Just spent five days in Reykjavík and absolutely loved it. Rather than give a day by day report, thought I would break it into three big themes:
1) Art- Reykjavík is a modern/contemporary art lover’s PARADISE. (Yes, I’m shouting this from the rooftops!) The three museums that comprise the Reykjavík Art Museum (Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir and Ásmundarsafn) were so spectacular...honestly, there are no words. A new exhibition has opened at the first two in celebration of the Reykjavík Art Festival going on now called “No Man’s Land” and it was an A+. What a richly curated special exhibit. The Ásmundarsafn was perhaps my favorite of the three though- the front desk worker was very enthusiastic and ended up almost giving a private tour of the place- plus they offer you a free cup of coffee upon entry.
The National Gallery really works best in conjunction with the viewing of the three art museums. It’s a small collection, but Treasures of a Nation had some gorgeous paintings. The art of Iceland is SO tied to the landscape and the working class people. You really get insight into the national psyche by viewing this art.
The Culture House is essentially an art museum with artifacts thrown in, all arranged by theme rather than chronology. You’ll have one room with a 17th Century book of witchcraft next to 1950’s abstract art that symbolizes the mysticism of Icelandic folklore still alive today. I really dug it, and they probably have the coolest “guest book” I’ve ever seen in a museum, and I’ve been to my fair share around the world.
The Einar Jónsson Sculpture Garden (free!) is equally magnificent and provides a nice contrast to the Ásmundarsafn. Two master Icelandic sculptors given the royal treatment in the capital.
2) Vegetarian/Vegan Food Heaven- There is SO much tasty vegetarian/vegan food in Reykjavík. My three favorites were: Gló (their bowls and pulled ooumph (sp?) sandwich were primo), Garðurinn (the only have one entree and one soup per day, each made with fresh ingredients- AWESOME staff) and Bergsson Mathús (not 100% vegetarian, but always has vegetarian and vegan options on the daily changing menu. The Vegan brunch is awesome and reasonably priced.)
3) Reykjavík (and maybe all of Iceland?) loves its homos- gay pride runs deep in the city and it’s rare to find a city that made me feel this welcome as a gay traveler. Kíkí is such a fun queer bar. Great crowd. Great music. Oh, and Drag Race party every Friday! (The worst thing that can happen to you while traveling is realizing that you will be missing an episode of Drag Race- when lo and behold Kíkí saves the day! Another bar had a drag night and just in general the nightlife scene is really gay-friendly and inclusive. Took the Omnom Chocolate Factory tour (awesome) and they even make a “Gay Bar” and donate the profits to causes for pride. How great is that?
Basically five days wasn’t enough for me in Reykjavík. I could have stayed a full week and been a lot happier. Guess this just means I’ll have to go back!