Reykjavik Journals

How to empty your bank account in 48 hours

A July 2002 trip to Reykjavik by isewell

Arriving by Plane Photo, Reykjavik, Iceland More Photos
Quote: Reykjavik is not only hard to spell, but it's extremely expensive. Our 2 day layover was enjoyable, but was all we could afford. We visited thanks to the "Take a Break" Icelandair offer.

How to empty your bank account in 48 hours

Overview

Arriving by Plane Photo, Reykjavik, Iceland
Quote:
The public thermal swimming pools and the blue lagoon are my fondest memory of Reykjavik. They are a relaxing, regenerating, unique experience. Outside of the city, the Golden Circle tour gave us an excellent introduction to what the southwest of Iceland has to offer. Gullfoss is not to be missed (although it's no Niagra - but it's truly wild). There are lots more pictures of our trip, on our website. The direct link is here.Quick Tips: - Unless you have deep pockets, plan only a few days here. If you get out of the city and start camping, prices drop. - The guided tours c...Read More

Hotel Esja

Hotel

Quote:
As part of our air ticket, we had made a reservation at Icelandair Esja hotel, which I thought was going to cost us $75 a night. What I didn't know is that it was A) a 45 minute walk from downtown, and B) $75 per PERSON per night! This hotel was clean, but the rooms were fairly small. The hotel itself had a pretty drab exterior. Reception checked us in fairly quick. Luckily, we were able to bail out on our reservation. I told them that their own web site had told us it would be $75 per night (I was wrong) and kicked up a fuss. They didn't try to charge us - not even for the phone calls we made to the budget hotels trying to find somewhere else to go. I would primarily not recommend this hotel ...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

Hotel Esja
Suðurlandsbraut 2
Reykjavik, Iceland IS108
(354) 505-0950

Salvation Army Guesthouse

Hotel | "The Salvation Army Guest House"

Quote:
Where do you go when you're short on your dough? Well, the Salvation Army of course! They ran a backpacker's hotel in the thick of downtown so we headed there after our bad experience at Hotel Esja. We got a double bed with common shower for $70 US for two people. (!!) It was very nice, clean, and quiet. The owner was incredibly nice and helped us with everything we needed. The common showers were a little mucky - bring flip-flops. Some of the showers had little chairs in them to put your clothes on, others didn't. They have a big luggage storage room for people checking in early.

They provide breakfast (about $10), and there is a kitchen to make your own food.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

Salvation Army Guesthouse
Kirkjustraeti 2
Reykjavik, Iceland 101
354 561 3203

Thrir Frakkar Hja Ulfari Photo, Reykjavik, Iceland
Quote:
This was a small cozy restaurant in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. Prices were outrageous, but apparently were very reasonable for Iceland. The restaurant featured a lot of local dishes - I had puffin as an appetizer, and the most delicious salmon I have ever had as a main course. My wife had a vegetarian meal which was also excellent. This is the place to go for local specialties. It was recommended to us by the Salvation Army (and when they are recommending a restaurant that is $30 a person minimum you know you're in trouble!) and it didn't disappoint.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

Thrir Frakkar Hja Ulfari
Baldursgotu 14
Reykjavik, Iceland
552-3939

Quote:
This is a self-serve vegetarian restaurant located along the main strip. Prices were a lot more reasonable here. The dishes were flavourful and filling, although they were not freshly cooked. The restaurant is on the second floor and offers good people watching below. Of course, this being Iceland (even in the summer) everyone seemed to be scurrying to get to their destination and inside! The atmosphere is relaxed and open, with interesting vegetable and fruit artwork up on the walls.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

One Woman Restaurant
20b Laugavegur
Reykjavik, Iceland
552-8410

Church of Hallgrimur (Hallgrimskirkja)

Attraction | "Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral"

Church of Hallgrimur (Hallgrimskirkja) Photo, Reykjavik, Iceland
Quote:
We walked up to Hallgrimskirkja, a cathedral at the top of the hill. It's a modern concrete affair, but with interesting curvy architecture from the outside. There's an elevator to the top of the clock tower with great views of the area. There's the standard souvenir shop at the entry. You have to pay to take the elevator to the top, but it was only $2 apiece, if memory serves. To get a good photo, stand a little ways down the street that it faces.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

Church of Hallgrimur (Hallgrimskirkja)
Downtown
Reykjavik, Iceland

National Gallery of Iceland Photo, Reykjavik, Iceland
Quote:
Next, we checked out the National Gallery of Iceland which is a small gallery right downtown with too much modern art for our taste. There was 3 floors, and a temporary exhibition on the first floor. No pictures are allowed, which was a shame, because the painting we liked the most was nowhere to be found in the gift shop. It was an interesting little taste of Icelandic art, and made us feel cultured.

There's a cafe (with pretty good cake!) in the building. Prices are reasonable (for Iceland).

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

National Gallery of Iceland
Fríkirkjuvegi 7
Reykjavik, Iceland
(+354) 515 9600

Árbæjarsafn Open-Air Folk Museum Photo, Reykjavik, Iceland
Quote:
Next we took a bus out to an Árbæjarsafn Open-Air Folk Museum. (yes I cut and pasted that name :) ) The local buses run frequently (even on Sunday), and the driver was very helpful in getting us to where we wanted to go. The folk museum was an interesting collection of old buildings detailing the history of Iceland, with some very honest admissions of a lot of mistakes that have been made. There is your usual collection of original-era houses, with volunteers knitting, baking bread, the usual. A few houses with grass roofs, some people cutting grass in a field with a scythe, and we were done. Don't mind my lack of enthusiasm - we were barely standing by this point - I think the King himsel...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

Árbæjarsafn Open-Air Folk Museum
Reykjavik
Reykjavik, Iceland

Quote:
After a much-needed nap at the hotel, we headed to one of the public swimming pools: "Laugardalur" . This was no regular swimming pool. Yes, it was geothermally heated, like almost all of Iceland, but it was more of a 'spa experience' than a pool. There was a few large hot tubs, a cooler swimming pool with lanes for swimmers, a huge bath-tub warm pool with a 6 story high waterslide emptying into it (with no adult supervision - oh the humanity!), and several "hot pots". The hot pots are like small circular hot tubs, with temperatures varying from 65 to 110F. All for $2 apiece - it was the only reasonably priced attraction in Reykjavik! We met lots of other tourists here, and it was a great way to w...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

Laugardalur Swimming Pool
Laugardalur, IS-104
Reykjavik, Iceland

Golden Circle

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Golden Circle Tour"

Golden Circle Photo, Reykjavik, Iceland
Quote:
The following day, we took the Golden Circle Tour. We are usually averse to guided tours, but it was the best way to see a lot of the southwest of Iceland in a short amount of time (even our backpacker's guide, Let's Go, recommended the tour). The tour takes in the geologic and historic highlights of the area. We saw many volcanoes, a greenhouse area (with a stop in a souvenir shop of course), a magnificant waterfall called Gullfoss, an active geyser area, and Thingvellir, where the Icelandic parliament was formed. For more information on this tour, just do a google search on "Golden Circle Iceland". It was definitely worthwhile.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

Golden Circle
Southwest Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland

Blue Lagoon (Geothermal Spa)

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Attraction | "The Blue Lagoon"

Blue Lagoon (Geothermal Spa) Photo, Reykjavik, Iceland
Quote:
To cap off our sightseeing in Reykjavik, we visited The Blue Lagoon. In true Icelandic style, this turns out to be the runoff from a power plant that they've turned into a tourist attraction! (www.bluelagoon.is) It's not a cheap trip: it ended up being about $65 for the two of us, including admission and a public shuttle from downtown (30 mins away). The lagoon is a large silica-filled pool with purported healing powers. Everyone rubs these salts over their face and body as an exfoliant. It's the only time you'll see men in public exfoliating! The water is very warm, but not uncomfortably so. We stayed in for quite a while. The facilities are incredibly modern, with electronic passes to...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 28, 2002

Blue Lagoon (Geothermal Spa)
Grindavik lava field, Reykjanes Peninsula
Reykjavik, Iceland

Getting There on Icelandair

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Story/Tip

Quote:
(I'm a poet and I didn't know it!) From San Francisco, a direct flight to London on BA was going to cost us $1000US. A flight with Icelandair with a 3 day layover was only going to cost us $1200US, so we figured, why not. The only catch was that we had to go through Minneapolis, with a 7 hour layover. (We pulled out our trusty Let's Go USA, and it turns out the only thing worth doing in Minneapolis is the Mall of America. Conveniently located a 10 minute bus ride from the airport, it was a great way to pass some time!) On the way there, we got a free upgrade to First Class. We had checked our bags all the way through in Minneapolis, so we figured we didn't need to show up particularly...Read More

Safety

Story/Tip

Quote:
I have never felt as safe traveling as I did in Iceland. Iceland has an almost nonexistant crime rate. We saw no homeless people at all. Even at the swimming pool, locals didn't think twice about letting their young children out of their sight. I guess there has to be some advantage in living in a place as cold as this!
Quote:
Cold. Very cold. Especially coming from California! Even in the middle of their summer, temperatures barely cracked 70 when we were there. Iceland is mostly barren (Canadians: think Sudbury), rocky, and forboding. It used to be 90% tree covered, but they had a little problem with deforestation. There is a big effort underway to restore the vegetation, but they're definitely not there yet. The mountains and hills are beautiful, but it's a pretty desolate place (or at least the parts we saw in the southwest).