Reykjavik City Guide travel tourist sightseeing attractions information

Reykjavik City Guide Business Tourist Travel Information

sightseeing Reykjavik attractions Reykjavik history Reykjavik crime Reykjavik weather

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Reykjavik History

Reykjavik   Early Origins  Reykjavik which translated means the ‘bay of   smokes’ is thought to have been a desert island until the Viking Ingolfur   Arnason settled there in 870 AD. He chose the name for the settlement after   seeing the steam rising from the islands hot springs. For the next nine hundreds years it remained a   farming hamlet. In 1752 the Danish Crown handed over the management of Reykjavik   to the a Danish business body so that it could developed economically.

This change saw the construction of buildings to   house a wool industry and other industries including agriculture fisheries, ship   building and sulphur mining. The rights to these trades were dispersed to six   areas of the city under leases owned by the Danish Crown in 1786. This   arrangement is viewed by historians as the year that Reykjavik gained its   present ‘city’ status. By 1800 the city’s population had risen to 600.

In the 19th century the city and the country   established its own identity and many of the islanders sought their independence   from Danish rule. In 1845 the Alpthin (see the World Heritage note in the   Iceland Country Profile) was reestablished. In 1874 the Danes transferred some basic powers   to Reykjavik and by default this made the city the country’s capital. In 1904   the Icelanders were given the authority of Home Rule.

Reykjavik Recent History In 1918 the country was recognised as ‘Iceland’   an independent state under the Danish Crown.On May 10th 1940 after the German occupation of   Denmark four British warships occupied the harbour at Reykjavik and anchored in   the harbour. The Icelandic government who declared their wish to remain   ‘neutral’ in WW2 reluctantly accepted the occupation.

During the occupation the British built   Reykjavík Airport, which today, serves domestic flight and the Americans built   Keflavík Airport now Iceland’s main international airport, situated 50 km from   Reykjavík. In 1944 Iceland declared itself a Republic and the office of former   kings was replaced by the office of the President.

Postwar Reykjavik flourished as many islanders   moved to the city looking for work. The city actively promoted modern   industries, including technology and finance and invested heavily in new housing   projects.

Sightseeing & Attractions In Reykjavik

This scenic city is full with cultural interest and beautiful landmarks. From the   Winter and Domestic Gardens to the Lutheran cathedral and Culture House. Reykjavik is the capital and largest city in the tiny country of Iceland. There is plenty of history to discover from the first Icelandic settlers, the Norsemen up to the Danish rule in the middle ages. Reykjavik had a healthy and thriving economy up until the financial collapse in 2009. Reykjavik is a beautiful city which has many attractions and has been described as one of the greenest cities on planet earth.

Luagardalslaug Geothermal Swimming Pool Sundlaugavegur 30a Laugaras,  – Reykjavik tel no: 553-4039] This is the largest pool in the country with top class facilities including an Olympic Size Swimming Pool, a whirlpool, a steam bath and 86 metre curling Water slide. This wet and wild park is at the very heart of Reykjavik life with fun, flirting and socialising taking place here every day. ,the volcanic water keeps the temperature at a steady 29 degrees. The Jacuzzi and steam baths are a little hotter at about 38-42 Degrees. The bus number 14 will get you here from Reykjavik city centre. Entry fee is about lkr 280 for adults and around 120lkr for children. Its a refreshing centre of relaxation. Open 6.30 am till 10.30 pm on Mon-Fri and 8 am till 10 pm on weekends. website n/a

Reykjavik Culture House Reykjavik Hverfisgata 15 – The culture house and national centre of Cultural heritage  was built in 1809 and  was first used to archive Icelandic records and natural  history items. It is a popular venue these days for  short term and on going exhibitions. It also boasts meeting room conference facilities, a book/art shop and a quaint little cafe. The Reykjavik Open air history museum offers visitors an insight in to the past lifestyles of the city’s citizens. With beautiful exhibitions those enthused by Reykjavik’s local  culture should definitely stop by the Culture House. Their staff are y helpful and friendly.  The showrooms  open daily from 11am till 5pm. website http://www.thjodmenning.is/index_english.htm
Reykjavik City History Museum Arbaejasafni Kistuhyl 4,  Reykjavik – This Open air exhibition features old Wooden houses, farms and work places which have been carefully moved  from other parts of Reykjavik and reassembled. Around the mid 20th century there was growing concern that  the ”Old Reykjavik” was going to disappear forever and so efforts were made to restore their culture and history by opening this museum  in the midst of the Second World war in 1942.
It really is like travelling back in time and there are even agricultural attractions with the museum’s resident cow who you can witness being milked by women in traditional Icelandic dress. The museum is on the outskirts of the city but there is a regular bus service from Reykjavik city centre which runs every half an hour.   Unfortunately this fascinating museum is only open to visitors during the summer. Opening hours are June 1st to August 31st 10 am till 5 pm.  Entrance fee is reasonably priced. website http://www.minjasafnreykjavikur.is/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-4205/
Perlan, The Pearl Oskjuhlio 562 0200 Reykjavik – Perplan was built in 1991  and has become one of Reykjavik’s most popular modern attractions.  The distinct 26 metre high glass dome  construction supplies water, electricity and  heating to nearly 75% of Reykjavik’s population.  It is six floors high and offers spectacular views of  Reykjavik and its neighbouring rural areas. They also have an extremely hi-Tech revolving restaurant. Beneath is a cafeteria which offers some delectable Italian Ice Cream amongst other things. Underneath the Pearl are the Winter gardens which frequently host Exhibitions and  Cultural events. T
he Building is one of Europe’s most versatile as well as being aesthetically pleasing. They have hosted concerts from the likes of renowned Icelandic musicians  GusGus and Emiliana Torrini. They have three different shops,  a gourmet shop, a charming souvenir shop and a magical Christmas shop. Open every day from 10 am till 6 pm.  Admission fee is usually about 1.500 ISK. website  http://www.perlan.is/
Reykjavik City Hall, Tjarnargata Reykjavik tel no: 411-1000 – The City Hall is a modern building opened in 1992 on the edge of Lake Tjornin. Apart from being the home to the local Reykjavik government, it also acts as a venue for artistic and cultural events. It wasn’t until 1987 that the local government decided it was time for Reykjavik to have a City Hall to conduct governmental business in.   The building was constructed by revered Architects Studio Granada who won a competition for the right to build Reykjavik’s city hall. City hall is home to the offices of the Reykjavik mayor. The building also features a cafe and  clever e 3D map of Iceland. website http://www.nat.is/travelguideeng/plofin_city_hall.htm
Domkirkjan Lutheran Cathedral, Austurvollur  Reykjavik tel no: 551-2113 – This significant and centrally located landmark was founded back in 1788 but had to have the roof replaced just 4 years later due to poor workmanship. The Church was consecrated in 1796 but few Icelanders worshipped there as the building was damp and not weather tight. By the year 1815 the church had been condemned by the local authorities and once again it was restored. Between 1838 and 1839 it was given two gifts by acclaimed sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, first a  font and then an organ
.
Several years later it was restored yet again but by the 1870’s  it was in desperate need of further repair. In 1879 it underwent a successful restoration and at the end of the 20th century, in 1999 it was restored once more. You can visit the Church tower and enjoy the splendid skyline views,  either by climbing all 800 steps but if you are no athlete then there is also a lift available. The exterior and interior are very beautiful and  Daily Lutheranism  services are held. website n/a
Reykjavik Cabinet House [Stjornnarad]  Reykjavik – The cabinet’s modern use is as the offices of the Icelandic Prime Minister.  The Cabinet began life as a prison in the mid 18th century. The prison shut in 1816, Due to the fact that there were not enough prisoners, the  Danish government which controlled Iceland at that time decided to convert it  in to an official home for the Danish Governor in the 1820’s. It was finally renamed the Cabinet House when the Danes allowed Iceland to have home rule under the Danish crown in 1904. There are  two statues in front of the house, one is of King Christian IX and the other is of  Hannes Hafstein who became Iceland’s first  minister in 1904.  which  were the work of Sculptor  Einar Johnsson who scultped them between 1915 and 1931. In 1874 Icelanders celebrated their own millennium and were joined by popular King  Christian IX. website n/a
Domestic Animals and Family Garden,  Reykjavik tel no: 354-354-7700 – This magnificent garden has both wild and domesticated Icelandic Animals on show.  It’s theme is very green as it combines the green natural surroundings with  the preservation of these beautiful animals. The garden’s main aim is to educate and increase awareness of animal preservation and Ecology itself. They are open all day and all year round.
There is a grill where people buy sausages from the gardens shop and have a BBQ in this serene setting. This small family friendly and fun garden is only open from June to September and is the perfect day out for excitable kids and elated adults who still have some fun left in them.  They have fun toys for the children as well as a paddling pool.    For further information and news about special events at the Garden ring 00-354-354-7700. Entry fee is 500 ISK for adults and 400 ISK for children between 5 and 12 years old. children aged 0-4 years old are exempt from an admission fee. website n/a
The Winter Gardens Reykjavik These are below the Domestic Animals and Family Garden (see above)  and  often host exhibitions and cultural events. This building is one of Europe’s most versatile buildings and aesthetically OK as well.

Crime and Personal Safety in Reykjavik Violent crime in the Icelandic capital is virtually non-existent. Overall the Reykjavik is one of the safest cities in Europe and the world. Complacency is not adviseable though, travellers should take the standard precautions that they would at any other destination. There is a low rate of highly skilled thieves operating the streets of Reykjavik, so keep your possessions and valuables under close observation/.

Restaurants In Reykjavik

Editorial Note: Every year Icelanders celebrate ‘ Sprengidagur’ which translates as Bursting Day and is their name for Shrove Tuesday. In 2008 its on February 5th and visitors to any restaurant may need to make reservations as the traditional way of celebrating this day is to eat salted meat until you are at bursting point.!

Tveir Fiskar Geirsgata 9 Tel: 511 3474 – easily found on the quay side in the harbour is regarded in many quarters as the best seafood restaurant in Reykjavik. One doubts whether you could find any fresher fish in the city but that said the fare which includes dolphin carpaccio, smoked puffin and whale steak is very imaginative as are the garnishes and accompaniments. Very expensive but out on its own in many ways and subject of numerous credits. website http://www.restaurant.is/

Its quite difficult to find vegetarian restaurants in Reykjavik but one we did come across by accident was the A Naestu Grosum at Laugarvegur 20b I101. Fare not extensive but the emphasis here is on quality rather than quantity included a Thai meal (that apparently alternates with a curry) plus a couple of other main choices choices including pasta. There was a greater choice of deserts than main courses. Beers were available but we were happily tempted by the organic wine. Refreshingly this was one restaurant in Reykjavik which was not expensive. Telephone 552 8410. The Vid Tjornina at Templarasund 3 Reykjavik, 101 is a very small homely fish restaurant including Sashmi Cod and Shark dishes all seemingly equally well prepared.

One of Reykjavik’s most impressive restaurants is Laekjarbrekka at Laekargata Bankastraeti 2 Tel: 551 4430. Its fare is traditional Icelandic food in a real 19th century atmosphere which includes Tiffany lamps, tapestries mounted on its walls and a grandfather clock that occasionally interrupts the piano music playing in the background. The fare is first class with lobster being as suggested the house specialty but the lamb and accompaniments were memorable. Expensive but given the quality & service justified. see website.http://www.laekjarbrekka.is/

The Seafood Cellar at Aðalstræti 2 Tel: 511 1212. has become renowned for its success in the imaginative preparation of fish and seafood, combined with more traditional fares such as lamb. It also has a limited choice of vegetarian food. They also have a wine for all dishes. Expensive but supported by good service. website.http://www.sjavarkjallarinn.is/

One restaurant that is regarded as a prestigious place to east is the The Pearl Restaurantin the Perlan building at Perlan, Oskjuhlith Tel: 562 0200. (see also sightseeing and attractions in adjacent column). Not open at lunch time it is a very popular venue for Business dinners and offers diners a panoramic overview of Reykjavik as it revolves 360 degrees in a two hour cycle. The food is very good and cosmopolitan / European but overpriced if you take away the view. website.http://www.perlan.is/

The Rauðara Steakhouse at Rauðararstigur 37 Tel: 562 6766. offers two menus. Traditional Icelandic seasonal food including fish horse meat puffin reindeer and whale. This food though acclaimed by some is expensive. For those on a budget or less adventurous there is a very affordable touristy menu. Either way this is a restaurant that will give you a warm welcome.website.http://www.raudara.is/

Nightlife & Clubbing Reykjavik

 For our detailed guide  to nights  clubs in  Reykjavik with club reviews follow this link

Irish Bar – The Dubliner  Every city should have one and this establishment epitomises the traditional Irish bar with its wooden tables Sadly a pint of Guinness is about 7€ but its decent.

Driving In Reykjavik Driving on Reykjavik is very challenging as the local are not the most patient people to share the road with. Visitors to Reykjavik who intending to drive are advised to read the advice on driving in Iceland in our Iceland Country Profile.

Cycling In Reykjavik: Reykjavik has a good network of cycle tracks.

Reykjavik Tourist Board Information  http://www.visitreykjavik.is/
Reykjavik Iceland Weather Details:
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Reykjavik Iceland Weather Forecast
monthly average and extreme temperatures in Reykjavik Iceland:

sun hours per day

Temperatures
Average Daily
Records
Minimum
Maximum
Lowest
Highest
January
1
-2
2
-17
10
February
2
-2
3
-14
10
March
4
-1
4
-14
14
April
5
1
6
-13
15
May
6
4
10
-7
21
June
6
7
12
0
21
July
6
9
14
1
23
August
5
8
14
0
21
September
4
6
11
-4
20
October
2
3
7
-10
16
November
1
0
4
-12
12
December
0
-2
2
-17
11
extreme cold
hot
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