Plans to Expand Reykjanesbraut

Keflavík airport

The Road Administration is preparing to expand Reykjanesbraut (Route 41), the road which connects Keflavík International Airport and the capital area.

The Road Administration has submitted an assessment plan to the National Planning Agency for an environmental impact assessment for doubling lanes on Reykjanesbraut between Hafnavegur and Garðskagabraut. The construction section in question is approximately 4.7 kilometers long, extending from the roundabout at Fitjar to Rósaselstorg, where two lane highway currently ends to the roundabout where Reykjanesbraut, Sandgerðisvegur, and Garðskagavegur meet. The road will become a four-lane road, with two lanes in each direction, and the traffic directions will be separated by a barrier.

Work on expanding Reykjanesbraut began in 2003. The coming development will be the final section of this expansion work.

Read the plans here.

Cold and Damp in Southwest, Sunny and Warm in East

Rain in Reykjavík

The weather in the capital region will be damp and cool in the coming days, with a sunnier and warmer forecast in East Iceland.

Today, southwest winds will range from 8 to 15 m/s, occasionally reaching 10 to 18 m/s from the northwest. Winds will ease gradually by afternoon. Expect intermittent showers or drizzle across western regions with temperatures between 9 to 15 degrees Celsius. In the east, it will be mostly sunny with temperatures ranging from 15 to 22 degrees Celsius.

Tomorrow, southerly winds will prevail at 5 to 13 m/s. There will be occasional precipitation in the west, but otherwise, conditions will be fair. Winds will strengthen later in the day with rain spreading across the western areas by evening. Temperatures are expected to remain steady.

Considerable Disruptions to Reykjavík Traffic Next Week

driving in reykjavík

Next week, construction is planned to begin on a pedestrian crossing where Reykjastræti intersects with Geirsgata. The construction is scheduled to start on July 15 and will be completed before the Merchants’ Day Weekend, which is in the first week of August.

New crosswalk, heated sidewalks

The construction will involve removing the current asphalt, installing curbs on either side to raise the pedestrian surface 6 cm above the current road level, installing a heated sidewalk for snow removal, adding a zebra strip crosswalk, and repaving.

The contractor for the project is Lóðaþjónustan.

Significant impact on traffic

The work is expected to have a significant impact on traffic in downtown Reykjavík. Two lanes on Geirsgata will be closed eastbound, but traffic will continue westbound. Traffic will be shifted westward between lanes, and all eastbound traffic on Geirsgata will be redirected to Hringbraut.

Access to the underground parking at Hafnartorg will be from the north on Geirsgata, and it will be necessary to cross the street in order to walk towards Grandi. The parking garage will remain open at all times.

Read more at the City of Reykjavík website (in Icelandic).

Kjötborg Corner Shop: The Heart of Reykjavík’s Vesturbær District

Outside of Kjötborg

Kjötborg is one of the last remaining historic corner shops in Reykjavík. Providing the usual assortments of handy items, this beloved establishment also offers a profound sense of novelty and cultural interest for foreign visitors. Read on to learn more about Kjötborg.

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The following sponsored content is in partnership with Kjötborg corner store.
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When strolling through Iceland’s bustling capital, Reykjavík, you might find yourself craving a little something at the corner of, say, Ásvallagata and Blómvallagata.

Your eyes do not deceive you.

Kjötborg exterior
Outside of the store. Photo: Michael Chapman

A quaint convenience store named Kjötborg, painted ocean blue, sits ready to provide… almost as if it were conjured by the Norse Gods themselves. 

Hungry, thirsty, in need of nicotine – you’re restless to step inside and begin browsing its wares. 

But before you do, take a moment to appreciate the cultural legacy of this unique store.

What makes a corner store so special?

Wait a moment… in the land of glaciers, volcanoes, and waterfalls… How could a corner shop possibly hope to compete for your precious time? 

Well, in Reykjavík, cosy retail outlets are not just places to grab snacks, packets of gum, or cigarettes. Sometimes, they can be fun, attractive, and fascinating points of interest in their own right. 

Check out the below video from our recent visit to get an inside look at how Kjötborg operates day-to-day:

Culture in the Capital

No doubt, you’ve heard of the flea market, Kolaportið, or the small entertainment shack, Geisladiskabud Valda. 

Well, while miniscule in scale, Kjötborg very much stands shoulder to shoulder with such places. One cannot help but feel it deserves far more recognition for its contribution to that intangible essence that makes Reykjavík what it is.

Kjötborg is not only the oldest convenience store in Iceland – it might very well be the oldest shop in the entire capital. 

Kjötborg
Gunnar behind the till. Photo: Michael Chapman

Established in 1928, this family-run business has witnessed nearly a century of Icelandic history, weathering economic shifts, social changes, and the evolution of the retail landscape. 

It is hardly hyperbole to claim its enduring presence is a testament to both community support and unwavering adaptability.

Naturally, this has drawn interest, not just from passers-by.

In 2000, a sweet and charming little documentary titled Kjötborg was showcased at numerous film festivals around Iceland, bagging a prestigious Edda Award for Best Film that year and winning the Patreksfjörður documentary festival in the Westfjords. 

Fans of the big screen or informative journalism might want to check out the trailer:

The times, they are a' changing...

Originally a butcher’s shop – Kjöt meaning meat and borg meaning shop – Kjötborg has retained its name throughout its history. 

Its walls and shelves are adorned with family photographs and keepsakes, revealing its evolution from a traditional butchers to a modern convenience store, all while preserving its old-world charm.

Today, the store is run by two brothers, Gunnar and Kristján, who between them have become something of local legend. 

This glowing reputation is not merely due to their affable personalities and hard-working nature but their ability to withstand closures when other similarly sized corner shops could not.

Kjötborg groceries
Kjötborg offers an eclectic mix of items. Photo: Michael Chapman

Bringing it back, for a moment, to the 2000 documentary on their business, the filmmakers described the pair as “the last Mohicans of the merchant class.” 

Indeed, in the cutthroat world of business, this comparison could hardly be more apt.

While it might still look like your typical run-in-and-grab-something spot, Kjötborg symbolises something far more important to Reykjavík locals. 

It is, after all, a call-back to the years when corner shops provided for their neighbourhoods rather than enormous supermarket chains / fashion brands overseen, on the face of it, by a demented cross-eyed pig. (Here’s looking at you, Kronan…)

The Heart of the Neighbourhood

Vesturbær
Ásvallagata street in Reykjavík's Vesturbær district. Photo: Michael Chapman.

Unsurprisingly, residents living nearby are quick to sing Kjötborg’s praises, with many declaring it as nothing short of the centre of the neighbourhood. 

The shop strives to live up to its reputation. Take the sign inside which promotes an ambitious business philosophy – “Kjötborg: the amazing shop! Everything is available here.”

Alright, you might struggle to find certain items outside of the typical, but Kjötborg’s owners are dedicated to providing their customers with the exact products they need. If someone is looking for a specific brand of shampoo or strawberry jam, they need only to let the owners know, and they will set about ordering it for your next visit. Talk about customer care!

In addition to everyday essentials, books, and DVDs, Kjötborg stocks a range of locally sourced items, including fresh fruit and produce from nearby farms. 

It is this commitment to supporting local producers that ensures the freshest goods for their customers, not to mention how it also strengthens the local economy.

So, when you find yourself in quick need of some convenience items, or even the desire to see Icelandic people at their most authentic and welcoming, make sure to stop by Kjötborg during your visit to Reykjavík. 

You’ll find a corner store where history, community, and personal service come together in one delightful package.

When is Kjötborg open?

Kjötborg shop
Kjötborg takes a typically Icelandic approach to organisation... Photo: Michael Chapman

Kjötborg is open every single day of the week. Chances are that whenever you visit, you’ll run into either Gunnar and Kristján, who are sure to help you with whatever you need, be it products or information about the shop!

Monday           8:30 AM–9 PM

Tuesday          8:30 AM–9 PM

Wednesday   8:30 AM–9 PM

Thursday       8:30 AM–9 PM

Friday             8:30 AM–9 PM

Saturday       8:30 AM–9 PM

Sunday          1PM–7:15 PM

Where exactly is Kjötborg?

Kjötborg is an easy stroll from the many attractions of downtown Reykjavík, making it the perfect place to pop in for a quick visit. 

You can see the precise location of the shop below: 

Plans to Open “Via Ferrata” on Esja this Summer

esja mountain reykjavik

In an interview on Dagmál, Icelandic mountaineer Haraldur Örn announced plans to open a “via ferrata” on Esja this summer.

A new path on Esja

A via ferrata, or “iron way” in Italian, is a protected climbing route that combines cables, rails, bridges, chains, steps, and other fixed features to offer a similar experience to rock climbing and mountaineering, without the need for specialised equipment or training. Originating in Italy during the First World War to facilitate troop movement, these climbing paths are now common throughout the Alps.

Haraldur, often known as Haraldur pole-farer, is notable for having climbed the Seven Summits, in addition to have walked to both the North and South poles. He stated on Dagmál that he has recently been hard at work acquiring the permits to open such a path on Esja, the mountain which overlooks the Reykjavík area.

Entirely different experience

The new path will begin by Fálkaklettur, which is about 1 km west from the Esja parking lot where most hikers begin their trip to Steinn, the most popular terminus for Esja day hikers. Haraldur stated that a great emphasis is being placed on safety, so that the general public can enjoy themselves without worrying.

He added that it will be an entirely different experience from going up to Steinn, and that a forty-metre long suspended bridge will be part of the trail.

Haraldur also stated that the project is currently in its final stages, and that if all goes according to plan, the path will open this summer.

 

Public Bus Fares Rise Today in Iceland

Bus in Reykjavík, Iceland

New and higher public bus fares take effect in the capital area and across Iceland today. A single fare in the capital area is now ISK 650 ($4.69, €4.36), a rise of just over 3% from the previous fare of ISK 630 ($4.55, €4.23). A notice from Strætó, Iceland’s public bus service, says the fare hike is due to rising costs and salary hikes. The price of passes has been raised even more, around 3.85%.

Wage hikes largest driver

This is the second time that Strætó raises bus fares this year. At the end of 2023, a single fare cost ISK 570 krónur ($4.11, €3.83). That was raised to ISK 630 at the beginning of 2024, and is now being raised to ISK 650. This entails a 14% rise in just over six months. While inflation remains above fiscal targets in Iceland, yearly inflation was measured at 5.8% in June, significantly lower than the fare hikes Strætó has instituted. Strætó’s CEO Jóhannes Rúnarsson says that wage hikes are the largest driver of the fare hikes, and that wages account for 50-60% of Strætó’s operational costs.

Countryside bus fares also rise

In line with Strætó’s decision, the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has also raised the price of single fares in the countryside by 5.3%. This means that a public bus trip from Reykjavík to Akureyri will cost ISK 13,200 ($95.28, €88.64), where it formerly cost ISK 12,540 ($90.52, €84.22). A trip from Reykjavík to Keflavík will now cost ISK 2,400 (previously ISK 2,280).

Mayor Unveils New Housing Development Priorities for Reykjavik

Einar Þorsteinsson mayor of reykjavík

Mayor of Reykjavík Einar Þorsteinsson held a press conference yesterday, June 26, to outline new priorities in housing development in Reykjavik. A major highlight of the housing plan includes 500 new apartments for the Grafarvogur neighbourhood.

Read More: The Centre Can Hold

The new measures are in line with a task force which the new Reykjavík mayor established early this year to tackle housing issues in the capital region. The housing initiative is a two-year project aimed at rapidly planning and allocating residential plots suitable for building. Key focuses include exploring the development potential of small and medium-sized plots in the suburbs. 

The new plan includes some 500 residential units in Grafarvogur, with an emphasis on ensuring that all new developments fit well into the existing environment. The additions will include small apartment buildings, single-family homes, and duplexes designed to blend with the character and conditions of the neighbourhood. Additionally, the development includes plan to better utilise infrastructure, basing new construction along public transportation routes with access to local services.

More apartments under construction

So far this year, 605 apartments are under construction in the first months of 2024, compared to 690 apartments recorded under construction throughout all of 2023.

The numbers show a noticeable increase in apartments under construction in the city since the Housing and Construction Authority’s count in March 2024. The increase is due mainly to development projects in Hlíðarendi, Heklureit, Orkureit, Vogabyggð, Ártúnshöfði, and Gufunes. The city’s stated goal is to create conditions for the development of 1,600 apartments annually.

Not compromising on quality

At the press conference, Einar stated: “We are responding to the situation where there has been a downturn in the housing market. We established a task force on housing issues, and now, six months later, we present the results of the project and our future direction with the housing initiative. We have critically examined how to build without compromising the quality of existing neighbourhoods. This development will bring opportunities to enhance services within the neighbourhoods, which we intend to do while also meeting the need for more housing.”

 

 

Price of Swimming in Reykjavík Doubles in Ten Years

Laugardalslaug geothermal swimming pool in Reykjavík

The price of admission to Reykjavík’s public swimming pools has significantly increased over the past decade, although the pools are now open longer than in 2014. Over ten years, the price of a single adult ticket has doubled, Mbl.is reports.

Admissions hike in 2016

The tagline to the 2022 documentary Swimming Pool Stories goes as follows: “The Russians have their vodka. The Finns have their saunas. And the Icelanders have their pools.” Indeed, the local pools in Iceland are not only places of community, relaxation, and exercise – but also a venue for residents to engage in lively conversations about current affairs.

The price of admission to the public pools in Reykjavík has doubled over the past decade, whereas a ca. 50% price level change has occurred between 2014 and 2024, according to a quick calculation on Statistics Iceland.

In a written response to an inquiry from Mbl.is, Steinþór Einarsson, Office Manager for the Administrative Office of Reykjavík City, stated that the price increase had largely followed inflation trends; in 2016, however, the single adult fee was substantially raised to generate revenue from tourists. 

As noted by Mbl.is, the price of a single adult ticket has more than doubled in the last decade. In 2014, a single ticket cost ISK 600 [$4.31/€4.02] compared to ISK 1,330 [$9.54/€8.92] today. Steinþór noted that the largest increase occurred in 2016 when the fee rose from ISK 650 [$4.66/€4.36] to ISK 900 [$6.46/€6.04], a move intended to draw revenue from tourists. 

Read More: Pooling Together (On Iceland’s Swimming Pool Culture)

The annual pass for adults has increased by nearly ISK 15,000 [$107.64/€100.60]: it cost ISK 30,000 [$215.29/€201.21] in 2014 and costs ISK 44,480 [$319.20/€298.34] today. Despite this increase for adults, the admission fee for children has only slightly increased; in 2014, children up to six years old could swim for free, whereas children up to fifteen years old have free access to swimming pools today.

In 2014, the single fee for children and teenagers was ISK 130 [$0.93/€0.87], and the annual pass was ISK 10,000 [$71.75/€67.07]. Today, the single fee for teenagers is ISK 205 [$1.47/€1.38], and the annual pass costs ISK 13,000 [$93.28/€87.20]. 

General extension of opening hours

In 2014, all Reykjavík swimming pools were open for 93.5 hours a week, with the exception of Laugardalslaug, which was open for 105.5 hours a week.

As noted by Mbl.is, Árbæjarlaug, Breiðholtslaug, Dalslaug, Grafarvogslaug, and Vesturbæjarlaug are currently open for 101.5 hours a week, while Laugardalslaug and Sundhöll Reykjavíkur are open for 103.5 hours a week. Overall, the opening hours of all pools have increased compared to 2014, except for Laugardalslaug, which is open two hours less per week than in 2014.

Iceland Tightens Electric Scooter Regulations

A person riding an electric scooter by the Reykjavík city centre pond.

Operating an electric scooter while under the influence of alcohol is now a punishable offence in Iceland, RÚV reports. Alþingi, the country’s Parliament, recently passed amendments to the Traffic Law that set the same alcohol consumption limits on e-scooters as on other motorised vehicles. The changes also set age and speed limits on electric scooters.

Electric scooters have proliferated in Iceland over the past five years, particularly since short-term scooter rental companies Hopp and Zolo began operations in Reykjavík in 2019. Infrastructure in the city has been slow to accommodate the environmentally friendly vehicles, and it is not often clear for their users whether they should be on the sidewalk or the road.

Blood alcohol limit same as for motor vehicles

Data from recent years showed that e-scooter accidents spiked on Friday and Saturday nights, when their users were more likely to be under the influence of alcohol. The legal blood alcohol level of those operating electric scooters is now the same as for motor vehicles: 0.5 promille. The legal limit on breathalyser tests is 0.25 promille.

Age and speed limits set

Previously, e-scooters were under the same traffic laws as bicycles, but they now belong to a newly-established category for small motorised vehicles. The amendments include a new age limit for users of electric scooters, which is 13 years of age. Children under 16 are required by law to use helmets when operating electric scooters. The new legislation also prohibits modifying electric scooters or other small motorised vehicles so that their speed can exceed 25 kilometres per hour.

Reykjavík Still a “Young” City

Reykjavík drone

According to the latest data sets from the City of Reykjavík, most residents of Iceland’s capital are relatively young, and the vast majority are employed.

Teenage neighbourhoods

In all, about 137,000 people live in Reykjavík, which is organsied by numerous neighbourhoods. The neighbourhood with the highest percentage of those aged 0 to 19 is Grafarholt, with nearly a third of residents of that neighbourhood in this age group.

Reykjavík residents in the ages of 20 through 39 are most likely to be found in downtown Reykjavík, Vesturbær, and Hlíðar, with this age group comprising the lion’s share of all downtown residents.

Taken together, the largest share of Reykjavík residents are aged 39 and younger, with 20- to 39-year-olds comprising the largest age group in the city.

Other relevant figures

In addition, the number of nonbinary people in Reykjavík who are registered as such has doubled from 2022 to 2023, from 40 to 80. As covered in the latest episode of Iceland News Review, a law passed by Parliament in 2019 introduced sweeping reforms in the rights of trans people, and included a provision that nonbinary people could register in the National Registry with X, instead of either M or F. This part of the law went into effect in 2021.

Reykjavík residents aged 25 through 64 are also well employed. 89.8% of men and 82.7% of women are actively working, although women comprise a larger share of part-time workers than men, at 22.2% to 8.1% respectively.

The full data sets (in Icelandic) can be found on the home page of the City of Reykjavík.