Reykjavik: The Ultimate Guide for Visitors and Expats - Gypsy Warrior
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Reykjavik: The Ultimate Guide for Visitors and Expats

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Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland and the northernmost capital in the world. This charming and colorful city is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, as well as stunning natural landscapes and a unique way of life. In this ultimate guide, we’ll cover everything a visitor or expat needs to know about Reykjavik, from its history and culture to its best restaurants, attractions, and accommodation options.

Aerial View of Reykjavik
Aerial View of Reykjavik

History and Culture

Reykjavik has a rich and fascinating history that is closely tied to Iceland’s unique geography and culture. The city was founded in 874 AD by the Viking Ingólfur Arnarson, who is said to have named the city after the steam rising from the nearby hot springs. Reykjavik remained a small fishing village for many centuries, but it began to grow and modernize in the 18th and 19th centuries, with the arrival of the Danish trading company, the Icelandic Parliament, and the University of Iceland.

Today, Reykjavik is a thriving cultural hub that is home to a wide range of arts and cultural events throughout the year. From music festivals and theater performances to film screenings and art exhibits, there’s always something to see and do in Reykjavik.


Funky Reykjavik Shop
Funky Reykjavik Shop

Reykjavik is home to a wide range of attractions that are sure to appeal to visitors and expats alike. Here are just a few of the city’s must-see sights:

Hallgrimskirkja: This iconic church is one of Reykjavik’s most recognizable landmarks. It was designed by the architect Guðjón Samúelsson and is inspired by the Icelandic landscape.

Harpa: This stunning concert hall and conference center is home to some of the city’s best music, theater, and dance performances. Its unique architecture and location on the waterfront make it a must-see attraction.

Perlan: This futuristic building is home to a revolving restaurant, a museum about Iceland’s natural wonders, and a stunning observation deck with panoramic views of the city.

The Sun Voyager: This beautiful sculpture by the artist Jón Gunnar Árnason is located on the waterfront and is meant to symbolize the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope and freedom.

Restaurants and Nightlife

Reykjavik is home to a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene that is sure to appeal to visitors and expats alike. Here are just a few of the city’s best dining and drinking spots:

The Fish Market: This restaurant is known for its creative and innovative seafood dishes, using locally sourced ingredients.

Matur og Drykkur: This restaurant focuses on traditional Icelandic cuisine, offering dishes like reindeer, puffin, and fermented shark.

The Coocoo’s Nest: This cozy cafe is a popular spot for brunch and coffee, with a menu that includes everything from avocado toast to Icelandic pancakes.

Bíó Paradís: This independent cinema is the perfect place to catch a movie and a beer, with a range of arthouse and indie films on offer.

Kaffibarinn: This iconic bar is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, with a relaxed atmosphere and a great selection of cocktails and beers.


reykjavik downtown
Downtown Reykjavik

Reykjavik offers a variety of accommodation options for visitors and expats, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels and apartments. Here are a few examples of popular accommodation options in Reykjavik:


  • Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre: This centrally located hotel offers comfortable and stylish rooms, a fitness center, and an on-site restaurant.

  • CenterHotel Thingholt: This boutique hotel is located in the heart of Reykjavik and offers elegant and modern rooms, a restaurant, and a bar.
  • Fosshotel Reykjavik: This sleek and modern hotel is located near the harbor and offers stunning views of the city, as well as a restaurant, bar, and spa.


  • Reykjavik Residence Hotel: This apartment hotel offers spacious and modern apartments with full kitchens, as well as a communal lounge and a rooftop terrace.

  • Room with a View: This apartment hotel offers comfortable and stylish apartments with fully equipped kitchens and stunning views of the city.

  • Black Pearl Apartment Hotel: This luxury apartment hotel offers spacious and modern apartments with full kitchens, as well as a fitness center and a spa.

Long-term Accommodation:

If you’re planning on staying in Reykjavik for a longer period of time, there are also a variety of long-term accommodation options available, ranging from furnished apartments to shared houses and rooms. Some popular websites for finding long-term accommodation in Reykjavik include:

  • Airbnb: This popular platform offers a wide range of accommodation options, from private rooms to entire apartments and houses.

  • HousingAnywhere: This website specializes in finding long-term accommodation for students and young professionals, with options for shared housing and apartments.

  • This website offers a platform for finding shared housing and roommates in Reykjavik.


Reykjavik is a unique and vibrant city that offers something for everyone, whether you’re visiting for a short time or planning to make it your home. From its rich history and culture to its stunning natural landscapes and thriving arts and culture scene, Reykjavik is a destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression. With a variety of accommodation options to suit any budget or preference, there’s no reason not to plan a visit or move to Reykjavik and experience all this incredible city has to offer.

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