There comes a time living in a new country when you no longer feel like a tourist and begin that transition toward life as a local. I have lived in Reykjavik for nearly four months now and have seen all the major tourist attractions in the Reykjavik area, many of them more than once. For example, I've been to the Blue Lagoon four times. While it is one of my favourite places on the planet, it's impractical to visit every weekend.
It's no secret that Reykjavik is tiny in comparison to other capital cities. I came to London with a London bucket list and, even after a year, I still had much left undone. I came to Reykjavik with a list as well and felt like I had completed it within a month. There are still plenty of other places in Iceland to visit, but at the moment I haven't had the time or finances to do so. That said, I'm still finding plenty to explore in Reykjavik, they just might not be on a typical tourist's list!
1) Rock Climbing
If you're feeling adventurous, but not quite adventurous enough to take on one of Iceland's glaciers, head to Klifurhúsið. They are open for a couple hours in the late morning/early afternoon and in the evening. The early session is less crowded, though most people there know exactly what they're doing and do all sorts of fancy climbing things. I'm just trying to work on my upper body strength and am happy if I simply make it up the wall on one of the easier routes!
If you'd like to visit Iceland's most popular restaurant, you better head to IKEA. No, I'm not kidding. I've gone to IKEA twice. The first time, there were a couple of things I needed, including a box to put my shoes in to see if that would solve the troublesome black grit problem (spoiler alert: it didn't). Later that night, I realized I didn't have the box with me. I checked my receipt and the box was not on it. I asked my friend if she had somehow purchased my box by accident. She hadn't. Both of us recall me putting the box in the cart, but neither of us know what happened to it after that. It will remain a mystery! So, we had to venture over there again to see if I could successfully buy the box!
to3) Art Gallery/ Grocery Store combo
Reykjavik is known for its literary and artistic culture. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country (my kind of place!) There are numerous art galleries in Reykjavik, which apparently extent to budget grocery stores. One day, I was accompanying a friend to the Bonus near her house. However, to get to the grocery store, you must first walk through a gallery.
4) Scavenger hunt
Okay, this one might be a bit more touristy, but suddenly people dressed in blue dinosaur or penguin costumes have taken over Reykjavik! They seem to be engaged in some sort of The Amazing Race-esque challenges. A couple days ago, some participants approached me, holding a balloon and explaining that they were in a scavenger hunt. One of the items on their list was "get a stranger to pop the balloon without using her hands." So, after I checked that item off for them, they asked if I was from Reykjavik. It should be pointed out that not only were they American as well, they were fellow Coloradans!
That's not the only time lately my fellow countrymen have mistaken me for Icelander. A few weeks ago, four Americans about my age came on the bus and were trying to figure out their stop. I asked them if they needed help, gave them navigation advice, suggestions of what to do, and taught them how to say "thanks" in Icelandic. At the end, one of them said, "Wow, you are really good at English!" And the other asked if an American accent was the default way Icelanders speak English or I am actually American!
What other places in Reykjavik would you recommend after you've checked off all the tourist destinations?
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: email@example.comHappy Travels, Crystal
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