Iceland Day 4 – Reykjavik City

This post was featured on Freshly Pressed March 22!

“MIDBORGIN OKKAR VELKOMIN” a sign states over the entrance to Reykjavik City-Center, as the Icelanders call the main road in Reykjavik, Iceland. This statement is an offer of welcoming, as the saying translates to “Our City, Welcome“.

I have never been a city person. Even though my house is no more than a two-hour drive from New York City, I have never visited the Big Apple for pleasure. The look of shock on the faces of the Icelanders at my hotel’s front desk when I told them this reveals that they found this simple fact to be unspeakable. However, as one Icelander pointed out, if you do not like the city then Reykjavik city is for you.

Around 60% of Iceland’s population lives in or closely around Reykjavik. This means that close to 240,000 people live in or near the city. However, you could never tell. As you can see from the above photograph, Reykjavik’s main city street is a one way road that is very narrow. There aren’t usually many cars driving down the road, and there seems to only be a few people as well, (except for Friday and Saturday nights when the bars are open until 4:00 am and the entire population jam-packs into hundreds of bars scattered throughout the city).

Overall, Reykjavik is considered one of, if not the cleanest cities in the world. This has a lot to do with everything they do in order to stay “green” which includes recycling everything, and not using oil to heat their homes. In fact, oil is really only found at gas stations and is obviously used to run motorized vehicles. So, how do Icelanders heat their homes? Iceland’s best natural resource is hot water. They currently have multiple hot water plants located all around Iceland, which to a traveler might look like a disgusting factory pouring dirty chemicals into the air. The truth is, when you see one of these plants, the stuff going into the air is no more than natural steam from the geothermal hot springs. These steam plants have drilled up to 300 meters into the ground, where steam as hot as 3,632F can be found, captured, and when captured, it attempts to escape from the earth at such a high rate of speed and with such force that it can be converted into electricity. The best part about this resource is that, unless the planet stops working how it should, it is an unlimitted natural resource that is much cheaper to process than oil. Furthermore, all throughout the city small square box-like buildings can be found that look as if they are coughing that same chemical into the air. Again, this is natural steam, and the building is built around a “hot-pot” in the city to protect and harness this natural resource. The steam is networked via pipelines to many different towns in Iceland, some town locations were even strategically placed in order to be built next to an area of many natural geothermal hot springs for this reason.

Here are a few photos of Reykjavik City, Iceland:

Reykjavik City Center

In Reykjavik, graffiti seems to be more of an art than anything.

A city surrounded by volcanic mountains like these is my kind of city.

This little lunch place is the most gung-ho “drink coke!” place I have ever seen! If/when they go out of business I’m sure they will make a fortune on Ebay selling all of the coke memorabilia.

Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Church. The tallest church in Iceland. The statue is of Leif Eriksson, a Viking explorer who is said to have been the first European to land in North America– approximately 500 years before Christopher Columbus. The statue was a gift from the United States to celebrate the 1,000th year anniversary of Iceland’s parliament.

Inside Hallgrimskirkja Church. The practicing choir sounded beautiful.

Part of Reykjavik residential.

That concludes my short photo tour of Reykjavik, Iceland. I hope you enjoyed the walk through the city!

_________________

Once again, for those of you interested in Icelandic foods–

Tonight’s meal included:

Main course – Loin of Icelandic Lamb served with grilled vegetables, including – broccoli, green/red peppers, cucumber, mushrooms, and onion. Also served with potato wedges, topped with arugula lettuce and drizzled with, once again, a delicious sauce.

Drink – A Large glass of locally brewed VIKING beer to wash it down. VIKING beer might be the best I’ve ever had.

This was the second time I’ve eaten this because it is so delicious.

I also had a few questions earlier about Icelandic food…

Most Icelanders eat lots of meat. Traditionally this included char-grilled sheep’s head, some inner parts of the sheep, horse meat, and shark that had been left to dry in the sun (as well as rot) before eaten. Today, Icelanders eat lots of lamb, beef, puffin, whale, shark, and other sea foods including lobster, shrimp, and arctic salmon. Iceland is also known for the “World’s best hot-dog. There are also a few vegetarian restaurants around the City-Center for those of you who are completely grossed-out by this. One fun and interesting fact: here in Iceland you can find the world’s northernmost banana plantation. Bananas in Iceland? I swear it’s the truth.

Tomorrow I return to Blue Lagoon before flying home already. I wish I wasn’t leaving just yet, but I guess it is time to return. Just a note – I won’t be able to post until I return to Connecticut, so there probably won’t be a post for tomorrow. However, as soon as I return, next post: Blue Lagoon!

Until then,

Nate – From Iceland.

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150 thoughts on “Iceland Day 4 – Reykjavik City”

  1. Hi Nate:

    Nice posts so far on Iceland. Sounds like you are having a great time! As for the food, there is a lot of really eccentric items…not sure if you have tried any. keep up the great posts!

    nicole
    p.s. loved your black and whites of the volcano.

    1. Hi Nicole!

      Iceland was amazing. It is quite the place– I like it because it is so completely different from anywhere I have ever been before. I felw over Greenland on the way home. There were perfectly clear skies so I saw the mountains and glaciers there from the plane. Oh. man. Mounatins and glaciers like I’ve never seen. I may have to plan a trip to Greenland sometime soon!
      Thanks,
      Nate

    1. Thanks a lot, John! It was quite the surprise when I turned the data connection back on for my phone to find 100+ emails from WP! As always, thanks for reading.
      – Nate

  2. Beautiful pictures. You’re absolutely right: I would NEVER have guessed that the “main street” pic would support a city, population 240,000. Crazy!

    Great post, and thank you for sharing with us.

    🙂

    1. Of course, Mikalee. I had to double check the Icelander at my hotel’s front desk to make sure I had the street they were describing right. It was quite amazing. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!
      – Nate

    1. Hi Katie,
      It certainly was beautiful– and for me to say that about a city takes a lot. Hopefully you can get there some day to see for yourself. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
      – Nate

    1. Hi Lakia!
      Yes, and as someone who has been to some other cities around the world I can certainly say it was. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment!
      – Nate

  3. Wow! Great architecture, color, landscape and I had no idea about the hot water or it’s position as such a fantastic natural resource. Thanks for teaching me something new today!

    1. Thank you! snowboarding down one of the volcano faces would probably be fun. The only thing is they aren’t very tall so you’d have to keep going back to the top….and walk since there arent any lifts 😛
      – Nate

  4. Definitivamente genial esta pequeña ciudad. Es maravilloso ver que hay lugares del mundo en los que se preocupan por el medio ambiente. Me ha gustado mucho tu post y te animo a que sigas escribiendo. Por cierto las fotos son preciosas, felicidades!

    1. Hi Ecozonic,

      Thank you so much for the kind words about my post and my photography! It’s true, more places in the world need to be as aware of the environment around them as Reykjavik is. The world would be a better place if so. Thanks again for reading,

      – Nate

    1. Hi Tinkerbelle,
      I’m still actually sitting in the airport, so I havn’t check my credit card bill yet, but it was decently expensive. An average dinner costed me about $48 while a more involved meal was around $65. A large glass of beer can be anywhere from $8 – $12. And they have 24% sales tax on most things. The good news is, on purchases over 4.000,00 ISK (about $40) they will give you a tax-free voucher to be refunded at the airport. So, it can be quite expensive, but very much worth it. You can also stay in a hostel to save money on accomodation if you’d like. I have a post on hostels in general under “travel tips and tricks”. Check it out if you think it may be helpful. Hope you get there someday!
      – Nate

  5. A travel log, which truely reflects the location and in particular (every day life) as can be seen by your wonderful photos.

  6. Thanks for sharing your trip. Here, in Indonesia, the capital city especially, we cannot think anything cooler than AC. and i thought i will only see eskimos, igloos and penguin there, silly me!

    1. Hahaha, its not quite thatcold. Because of the cities location in the Jet-stream it actually remains quite mild year-round. Try mid 30’s in the Winter usually. Thanks for reading!
      – Nate

    1. Blue Lagoon is almost indescribable! I’m about to do a post on that here. Which waterfall did you see? Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    1. Hi Canada,
      As I said, any city surrounded by mountains like that is my kind of city. If you like mountains like that might I suggest you check out some photographs I have posted from Alaska, if you havn’t already? I think you’d enjoy them. Thanks for reading,
      – Nate

    1. Hi Christine,
      Im quite jealous! I’d love to spend an extended amount of time there. Hopefully you can return again for a visit sometime soon!
      – nate

  7. Congratulations Nate! Your FP status is truly deserved. Keep up the excellent work. (No pressure!) As always, looking forward to your next post. Lu

    1. Thanks Lu! This was quite the surprise when I checked my email after I landed back in the States. It does seem like a little bit of pressure haha. Thanks so much for continuing to read,
      – Nate

  8. Now I want to go to Iceland even more than I did before! Great blog, and congrats on being freshly pressed 🙂

  9. Hey, just saw this through FP.

    I too am an avid traveller, and have been twice to Iceland. Thanks for reminding me how much I loved it. If you ever make it back, rent a car and drive the countryside – my wife and I did that last summer – the North is simply amazing!

    Frank

    1. Hi Frank,
      My plan is to go back in the summer (not necessarily this summer) to do just that. I hear there is a wonderful glacial lagoon about a 6 hr drive from Reykjavik that I would love to see. Had to leave a few things for a return trip, ya know? Thanks for reading!
      Happy travels,
      – Nate

    1. Hi Keither,
      You should certianly go as soon as you get the chance! I have sooo many to post, but will do! Thanks for stopping by,
      – Nate

  10. Nate! Why is it all the blogs I READ get freshly pressed but I can’t get it myself? 😉 Congratulations! This will be a nice (and well deserved) surprise when you get home!

    1. Thanks Katie! Oh my god, I turned on the data connection to my cell phone when I landed back in the states and received a least 100 emails from WP. I didn’t expect this at all! Maybe you are just good luck for the blogs you read?? I have to admit, because of this trip I’m slightly behind on Domestiphobia. I have some catchin up to do! As always, thanks for your comments!
      – Nate

      1. Haha don’t worry – I haven’t posted any interesting travel stories in the time you were gone. We are tentatively planning a trip coming up… it might be slightly more “conventional” than yours, but any travel is good travel, right?

    1. Right?? I never thought of that before either. It was quite interesting. I’d eat it again. I highly recommend you get there asap! Thanks for dropping by,
      – Nate

  11. Looks absolutely stunning! I ahve always wanted to visit the hot springs… did you take a dip? My godfather was actually from Reykjavik, but I did not have the chance to visit before he passed away. Congrats of FP!

    1. Thank you! It was quite the place to visit, very different. I did take a dip in the Blue Lagoon, which I’m about to do an entire sperate post on. The Blue Lagoon is almost indescribable, its completely out of this world. I hope you get to Reykjavik sometime in the near future!
      – Nate

  12. A great read, thanks. I went to Iceland in 2004 for a week, which was no way long enough. I’ve been thinking about making a return trip and this convinced for sure, so thank you! Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.

    1. Thanks, I certainly did. Glad I can help you decide. I’ll be returning to experience those lava fields turning from white snow-covered to green moss-covered in the summertime. And yes, I agree, 1 week is not long enough– but you have to leave some to see for a return trip, right? Thanks for reading,
      – nate

  13. Great Post and interesting facts i was aware of geo thermal heat in Iceland but i didn’t know it was so widely used . this is great .

    great pictures too.

    Iceland is on my places to visit .

    1. Thanks Simon,

      Before I showed up in Iceland I had no idea about the extensive use of geothermal heat either. Its quite wonderful. Hopefully you can get there sometime soon! Thanks for visiting,
      – Nate

    1. Hi Miss K,
      Thank you for your kind words. I hear it is quite beautiful in the summer. When I return it will certainly be to experience the other side of the amazing country. Thanks for reading,
      – Nate

    1. Thanks very much for your kind words. Hopefully you’ll be able to go to Iceland sometime in the near future! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!
      – Nate

  14. Here via the FP- those are some *beautiful* photos.

    I really do need to get around to visiting Iceland like I have long planned- this post is just too dang inspirin’.

    1. Hi B,
      Sometime you just have to pick up everything and just go do it. Iceland is very much worth it. Thanks for your kind words about my photos, and thanks for stopping by!
      – nate

    1. Now that is coincidence. I got my flight quite cheap as well, which is actually part of the reason I decided it was time to go. (part of but not even close to all of). I had a wonderful time, thanks for reading and commenting!
      – Nate

  15. My son was stationed in Iceland for a year at the now-closed Navy base. He loved it and the people were great! He has awesome pictures of the coasts and the countryside. Like you, he is not a city person — but he loved Reykjavik. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    1. Thanks, Katie!
      Icelander’s are extremely friendly. Since I’m currently sitting in the NYC airport: unfortunately I can’t really say the same about many Americans. This saddens me really. I didn’t get to see as much of the coast as I would have liked, but what I did was quite beautiful. Thanks for reading!
      – Nate

  16. Wow, Reykjavik looks like my kind of city! It seems like a place that’s very aware of its surroundings, and very elegantly designed…Now it can go on the list of places to visit someday…

    Loved the pictures, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  17. I’m reading a book that has a chapter about Reykjavik. It’s called The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. Sounds like a wonderful and very happy place. It was nice to see pictures! By the way, have you tried the harkarl? Apparently the only way do remove the taste from your mouth is to try a drink called svarti dauoi, or black death. Tempting, right?

    1. I love the title of that book! Hmm, I did not try that, but I heard of “black death”. Unfortunately the Icelandic beer was so good that I became quite obsessed with only ordering the beer so I didn’t try any mixed drinks. Hey, you gotta save something for a return visit, yes? Thanks for reading and commenting,
      – Nate

  18. Great shots…Love the colors with the snow. I can’t imagine how cold it is right there. I went in the summer time…no snow! I thought you might want to share blog links. I have been traveling across the USA for the last 100 days or so. I just got back on the road after returning home when my father went into ICU and recently passed away. I have been trying to post my travels for the day, but WP seems to be having issues! Hopefully it will work soon.
    Beth
    http://adventuresofacouchsurfer.wordpress.com

    1. Hi Beth!
      Thanks for your kind words. Your trip are the USA sounds like it is probably quite wonderful. I’ve spent a lot of time all around the U.S. as well and the West especially is quite beautiful. I’m very sorry to hear about your father. I’ve heard WP is having issues, hopefully those are cleared up because I have some more posts as well! I’ll check out your blog for sure, thanks!
      – Nate

  19. gr8 post….bananas…in iceland…u got me…did u get a chance to see the banana plantation?if u did pl do post pics…i need to see this… 🙂 to believe it 🙂

    1. Aw man, I did stop at the banana plantation, so I saw the outside of it. Unfortunately this stop was more of a “bathroom” break for another tour I was on, and the plantation was closing in 5 minutes, and I didn’t have to use the bathroom. So, I didn’t go in. Believe me, its become one of my biggest regrets about the trip already. I’ll get the shots for you next time though, promise!
      Thanks for reading,
      – Nate

  20. M y last year in the U.S. Air Force, of four years of active duty was spent in Iceland. It was from 1962 to 1963. At the time, Iceland did not have a Defense Force of its own. My duties was part of the NATO Headquarters command. As a young Buck Sergeant of twenty, I was one of two men responsible for a NATO Cosmic Top Secret control unit . My partner was a chief petty officer in the Navy, and we reported to a full Naval Commander. Also at that time it was considered an isolated tour area.

    The Icelandic people were a beautiful people. They were the most beautiful people I have ever known both physically and mentally. Iceland was a cruel place in the winter time, but in the Spring it was one of the most beautfiful places in the world to be, especaily around this capital city in the Spring and Summer months. I have great memories of my serive there and its people.

    1. Do they now? I’m pretty sure that all they have is a Coast Guard. I have a lot of respect for Service members, so thank you for that. I completely agree with you about the Icelandic people. I got allong so well with them and its shocking to return to the United States and experience the difference between the people. I will certainly be going back one Spring or Summer some day soon– it seems like the country changes to a whole different experience. Thanks for briefly sharing your Icelandic experience with me, and thanks for reading,
      – Nate

  21. Great post! I’m really fascinated by Iceland and to visit one day too. I especially loved the section on food – I would love to try puffin!! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Lily. I was watching that TV show “Bizarre Foods” on the Discovery channel a few months before my trip, and he went to Iceland and ate puffin. That’s how I remembered to try it for myself. I hope you get to travel there sometime soon so you can try it as well! Thanks for reading,
      – Nate

    1. Which is the best part about it! It does have it’s sea-port side to it with large ships entering it which certainly reminds you of the city side to it thought. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!
      – nate

    1. It’ll happen, just set your mind to it. Hopefully you’ll get to go soon. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment,
      – Nate

  22. How lovely — I have a fascination with dark, cold places like Iceland and even Antarctica. Then, one particular friend of mine makes me come to my senses and reminds me that I set the thermostat to 80 even in the summertime and swear at rain. Oh, well.

    1. Ahh, Antarctica is very high on my list of places to go. I’ll get there one day, quite expensive to make it happen though. It looks amazing. Well, if you dress properly you can stay warm 😛 Thanks for viewing and commenting!
      – Nate

  23. Hey Nate!
    So how did you like Reykjavik in the end…? I was travelling in Iceland almost 4 years ago and I spent almost a week in the capital. I have to admit that I liked Akureyri much more than Reykjavik (unlike you I’m a city person) – it was (is) somehow more enchantig and cosy. Icelandic cities didn’t really interest me, though. The nature was amazing. We were travelling for a month, sleeping in a tent, waking up seeing the Ocean… nice memories :). Pity that is was raining for 3 weeks but well, that’s life. It’s gonna be better next time, eh!

    1. Hey there!
      I absolutely loved Reykjavik. For someone who does not necessarily like cities, Reykjavik is the perfect size. Wow, I wish I was as fortunate as you to be able to visit there for so long. I only got to spend 5 days, so I never went to Akureyri. Is that city more Northern? I’d like to go to Northern Iceland the next time I return. That’s awesome that you spent your time traveling around and sleeping in a tent in the Icelandic nature. I’ve come to love doing just that– you’re right, Icelandic nature is unforgetable. Well, that weather is also part of being in Iceland. I love how it changed so quickly all the time.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!
      – Nate

      1. Yes, Akureyri is in the North of Iceland and it’s 2nd biggest city after Reykjavik. Also surrounded by mountains and a river. Really nice!
        Sometimes camping was tough… you know, putting up a tent and moving further in a pouring rain wasn’t fun. Also the winter began in September (when we travelled) so at night it was really cold. But I’m so glad we had a wonderful day at the glacier late (Jokulsarlon) and a few weeks later at Dyrholaey! The sights were amazing!

      2. Yeah I’ve been caught in the rain before while putting up a tent and hiking. Sometimes it could be not so fun, but sometimes it is as well. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. When I return to Iceland I’ll be going to check out those glacier bays as well.
        – Nate

  24. Thank for the comment:) and YES, traveling really is the best!!! I’ve been to North and South American, Asia and Europe, and I really don’t want to travel anywhere else until I’ve been to Australia!!! I live in Spain at the moment, so I might actually go down to Africa in a few months!! It’s right underneath, so it’s not that far:)
    I really like your blog, so you definitely got a new follower!
    Have fun in Peru!!!!!!!

    1. No problem! Thanks for your kind words and for following! I’m definitely jealous of the places you’ve been. I think after Peru I’m probably going to head to Africa as well, I really want to go to Morocco. IF I decide to do this then I’ll probably actually come to Spain first to see there, and take a boat down to Morocco, I think that would be a really cool way to do it.
      Thanks again for checking out my blog as well!

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