What to do in Reykjavik on a budget?

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There is a lot you can do in Reykjavik on a budget and most of the ideas here are free! From clean tap water to sports and to partying, here is a short list of ideas for you.

Clean Water Everywhere!

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In Iceland you can actually drink the water right from the faucets. Yes, it’s clean from amoeba and other bacteria. The water comes from mountain brook streams which have the cleanest and clearest water in the whole world. It has been nature purified so not only is it safe but is also good for everyone’s health. So when you are thirsty while you are in Iceland, just drink the clean tap water. No need to rush to a store to buy a bottle of water unless you want to have it sparkling!

If You Are the Nature Type

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Now if you want to be close to nature and just enjoy the great scenery and calmness Icelandic nature has to offer, then go hiking at Mount Esja. It is within a half hour drive from the capital and from the top you can enjoy the amazing scenery. You don´t even have to go to the top to enjoy the view.

Rauðhólar (Red Hills)

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Raudholar (Red Hills) area in Reykjavik’s outskirts has a out-of-this-world scenery. It’s like having the sight of Mars especially during sunset. It is a unique experience to view the site and well worth the visit.

Party!

In case you were to visit Reykjavik on the first Saturday after the 18th of August, you can join in a festival; Menningarnótt (Culture Night), an yearly event. Here you can enjoy music, dance and art, dazzling firework show, and an after party of night long drinking and fun. All weekends throughout the year you can find a good party in the city of Reykjavik and don´t forget to check out various events and festivals like Airwaves.

Go swimming.

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Swimming is a large part of Icelandic culture. Here is the list of the most popular pools;
Árbæjarlaug – Fylkisvegur – pool inside the solarium building, this pool has the most impressive designs with a big slide, fountain, bridge and an area of hot tub.

Sundhollin – Barónsstígur – also an indoor pool but with two hot tubs and steam room located outside.

Laugardalslaug – Sundlaugarvegur – Now if you are talking about a big swimming pool then you better visit this place. It has a huge pool and a massive slide. It is located close to the one and only camping site in Reykjavik. This is where swimming competitions are being held since it also has a huge stadium. Hot tubs are also what make this place popular. It has five hot tubs and one of it is filled with sea water. In the same building you will find a first class gym and one of the best spas in Reykjavík, Laugarspa. There you can enjoy a nice meal and even a glass of wine after a good workout, swim and/or pampering.

Vesturbæjarlaug – Hofsvallagata – this pool is close to the universities so many students and teachers often visit here; it is a short distance from downtown.

Breiðholtslaug – Austurberg – this is the less crowded pool in Reykjavik since it is located far from the central but if you want quiet swimming on a pool or a hot tub then this place is perfect.

Grafarvogslaug – Dalhú – The main attraction of this pool is their super long slide. Buses from downtown provide ease of transportation going to Grafarvogslaug.
Kléberg Pool – Kjalarnes – after hiking at Mount Esja, you can relax on this pool to unwind and ease your sore muscles.
Of course you can always make friends with the locals and you’ll find yourself swimming in their backyard. Almost every neighborhood in Reykjavik has hot tubs in their backyard. If you are of a beach buff then go play volleyball and go swimming at Nautholsvik beach in west Reykjavik. It is a major part of your visiting Iceland to go swimming at least once!

Be artistic!

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The Hjartagardurinn (Garden of hearts) in central Reykjavik is where you can experience underground street-art scene or visit a museum; the sculpture garden, by The Einar Jónsson Art Museum located just beside Hallgrimskirkja church. While you’re at it visit the church too. At 75 meters of height, the Hallgrimskirkja church is one of the most captivating church around the world and is Iceland’s best known landmark as well.
Last but not least, the Northern lights are one of the most beautiful things you can experience and in winter they put on a free show for you. It´s perfect to explore Reykjavík and surroundings during the day, and go northern lights hunting at night.

Grandavegur

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Grandavegur, not far from the Old Harbor, offers a lovely area to visit. There you will find the Víkin Maritime museum, Valdís ice cream shop, boutiques, salons and much more. Also lovely ports and boats. A nice place to take a stroll and enjoy the area just outside the main streets in the center.

City Hall

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The City Hall is located in the center, by the pond. There is a nice café where you can have a cup of coffee and enjoy the view over the pond. There you will also often find exhibitions, usually with no entrance fee, so it´s a nice place to check out.

The Sun Voyager

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The Sun Voyager is a beautiful sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason, located by Sæbraut (not far from Harpa Concert Hall). The sculpture is an ode to the sun and contains within itself freedom, progress, the promise of undiscovered territory and a dream of hope. The Sun Voyager is a unique in the way that it carries the observers to wherever his/her mind takes him/her. It is a dreamboat. A lovely sculpture that has become one of Reykjavík´s symbols.

Botanical Garden, Laugardalur

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The Botanical Garden in Laugardalur is a lovely place to talk a walk, both in winter and summer. It´s a beautiful and peaceful place. Next to it is a large green area where you can find historical remains. You can for instance see where women used to wash the clothes and often they had to walk a long way.

Skate boarding

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There are a few places in Reykjavík where you can go skate boarding. At Miklatún Park you will find facilities for skate boarding as well as in Laugardalur and in Seltjarnarnes. In summer you will also often see skate boarders down in the city center at the so-called Hallærisplanið.

Videy Island

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Videy island is just outside of Reykjavik. You can take a ferry over to the island and it takes only about 5 minutes to reach Videy. Videy is a beautiful and a historical place. At Videyjarstofa you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee and often it is a venue for concerts. In summer you can go horse back riding and enjoy the magnificent bird life. The Imagine Peace Tower is located at Videy and it is lovely to see when it lights up the dark winter sky.

Hot dog at Bæjarins bestu

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The most popular fast food in Reykjavík, and has been for years, is a hot dog at Bæjarins bestu. It is located close to Kolaportið Flea Market in tehe city center. You will always find people there queuing for a hot dog. Ask for one with everything (ein með öllu) – that includes ketchup, onions, mustard and a special Icelandic delicacy, remúlaði (remoulade). President Clinton queued for a hot dog when he visited Iceland, you should too!

Perlan (The Pearl)

The Pearl is one of the sites you notice soon after you arrive in Reykjavik. It is a half shaped globe where you find a café, restaurant and more. On the balcony you get a lovely view of the city on a clear day.

Reykjavik on a Budget

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It is a common misunderstanding that the northern lights appear every night throughout the year. We have years of experience on giving visitors advice on how it is best to plan a northern lights vacation and we would like to share that experience with you!

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1. When you are planning a northern lights holiday the timing is of course crucial. The northern lights can appear every month of the year but you need darkness in order to see them. So, with a forecast of active lights in July for instance, you won´t see anything due to the 24 hour daylight. So, May- August are off. The northern lights season starts in the beginning of September and ends mid April. Late August it has started getting dark though late at night so you could be lucky and see the lights then. Then length of your stay is also vital as the lights often appear for 2-3 days and then nothing for some days. Therefore we always recommend a least a week to increase your chances!

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2. We always recommend visitors to plan their visit to Iceland as a nice winter holiday with loads of tours and activities. Enjoy all the wonderful things the country has to offer during the day. Whether you choose tours or a self drive, you will be touched by the pure and unspoiled nature, the views and the sites. The northern lights are a bonus to it all. Keep in mind the hours of daylight you have during your stay. The months with the fewest hours of daylight are December and January, but then again, you have the most darkness in order to view the lights when they appear!

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3. Keep a close eye on the northern lights forecast. It is usually updated around 6 pm daily. You need to look for white or light green areas (i.e. no or little cloud cover) and the number needs to be 3 (moderate) or higher. However, keep in mind that even though the forecast says low, look up into the sky if it is clear as the forecast might be wrong and the lights dancing during the evening and/or night.

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Some opt for a self drive to hunt for the northern lights. That is all good, just keep in mind that the road conditions in Iceland during winter can be difficult and dangerous, especially out in the country. Slippery roads, snow and even blizzards. Other opt for tours – either bus tours, super jeep tours or private tours. Combo tours are often popular, like for instance Golden Circle and Floating. Other options include for instance on a glacier just to name one.

To sum up: Choose the winter months and stay for at least a week. Keep a close eye on the forecast. Choose the hunt that suits you best, whether it a self drive or tours. Plan your holiday around what Iceland has to offer and look at the northern lights as a bonus.


Any cheap things to do in Reykjavík

Cheap Things to do in Reykjavik

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Any traveler would know that sometimes going on adventures can leave ones wallet a little deflated and sometimes going on those pricey tours often lead to disappointment. So for all those budget travelers who want the thrill of adventure without the dread of overspending here’s a list of things to do in Reykjavik that will make you and your wallet blissfully content.

Watch the northern lights in Reykjavik

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It is very much free to watch the northern lights in Reykjavik when they show up. However this is primarily in the winter time. If you decide to watch the lights in Reykjavik it is best to head out to Grotta in Seltjarnarnes. It takes you out of the worst light pollution and the area is very nice with lot of birdlife.

Explore the city, without the tour guides

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Reykjavik is a city of the most bewitching contrasts from its shifting tectonic plates to its mesmerizing nature, it is a place that people would ultimately love at first sight. It is a cross between a charming northern village and a pulsing vibrant city, you can be strolling down historic homes built in the 1800’s on one side and find yourself in modern sky scrapers on the other.

And that alone is an adventure on itself, you and your companions can spend the entire day weaving in and out of the city, like time travelers, traveling through time and space. Simply leave your belongings in a hotel or hoist them on your back and walk the streets. A great idea for going out to eat cheap and fun is to go to Bæjarins Bestu hot dog stand as seen in the picture at the top. It really is one of the cheap things to do in Reykjavik.

Watch a movie

While watching a movie sounds like counter intuitive, you have never watched a movie in Reykjavik and you might not want to experience it anywhere else. The Cinema No2 at the Old Harbour Village is located inside the loft of an old fishermen´s lodging where fishermen used to fix their boats, mend their nets, and sleep in bunks. Since then the place was remodeled as little as possible to retain the old atmosphere, the place provides an ideal setting for viewing old documentary films and movies centered around the Icelandic culture.

Take a dip

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Iceland has a lot of water, from lakes, ponds, seas, hot springs and pools. Water is such a natural commodity in Iceland that swimming is considered their national sport. Because of this its not impossible to take a refreshing swim for a modest fee.

Or if you’re looking for a different kind of swimming experience, you can visit The Laugardalslaug Thermal Pool which is the city’s largest geothermal pool, it is open in all weather conditions and contains all the amnesties of a water park. What’s more it only costs $2.50 for an all day pass.

Another great spot is the Nautholsvik Beach wherein geothermal water is pumped into into the bay and the large jacuzzis. The bay is like a warm bath and is protected by seawalls to prevent cold water from flowing in.

Visit the Pearl of the North

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Perlan or ‘The Pearl’ is a amazing historical landmark that overlooks Reykjavik and can be seen from miles around. The pearl was a former water storage facility during the 90’s which provides hot water for the city from the geothermal water from the earth. It has been converted to a cafeteria serving local fares at reasonable prices. It also has a restaurant at the top with the whole dining area slowly rotating to give you a breath taking 360 degree view of the city.

Take a tour of the museums

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For adventurers who want to have an educational trip or a good laugh, the Phallological Museum located in downtown Reykjavík is the perfect place to go. Considered as one of Retkjavik’s most unusual attractions; the museum contains a huge collection of animal penises as far back as 1974. Or if you’re the faint of heart or traveling with children or relatives; The Einar Jónsson Art Museum located besides the Hallgrimskirkja church is a perfect place for an impromptu picnic among the sculptures.

Lounge around the Garden of Hearts

The Hjartagardurinn located in central Reykjavik is the ultimate hotspot for music and the arts. Gather your friends and drink locally brewed beer and enjoy the local tunes, or or gaze at the fabulous street art from Reykjavik’s street-art underground scene. And if you’re daring you can join in on the poetry reading and indulge your Shakespearean nature.

Reykjavik is a spectacular city filled with adventures, from its ever changing landscape to its quirky creative inhabitants it’s a place where everybody can enjoy. Hope you have enjoyed this list of cheap things to do in Reykjavik.


Camping in Iceland

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The most popular choice of locals and tourists in Iceland during summer vacations is either swimming (which actually locals do even during winter) and camping (also when they go hiking). It is somewhat reasonable due to the previous financial crash which makes camping the only affordable, but fun way to get away on vacation. This means that camping sites are somewhat crowded during summer, but it is nevertheless fun because it is more lively and you can go on tours around the place together, somewhat meet new friends or for the locals to meet up with family friends out there. As a tourist, camping in Iceland will give you the chance to mingle with the locals to catch advices on where to go and what is best to do at camp. And believe me, there are lots of activities to do out there, even awe-inspiring landscapes to view. However, if you don’t want to get your camping gears and tents and set it up somewhere, you would need to take your stuff and get into the camping sites. There are numerous camping ground around Iceland, about 200 campsites. Listed below are the top 5 camping sites and their facilities (Not in Particular Order). And following the list is also a list why you would want to consider camping in Iceland during summer.

Top 5 Camping Sites in Iceland

1. Mosfellsbær

This campsite is just about 10 minutes away from the city of Reykjavik. It has a beautiful view of Varma and Leirvogsa rivers. Public transportation is available on the campsite. This can be a good short trip away from the noise and the lights of the city. You can pay the accommodation between 8:00 to 9:00 am and 4:00 pm or simply pay at the sports center or visit Hotel Laxnes.

The campsite has toilets, cold water, chairs and tables, shower, swimming pool and hot tubs. You can have a good view of the mountains, or go hiking or golfing. Nearest establishments are hospital (just in case of any health related emergency) supermarkets, coffeehouses, house rentals, restaurants (because this camp is strictly no open fire cooking) and gasoline stations.

2. Akranes

Another campsite near the city is the one in Akranes where you can also have a nice view of the Icelandic wonders as well as avail the following services; toilets and shower, cold and hot water, Electricity (to power up your gadgets), washing machine and dryer, BBQ facilities (what is camp without a BBQ right?), chairs and tables. In cases you need something there is a nearby supermarket and gasoline station. Alcohol is allowed but of course, drink moderately. There is a playground for the kids, a golf course and a fishing area. You can go hiking, sightseeing for beautiful landscapes of mountains, and or go swimming outdoor or indoor. The hospital is near in case of health related emergencies.

3. Varmaland

This is located just on the outskirts of Skaftholtstungur in Borgarfjörður fjord. The campsite sits between the Hvita river and Nordura river. The swimming pool is the main attraction, according to some campers and there are several hiking trails. The campsite is large so it can accommodate many campers during summer. Toilets and showers are available as well as hot and cold water. Electricity which is a must for gadget lovers is also available. There are BBQ facilities for those who love their grills to camp, but open fire for your marshmallows are not allowed. Chairs and tables as well as garbage disposals (mandatory to use) are available. You can go hiking, sightseeing, and of course swimming. There is a playground for the kids to play at.

4. Flateyri

The place is a typical fishing village, but in here you can find all sorts of service you might need such as swimming pool, sports hall, restaurants and shopping retails. The campsite itself is located below the avalanche protection wall. You can grill with the available BBQ facilities but are not allowed to burn an open fire. There are toilets and cold water. Dogs on leash are allowed so you tag along your best friends with you. There is also a playground and a boat rental in addition to recreational activities you can get while camping in Iceland.

5. Grindavík

This is a very popular tourist destination because this is where you can find the ever famous Blue Lagoon. The campsite, anyway, is located in Austurvegur. They call this campsite the luxurious camping in Iceland as you can access the breathtaking view of nature and the bird sanctuary in Reykjanestá, which is just few minutes away from the campsite. This campsite has everything from playground to golf courses, swimming pools and sports center. You can go fishing or horseback riding. There are grilled and cooking facilities but open fire is also not allowed. Dogs are allowed as well as long as they are on leash. Chairs and tables, washing machine and dryers. Electricity for your gadgets are also available.

Top 5 reasons why you should go camping in Iceland;

1. Perfect Weather

The average temperature during summer in Iceland is around 16 degrees Celsius, which is perfect for camping. It is neither too hot or too cold.

2. Endless Light

Summer in Iceland by late June is all sun over the sky. Yes, you can have the sun for 24 hours a day during this time. Though it will only dip down around 1 to 3 in the morning and will say hello again after that, resulting to bright twilight. The amazing part of the day is about 7 in the evening to 5 in the morning ,you will have to take a good look at your clock because the light might fake you. The sky will have a perfectly shining golden light of these hours, which is romantically set.

3. Unlimited Space

You will have the whole ground. You can camp out the vacant lot at the side of any road and camp for free. But there are also many campgrounds as mentioned above.

4. Budget Friendly

This is an obvious reason, though it is a bit silly to put it here, but just in case you want to know, you can go camping in Iceland for only 20 to 50 bucks or according to your budget or you can just simply camp for free. Saves boot loads of money.

5. Captivating Nature

There is nothing more exciting than getting up and seeing the whole view in an instance. Plus, you get to inhale the fresh grass and rivers. And if you worry about bugs and mosquitoes, fear not because Iceland is pests-free! See Facts about Iceland.

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So there you have it, the list of where you can spend your day and night at and it is more affordable that renting a guest house or checking in a hotel or motel. So the next time you are planning on a trip for a summer getaway, consider camping in Iceland.