing much to discover here. Well there’s a panoramic view of the city. But that’s pretty much it. Not worth the journey here.
Art & Culture
When I visit a city, I would be sure to visit the art museums. I came from art school so art museums would be one of the ways I get to know a city.
Art is around the city, commonly spotted on walls of buildings around.
1. Reykjavik Art Museum (Tryggvagata, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland)
The artworks in this museum are mostly contemporary art. I don’t quite remember the artistic statement of each artwork.
2. National Gallery of Iceland (Fríkirjiuvegur 7,, Fríkirkjuvegur, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland)
I came here 30 minutes before closing and they let me in for free! Artworks in this museum are more modern. Meaning to say more traditional methods are used to create the artworks.