Iceland – Reykjavík

Note: This blog post is part of a series documenting a two-week road trip through Iceland. To view the collection in full, click here. For individual posts in this series, please head to the bottom of the page where the individual links are located. Thanks for reading!


At a population of over 120,000, Reykjavík is Iceland's largest city. Initially founded in 1786 as a primary trading town, it has grown rapidly since, and is now the center of all cultural, economic and government activity in the country.

The city grew moderately until the British and American troops inhabited the city during World War II. From then on, the city boomed. The occupation spurred many economic improvements – unemployment rates from a pre-war depression period dropped significantly and new construction appeared somewhat overnight. The British built the Reykjavík airport, which is still used today for domestic travel, and the American troops built the Keflavík airport, which is now Iceland's primary international airport. 

In the years following World War II, the growth of Reykjavík accelerated even more. Thousands flocked to the city from the countryside due to improved technology in agriculture that reduced the need for manpower. Private cars became more common and apartment complexes rose in the expanding suburbs.

As of 2015, over 36% of Iceland's total population lives in the city limits. Reykjavík is widely considered to be one of the greenest, cleanest and safest cities in the world.

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Reykjavík Roasters

This little coffee shop was one of my most-anticipated stops in the city. According to their website, the company was originally founded in 2008 when it was called Kaffismiðja Íslands. In 2013 it underwent rebranding to the current name, Reykjavík Roasters. The company was born with the intention to import good coffee produced in full respect of both human beings and nature.

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Chelsea and I spent three days in the city, stopping in between travels to/from the South Coast and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. We spent most of our time in the Miðborg District, which is one of the central-most districts in the city, home to many government buildings and historical sites – like Hallgrímskirkja below.

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The view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja provided some gorgeous perspective of the city from above – not to mention a better vantage point to view the colorful homes.

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Harpa

The first thing most see when approaching Harpa is its stunning glass facade. Originally opened in 2011, the exterior design was build to resemble the basalt landscape found around the island.

At over 300,000 square feet, Harpa's four main concert/venue spaces hold up to 1,800 patrons. In 2013, the building won the European Union’s Mies van der Rohe award for contemporary architecture. It's easy to see why.

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Brauð & Co

Many, many calories were sacrificed in Brauð & Co. With a over 900 reviews online (and all of them five stars), this place is a must-stop. There's not much else to say, so I'll show you instead. I swear you could smell the cinnamon buns across the entire city.

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The remainder of the photos below are a collection of snapshots across our time spent in the capitol.

Reykjavík now holds an incredibly special place in both of our hearts, and we can't wait to visit once more. Until next time...

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