Top 10 Low or No Cost Stuff To Do in Reykjavik, Iceland

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Yours truly getting ready to raid a village

 

My motto while I have been in Iceland has been “don’t fall for tourist traps, and explore everything around you.” My best source of information has been talking to random people in the street. If you follow that one piece of advice you will have an incredible time.  Here’s the list of what I’ve done to give you some ideas for stuff to do in Reykjavik on your own trip to Iceland

1. Go to an Underground Icelandic Rap Battle

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I met some Icelanders about my age hanging around drinking beer on a street corner and I asked them what was fun on a Thursday night, and they responded “not much if you go to an official place.” They invited me to their secret rap battle in a warehouse where up and coming talent rages to all kinds of different beats, from high energy hip hop to smooth 80s style rap. They even had a foosball table and brewed their own moonshine (they called it that but it was basically a cocktail mix similar to what American college students make for parties). While the party was scheduled to go from midnight to noon, I chickened out and left about 3am. Probably not a good one for families with children, but I will have something for everyone in this top 10 list, don’t worry. Cost: $0

2. Go to a Viking Festival

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This one I discovered taking a photo for someone who happened to be reenacting hand to hand combat the next morning in one of the many reenactments that are held annually in Reykjavik. It was loads of fun; they held the festival in front of the Icelandic parliament. In addition to swinging around swords and axes, they also told Icelandic sagas, cooked medieval food over coals, and shaped metal weapons using a period specific furnace. The capital city plays host to a lot of these festivals with the main one being Fjörukráin, which usually occurs in mid June. Cost: $0

3. Go on a Nature Hike near the Perlan

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There are loads of trails around the Perlan, aka the big shiny glass dome on the hill that’s visible from most places in central Reykjavik. The Perlan sits atop several hot water tanks that serve the City’s heating needs. If you are coming from the downtown, walk in the general direction of the building and you will come upon a bunch of nature trails winding through the forest surrounding it. You can see a small geyser, beautiful flowers, and the most Christmas-y smelling trees you’ve ever encountered. Cost: $0

4. Climb Up the Perlan Observatory Deck

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All the way on top of the massive hill in the southern part of the city, you can climb to the top of that glass dome I mentioned earlier and get a panoramic view of all of Reykjavik. Totally worth doing. Remember that you’re standing on giant storage tanks of geothermally heated water. When you take a shower at your accommodation you can spoil yourself with one of the longest hot water showers you’ve ever had, and it doesn’t cost much to do it either! Iceland has one of the cheapest sources of hot water anywhere in the world. There’s a cafeteria at the top of the Perlan if you want to grab a quick bite to eat as well. Cost: $0

5. Play a Game of Frisbee Golf

11694877_10155768953000398_1839007886214283219_nThere is a great nine hole course for Frisbee golf that wraps around the Reykjavik Zoo. The main landmark you will want to reference is the Laugardal campsite, the only place to put a tent in the City. If you ask where the Frisbee golf is around the campsite the average resident will probably know what you are talking about. The course is situated in a beautiful park, and the photo here shows the most challenging hole, which is right in between a bunch of trees. Good luck hitting that one in under three shots unless you’re an ace! Cost: $0

 

 

  6. Check Out a Concert at the Famous Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral  
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A Cambridge University Choir happened to be performing at this magnificent church of the Evangelical Lutheran denomination when I wandered in there. It is essentially the national cathedral as Iceland supports churches directly through tax revenues directed by its citizens’ choice of religion and the vast majority of Icelanders are Lutheran.  It has a pipe organ that rivals the best I have heard anywhere else in the world and the Music Director frequently plays and practices as the hoardes of foreign tourists wander in to look inside. Go to the bookstore and check out the schedule of upcoming events. While some of them have a nominal fee, most are free. Cost: $0

7. Take the Elevator to the Hallgrímskirkja Observatory

11160671_10155761305530398_843017001772894141_n (1) In the same cathedral, you can take the elevator to the highest point in Reykjavik as the church itself is very tall and sits atop a hill. You have a panoramic view of the City, with visibility for miles around. The view is even more spectacular than that of the Perlan Dome I listed earlier. At the top you’ll find several plaques with historical information on the history of the church, the translation of the Bible into Icelandic, and other bits of info you won’t find many other places. Be careful and check your watch though! The bell tower sits right above you and rings very, very loudly on the hour and you’ll want to cover your ears if you happen to be up there around that time. It bonged while I was up there and scared me half to death. Cost: ~$6

8. Go for a Swim in the Laugardalur Pool

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This was one of the most random finds I discovered as I saw scores of locals going into a giant facility and naturally I followed to see what it was. Apparently near the main City campsite, there’s a giant pool with hot tubs, water slides, and more than you can go to for as long as you want during the day. They have showers and facilities but you should bring your own towel. If you are staying anywhere in the eastern part of the city I highly recommend checking this place out. It’s the largest of the pools in the country and rivals any municipal pool I’ve seen in the states. Cost: ~$4

9. Check Out the Settlement Museum

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If you are going to one museum in Reykjavik, I’d recommend the Settlement Museum downtown. There are others that advertise more, but this is the most authentic and serious of the various ones that I saw. Legitimate scholars help take you inside the world of the vikings with real live artifacts discovered in Iceland. The centerpiece of the museum is the outline of a long house believed to have been occupied by one of Iceland’s first rulers. Probably takes about two hours to read everything. They have a giant shield and sword you can take a picture with if you ask. They also have some smaller Viking themed toys the kids can play with. Cost: ~$10

 10. Dance To Your Favorite Beats Downtown on Fri & Sat Night

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While the drinks are super expensive, that doesn’t mean you have to drink them or can’t pregame before if you’re into that. The real attraction though is the dancing and nightlife downtown if you’re lucky enough to be around for a weekend. The Lebowski Bar was my favorite as they play oldies that you can swing dance to and Lindy hop. If you’re into more mainstream music, The American Bar (yes that’s its name) is located farther down the main drag on Laugavegur Street. If you want a legitimate Icelandic night club experience go to B5 on that same street, but be warned you have to dress like you’re going out in NYC to get in. If you don’t buy any drinks then Cost: $0. If you buy one drink you’re looking at Cost: $15. 

— I’m going to try and up the quality of the posts as I travel and do them less often. My goal is every other day to get something out. Thanks so much

Peace!

TMONEY

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