Real Estate Sales Nearly Double, Rent Prices Rise

architecture downtown Reykjavík houses

Real estate sales in Iceland nearly doubled between January and February of this year, according to the latest report from the Housing and Construction Authority. The jump is most noticeable in municipalities near the capital area. In Reykjanesbær, not far from the evacuated town of Grindavík, the number of sales tripled between January and February.

Rental prices rise

In Akranes, just one hour north of Reykjavík, the number of real estate sales more than doubled, while in Árborg, South Iceland, they nearly doubled. Rental prices also rose faster than general price levels, according to the report. This was especially true on the Suðurnes peninsula, where Grindavík is located, where rental prices are 16% higher now than they were in September 2023. Rental prices rose 3-9% in the capital area during the same period.

675 Grindavík properties wait for government buyout

The town of Grindavík (pop. 3,600), located on the Suðurnes peninsula, was evacuated in November 2023 due to seismic activity. The town has since seen four volcanic eruptions just to the north, in the Sundhnúkagígar area. Three houses were destroyed in the January eruption and the Government has since offered to buy homes from Grindavík residents if they choose.

On April 12, the first such purchase was approved, and 675 others were waiting to be processed. For comparison, an average of 625 real estate purchase contracts were registered in the capital area and neighbouring municiaplities each month last year. This means that the property purchases of Grindavík residents who are relocating could equal the region’s total monthly demand.

Grindavík residents say the government buyouts are proceeding too slowly, impacting their ability to relocate in the heating-up housing market. They have called a protest for this afternoon in front of Alþingi, Iceland’s Parliament.

The Best Day Trips and Tours in and Near Reykjavík City

Geysir Strokkur erupting Golden Circle Iceland

Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, nested by the North Atlantic Ocean, is known for its vibrant culture, friendly locals and stunning nature all around. The capital can serve as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding natural wonders of Iceland, where visitors don’t need to go too far to explore breathtaking landscapes. The best day tours in Reykjavík range from whale watching, horseback riding, snorkelling, city exploring and more. 

An extensive array of amusing trips and tours can be experienced both in Reykjavík city and nearby areas, which will be discussed below.

 

Best Day Tours in Reykjavík City 

Reykjavík is a small but vibrant city and home to about 140,000 people. The city is full of beautiful sights and tours to be experienced, so finding activities won’t be challenging for visitors in Reykjavík. To see the complete guide to Reykjavík city, click here.

 

Viðey Island Tour

Viðey Island is located just outside Reykjavík, where a ferry is taken just off the city’s centre. The island offers a lot of lovely experiences for visitors, such as hikes and a visit to one of the Reykjavík City Museum’s exhibitions. 

One of the most popular tours on the island is the Imagine Peace Tower walk, where participants get to explore the tower created by Yoko Ono as a memorial to John Lennon. The tour begins with a whale-watching experience where guides will shed light on the incredible creatures, learning more about the wonders of whales and seabirds. 

After arriving at the island, a guided walk will be taken where the rich history and unmatched nature of Viðey will be explained. Lastly, participants arrive at the incredible monument of the famous John Lennon, which was first lit in 2007. Since then, it has been lit every year on his day of birth, October 9, and remains lit throughout the winter season.  

For more information and to book the Imagine Peace Tower and Whales tour, click here

Admission: ISK 22,400. Children 7-15: ISK 11,200, free for children under 7.

 

Reykjavík Whale Watching

The waters of Iceland are rich with marine life, making whale watching a popular activity just outside Reykjavík’s centre. Embarking on a whale-watching tour, you will learn more about Iceland’s incredible wildlife with the guidance of expert crew and trained marine biologists. Not only will you learn about this underwater world, but you will also get the opportunity to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures within reach of Reykjavík’s centre. 

Many whale-watching tours are offered, where you can choose to go on a classic, comfortable whale-watching boat or on a RIB express tour to get more speed and get even closer to the magical creatures of the ocean. You can also combine whale watching with other tours, such as visiting the whale museum in Reykjavík, Viðey Island, or others. 

The tours leave from the Old Harbour in Reykjavík city. 

See all available whale-watching tours here

Whale Watching in Reykjavík
Photo: Golli – Whale Watching in Reykjavík

 

See Real Flowing Lava: Lava Show in Reykjavík 

Those who want to experience real flowing lava in a close-up and safe environment can visit the Lava Show in Reykjavík. 

Lava, the Iceland Volcano & Earthquake Centre, opened first in Iceland in 2017 in Hvolfsvöllur town in the South of Iceland and exhibited the only lava show in the world. The show opened its doors in Reykjavík’s city centre in 2022 and has since then provided the city with a recreation of a miniature volcanic eruption where visitors get to see red hot flowing lava right within arms reach. 

The Lava Show Reykjavík experience can be booked here.

Reykjavík Walking Tours 

In Reykjavík, there is a lot to see and experience, so taking a guided walking tour might be an option for you. By taking a walking tour, you can discover the city’s culture, try Icelandic food and drinks, view the street art, or just get to know the city better. 

Many tours are available, such as a food tour, a classic Reykjavík walking tour, a Viking walking tour, a folklore tour and many more. This could be the perfect crash course when it comes to Iceland, where you get to learn the history of Iceland, visit famous landmarks, and perhaps even learn a few Icelandic words. 

See available walking tours in Reykjavík here

 

Experience Reykjavík from Above on a Helicopter Tour

For those who want to see a bit more of Iceland without having to walk, it is also possible to jump on board a helicopter and see the country and its landscapes from above. 

Many options are available, such as viewing Reykjavík’s city from the comfort of your own helicopter. From there, you could even try to spot those doing a walking tour around the city. Other helicopter sightseeing experiences are also offered, such as flying over glaciers, waterfalls, the Icelandic highland, or volcanic areas. 

The tours leave from Reykjavík Airport in the city’s centre. 

See available helicopter tours in Reykjavík here.

An aerial view of Icelandic landscapes seen from a helicopter above
Photo: Helicopter Tour from Reykjavik, landscapes seen from above

 

 

Best Day Tours Near Reykjavík 

In Reykjavík’s surrounding areas and towns, there are a number of activities to do and tours to embark on. So regardless of whether visitors choose to stay in Reykjavík city during their time in Iceland or not, there are still loads of activities to be explored not too far from the city. 

 

Golden Circle Tours

One of Iceland’s must-visit attractions is the well-known Golden Circle. The whole journey takes travellers to three breathtaking destinations and some of the country’s most extraordinary historical landmarks. Those three areas are Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir geothermal area. 

The adventure is conveniently accessible from Reykjavík and offers a day-long adventure that combines the beauty of Icelands’ geological wonders and its rich cultural heritage and history. 

Golden Circle tours can be combined with other activities, such as a trip to the Blue Lagoon, snorkelling in Silfra fissure, horse riding, and more. 

See the many available tours to the Golden Circle here. 

 

Relax in the Blue Lagoon 

The Blue Lagoon, named one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic, is a unique experience and one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. The lagoon is conveniently located only about 40 minutes from Reykjavík and about 20 minutes from Keflavík airport. 

Entering the Blue Lagoon, visitors are brought into another world, where the unique spa experience even has healing powers. The powers of the geothermal seawater come from its primary elements, silica, algae and minerals, which can be highly beneficial for the skin. In addition to being a healing and relaxing experience, visitors can see the extraordinary surrounding lava landscapes and bathe in the beautifully blue geothermal water. 

See available Blue Lagoon tours here. 

 

Experience Icelandic Bathing Culture in Sky Lagoon 

Sky Lagoon is located in the capital area, in the town of Kópavogur, only about a 10-minute driving distance from Reykjavík’s centre. The lagoon offers a stunning spa experience with breathtaking views over the Atlantic Ocean. Sky Lagoon offers a large heated infinity pool overlooking the ocean, a pool bar, a cold tub and saunas. During the visit, you can experience a seven-step bathing ritual to fully immerse yourself in Icelandic bathing culture. 

Yout trip to Sky Lagoon can be combined with other tours, such as Silfra fissure snorkelling, horseback riding or the Golden Circle, or taken on its own.  

See available tours to Sky Lagoon here. 

Sky Lagoon Iceland
Photo: Signe – Sky Lagoon

 

Snorkel or Dive Between Two Continents in Silfra Fissure

The Silfra fissure is nested in the historical Þingvellir National Park, both a UNESCO World Heritage site and a beautiful scenic place to visit. The park sits on tectonic plates that divide it between two continents, North America and Eurasia. Silfra started forming in 1789 following the movement of the tectonic plates, forming a rift. Melted ice from Langijökull glacier fills the crack up with crystal clear water as it gets filtered through lava capillaries on the way, making it fresh, cold and not only perfect to swim in but also very drinkable. 

This has made the Silfra fissure a unique place to snorkel or dive in, which National Geographic has described it as one of the top dive sites in the world. 

Dive and snorkel tours let participants visit the world below the surface, exploring the colourful underwater landscape, marine life and geological formations. The fissure has become a mecca for scuba diving and snorkelling, where underwater enthusiasts around the world visit for the unique experience. 

All gear needed for the tours is provided, such as a drysuit. At the tour’s end, you get to enjoy hot coffee or chocolate to warm up, and subsequently, you will receive pictures from the experience. Many options are available, such as combining it with other experiences or choosing transportation from and to Reykjavík city. 

See available Silfra fissure diving and snorkelling tours here. 

Two people scuba diving in Silfra Fissure
Photo: Ants Stern and Jóna Kolbrún Sigurjónsdóttir – Diving in Silfra Fissure

 

ATV and Buggy Tours Adventures

For those seeking an adrenaline-fueled adventure in an awe-inspiring landscape, taking an ATV or buggy tour is the ultimate off-road experience in Iceland. The tours let participants experience the rugged and remote corners of the country, from black sand beaches to moss-covered lava fields to geothermal areas, offering panoramic scenic views wherever you go. 

Many ATV and buggy tours are available within reach of Reykjavík city. Tours range from midnight sun expeditions, volcanic tours, caving area tours and black sand beach adventures. The ATVs and buggies navigate effortlessly through rough landscapes, allowing participants to explore areas often inaccessible otherwise. 

See available ATV and buggy tours here. 

 

Ride the Majestic Icelandic Horse 

Horseback riding tours in Iceland offer a journey where participants explore the beautiful Icelandic scenery, connecting riders with the country’s history, the unique nature and the majestic Icelandic horse. It’s an experience for both skilled horseback riders and beginners, creating an unforgettable adventure for all. 

Multiple horseback riding tours are available near Reykjavík, where specially trained guides take participants on a ride through contrasted landscapes, such as green hillsides and lava fields. The tours also provide participants with the opportunity to learn more about the beautiful and friendly creatures and to familiarise themselves with the history of the Icelandic horse. 

See available horseback riding tours here. 

Icelandic horse in the nature
Photo: Ian Funk – The Icelandic Horse

 

Chasing the Dancing Northern Lights in Iceland

With its dark winter nights and remote landscapes, Iceland offers visitors front-row seats to one of nature’s most breathtaking sights, the northern lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. The northern lights are created when energised particles from the sun hit Earth’s upper atmosphere at high speeds, giving off energy leading to the atmosphere’s fluorescence.  

The dark Icelandic winters, therefore, reward locals and visitors with the stunning sight of colourful dancing skies. The northern lights are the most active between September and March. However, the chance of seeing the northern lights improves during mid-winter, where more darkness provides the optimal circumstances. 

Many northern lights tours are available, where guides take participants to the best possible locations to hunt for the magnificent light show. Tours such as the Reykjavík Northern Lights Cruise offer excellent conditions with a panoramic view of the sky and surroundings. Other tours, such as Northern Lights Hunting Tour and Northern Lights Bus Tour, are also feasible options, where guides bring participants to remote and peaceful locations in the hopes of hunting for the unique Aurora Borealis.

See all Northern Lights tours here. 

A City Guide to Reykjavík, Iceland

Miðborg Reykjavíkur - tekið úr byggingakrana

The capital of Iceland, Reykjavík, is a colourful and booming city, filled with culture and vibrant street art and home to just about 140.000 people. Over the past decade, the city has become a popular tourist destination as it hosts a lot of exciting sights and offers a great variety of restaurants and bars. 

To help you get the best out of your trip to Reykjavík, check out our guide below so you can best navigate what to do, see, eat or where to stay in the city.

 

What to See in Reykjavík

 

Iceland’s Tallest Church Hallgrímskirkja

The country’s largest church is located in Reykjavík’s centre and towers over the city. The church’s architecture is inspired by basalt columns found in Iceland’s natural landscape as the architect, Guðjón Samúelsson, was fascinated by the shapes that form from cool lava. The church is now one of Iceland’s landmark symbols and adds a touch of the country’s unique geological features to the city. Admission is free; however, tickets are available in the church shop once you enter to go up the church’s tower. 

Admission: ISK 1,400. Children 7-16: ISK 100, free for children under 7.

Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavík, Iceland
Photo: Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavík, Iceland

 

Reykjavík’ Concert Hall Harpa

Harpa is a cultural and social centre right by the Reykjavík harbour, known for its grand events and concerts. Harpa was opened in 2011 and has since received numerous awards for its architecture and as a concert and conference centre. 

See the upcoming events at Harpa here.

 

Perlan: A panoramic view over Reykjavík 

Perlan is a well-known landmark featuring a panoramic observation deck. However, its main attractions are a nature museum, glacier experience and interactive exhibits. The unique structure of the building sits on top of six water tanks and houses a cafe and a revolving restaurant on its top floor. 

Admission: ISK 5,390. Children 6-17: ISK 3,390, free for children under 6. Family Ticket: ISK 14,990.

 

Reykjavík’s main street Laugavegur

Laugavegur is the main street of Reykjavík, offering a large variety of shops, bars, restaurants, bookstores, art galleries and more. Strolling around the surrounding streets, you can also discover a great variety of all the above, which can make a pleasant day.

 

Reykjavík Rainbow Street: Skólavörðustígur

In 2015, in honour of Reykjavík Pride, the street was painted in vibrant colours and has since then become a popular attraction. The Rainbow Street is located in a street called Skólavörðustígur, directly connected to Laugavegur.

People in the rain on Skólavörðustígur street, Reykjavík.
Photo: Golli. Rainbow Street, Skólavörðustígur, Reykjavík.

 

See the Reykjavík pond – Tjörnin

The Reykjavík pond, Tjörnin, is a central point of Reykjavík where you can discover birdlife with species such as swans, ducks and more. Many cultural hotspots are located all around, such as the Iðnó culture house or Tjarnarbíó theatre.

 

See the Street Art of Reykjavík 

Making the city a more colourful and vibrant one, street artists have added their touch to the sides of buildings throughout Reykjavík. Walk through the city streets and notice the beauty and colours all around.  

 

What to Do in Reykjavík

 

Visit the Reykjavík City Museum

The Reykjavík City Museum takes visitors on a journey through the city’s history and diversity in an interesting and dynamic way. The museum consists of five different exhibitions in and around the city centre. The exhibitions are at Aðalstræti, Viðey Island, the Reykjavík Maritime Museum, Reykjavík Museum of Photography and Árbær Open Air Museum. Each one has a different story to tell about the city’s history and culture.

 

Explore Whales during Reykjavík Whale Watching

Embark on a voyage and explore the world of whales in Iceland with excellent guidance and insight from expert crew and specially trained naturalists. Marine biologists will bring you expert guidance and teach you all about the incredible wildlife of Iceland. 

Read more about available whale-watching tours and purchase tickets here. 

 

Fly Over Iceland

Centrally located near the fishing harbour is Fly Over Iceland, a simulated flight ride that allows you to enjoy Iceland’s most breathtaking scenery and natural wonders in only 20 minutes. During the experience, you will hang suspended with feet dangling before a 20-metre curved screen while the film takes you on a journey over Iceland. 

Admission: ISK 5,690. Children under 12: ISK 3,690.

Read more about Fly Over Iceland and purchase tickets here.

 

Visit the Icelandic Phallological Museum

The Icelandic Phallological Museum is, in fact, the world’s only penis museum and is dedicated to collecting, studying and presenting to guests real phalluses and all things related. The museum hosts phalluses from different species, with donations from all over the globe, even including one from a human! 

Admission: ISK 3,000.

 

Sky Lagoon 

Soak in a luxurious thermal bath and breathe in Sky Lagoon’s fresh Atlantic Ocean air. Located oceanside, only about ten minutes from Reykjavík’s city centre, the lagoon offers a unique spa experience, including a seven-step bathing ritual. The lagoon offers the option of buying a ticket, including shuttle transfer, for an additional fee.

Admission: ISK 6,790.

Read more about available tours to the Sky Lagoon and purchase tickets here.

Sky Lagoon Iceland
Photo: Signe – Sky Lagoon

 

Take a Ferry to Viðey Island

Located just off the coast of Reykjavík is the historical island Viðey. The island is only about 1.7 km² [0.65 mi²] but is a popular destination due to its combination of art, history and nature. One of Reykjavík’s City Museum exhibitions is located on Viðey, as well as the Imagine Peace Tower, an outdoor work of art by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. The ferry sails from the Old Harbour over the summer months but from the Skarfabakki pier over the winter months. 

You can see the full ferry schedule here

Ferry admission: ISK 2,100. Children 7-17: ISK 1,050, free for children under 7.

A view of Viðey Island with Esja mountain in background
Photo: Golli – Viðey Island

 

Visit Reykjavík’s Flea Market Kolaportið 

Kolaportið is Iceland’s largest flea market and is located indoors in the city’s centre. The flea market is open every Saturday and Sunday and offers various second-hand clothing, jewellery, food and more. 

 

Explore the Nightlife in Reykjavík 

The nightlife scene in Reykjavík is quite vibrant, attracting travellers from around the world. Many of the city’s bars and clubs are located in Laugavegur and its surrounding streets, making bar hopping and nightlife exploring relatively easy. Some of Reykjavík’s popular bars include Tipsý Cocktail Bar, Jungle, English Bar, and Kiki.

 

Relax in the Geothermal Pools 

Experience authentic Icelandic bathing culture in one of the many geothermal pools in Reykjavík. Sundhöll Reykjavíkur is the oldest public pool in Iceland and is, furthermore, the only public pool located in downtown Reykjavík. The pool consists of hot tubs, a large swimming pool, a cold tub and a sauna, making it a relaxing experience in the busy city centre.

Sundhöll swimming pool Reykjavík
Photo: Golli – Sundhöll Reykjavíkur/Swimming Pool of Reykjavík

 

Where to stay in Reykjavík

When staying in Reykjavík, the city centre, Miðborg Reykjavíkur, offers the most extensive variety of hotels, hostels and Airbnb’s. When staying in the city centre, most of the main attractions of Reykjavík are easily accessible by foot, in addition to the city’s restaurants, bars and cultural centres being located all around, making it a convenient option to stay. Below are a few popular hotels located in Miðborg Reykjavíkur.

 

Canopy by Hilton

The concept behind the Canopy Hotel is about living like a local through design, food and beverage, art and knowledge. The hotel is located at Smiðjustígur, by the main street of Laugavegur.

 

Center Hotels Laugavegur

A modern, urban, and cosy hotel located very centrally at Reykjavík’s main street, Laugavegur.  Highly recommended for travellers who want to be right in the middle of things!

 

Reykjavík Marina

The Reykjavík Marina Hotel is situated next to a historical dry-dock called Slippur in a renovated four-story building that has become a landmark in Iceland.

 

What are the Best Places to Eat in Reykjavík

Reykjavík offers a wide variety of cafes and restaurants where anyone can find something to their liking, whether it be fish, vegetarian food, Italian food, or the ever-rising New Nordic style cuisine.

 

The food halls of Reykjavík 

The popularity of food halls has been increasing vastly in recent years, with Hlemmur Food Hall becoming the first one to open in Reykjavík in 2017. Amongst other food halls in Reykjavík’s city centre are Grandi Food Hall, Pósthús Food Hall and Hafnartorg Gallery. Each of them offers a good variety of different cuisines and a sizeable sharing-style table setting. 

Read more about the food halls of Reykjavík here.

 

Dill

A fine dining experience offering unique dishes and cooking methods inspired by the Icelandic landscape. The restaurant was awarded Iceland’s first Michelin star in 2017 and has since continued to bring eccentric and delicious dishes to its guests.

 

The Fish Market: Fiskmarkaðurinn 

Founded in 2007, The Fish Market serves New Style Seafood Cuisine and is located in the heart of Reykjavík. The restaurant’s unique atmosphere and tasty seafood dishes have made it one of the most popular dining destinations in Reykjavík.

 

Rok 

Rok Restaurant, located on Frakkarstígur, offers a wide selection of small dishes in a fine-casual style. The restaurant offers a fun food experience in a relaxed environment.

 

Ítalía restaurant

Ítalía Restaurant, or Restaurant Italy, is one of the longest-standing restaurants in Reykjavík, founded in 1991. As the name implies, the restaurant offers classic Italian dishes for a fair price.

 

Bæjarins Bestu Hot Dogs 

Bæjarins Bestu, or the town’s best, are Iceland’s famous hot dogs and is one of the oldest operating companies in Iceland. As the name states, the hot dogs are claimed to be the town’s best and have had many well-known visitors, such as Bill Clinton and Kim Kardashian. 

Bæjarins Bestu hot dog stand in Reykjavík.
Photo: Bæjarins Bestu hot dog stand in Reykjavík.

 

How do I get around in Reykjavík?

Getting around in Reykjavík is a topic many wonder about. When staying in central Reykjavík, you might realise how small and compact the city centre is, making it easy to get around on foot. However, other options are available, for instance, during the cold winter months or when going longer distances, where you can choose from buses, taxis or Hopp scooters. 

Read more about how to get around in Reykjavík here.

 

How much time do I need in Reykjavík?

As seen further up in the article, Reykjavík offers multiple exciting sights and experiences. Depending on the total length of your stay and the traveller’s preferences, about three days would be enough to explore the city’s main sights without rushing. However, many travellers prefer to stay in Reykjavík, keeping that as their base and taking day tours from there, which is a viable option. 

Organic Waste Collection to Begin in Reykjavík Area in May

organic waste Reykjavíkurborg

Residents of the Reykjavík capital area will be able to separate their organic waste for the first time starting next month. New legislation that took effect at the beginning of this year makes it illegal to bury organic waste, such as food scraps, in landfills. Organic waste will be used to produce methane fuel and compost.

New split bins and organic waste bags provided

Reykjavík residences currently have bins for mixed waste, paper and cardboard, and plastic, which residents are expected to sort separately. (Glass and metal are also disposed of separately at community sorting stations or SORPA locations.) Organic waste bins will now be added to the household waste to collect food scraps, including eggshells, leftovers containing fish and bones, and coffee grinds and filters. This organic waste was previously disposed of in mixed waste bins in the capital area.

Despite the addition of a new sorting category for household waste, a notice from the City of Reykjavík says that most residences will not see a change in the number of bins, as split bins will be introduced that have separate compartments for different categories of waste. Implementation will vary between detached homes and multi-family residences such as duplexes, triplexes, and apartment buildings. Municipalities will also provide containers and paper bags for the collection of organic waste.

In addition to the four-category sorting that happens at residences, the number of neighbourhood collection stations for metal, glass, and textile waste will be increased so that there is a station no more than 500 metres from each home. Larger neighbourhood sorting stations will be located no more than a kilometre from each home, where additional containers for paper and plastic will be available.

Organic waste collection will be implemented in phases across the capital area starting next month. All homes are to receive the new bins by autumn 2023.

More information is available on the City of Reykjavík website, though it should be noted that the English-language version is machine translated and may contain errors.

Urban Design Contest Envisions a Carbon-Neutral, Car-Free Future

The City of Reykjavík has launched an open design competition to “create a dense, mixed, diverse, and carbon-neutral new urban quarter” in Keldur, an underdeveloped area on the eastern outskirts of Reykjavík. Streetsblog reports that the contest, which will accept submissions until mid-April, is open to anyone—not just professional designers and urban planners—and will be judged anonymously by a team of local officials and international expert advisors.

The finalists from the first round of the competition will receive €50,000 [$53,582; ISK 7.7 million]. The final winner will receive an additional €50,000.

Where is Keldur?

Sandwiched between the neighbourhoods of Grafarvogur, Úlfarsárdalur, Grafarholt, Halsar, and Höfðar, the 288-acre parcel that, according to the Keldur Competition Brief, city officials are dividing into Keldur East and Keldur West, is a 30-minute bike ride away from downtown.

via Keldur Competition Brief

The area is currently served by four bus routes “with stops in the vicinity” but once the city unveils its new bus route and the first phase of the Borgarlína Rapid Transit (BRT) service in 2026-27, Keldur will have much more direct public transportation options to and from the city centre. Officials estimate that travel time on the BRT from Keldur and Lækjartorg will be approximately 20 minutes.

‘Against excessive parking’

While the building of a new residential community on the outskirts of a city might naturally imply high car ownership, “officials are are recommending against excessive parking,” explains Streetblog, and have “already promised to devote 100% of the profits from the development and sale of the land towards bringing frequent bus rapid transit service to residents. More broadly, the contest organizers called on entrants to ‘prioritize the eco-friendliest, most compact, and least cumbersome mode of transportation’ in their designs.”

Brad Toderian, one of the international experts serving on the Keldur competition’s judging panel, applauds the City of Reykjavík’s focus on creating “a truly urban place, not just a better suburb,” one that is “not just a little less car dependent, but that’s truly multimodal.” Toderian says that from a North American perspective, the competition is unique not only in that it accepts submissions from anyone, but also because “it’s more ambitious than North America is usually willing to be in these kinds of contexts.”

Cycle city

In addition to linking to the BRT, the Keldur neighborhood is intended to attract cyclists and encourage two-wheeled transit. The contest brief particularly emphasizes the “importance of integrating the region into the city’s ambitious Cycling plan — the city wants 10% of all trips to be taken on two wheels by 2025 — creating reliable pedestrian connections to surrounding areas, and making sure residents can meet their basic needs with a twenty minute walk or less.”

“BRT has a prime role to play,” says Toderian, “but it’s also about walkability and bikeability; it’s about carbon neutrality; it’s about green building design.”

Read the full Streetsblog article, in English, here. The Keldur Contest Brief (also in English), with information about how to submit a design proposal is available here. Queries about phase one of the project will be accepted until March 17, 2023; submissions will be accepted until April 19, 2023.

As Cemeteries Fill, Reykjavík Residents Choose Cremation

With few plots available in Fossvogskirkjugarður and Gufuneskirkjugarður, the two cemeteries in the capital still open to the recently departed, an increasing number of Reykjavíkers are electing to be cremated. RÚV reports that continued construction delays on Úlfarsárdalskirkjugarður, a new cemetery long planned for the east side of Reykjavík, is not expected to be ready for use until 2030.

In 2019, Icelandic news outlets projected that Reykjavík residents who died between 2023 and 2025 and wanted to have a coffin burial would have no choice but to be laid to rest in nearby Kópavogur, as all of the plots in Fossvogur and Gufunes Cemeteries would be filled. At the time, it was said that the new cemetery wouldn’t be ready for use until 2025 at the earliest. Projections have now extended that date another five years.

See Also: Nondenominational Crematorium and Memory Garden to Open in Cpaital Area (Oct 2021)

Thus far, however, no Reykjavíker has had to relocate to Kópavogur in death. Ingvar Stefánsson, Managing Director of Reykjavík Cemeteries, says that this is due to the fact that an increasing number of people are opting for cremations. As such, there are still free grave plots available in Gufuneskirkjugarður. There are still columbarium niches available in both Fossvogur and Gufunes cemeteries.

“Gufunes Cemetery was supposed to be fully utilized by now, but will probably be full around 2030,” says Kári Aðalsteinsson, the horticultural director of Reykjavík Cemeteries. “We also have Kópavogur Cemetery and, of course, we have space there, and presumably will until Úlfarsárdalur Cemetery is ready.”

‘A work in progress’

Although current projections slate Úlfarsárdalur Cemetery to be ready for its first burials in 2030, budget cuts announced by the City of Reykjavík may delay the project even further. The cemetery is jointly funded by the municipalities of Reykjavík, Seltjarnarnes, and Kópavogur, but the majority of the cost is to be covered by Reykjavík.

Rúnar Gísli Valdimarsson, a civil engineer with the City of Reykjavík, says he believes it will be another three or four years before the park at Úlfarsárdalur is filled in with soil. After that, he says, there will still be a lot of work that needs to be done before the cemetery can be put into use. So he thinks the 2030 projection is accurate. “It’s kind of a work in progress, as one says.”

Police Called Out to Investigate Sound of Resident Pounding Pork

In a weekend filled with the typical set-tos, scraps, and scrapes downtown, capital-area police got a call-out for the books on Saturday night when they received a report of loud thumping noises coming from an apartment on the east side of Reykjavík. DV reported.

Officers arrived at the scene and knocked on the door, only to be met by the homeowner, brandishing a meat hammer. Thankfully, the explanation for the prurient pandemonium was gastronomic—and perhaps a little tragicomic.

It seems that the home chef had been hard at work that evening, vigorously pounding pork. Tenderizing a fillet, that is, presumably in preparation some delectable meal—schnitzel, perhaps.

Mystery solved, the officers returned to their regularly scheduled bust-ups of underage ragers and barroom hurly burly.

Incident Involving Refugee and Son Ejected from Bus Sparks Outrage

public bus Reykjavík

An account of a refugee and his son being prevented from boarding a Strætó bus from Reykjavík to Keflavík on Friday evening has invoked a public outcry and garnered a great deal of attention, both on social media and from community leaders, Vísir reports. Nichole Leigh Mosty, director of the Multicultural Information Centre, says the story isn’t surprising, and that cultural sensitivity training is important for people in service jobs who deal with diverse populations.

Refused to let another passenger pay fare

According to a public Facebook post published by Joana Diminiczak, a man and his young son boarded a Strætó 55 bus at the University of Iceland stop at 6:31 PM on Friday. The man attempted to use the payment card provided for him by the municipality of Reykjanesbær, but the card didn’t work. The driver told him he had to pay his fare out of pocket and began to berate him in front of the other passengers. The man called someone and handed the phone to the driver, who said that “‘these refugees’ never want to pay,” wrote Joana in her post, “they bring useless cards and he’s not a charity, he does his job, and wants to finally go home and have his dinner.” Joana continued, saying that the driver then turned to the man and said in English, “I live in Njarðvík [one of the towns that comprises Reykjanesbær]. I’ll find you.”

At this point, Joana said she attempted to intercede and pay the fare for the man and child, but the bus driver refused, saying he had called the police. “I ask him to call the police [back] and say the matter is resolved because I will pay for them, but he didn’t want to do it. When I say that I can call so he doesn’t have to, he still doesn’t want to let me pay!!! The man gives up, takes his son, and they get out. He looks up at the sky, near tears, but still with hope in his eyes of sparing the boy the humiliation, and says, ‘He watches us.’ We pull out and the bus driver proudly calls the police and says that he is no longer in need of assistance.”

Joana then concluded her post, writing, “Such drivers shouldn’t be driving buses. I hope that Strætó takes this matter seriously.” At time of writing, the post had received 202 largely sympathetic and outraged comments, many of which called on Strætó to address the situation. It had been also been shared around 1,400 times.

‘They need training in how to deal with this diverse group of customers’

When contacted for comment, Nichole Leigh Mosty, director of the Multicultural Information Centre, said the story did not surprise her. “I wasn’t surprised, because I know there have been difficulties implementing the Klappið app [Strætó’s payment app]. It isn’t designed for diverse members of society, for foreigners or senior citizens. And we’ve seen this behaviour from employees over and over. It’s a stressful job, but the fact that they are serving a diverse community means that they need training in how to deal with this diverse group of customers. But don’t make such prejudicial statements and [provide] poor service.”

Nichole says that cultural sensitivity training is vital. “Whenever we have people in a service position, cultural sensitivity is needed considering that there are all sorts of people who use public transportation. And those who are serving them need to be able to treat everyone who uses that service with respect.”

‘It’s very clear that we’ll be looking into what went on there’

Strætó’s director Jóhannes Svavar Rúnarsson told reporters that he wasn’t familiar with the situation himself, but that the case has been referred to the Icelandic Road Administration, which services bus lines that run outside of the capital area. However, at time of writing, Bergþóra Kristinsdóttir, manager of the Road Administration’s service department, said that she was not familiar with the situation either.

“It’s not a nice story. It’s not come across our desk, I’ve not received any other information about this incident. But it’s very clear that we’ll be looking into what went on there,” said Bergþóra.

Pedestrian Killed in Traffic Accident

fatal accident Iceland

A pedestrian was killed in a traffic collision in Höfðabakki on the east side of Reykjavík on Friday evening, Vísir reports. The cause of the accident is currently being investigated.

See Also: Fatality in Bus and Scooter Collision

The collision was reported around 12:30 AM on Saturday morning and occurred not far from the Ábæjarsafn open air museum.

The victim was a man in his forties. He was transported to the hospital after being hit by the car but died later that morning.

Masked Man Carrying Fake Firearm Raises Alarm Downtown

Reykjavík pond downtown

Police were dispatched to the Vesturbær neighborhood on the west side of Reykjavík in the early hours of Sunday morning after receiving reports of a masked man carrying a firearm, RÚV reports. Thankfully, the matter was resolved quickly and the weapon in question turned out to be an imitation.

According to police reports, officers, including members of the police’s armed division, were sent to the area to locate the man and ensure public safety at the time the report was made. Eye witnesses reported the presence of six police cars, including two special forces vehicles, blocking routes into the city centre.

See Also: Heightened Police Presence in Reykjavík This Weekend

Just after 1:00 am, a car was stopped in Vesturbær, and a fake firearm was confiscated from its occupant, who was taken into custody.

At time of writing, police were unable to confirm if the man was intending to present the fake firearm as a real weapon. The case will be reviewed over the weekend and state prosecutors will decide how to proceed.