Think of a Family Break
Take part in an adventure at sea with an unforgettable trip into the world of whales and sea birds. Conveniently located at Reykjavik’s Old harbour, a three hour tour can bring you up close to whales in their natural habitat. Free entry to the Information Centre for our passengers. Daily tours are scheduled from April 1st throughout October.
Videy island is a unique site that combines history, culture and nature, and is only a few minutes away from the city by boat. Hiking trails, free bike rental, works of art, traditional Icelandic café, leisure area and much more. Daily ferry is scheduled from May 15th throughout September and on weekends from October 1st to May 14th.
History, Nature and Art
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Top ten family activities
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Celebrate with us!
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Photographs: Anna Kristin Scheving, Ari Magg, Kristin Bogadottir and Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson Drawings: Bobby Breidholt Designed by: The Icelandic Ad Agency / HBS 42975
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The information in this brochure was updated in October 2008. Visit Reykjavík is not responsible for possible changes.
Reykjavík Capital Area There are 18 thermal pools in the capital area. Ideal for family fun and relaxation. See page 10. ReykjavÍk Family Park and Zoo is just one of many parks and playgrounds in the area. See page 13. A visit to one of the museums in Reykjavík is a good choice for some indoor fun. Many museums have special sections for kids. See pages 14 –15.
whale-watching, horseback riding, fishing, bicycling – and more! For outdoor action in the Reykjavík Capital Area, see pages 18–19. ReykjavÍk´s surroundings are like a real-life textbook on nature and geology. See pages 20–21.
Think Reykjavík – Think family time Iceland’s friendly capital city is ideal for a break with the family. C hildren of all ages will love the clean outdoor thermal pools, the stunning nature, and the museums and attractions based on Iceland’s Viking tradition. (Note to kids: we have elves too!) Grown-ups will be happy to bring their families to Reykjavík, a safe and clean city with a compact centre that’s easy to navigate on foot. Locals are also very open to youngsters; you’ll find a high chair in
every café and see babies s leeping in prams outside. There’s no need to spend your time queuing in a theme park and b lowing your budget on overpriced rides. The Reykjavík Capital Area has plenty to offer visitors at affordable prices – or even for free. In the bustle of the city or out in unspoilt nature, from hiking and cycling to whale watching or swimming, Reykjavík is a great city for active families and curious kids. Read on to discover the delights of our sub-Arctic playground.
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Top Ten Family Activities
Splash and play – or just soak – at one of 18 thermal pools in the Reykjavík Capital Area Feed the friendly ducks at Tjornin Lake Experience Viking TIMES at one of the capital area’s many museums Visit the animals at the Reykjavík Family Park and Zoo Try delicious Icelandic food: hot dogs, soft ice cream, skyr, and liquorice Climb to the very top of majestic Mount Esja and be rewarded with a spectacular view of the city
Go horse riding through pastoral valleys and rocky lava fields on the unique Icelandic horse See whales and puffins on a boat trip from Reykjavík’s old harbour Watch bubbling hot springs and roaring waterfalls on a day trip from Reykjavík Revel in a Reykjavík winter: be dazzled by the multi-coloured Christmas lights, skate on Tjornin Lake, start a snowball fight and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the unforgettable northern lights
Splish Splash Your kids will never forget the fun they had in the thermal pools of Reykjavík. The capital area’s 18 geothermal pools are open yearround. Most of them have water slides, fountains and floating toys for children. Icelandic thermal pools are very clean and warm (28 – 43 C° or 82 –109 °F) and most are open-air. You can soak in the warm water of the “hot pots” or splash about with your c hildren, from early morning until past their bedtimes. Each pool has its own character – try a few to find out which one you like best!
Thermal pools Arbaejarlaug Large pool complex, children’s section with slide and fountains and indoor pool for younger children. Fylkisvegur 9, 110 Reykjavík. Tel: 411 5200 Laugardalslaug The city’s largest pool complex, large children’s section with slides, basketball net and playground. Sundlaugavegur 30, 105 Reykjavík. Tel: 411 5100 Asvallalaug Large indoor pool complex, with two specially designed children’s pools and slides. Asvellir 2, 221 Hafnarfjordur. Tel: 512 4050 Gardabaer Friendly pool, children’s section with slides. Asgardur, 210 Gardabaer. Tel: 565 8066 Lagafellslaug Pool complex, children’s section with slides. Laekjarhlid 1a, Mosfellsbaer. Tel: 517 6080
Versalir Pool complex, massage pool, slides and fountains and indoor pool for young children. Versalir 3, 201 Kopavogur. Tel: 570 0480 Kopavogur Pool complex, children’s pool with fountains, slides and indoor pool for young children. Borgarholtsbraut 17, 200 Kopavogur. Tel: 570 0470 Kjalarneslaug Small and intimate pool in a quiet rural area near Mt Esja. Kleberg, 116 Reykjavík. Tel: 566 6879
The pools listed above are a selection of those in the Reykjavík Capital Area which are particularly popular with families. More information and a complete list of pools is available on www.visitreykjavik.is
Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach Not only does Reykjavík have some wonderful thermal pools, but it also has its own seaside beach! There’s no need to be nervous about swimming in the chilly north Atlantic – we piped hot geothermal water into Nautholsvik Bay so the temperature is a perfect-for-swimming 20°C (68°F). Open daily, 10:00 to 20:00, from 16 May until 31 August. Occasionally open in winter, see www.visitreykjavik.is Nautholsvik, 101 Reykjavik. Tel: 511 6630 Blue Lagoon There is nothing quite like soaking in the milky blue healing waters of the Blue Lagoon. The lagoon’s mineral-rich water and silica mud are perfect for soothing the body and soul. And while you relax, let the kids have fun, slathering the silica mud all over themselves and then washing it all off underneath a waterfall at the lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a 40-minute drive from R eykjavík. Many organised tours to the Blue Lagoon are available, see www.visitreykjavik.is. Svartsengi, 240 Grindavik. Tel: 420 8800 – www.bluelagoon.com
Parks and Playgrounds The Reykjavík Capital Area is filled with parks and playgrounds for young people. From the Reykjavík Family Park & Zoo, to countless little play structures nestled in cosy residential neighbourhoods, your children will always have places to run and jump around. On a sunny day, the parks are the ideal spot for a fun family picnic and the city is criss-crossed with biking trails so you can whirl around town and get the best views of the city.
Reykjavík Family Park & Zoo A favourite place for local families, the zoo has 150 animals of 19 species, including farm animals and wild animals such as seals and reindeer. You’ll find exciting rides and activities in the adjacent Family Park, including a merrygo-round, bumper boats, miniature train rides and horseback riding. The park also features an aquarium and Science World, an exhibition with hands-on activities. Café and barbecue facilities on-site. Note: Rides at the Family Park are limited in winter. Hafrafell by Engjavegur, 104 Reykjavík. Tel: 575 7800 – www.mu.is/in-english Botanical Gardens A beautiful oasis in Laugardalur Valley. The breadth of Icelandic flora on show, ponds and birdlife. Café on site during summer (May-September). Free entry. Laugardalur, 104 Reykjavík. Tel: 411 8650
Laugardalur Valley Reykjavík‘s main leisure area, with n umerous family-friendly attractions in one place such as Laugardalslaug thermal pool, Reykjavík Family Park & Zoo, Botanical Gardens, skating rink and football stadium. Extensive green areas, playgrounds and footpaths for walking, cycling and inline skating.
Viking Playground Viking-themed playground by Kvislartunga in Mosfells baer. Viking ship and castle for climbing and signs explaining the Icelandic Sagas.
Hljomskalagardur Park Oasis in the city centre, surrounding Tjornin Lake with its varied birdlife. Playground and large climbing frame.
Supervised Playgrounds The following playgrounds are supervised during the summer (11 June to 17 August), for children aged 2 to 6 years. Playground by Frodengi 2, 112 Reykjavík Playground by Malaras 17, 110 Reykjavík Playground by Arnarbakki 8, 111 Reykjavík Playground by Raudalaekur 21a, 105 Reykjavík Playground by Frostaskjol, 107 Reykjavík Playground by Njalsgata 89, 101 Reykjavík A small fee applies. Open weekdays 9:00 – 12:00 and 13:00 –15:00. Two-year-olds can stay for up to 2 hours, older children up to 3 hours.
Miklatun Park Large park by the Reykjavík Art Museum (Kjarvalsstadir site). Playground, basketball court and volleyball ground. Arnarholl Hill Small hill in Reykjavík city centre. Harbour view, statue of Iceland‘s first Viking settler, Ingolfur Arnarson, and playground. Vidistadatun Sculpture Park Sculpture park in Hafnarfjordur. Viking-themed playground and skateboarding ramp.
Stekkjarflot Nature Play Park Adventure play area integrated into the landscape, near Varma River in Mosfellsbaer.
In addition, numerous small playgrounds and football pitches are scattered around the city’s neighbourhoods and are free for all to use.
Reykjavík Art Museum – Harbour House Devoted to contemporary and experimental art and an extensive collection by the well known artist Erró. Diverse family programmes available. Free admission. Tryggvagata 17, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 590 1200 – www.artmuseum.is
Indoor fun Time passes very quickly exploring the Reykjavík Capital Area’s numerous cultural, leisure and sporting facilities. Many museums have special sections and activities for kids and there are a number of buildings which are fun to investigate. The capital area’s two main shopping centres will also go a long way to crossing off everything on your souvenir wish list.
Reykjavík Art Museum – Kjarvalsstadir Devoted to modern art and Iceland‘s beloved painter Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval. Special exhibition room for kids, the north gallery, and ideal location within Miklatun Park. Free admission. Flokagata, 105 Reykjavík. Tel: 517 1290 – www.artmuseum.is Reykjavík Art Museum – Asmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum Exhibition of works by sculptor Asmundur Sveinsson. Climbing is allowed in part of the scultpure garden. Located near Laugardalur Valley. Free admission. Sigtun, 105 Reykjavík. Tel: 553 2155 – www.artmuseum.is Reykjavík Museum of Photography Photographic exhibitions and miragescope to amaze the children. Tryggvagata 15, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 411 6390 – www.photomuseum.is.
ReykjavIk City Museum – Arbaejarsafn Open-air museum presenting old buildings and artefacts that depict “olden day” life in Reykjavík. Costumed staff help bring past generations to life and domestic animals are on site during summer. Hands-on exhibition about toys and how children played in the last century. Popular Christmas programme with Yule Lads and carriage rides. Open 1 June – 1 September. For access during winter contact the museum. Kistuhylur 4, 110 Reykjavík. Tel: 411 6300 – www.reykjavikmuseum.is National Museum of Iceland History of the Icelandic nation from the Settlement to the present day. Hands-on children’s sections where guests can try on costumes and touch various objects, interactive displays, orienteering games and audio guides for children. Sudurgata 41, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 530 2200 – www.natmus.is Saga Museum The Saga Museum transports guests to the Viking Age and brings renowned figures and major events in Icelandic history to life using silicone figurines. The museum is located inside a former hot water storage tank at the Pearl. The Pearl, Oskjuhlid, 105 Reykjavík. Tel: 511 1517 – www.sagamuseum.is
Reykjavík Maritime Museum Reykjavik’s maritime heritage portrayed in an old fish factory by Reykjavík Harbour. The coast guard ship Odinn is docked next to the museum for guests to explore. Grandagardur 8, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 517 9400 – www.sjominjasafn.is The Settlement Exhibition: Reykjavík 871 +/- 2 Iceland’s oldest settlement ruins, including those of a Viking-age longhouse, presented in an interactive multimedia exhibition portraying life and environment from the Viking age. Adalstraeti 16, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 411 6370 – www.reykjavik871.is National Gallery The country’s largest collection of works by major Icelandic artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Children can make their own masterpiece at the children’s workshop. Free admission. Frikirkjuvegur 7, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 515 9600 – www.listasafn.is Hafnarfjordur Museum The history of Hafnarfjordur presented in a renovated 19th-century warehouse and an exhibition of children’s toys. Free admission. Vesturgata 8, 220 Hafnarfjordur. Tel: 585 5780 – www.hafnarfj.is/museum
Natural History Museum of Kopavogur Exhibition on Iceland’s fauna and geology, including an exhibit of the most peculiar oddities of Icelandic nature: lake-balls (marimo), found only in Iceland and Japan. Free admission. Hamraborg 6a, 200 Kopavogur. Tel: 570 0430 – www.natkop.is Krokur Farm An old farm in Gardabaer, dating from the early 20th century, where it is possible to see how the great-grandparents of today’s Icelandic children lived. Free admission. Open on Sundays, summer only (June-August). Gardaholt, 210 Gardabaer. Tel: 525 8500
Reykjavík City Library Large selection of foreign-language newspapers and magazines, English-language children’s books and comic books, multimedia section and play area for younger children. Internet access. Tryggvagata 15, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 411 6100 – www.borgarbokasafn.is Viking Village At the Viking Village in Hafnarfjordur you can feast and rest like a true Viking! Viking-style restaurant and hotel, Viking-age inspired handicraft, theatre performances and Viking festival each year. Strandgata 55, 220 Hafnarfjordur. Tel: 565 1890 – www.vikingvillage.is
Hallgrimskirkja Church Hallgrimskirkja is the largest church in Iceland at 73 metres high. Whoosh up the lift and see the city as if it’s made out of Lego! The building resembles volcanic basalt rock formations. In front of the church is a statue of Leifur Eiriksson, aka ‘Leif the Lucky’, the first European to discover America around 1,000 A.D. Skolavorduholt, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 510 1000 – www.hallgrimskirkja.is
Skating Rinks There are two skating rinks in Reykjavík, in Laugardalur Valley and at Egilsholl. Laugardalur Skating Rink Mulavegur 1, 104 Reykjavík Tel: 588 9705 Egilsholl Skating Rink Fossaleyni 1, 112 Reykjavík. Tel: 594 9600 The skating rinks are open during the winter.
The Pearl The Pearl is an impressive glass dome which lies atop huge hot water storage tanks. The Pearl has a free-entry viewing platform, cafeteria and r evolving restaurant. The Saga Museum is also located here. Man-made g eysers erupt regularly inside and outside the building. Oskjuhlid, 105 Reykjavík. Tel: 562 0200 – www.perlan.is
Laugar – HEALTH AND Spa CENTre Luxurious fitness centre and spa, with extensive sports facilities for adults and children alike. “Sprotaland” is a large supervised haven for kids of all ages, with football and basketball courts, cinema and play rooms. Access to the adjacent Laugardalslaug thermal pool is included in the admission price. Sundlaugavegur 30a, 105 Reykjavík. Tel: 553 0000 – www.laugar.com
Reykjavík City Hall An impressive modern building located by Tjornin Lake in Reykjavík city centre. Inside is a large 3D map of Iceland, exhibition hall and café. Tjarnargata 11, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 411 1000 Bowling Keiluhollin Bowling Palace is an exciting place, offering traditional bowling, disco-bowling and a large variety of arcade games. Oskjuhlid, 105 Reykjavík. Tel: 511 5300 – www.bowling.is
Shopping Centres Kringlan has over 150 shops and restaurants, including fashion stores, supermarkets, gift shops, cinema, food court, “Adventure Land” – a large supervised play area for children 3–9 years old, and “The Nest”, a quiet room with changing and breastfeeding facilities. Kringlan 4–12, 103 Reykjavík. Tel: 517 9000 – www.kringlan.is
Smaralind has over 80 shops and businesses, including international shopping chains, fashion stores, supermarkets, gift shops, cinema, several cafés and restaurants and “Our World”, a large supervised play area for children 3–12 years old. Hagasmari 1, 201 Kopavogur. Tel: 528 8000 – www.smaralind.is Flea Market Near the old harbour, stalls at the Kolaportid flea market offer all kinds of bric-a-brac, strange Icelandic food and Icelandic sweets by the bucket load! Smelly shark, dried fish, strings of liquorice, mountains of chocolate and more. Open weekends 11:00-15:00. Tryggvagata 19, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 562 5030 Cinema Children’s films are often dubbed into Icelandic, but there is sometimes a choice between dubbed or original language with subtitles. Check newspaper listings or website www.midi.is/cinema for current movie showings.
The attractions listed above are a selection of those in the Reykjavík Capital Area which are particularly popular with families. An extensive guide to museums, shopping and other attractions can be found on www.visitreykjavik.is.
Get ready, get set, go! There’s plenty of outdoor fun to be had in the Reykjavík Capital Area, for all ages and abilities. You can rent a bike or go inline skating along our beautiful coastline. You can participate in a guided walk, or for nature loving active people, try horseback riding, whale watching or fishing. Guided Walks Discover hidden sides of the city’s history and hear stories about mystical beings on the many guided walks available in the capital area. Goecco Outdoor Adventures Tel: 696 7474 – www.goecco.com Hidden World Walks Strandgata 6, 220 Hafnarfjordur. Tel: 694 2785 – www.alfar.is Cultural Companion Birna Odinsgata 11, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 862 8031 – www.birna.is Note that some walks are only available during summer.
Whale and Bird watching tours
Fishing and Sea Angling
Reykjavík, with its long coastal paths and extensive green areas, is an ideal city for b icycling.
For an exciting sea adventure, try one of the whale and bird watching tours available from Reykjavík’s old harbour. Many types of whales can be spotted, including minke, humpback and killer whales, in addition to dolphins, seals and puffins.
Catch your own fresh fish on a sea angling tour or go fishing in one of the many lakes on the outskirts of Reykjavík, such as Hafravatn, Reynisvatn, Ellidavatn and Vifilsstadavatn Lakes (summer only). A fishing permit is normally required and can be obtained either on site or from www.veidikortid.is. The Reykjavík Angling Club can provide more information on lake fishing. For sea a ngling tours, contact the companies listed under “Whale and Bird Watching Tours”.
Borgarhjol Bicycle Rental Hverfisgata 50, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 551 5653 – www.borgarhjol.net. Children’s bicycles and helmets available. Bicycle rental also located at the youth hostel/ campsite in Laugardalur Valley. Skating, Skateboarding and Inline Skating It is possible to skate on Tjornin Lake when it freezes over in winter. For skateboarding, a large skating ramp is located at Vidistadatun park in Hafnarfjordur and in Reykjavík city centre, Ingolfstorg square is where you will find like-minded people. Inline skating along the coastline or in the city’s parks is also a popular activity. Skiing There are two skiing areas in the vicinity of Reykjavík: Skalafell and Blafjoll, for downhill and cross-country skiing as well as snow boarding. The ski season runs from November to April and ski gear can be hired. Some winters little snow falls in the Reykjavík area – a lways check conditions beforehand. Tel: 530 3000 – www.skidasvaedi.is
Reykjavík Whale Watching Aegisgardur 7, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 555 3565 – www.elding.is Life of Whales Sudurbugt, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 562 2300 – www.hvalalif.is Oceantours Aegisgardur, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 861 6062 – www.oceantours.is Faxi Bay Cruise Reykjavík Harbour, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 845 9172 Puffin Express Reykjavík Harbour, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 892 0099 – www.puffinexpress.is The whale watching season runs from April to October, puffin season from mid-May to mid-August.
Reykjavík Angling Club Tel: 568 6050 – www.svfr.is Horse riding Icelandic horses are sturdy and strong. They have an extra gait called tolt which is unique to this Viking-Age breed, and their friendly nature is perfect for firsttimers. Horse riding tours are available in beautiful sites on the outskirts of Reykjavík. Trips range from one hour to a whole day or longer. Ishestar Sorlaskeid 26, 221 Hafnarfjordur. Tel: 555 7000 – www.ishestar.is Laxnes Horse Farm Laxnes, 270 Mosfellsbaer. Tel: 566 6179 – www.laxnes.is
More information on outdoor activities can be found on www.visitreykjavik.is.
Nature’s treasures Iceland is truly one of nature’s treasures and you can experience a lot of these beauties in the capital. Encircled by majestic mountains and lava fields, Reykjavík’s surroundings are like a real-life textbook on nature and geology. Inside the city limits, there are lakes and parks and even a salmon-filled river! In summer you can stay out late in the almost constant daylight while the cosy darkness of winter brings the chance to see the unforgettable northern lights.
In the city centre, Tjornin Lake is a favourite spot for young families to feed the ducks. Reykjavík Old Harbour is a charming area for a stroll and to view the boats and ships. Oskjuhlid Hill, on which the Pearl is located, is a pleasant wooded area, ideal for a r elaxing walk. At the bottom of the hill lies Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach. Ellidaardalur Valley is a lush recreational area within the city, popular for walking and cycling. Extensive stretches of path along the shorelines of R eykjavík are ideal for walking, running, cycling and inline skating. Aegisida is one of Reykjavík’s most popular paths and leads to Nautholsvik geothermal beach, with a magnificent view to Bessastadir, the residence of the president of Iceland. Keep your eyes peeled for the Sun Voyager, a s triking steel sculpture resembling a Viking ship, located on the northern shoreline.
The 914-metre high mountain which presides over Reykjavík has s tunning views of the c apital area. This hike is very popular with Icelandic families. Don’t forget to sign the guestbook at the peak! Note: Mt Esja can be steep in places and there is occasionally some snow in summer. Follow routes closely and consider weather conditions before climbing.
Hofsstadir Archeological Park showcases the remains of a 9th-century Viking-age longhouse, presented through an outdoor multimedia exhibition. There are also numerous walking paths in Gardabaer, for example around Vifilsstadavatn Lake.
Videy Island Videy Island is a unique site only a few minutes away from Reykjavík by boat. Extensive paths for walking and cycling (there are bicycles you can borrow), impressive birdlife, playground, café and restaurant. Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Power, a wishing well from which a tall tower of light emerges at certain times of year, is also located here. Ferries leave for Videy from Sundahofn Harbour and Reykjavík Old Harbour. Tel: 533 5055 – www.videy.com
Heidmork Nature Reserve
Mosfellsbaer Area This town boasts lots of walking and bicycling paths along the shore, up hills and along rivers. There are also very good bird watching facilities here.
With its bushy vegetation, lava fields and caves, this extensive nature reserve on the outskirts of Reykjavík is popular for walks and family picnics. Playground, camping and barbecue facilities. Cross country skiing tracks in winter, snow permitting.
Join an organised day tour or drive yourself into the countryside around the capital. Be amazed at the landscape – lava fields, hot springs, waterfalls, glaciers, and plenty of farms.
Alftanes is an important stopover destination for migratory birds and its coastal paths make for pleasant walks. Alftanes is such a nice spot that the president of Iceland lives here at Bessastadir, the site of an ancient farm. Hafnarfjordur Area Hellisgerdi Park is set in natural lava formations and is said to be inhabited by supernatural beings. Hamarinn viewpoint gives an excellent view of Hafnarfjordur and there are fishing opportunities in nearby Hvaleyrarvatn Lake. The Krysuvik geothermal area, with its bubbling hot springs, is located just outside Hafnarfjordur.
The Karsnes peninsula and the two valleys, Fossvogsdalur and Kopavogsdalur, are ideal for walking, bicycling and exploring birdlife. Beyond the Reykjavík Capital Area
View tour options on www.visitreykjavik.is or visit the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre for more information on tours and sights in and outside the Reykjavík Capital Area.
Itineraries Too much choice? Check out our inspirational itineraries for a day out in the Reykjavík C apital Area. The Wonders of the Valley: Visit the animals at the Reykjavík Family Park and Zoo, p icnic in the Botanical G ardens and take a dip in Laugardalslaug pool.
The Nature of Kopavogur: Cycle along the Karsnes shoreline, visit the Natural History Museum and the nearby Kopavogur thermal pool.
Geothermal Giants: Visit the Pearl and Nautholsvik geothermal beach.
Icelandic Surf and Turf: Take a whale watching or sea angling tour from Reykjavík Harbour, have a hot dog at the Baejarins Beztu stand by the harbour, and visit the National Museum.
A mountain of fun: Hike up Mt Esja and relax afterwards in the fun Lagafellslaug pool in Mosfellsbaer. Hafnarfjordur Haunts: Start the day by horseriding, then enjoy a hearty Viking lunch, followed by an elf walk in the afternoon.
In Good Company: Take a r efreshing walk and view the birdlife (and the president if you are lucky!) on Alftanes peninsula, followed by a visit to Hofsstadir Archeological Park in Gardabaer.
Celebrate with us! There are fun-filled and colourful events in Reykjavík throughout the year. The following events include plenty of activities directed towards families. January Twelfth Night – 6 January The last day of Christmas, celebrated with bonfires dotted around the city, elfin dances and fireworks. February Winter Lights Festival and International Children’s Day (Reykjavík) The Reykjavík Winter Lights Festival celebrates both winter and the growing light after a long period of darkness. International Children’s Day features a variety of children’s workshops with music and dance from all over the world. April First Day of Summer Icelanders celebrate the First Day of Summer (according to the old Icelandic calendar) with parades and family events.
May Kopavogur Days (Kopavogur) Cultural festivities including theatre shows, art workshops and concerts.
Viking Festival (Hafnarfjordur) Vikings of all ages come together to barter goods, eat and meet.
Reykjavik Art Festival (Reykjavík) The purpose of this festival is to promote Icelandic and international culture in all fields of art.
June Festival of the Sea – First weekend in June (Reykjavík) A celebration of Iceland’s maritime heritage. Boats, ships and fish of all kinds on display, strongman competitions, rowboat races and more. Independence Day – 17 June 17 June is the National Day of Iceland. Colourful parades, street theatres, music and dancing. Bright Days (Hafnarfjordur) Art festival with lots of family fun.
Gay Pride (Reykjavík) The highlight of this colourful event is the Gay Pride parade, where all sorts of weird and wonderful floats cruise down the main street, Laugavegur. Reykjavík Culture Night (Reykjavík) Iceland’s largest cultural event, when hundreds of galleries, ateliers, shops, cafés, churches, restaurants and bars in Reykjavík city centre stay open until late and put on all kinds of shows and happenings. The celebrations culminate in a large fireworks show. In the Yard at Home – Last weekend in August (Mosfellsbaer) Family event with concerts, markets, stalls, aerobatics, bonfires, parades and more.
November Young Art Festival (Reykjavík) This festival week is packed with a multitude of performers and spectators from the younger generation. December Christmas Icelanders get into the Christmas spirit s tarting 12 December when the 13 Yule Lads (Door Slammer, Spoon Licker, Candle Beggar and others) arrive from the mountains. On the first advent Sunday, the lights are lit on a large Christmas tree at Austurvollur Square in Reykjavík city centre and the Yule Lads pay a visit.
Christmas Village – (Hafnarfjordur) Quaint Christmas market and family entertainment. New Year‘s Eve – 31 December New Year’s Eve in Iceland is one spectacular celebration, especially in the capital. Celebrations start with a dinner, followed by going to bonfires. At midnight there is a spectacular display of fireworks. Make sure you get a good view! According to folklore, many supernatural effects are supposed to occur on New Year’s Eve. For example, elves (or “hidden people”) move house, cows are supposed to receive the power of speech and seals take on human form!
In Iceland, Christmas is very important and is celebrated everywhere in society. Families, friends and colleagues make the season special by decorating their houses, baking cookies and hosting Christmas parties. V isitors can enjoy an Icelandic Christmas dinner at some of the best restaurants in Reykjavík.
Getting around Reykjavík is a compact city which is easy to navigate, whether on your own two feet or by public transport. In addition, magnificent countryside awaits just minutes away from the city centre. Visit the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre for help in planning your activities.
Airport Transfer Flybus is the airport shuttle that runs between Keflavik International Airport and Reykjavík. The shuttle schedule is co-ordinated with airline flight schedules. The bus stops at many of the larger hotels in the city to drop off and pick up travellers. For schedule and fare information visit www.flybus.is On Foot The compact city centre in Reykjavík is easy to get around on foot. You can explore the city at your own pace or on one of the many organised tours on offer.
Public Transport Reykjavík has an efficient bus system. Most buses run every 15–30 minutes during the week and less frequently during evenings and weekends. Bus information is available at the central bus station at Hlemmur, at the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre and on www.bus.is
Scheduled Coaches – BSI Terminal Coaches make regular trips from Reykjavík to v arious towns and places around Iceland. The BSI Coach Terminal is located close to Reykjavík city centre. Visit the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre for information on other parts of the country.
A flat fare is charged on the buses. Children under six years of age travel free and a children’s fare applies to those 6–18 years of age. Multi-trip tickets and day passes are also available and the Reykjavík Welcome Card offers unlimited bus travel for 24, 48 or 72 hours. If you need to change buses, ask for a “skiptimidi“ (transfer ticket) on the first bus and you will not have to pay again on the
BSI Terminal Vatnsmyrarvegur 10, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 562 1011– www.bsi.is
second bus if changing within 45 minutes.
Hop-on hop-off Reykjavík Sightseeing Bus A fun way to see all the main sites in one go, with an excellent view and commentary in eight languages. The bus operates from June to August, every hour on the hour (10:00–16:00) with ten stops around the city centre. Passengers can “hop off” at any of the stops, stay for a period of time and then carry on with the tour. Each ticket is valid for 24 hours. Operated by: Reykjavík Excursions Tel: 580 5400 – www.re.is
Taxi Services Taxi ranks are dotted around the city and the taxi companies have phone numbers that you can call to get a taxi from anywhere in the city. Some have special offers for transport to and from Keflavík International Airport. All taxis have official mileage meters, and taxi fares are charged at standard rates. There is no need to tip. Hreyfill-Baejarleidir Taxis Tel: 588 5522 or 553 3500 B.S.R. Taxis Tel: 561 0000 Car Rental Many visitors enjoy the freedom of renting a v ehicle and seeing the sights beyond Reykjavík at their own pace. Cars of all types and sizes can be hired at Reykjavík’s many car rental agencies; special offers may be available in conjunction with flight bookings. Check at the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre for the best deals on offer.
Avis Car Rental Knarrarvogur 2, 104 Reykjavík. Tel: 591 4000 – www.avis.is Budget Car Rental BSI Terminal, Vatnsmyrarvegur 10, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 562 6060 – www.budget.is Hertz Car Rental Flugvallarvegur, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 522 4400 – www.hertz.is Note: Visitors are advised to seek information and guidance prior to setting off on their journey. Guides to safe driving in Iceland can be accessed on www.drive.is and www.safetravel.is. Domestic Flights Reykjavík’s domestic airport, conveniently located near Reykjavík city centre, operates flights to other parts of the country and to Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Visit the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre for information on other parts of the country as well as Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Air Iceland Reykjavík Airport, 101 Reykjavík Tel: 570 3030 – www.airiceland.is
The car rental agencies listed above are those in Reykjavík which have a fleet of over 1,000 cars.
Useful info Reykjavík’s official Tourist Information Centre, situated in a restored historic building in the heart of the old city, is the key to a successful Reykjavík city break and holiday in Iceland. The Centre offers extensive information on tourist destinations and services all over the country, free booking services, tax refunds, Internet access, money e xchange services and much more. Knowledgeable and friendly personnel are there to serve all your travel needs, help you sort out your problems, answer your questions and plan the perfect holiday in Iceland. Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre Adalstraeti 2, 101 Reykjavík. Tel: 590 1550 – www.visitreykjavik.is Opening hours: 1 June to 15 September: 8:30 –19:00 daily 16 September to 31 May: 9:00 –18:00 weekdays 9:00 –16:00 Saturdays 9:00 –14:00 Sundays
Reykjavik Welcome Card The Reykjavík Welcome Card gives free access to most Reykjavík museums, all of the city’s thermal pools, unlimited travel on city buses, access to the Reykjavík Family Park and Zoo and the Videy Island ferry. The card also entitles you to free Internet access at the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre and various d iscounts in shops, restaurants etc. The Reykjavík Welcome Card is available at the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre, in addition to many hotels, museums and other outlets. The card is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours. Getting to Reykjavík Reykjavík is closer than you think. Flight time is 2– 4 hours from Europe and 5 – 6 hours from the east coast of North America. For information on airlines servicing Reykjavík, check www.visiticeland. com or www.visitreykjavík.is. Business Hours and Shopping Areas The opening hours of most offices are weekdays from either 8:00–16:00 or 9:00–17:00. Shopping hours are generally from 10:00 until 18:00 Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, most shops are open from 10:00 until 16:00. Most shops are closed on Sundays, but shopping centres, larger bookstores and supermarkets are open daily. Reykjavík city centre (main shopping streets Lauga vegur and Skolavordustigur), is the place to go shopping for souvenirs and quirky Icelandic design,
including children’s clothes and toys. Shopping centres Kringlan and Smaralind are the best places for one-stop shopping. Supermarkets and chemists can be found all around the capital area. Babysitters and Childcare Facilities Visitors can book a babysitter through www.passa.is. Childcare facilities are available at s hopping centres Kringlan and Smaralind and at Laugar Spa. Changing facilities are widely available, and breastfeeding in public is generally acceptable. Internet services To check your email or surf the net, drop in at one of Reykjavík’s Internet cafés or café hot spots with free wireless Internet access. Internet service is also available at the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre and at all branches of the City Library. Language The national language is Icelandic, a language of a Germanic origin, related to the Scandinavian languages. Almost everybody in Iceland also speaks English. Money The Icelandic monetary unit is the krona (plural kronur) (ISK). All Icelandic banks provide foreign exchange. Public Holidays The following days are public holidays in Iceland. Most shops and businesses are closed on these
days, but on many public holidays some food stores remain open. New Year’s Day: 1 January Maundy Thursday: the Thursday before Easter Good Friday: the Friday before Easter Easter Sunday Easter Monday May Day: 1 May Ascension Day: the Thursday 40 days after Easter Whit Sunday: the seventh Sunday after Easter Whit Monday: the day after Whit Sunday National Day: 17 June Summer Bank Holiday: the first Monday in August Christmas Eve: public holiday from noon Christmas Day Boxing Day: the day after Christmas New Year’s Eve: public holiday from noon.
provided, Icelanders are generally not offended if they are offered a tip.
Telephone The code into Iceland from overseas is +354 plus a seven-digit number. There are no area codes.
Country and people Iceland is 103,000 square kilometres (64,000 square miles) in size and is located at 64– 66° North, just below the Arctic Circle. Icelanders are of Nordic and Celtic origin and are mostly descendants of immigrants who arrived in the 9th and 10th centuries. The population of Iceland is just over 300,000, around 200,000 of whom live in the Reykjavík Capital Area. The rest live in small fishing and farming communities around the coast. The interior of Iceland is mostly uninhabitable.
Time Iceland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) throughout the year. Tipping Service and VAT are invariably included in prices in Iceland and tipping is never required. However, if you are very pleased with the service
Travel with children Admission prices into museums, thermal pools, and on buses are often reduced or free for children, especially the youngest ones. Remember to take special care when travelling with children to natural sites such as hot springs, lava fields, the shore and glaciers. See www.safetravel.is for more information on travelling safely. Weather Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland enjoys a cool temperate ocean climate: cool in summer (average around 12°C/54°F) and fairly mild in winter (average around 0°C/32°F). However, the weather is very changeable and visitors should be prepared for the unexpected.
Reykjavík’s Thermal Baths and Pools are the city’s most popular fun and recreation centres for families of all ages. The water is kept at a soothingly warm 29°C (84°F). All of the City’s Thermal Baths and Pools have several hot pots, each kept at a different temperature, from 37°C – 42°C, equivalent to 98°F - 111°F. These thermal pools are great playgrounds for kids – places where water safety is top priority, so that parents can enjoy healthy bathing and allow daily stresses and strains to simply drain away.
It´s healthy, it’s inexpensive...and it’s great fun!
Okay, kids. The adults have been able to look through this brochure to find out what fun activities are in store for your trip to Reykjavík. Now this page is just for you!
TRIP DIARY: Too much to remember? Fill in your best Reykjavík experiences below:
Take our quiz to find out how much you’ve learned about Iceland’s capital and surroundings. (Hint: You can find all the answers in this brochure.)
1. My favourite museum was:
2. My favourite thermal pool was:
3. The best food of the trip was: 1. How high is Hallgrimskirkja Church? 2. Whose statue is on Arnarholl Hill?
4. Describe the view from the top ofHallgrimskirkja Church or of the sea or looking at Tjornin Lake:
3. When is Iceland’s national holiday? 4. What is the nickname for the outdoor hot tubs at our thermal pools? 5. How warm is the water at Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach? 6. Which capital area town hosts a Viking festival each year? 7. What is the name of the “extra” gait of the Icelandic horse?
5. I saw _______ elves, ___________ Vikings,
and ________________ birds on my trip.
6. My family’s favourite thing about R eykjavík was:
7. The next time I visit Reykjavík I want to see:
8. How many Yule Lads visit Icelandic children during the Christmas season?
1. 73 metres · 2. Ingolfur Arnarson · 3. 17 June · 4. hot pots · 5. 20°C/68°F · 6. Hafnarfjordur · 7. tolt · 8. 13
THE GREAT REYKJAVÍK CAPITAL AREA
Our family brochure