Reykjavik is the northernmost capital of cool. If you've ever wanted to live inside an Urban Outfitters catalog, this is the city for you. Everyone has got serious style, which makes travelers wearing hiking boots and rain coats very easy to pick out. The city has everything your modern day hipster could want in a city-- an indie music scene, feminist street art, a restaurant honoring Chuck Norris, and of course, vikings and elves.
For a city with a population of 119,000, there is so much to do here. (Actually, it reminds me of another small city I love.) You can take a walk down the main strip of Laugavegur for some shopping and dining, check out the immense Hallgrimskirkja (featured above), or check out one of the many art or history museums.
It is a city with many hidden gems, but instead of trying to cram in everything I did and could have done, here are the three things that I loved most in Reykjavik.
1. The Best Hot Dogs in the World
Bæjarins beztu pylsur is the name of a chain of hot dog stands across Reykjavik that literally translates to "The Best Hot Dogs in Town."
I took my first bite and my Icelandic hot dog barked back a most satisfying snap. It's all about the snap. The meat was tasty and the toppings I had chosen, ketchup and crunchy onions, were delicious. I was soon running back to the stand for another one.
Do me a favor and do not leave Iceland before trying one.
2. Friday Night Tunes
Reykjavik has often been commended for its night life, so we decided to go out with only one night to spend in the city before hitting the road again. We set out towards Laugavegur around 9pm, the sun in the sky still shining above us, and began our search for a bar to fit the mood. We were not interested in any of the American-themed bars and neither us had ever seen The Big Lebowski, so we walked around until finally coming across Frederiksen, a place I can only sufficiently describe as old-fashioned/new-fashioned. We liked the vibe, however they were throwing a charity concert for relief in Nepal and there was a high cover charge. Where we might have turned away at home looking to save some cash, we decided to stay. After all, it was music and a good cause.
The acts were incredible. Impressive singers, original songs, and a sound system so clear I might have been able to understand the lyrics if I could speak Icelandic. Just like that we had stumbled upon Reykjavik's indie music scene. We couldn't help ourselves when it came to taking a copy of the set list for later research. I've made Youtube playlist of some of the bands we saw that night, so you can listen for yourselves. The first song below is from a band called Valdimar. The singer's voice is truly something.
It's no secret that I am a huge nerd when it comes to photography. So when I passed by this store with dozens of vintage cameras hanging in the window I got really excited and I didn't even know what I had found yet. Fótógrafí is an art gallery/print shop run by local Reykjavik photographer Ari Sigvaldson. He features and sells his own artwork along with the work of others.
There was something really special about being able to walk into a store like this. Not only did I get to ogle Sigvaldson's extensive analog collection, but I got to get up close to his work. Outside of my education, the photography community has always been very digital, but this felt as if I were walking into someone's personal studio.
Of course, I couldn't leave without buying something and after thumbing through many prints and polaroids, I eventually settled.
An astronaut stands in the middle of the street, Hallsgrimkirkja shoots up in the sky like a rocket in the background, and an impatient driver is waiting behind him.
I can't think of a better way to remember Reykjavik, the old and youthful city.