As I said in Planning for Iceland, my hotel was about 15 minutes from the center of Reykjavik. It was also easy to get there! After the odyssey of my first morning, I wasn’t planning on going into the city. The front desk said it was about a 20 minute walk and I was so tired that the thought of trying to figure out how to get back to the hotel was more than I could try. But there was a really pretty pond and church just down form my hotel and that was close enough for my brain to handle. There was a lovely bakery on the corner, so I got some type of marzipan pastry and off I went. I took some photos of ducks and swans (who can be very mean, so watch out). I decided to walk around the pond and when I reached the other end, I was in the city center!
Reykjavik is incredibly walkable. As it is the winter, it is dark most of the day. The streets are very well lit. I never felt uncomfortable walking around by myself and Iceland is the safest country in the world. So don’t let being a solo traveler stop you!
There are tons of shops and restaurants. They really seem to like American hot dogs! There were 3 or 4 stands to buy one. I stopped at one and it was pretty good! A tip, I LOVE mustard, and I requested it to be on my hot dog. The gentleman told me it’s not like American mustard. I assumed that he meant it was more of a raw mustard (think grainier version of Dijon) and I was like, ‘bring it on, I love mustard.’ Well, I was wrong. Mustard in Iceland is essentially honey mustard, which I don’t love. So I sat on a bench out of viewing distance from the stand and cleaned it off with a napkin. My Fanta tasted perfect, though!
Being an island, seafood is what is most available. I cannot speak to any of it. I actually don’t care for seafood…well more it doesn’t like me. I tend to get ill when I eat most fish so I just avoid it. I can say I enjoyed the Italian options! I ate at Jamie’s Italian, which I didn’t initially put together that it is one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants (I’m a fan), and it was pretty great. I had some cocktails, lasagna and a chocolate lava cake. But there are so many food options, including a diner that clearly stole all of it’s ideas from ‘The Big Lebowski,’ so eat what you want. You’re on holiday!
There are lots of shops to browse and everyone speaks English. It was never a problem to communicate. Icelandic is very complex and, quite frankly, difficult to understand. It many languages I can figure out what they business is or item, not so in Icelandic. The language is close historically to Norwegian but it never evolved. It would be like us speaking Old English today. So while I do try to learn a phrase or two so I don’t seem like an entitled American, I made an exception for this trip.
I spent an afternoon down by the harbor. It was so peaceful. I listened to music, saw a lot of birds, and attempted some selfies. Note, no matter how much you hate them, when you solo travel, they are a necessity. And they are hard to take. So I will be getting the dreaded selfie stick for my trip Down Under in June.
Along the harbor you will come across the opera house, which does not actually look like an opera house. But it is quite architecturally stunning. Further along the path, you will see a sculpture of a skeleton of a nordic ship. It was one of my favorite parts in the city, almost as if you are seeing what the Vikings had a millennia ago.
Also near the opera house, is the museum of the Northern Lights. While I was given a free pass as part of my tour, I didn’t actually make it. But I saw the actual Northern Lights, so who cares!
I loved everything about Reykjavik, it’s a perfect place to wander. I know there is much to explore, so here’s to the next trip! Even in January, there are lots of holiday lights up, so be sure to check out all of the decorations!