A Reykjavik City Walking Route
Walking through the city of Reykjavik can be an incredibly beautiful and calming experience. For such a small area the city boasts a number of different and unique zones that all have their own feel, their own soul. Everywhere you go you can feel the beating heart of Reykjavik guiding your footsteps and quickening your pace to reach the next destination!
With all this in mind, I eventually developed my own personal walking route through Reykjavik that lets you see the best and the brightest parts of the city in a nice 2-3 hour walk. Let me guide you through it!
The Starting Point
The orange blip on the map is our starting point, originally this was the location of the Getlocal shop but it is also a handy spot in the middle of the main shopping street in Reykjavik. Don’t stress out too much about finding the exact same spot though!
From here we will be heading upwards towards the coast for our first stop!
The Sun Voyager
The Sun Voyager statue is one of the most popular in Reykjavik, it resembles a viking longboat. It was erected in 1990 by artist Jón Gunnar Árnason who intended it to embody a sense of hope, discovery and adventure.
On a clear day you will also get a great view of mount Esja on the other side of the bay! From here we head left up towards…
What trip to Reykjavik would be complete without a look at the stunning glass building that is Harpa concert hall. Opened in may 2011, the building's glass exterior was shaped in a way that was inspired by the basalt columns of the south coast. The building is host to many events and shows throughout the year and if you go after dark you can often see its outer walls lit up in an assortment of patterns and displays.
Next up on the trip in an optional stop (marked in green)…
The Flea Market
Only open on Saturday and Sunday the flea market is located more or less across the road from Harpa and is a spot I highly recommend to people who are wandering around the city at the weekend. The market is full of a wide assortment of things from books to dried fish and a little bit of everything in between!
Once you are done getting lost in the market we journey onwards!
The Old Harbour
This part of the city is a stunning array of fresh fish restaurants, culture and tradition. This is a great place to grab some lunch or dinner (depending on the time of day) and soak up some of the amazing atmosphere . Reykjavik is a city with a very close relationship to the sea and this is the perfect spot to realise that.
From one harbour to the next we now head down towards
They call Grandi the “up and coming” part of Reykjavik and when you wander around this area it is easy to see why. The buildings once used as warehouses for fishermen have been completely transformed into a variety of café’s, restaurants, art galleries and artisan shops. Highlights include the japanese teahouse Kumiko, The Ice cream shop Valdis the chocolate factory Omnom and the whales of Iceland museum but there is much much more to be found here and you can easily add an hour or two to the walk by visiting this historic part of the city.
Once you are done exploring head down to the red blip on the map and go back up into the city towards...
The plaza is called Ingólfstorg - named after Ingólfur Arnarson, who founded Reykjavik it is a beautiful little spot located right at the end of the streets that make up the “main street” through the city centre. There a few a few Gems here including some great spots to grab a coffee and the settlement museum in which you can dive into the history of Reykjavik!
It’s just a brief stop though as we keep on heading downwards (and a little bit to the left) towards…
The Parliament Building
This is the parliament building, where the Icelandic parliament (Alþingi) is able to have meetings. Over the years this building has also housed the Icelandic National Library and Antiquaries Collection as well as parts of the university of Reykjavik.
From here we head back towards the city hall building before moving onwards to…
The City Hall
Constructed in 1992 the city hall building is where the city council meet. Major points of interest here include a large 3D map of Iceland and the fact that this is where the mayor’s office is. It’s a great point (and the first of 2) for getting more into the culture of Reykjavik and its politics.
From here we have a brief detour just around the corner where we find…
The City Pond
Some call it a lake, some call it a pond and to many birds it is even called home! The city pond (or Tjörnin) is an ideal spot for sitting down and relaxing after all the walking you will have done!
For those who are prone to feeding ducks, there is a small bakery nearby where you can grab some bread! The lake is frequented by between 40 and 50 species of water birds, including the Arctic tern, the Eider, the Gadwall, the Greylag goose and other species of goose, the Mallard, several species of seagulls, and the scaup. Whooper swan are viewable within close proximity. Once you are well rested we head back up into the city towards…
The Prime Minister's House
Well… It would be rude not to come all the way to Iceland and not wave to the prime minister!
This building, also called Stjórnarráðið, is where the prime minister of Iceland and his cabinet are able to meet to discuss their business.
An interesting spot to see before we head back up on Laugavegur again towards…
I saved the best for last, and with good reason! By coming towards the church from the direction I indicated on the map you are able to get the best (and most iconic) view of the church as you walk up the road towards it.
Once there you are able to enjoy the rich culture and history of the church and for a small fee you are even able to journey to the top where you can get an amazing view of all the places you saw on the walk!
From here of course you can either head back down to the starting point or make your way onwards to your own adventure.
For anyone in the city with a few hours to spend I believe this walking route will give you ample opportunity to see all of the best parts of Reykjavik and experience it on all the level’s it has to offer.
If required the full map can be viewed here.