We arrived into Keflavik airport on the evening of 30th July, heading straight away into Reykjavik by FlyBus. For our two nights in Reykjavik we stayed at the very modern Reykjavik Central Youth Hostel. The facilities were excellent, and the location right next to one of the largest swimming pools in Reykjavik was excellent - a short bus ride from the city centre.

Reykjavik Central Youth Hostel

Reykjavik Central Youth Hostel

On 31st July we spent the day exploring Reykjavik city centre. We came across the city hall which sits on the edge of Lake Tj÷rnin, a duck filled lake in the city centre.

The City Hall

The City Hall

Inside the city hall there was a large topographical map of Iceland in scale 3D. This gave a great impression of just how big the Vatnaj÷kull glacier in the south east of the island is.

The topographical map of Iceland in the City Hall

The topographical map of Iceland in the City Hall

Reykjavik city centre is a relatively small place, and we constantly over-estimated the scale of the map, ending up back at the same square pictured below on no less than three separate occasions without realising that we were heading to the same place.

Austurv÷llur Square

Austurvöllur Square

The parliament building - current home of the worlds oldest continuously serving democratic parliament - is a very unassuming, plain building - especially when contrasted with the natural beauty of Ůingvellir, the outdoor site at which parliament met from 930AD until the 18th century when the current building was built.

The Al■ingsh˙si­ (House of Parliament)

The Alþingshúsið (House of Parliament)

This lovely viking fellow provided us with shelter from a swift bout of rain (which thankfully didn't last long at all) where we took refuge and ate our lunch - a fresh salad box from the local 10-11 supermarket - good value when contrasted with most of the rest of the food in Iceland.

Statue of a viking, outside the Culture House

Statue of a viking, outside the Culture House

This was sited just outside the Culture House, an interesting museum all about Icelandic history and culture since the age of the settlers onwards.

After going around this museum we headed up to the cathedral which towers over the city - HallgrÝmskikja Church.

HallgrÝmskikja Church

Hallgrímskikja Church

Sat in front of the church was a statue presented to Iceland by the United States, commemorating Leifur EirÝksson (Leif the Lucky) who is now credited as being the first European to set foot on North America. In this picture you can see him, and the modern spire of the church itself.

HallgrÝmskikja Church & Leifur EirÝksson

Hallgrímskikja Church & Leifur Eiríksson

Inside the church there is an exceptionally impressive organ, filling what seems like half of the building. This picture gives some impression of the massive size of the thing.

HallgrÝmskikja Church organ

Hallgrímskikja Church organ

We then walked up to the Perlan - a restaurant atop the water towers that provide Reykjavik with geothermally heated hot water. There is a viewing platform on top from which there are good views over the city.

The Perlan Restaurant & Water Towers

The Perlan Restaurant & Water Towers

View over the city from the water tower top

View over the city from the water tower top

After a look around the Kringlan shopping centre (which is, as you'd expect, like every other mall/out-of-town shopping centre in the world), and stocking up in the supermarket, we headed back to the hostel for the night.

The next morning we had a few hours to kill before collecting the car, so headed to the swimming pool next door to the hostel. It was an outdoor, geothermally heated affair - like all the Icelandic swimming pools. The water was pleasently warm, and despite an air temperature barely over 10░C, we certainly weren't cold - especially in the "hot pot". This is a picture of a picture they had on the wall in the swimming baths - showing that even when it's really cold, people still use the swimming pool.

Laugardalur Swimming Pool in the snow

Laugardalur Swimming Pool in the snow

After a wonderfully relaxing swim, followed by an equally invigorating shower, we went back to the hostel and collected the (first, as it happened) car - a Nissan Micra. After a small detour shortly after picking up the car to have the lock on the door fixed, we headed out of Reykjavik to spend a day and a half doing the Golden Circle - which includes Ůingvellir, Geysir, and Gulfoss.

page created: 16th August 2003 | updated: 7th November 2005