Reykjavik is very different to any European city I’ve visited. It comes with Nordic charm and brutalist architecture that smells a bit like a distant memory of the Soviet era. I think those of you who have grown up in Eastern Europe would totally see where I am going with this.
The capital of Iceland is a popular tourist destination, so high prices are unavoidable. But here are a few fantastic activities we ended up partaking in that didn’t break the bank, with some of them being super fun and… FREE!
- Weekend Flea Market – Kolaportid. This is a treasure trove of everything you can get around Iceland but for slightly more reasonable prices. We spent a lovely time browsing through the vintage treasures, and stopped at the market’s cafeteria. It’s charmingly old school – but has refillable coffee, so no complaints. Another vintage gem is Sputnik, definitely check it out.
- Kex Hostel. Even if you are not staying at the hostel, have a beer at the bar. Or a burger. It’s a super swanky hipster place; don’t be discouraged by its slightly hidden location, brave it and enter.
- Walking Tour of Reykjavik. This was tons of fun and it was theoretically free. You pay what you can offer at the end of the tour – and it was so good, it would be a shame to leave without donating. I highly recommend it, the tour guides share a lot of information and you learn a thing or two about the history of Iceland.
- Laugardalslaug. We were super lucky that our AirBnB was 2 minutes away from this pool. It was a super cheap experience and fantastic for both starting the day in a healthy way as well as ending it.
- Heading out of Reykjavik. The city is lovely and tons of fun… But it’s important to venture out of it to get that full Iceland experience. Go small and see the Golden Circle or go big and plan a road trip around Ring Road. Hire a car and go, go, go!
You Can’t Leave Reykjavik Without Tried These Foods:
- Local ice cream. Rain, thunder or snow – Icelanders love their ice cream. They associate this sweet treat with coming home, relaxing in the warmth and opening a dreamy tub of the creamy stuff. I see exactly where they are coming from!
- Fish and Chips. I thought I had good fish and chips in my life. How wrong I was. After Iceland, I can say with confidence that I have now indeed had good fish and chips. Really good.
- Traditional Icelandic Lamb Meat Soup. Do you miss that heartiness of grandma’s soup from your childhood? Go down memory lane with this bowl of goodness.
- Skyr. This is not yogurt, this is not curd cheese, it’s in-between. It’s full of protein, fat-free and oh-so delicious. This was my breakfast of choice when in Iceland.
- Icelandic Hot Dogs. These are cheap and cheerful, and super popular among Icelanders and tourists alike.
- Flatkaka bread. Think of it as a musky, sexy older brother of the humble tortilla that you kind of fancy, and are 100% aware that the flavour is a bit on the wild, chargrilled side.
Don’t be surprised if you see these Icelandic delicacies on the menu in Reykjavik:
- Puffin hunting is still allowed in Iceland, and many eat puffin as a delicacy. It has been on the menu for hundreds of years – lest we forget that Iceland is a harsh island where for many centuries living meant surviving.
- While whaling is regulated (the cap is 200 per year which is yet to be reached), whale meat finds its way to Icelandic restaurants rather than home-made dinners.
- Fermented fish. This is the dish that is used to scare the tourists away. You probably heard of fermented shark or any other fish that is a popular traditional Icelandic meal. This probably isn’t the right dish for those sensitive to smell. The odour is very strong and it is what causes the biggest controversy when it comes to fermented fish. The flavour isn’t as strong, by the way.
- Boiled lamb head. Yep. The adventurers go for this one. If you are wondering how it looks like, I can tell you before you pop to Google images – it looks like a boiled lamb head.
- Liquorice. If you are a fan, cool. Ew, I am not.
Have tons of fun in Iceland!