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Reykjavik: a lively place


Reykjavik, Iceland

“It’s tiny, the weather usually sucks and not one single tree grows here, but it’s got the best clubs, bars and nightlife anywhere that I’ve found. The city is full of hipster types, but unlike the hipsters found in the U.S.A. and elsewhere in Europe, they have no pretenses and are always friendly and fun to party with. And as the only city of any size in Iceland and home to over half the country’s population, the food and cultural scenes is surprisingly good too.”

This is a description of Reykjavik I found on Trip Advisor and I think it pretty much sums up this cold and wet city on the west side of a small and isolated volcanic island.


Some people come to Reykjavik just for the nightlife They even have a name for it — Runtur—means booze drenched parade through town from bar to bar.  Click here for more about this experience.

The weather does “suck” as Trip Advisor reviewer said. I meandered the town on  a two hour walking tour and within that time span it rained (sometimes with hail) four times with sun in-between. Yikes. How do you dress for that?  The tour guide totally ignored the weather as we made our way around the town.

I was reminded of an Expedition Leader on a trip we took to Norway  who said, “There’s no bad weather, only bad gear.”  I think this is true in Iceland.  Bring your puffy jackets, long undies and rain pants and jackets.  Water proof boots and extra socks and you are good to go.

Reykjavik: Ongoing Party Time

What helps you to forget the bad weather is the NIGHTLIFE.   Constant party. Remember during half of the year, the daytime is  very short or barely exists.  Perfect for endless frivolity.

I encountered the group pictured below on a Scavenger Hunt.  Soon  I was pulled into the fun when  asked if they could teach me how to say dog in Icelandic and put it on video so they could check off an item on their list.   Hah. I butchered it. The language is quite difficult and the words long. This group thought my effort was hysterically funny.  I think they had been “pub crawling” for for a while.

I’m told Icelandic  is the language of the original Nordic Vikings who settled the area in the 800s.  They liked long words.

Later I saw the group in a bar whooping it up,  having checked all the items off their list.  This is how people have fun in Reykjavik.



I found Reykjavik’s big convention hall/performance center mezmerizing. Harpa. On a tour of the building I learned that it is really two structures. A building holding meeting rooms, four performance halls, two restaurants and shops inside a huge glass structure created by an artist.






I was only sorry I wasn’t there during sunshine to see the reflections of the glass on the cement floors.  It would be fabulous to see and photograph the multi colored glass structure in sunlight and to attend a concert in one of the four venues within the building. Next trip.



The other architectural treasure is the huge church that sticks out above the city. It is simple and plain and very very tall. It’s name is Hallgrimskirkja.  Another name to ponder is Skolavordustigur—fun shopping street. I wrote about it in last week’s blog. See what I mean about the language?




Fortunately for tourists, English is taught in their excellent school system so communication is not a problem .

Houses were a surprise.   I’m not sure what I expected but corrugated steel housing was not it.   Even though they are surrounded by lots of volcanic rock potentially material for building, houses are constructed with corrugated metal. Many quite boring. But as in any place, there are people who take a basic material and add their own personal charm.




Coming up on are blogs on the Golden Circle  and Geography of Iceland.  Hope you come back.  And if you are interested in the Photography Workshop I participated in,  click here.    It was a terrific experience.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Julie Hawksworth
    Nov 24, 2015 Reply

    Susan – wow what awesome photos…incredible of the bar, the church – all of them really great, and good to know the photography sessions were helpful, would love to do that some time!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Nov 24, 2015 Reply

      It was really fun to visit such an interesting and beautiful country with a group of photographers. I learned so much. Thank you for your nice comment.

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