The Icelandic capital is a conveniently small city—getting from one end of Reykjavik to the other takes no more than 20 minutes. Nevertheless, Reykjavik is still split into several distinct areas. Here are a few of its most interesting neighborhoods.
Reykjavik’s downtown area is often referred to as 101 Reykjavik after its zip code, which was made famous by the novel and subsequent movie of the same name. This is where you’ll find the majority of the city’s best hotels, including the luxury 101 Hotel. It’s also home to Laugavegur, the city’s main shopping street, as well as many museums, restaurants, bars, and the city’s tallest building, Hallgrimskirkja Church.
Though much quieter, Vesturbær, or West Town, still has plenty of attractions to lure visitors west of the city center; highlights include the Saga Museum, Maritime Museum, and Whales of Iceland. You’ll also find one of Reykjavik’s hippest areas, the Old Harbor (Grandi), which is home to a high concentration of restaurants and cafes. Whale watching tours typically depart from here.
To the east of the city center, Laugardalur (Hot Spring Valley) is home to Laugardalslaug, Reykjavik’s largest outdoor thermal pool, which you can swim in year-round. One of Reykjavik Art Museum’s three sites is also here: the Ásmundursafn site is dedicated to the works of the 20th-century Icelandic sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson.
In the southeastern part of the city, Árbær is known known for its natural surroundings. Árbær Open Air Museum, a village-like collection of buildings showcasing life in the early days of Reykjavik, is here.