Days 1 & 2 of our Iceland Self Drive Adventure: Reykjavik
My good friend Andrew was my driving partner on this trip. We came to Iceland via Finland (which was a lovely stopover). When we arrived we caught the Flybus to our hotel for two nights. We stayed at the Grand Hotel, which was quite a bit more "flash" than I am used to staying in. Great hotel, but I found it was just that little too far from where things happen in town and I like to be able to walk everywhere. They did have an e-bike option for rent which we did take up and that was a good way to get around. We had a lot of fun cruising the streets on our bikes. Here is the video.
There are many, many, many tours available in Reykjavik. I read somewhere that most people only visit Iceland for 3-5 days and most of them stay within a day's drive from the capital, so there is a lot you can do close to Reykjavik. One of the most popular activities is to take a soak in the thermal spring of the Blue Lagoon. I have never actually visited the Blue Lagoon, it can even be hard to get a booking. Erwin, who took the fabulous photos above, could only get a booking for around 10.30 pm. That is way past my bed time and when it is 50 mins away from the hotel each way I lost interest. We visited much less touristy lagoons later on anyway. We had a lovely traditional Icelandic lunch at the Cafe Loki close to the imposing Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran Church. Make sure you visit the look out at the top of the church - great 360 degrees of the capital from here. Our welcome dinner was at Rok. This restaurant looks great from the outside with grass growing on the top of the building in traditional Icelandic style.
Below are just a few sights you can see in Reykjavik - the Official Tourism website is a great resource to research all the things to do and see in this city.
Iceland's Parliament or "Alþingi" Claimed as the oldest surviving parliament in the world, the Althing was founded in 930 at Þingvellir (see day 3) which is around 45 kilometres east of what later became Iceland's capital, Reykjavík. The "new Parliament" was built in 1800 and the first assembly was held here in 1801.To read more about Iceland's early history click here.
Tjörnin means "the lake" or "the pond", Tjörnin pond is the prominent lake in central Reykjavík. It is situated in the city centre next to the Reykjavik City Hall and several museums.
Reykjavik City Hall is an impressive building on the northern shore of Lake Tjornin.
The old harbour - was built between the years of 1913 and 1917. It is still a shipping dock, but it is also a lively centre for marine activities, restaurants and cafes. The Maritime Museum is in this area.
Sun Voyager - a massive steel sculpture by Jon Gunnar Arnason which may resemble a Viking ship, but is in fact a dream boat and ode to the sun.
Harpa Concert HallThe Harpa opened its doors on May 4th and celebrated its final opening ceremony in August 2011 when the building was formally inaugurated.
Hallgrímskirkja Church can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. It was designed by the late Guðjón Samuel in 1937, who was often inspired in his endeavours by the fascinating shapes and forms created when lava cools into basalt rock. Skólavörðustígur & Laugavegur Streets
Skólavörðustígur is one of the most attractive streets in Reykjavík. It runs from the corner of the main shopping streets Laugavegur and Bankastræti up to the magnificent church Hallgrímskirkja. Laugavegur is one of the oldest shopping streets in Reykjavík and literally translates as "wash road"; that’s because it used to lead to the great old hot-springs and famous wash-spot in Laugardalur.
Go to day 3 - Reykjavik to Þingvellir and Hvolsvöllur