5 ways to experience Reykjavík like a local

What does Reykjavík got to offer?

The cyberspace is filled with advice and suggestions on how to make the most of your time in Iceland. Dig a little deeper and you will find plenty of tips on what Reykjavík has to offer to the wandering visitor. But what is it like to actually live in the capital? What do the locals enjoy? Let’s find out how to experience Reykjavík like a local.

Reykjavik Opera House, harbor view

1. Go to a symphony concert at Harpa concert hall
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1950 and has distinguished itself as one of the leading Nordic orchestras through its many performances and recordings. Each season the orchestra gives around 60 concerts in Harpa concert hall, ranging from international and local tours to school concerts and concerts with renowned conductors and soloist. Take it all in as you sit in the largest hall in Harpa, Eldborg, and mingle with the locals during the break. And if classical music is not your style, Harpa hosts many types of events and concerts that are worth checking out.

2. Enjoy a walk to Grótta
Grótta is frequented by many locals. The scenery is gorgeous, especially during sunsets and you’ll get to breathe in the sea breeze as you greet the local walking his dog and the biking family dashing by you. Bring a packed meal with you and have a picnic at the black beach overlooking the lighthouse. The bird life is also fascinating and Grótta is actually a nature reserve because of it.
Close by a foot bath has been carved into a rock, where you can sit by and relax with a beverage of your choice to top off your visit to this western part of the capital area.

Photo by Grapevine
3. Grab some ice cream
Icelanders love their ice cream. If you want to mix with the locals, you hunt down the ice cream. We have specific ice cream stores all over Reykjavík. The classic thing to get at an ice cream store in Iceland is Bragðarefur. It is a locally made ice cream mixed with candy and fruits of your choice. If that sounds like a little too much for you, there is always ice cream with mouth-watering dips and a new ice cream store at Grandi that specializes in gelato. But I warn you, the Icelandic ice cream is so good you might never want to leave the country.

iStock_000084095279_Full4. Catch a movie
Here’s an interesting fact for you. Iceland has the highest yearly cinema attendance per capita of all the countries in the world. Going to a movie while in Iceland might not be the most thrilling thought but if you truly want to live like a local that’s what you should do. We have quite a lot of theatres to choose from and selections ranging from the newest blockbusters to indie documentaries. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. Some movie theatres offer cheese popcorn which is not on the menu so you have to ask for it specifically. Do that. You will not regret it.

Beautiful aerial view of Reykjavik city, Iceland.

5. Go Hiking at Esja
Icelanders are overall pretty active people. We like our nature and we love to fill our lungs with fresh air. Mount Esja dramatically dominates the Reykjavík skyline and is just as gorgeous up close as it is seen from the capital. From light purple to deep blue, white and grey to golden, the mountain changes its colours depending on the season and weather conditions. If you ask the locals we might tell you Esja’s colours change with its mood.
Several hiking trails wind their way around Esja and there are big maps at the parking lot by the mountain roots that will help guide your way. You can also just follow the locals you meet while there or even join their hike, we are friendly people!

Vigdís Ingibjörg Pálsdóttir

Other interesting things


Saving the Glaciers

On 5 July, Mountaineers of Iceland took another step towards a greener future. A representative…

Read more

New departures from Gullfoss to our Ice cave

We are delighted to announce that we have added new departure times to our Ice…

Read more

What to do in Reykjavík on a rainy day?

We have been experiencing rainy summer here in Iceland so if you are traveling to…

Read more

Sign up to our mailing list for news, offers, and stories about the Icelandic Highlands and Mountaineers of Iceland.