We found ourselves in downtown Reykjavik with a few hours on our hands, so we decided to walk around the capital of Iceland and enjoy all what it has to offer. We started at the Harpa concert hall close to the marina, a distinctive glass building inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland. The interior is just fabulous, from the black concrete to the yellow tones of the doors and feature walls, it is worthwhile walking to the top floor of this building and looking down towards the lobby.
From the Harpa Concert hall, we turned into Laekjargata where we passed Stjornarrad (cabinet house) which once served as a prison, but is now the home to the prime minister offices.
From here, we turned left towards the much photographed Hallgrimskirkja. At 74.5m height, it is one of Iceland's tallest structures. It took more than 40 years to finish the construction which started back in 1945. The church is also home to an observation deck within the tower which can be reached by lift.
Walking back towards the town hall, we passed the colourful Drekkin convenience store which has been in business for 40 years. Drekkin is now also a fastfood joint where you can buy fastfood at a reasonable price. Walking back through the many back streets, we admired the many colourful facades of the houses, some of them bearing fabulous graffiti.
The town hall is worth a visit. This modern building is located at the shore of lake Tjørnin. In the concrete building , you can find Reykjavik's official tourist office, but the building is also home to an impressive 3D relief map of Iceland. The building has an outside wall which is build from rock covered in moss, a nice feature within the centre of reykjavik.
A short walk brought us to the settlement exhibition, home to the oldest relics of human habitation in Reykjavik. During the excavation, they also discovered a viking longhouse from the tenth century which now forms the focal point for the entire exhibition. The longhouse was left in it's original location, and the interactive displays let you discover what living in a longhouse would have been like. Many tools were also excavated and are now also on display showcasing axes, tools,.... At the entrance into the exhibition, there is also a great place where kids can dress up as vikings, play viking games or try out writing their name in Runes
After an educational stop, we decided to get some retail therapy in as well as we ended up at Reykjavik's permanent Christmas shop (Jolahusid). Here you can find Christmas decorations and listen to Christmas songs year round. Next stop was Kolaportid flea market where different vendors sell new and used items, but this is also a location where you can buy traditional Icelandic food.
After all that walking around, we were hungry. And being in Reykjavik, there is ample opportunity to find food. We decided to have lunch at Rustik (rustik.is/), a nice vibrant restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere where we enjoyed the fish of the day.
So our few hours in Reykjavik were a great break from all the outdoor activities we had done during our visit to Iceland. Reykjavik is vibrant, it is colourful and is a must visit location, even if it is just for a couple of hours.