4 things I didn’t know I loved about Reykjavík until I left and came back

Now that I’m back home from my self-appointed exile in Sweden, I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between Reykjavík and Göteborg. For example, yesterday I went to have my hair cut and while I walked to the hair salon I could really feel the freshness of the air, both on my skin and breathing it in. It smelled of rain and wet trees and it was just lovely. The air in Göteborg always seemed a lot more stuffed, probably due to the humidity, higher temperatures and the fact that about a million people live in that area compared to the 120.000 in Reykjavík.

I really enjoyed my stay in Sweden. Göteborg is one of the most family friendly places I’ve visited and every day I wished I could share the things I discovered with the boyfriend and the princess. However, my month long stay in Sweden also made me realize just how much I love my home and here is why:

Manageable size

Reykjavík is a small city that thinks it is a lot bigger than it really is. The size and population makes it more manageable than most other capitals that I’ve visited – with short distances, open and friendly people and a culture life on steroids compared to most other places of its size. As a visitor you will find 90% of the things of interest within a 2km radius from your hotel and you don’t need a complicated journey planner to find your way around as everything is within walking distance. I’ve often heard tourists say that about Reykjavík before but I never knew what it really meant until now.

The absence of cobbled stones

I know you must be thinking that this is a weird thing to be thankful for but my feet seriously hate cobbled streets and sidewalks. They are difficult to walk on, they ruin your fancy high heels when they get stuck between the stones and call me crazy but they really feel like they are harder on the feet than what we use here in Reykjavík. Tarmac sidewalks is the way to go!

Straight forward nightlife

Although I’ve more or less resigned as the party queen of Reykjavík (a questionable title given to me by some couchsurfers a few years back) I still have to mention how easy it is to go out in Reykjavík. Everything is scattered around the same few streets and if you don’t like the place you are in you just leave and find the next interesting bar. There are usually no cover charges, unless there’s a concert or something special happening, and once you are downtown there’s no need for public transportation until the end of the night if you are unlucky enough to not live there. Plus, the opening times are not complicated: Everything shuts at 1am on Sundays to Thursdays and in the weekend most bars close at three although some are open till 5. One Sunday night in Göteborg we wanted to go out for drinks and after 10 pretty much everything was closed. That would never happen in Reykjavík.


Familiarity can be a friend and a foe but when you are a visitor in a new city it must be a plus that after staying there for a few days you start seeing people you recognize all around. It makes you feel like you belong. I really missed not meeting people I knew on the streets of Göteborg – maybe because they were all working and I was the only one bumming around during work hours.

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6 thoughts on “4 things I didn’t know I loved about Reykjavík until I left and came back”

  1. I don’t know about the cobbled stones (aren’t there some in front of Iðno?) but I agree 100% on the other things- especially the size. So many great things to do and see, all within walking distance. It keeps me coming back- it will be my 5th time this October!

  2. Lisa B says:

    Iceland sounds wonderful, especially Reykjavik, I hope to visit there next June, I want to take my son there for his 21st birthday

  3. mm Auður says:

    Batty: I’m probably just obsessed with the cobbled stones because they are everywhere in Göteborg and they ruined my favorite heels. When the walking paths were not made out of those darn stones they were made out of dirt which if it rained also ruined your shoes with mud. You can find cobbled stones here (like around Iðnó and in Grjótarþorpið) but in older cities they’ve sometimes been there for quite some time and are all uneven and really uncomfortable to walk on. Then again, I have quite sensitive feet so maybe this just bothers me 🙂

    Lisa B: Iceland is wonderful – you should definitely visit! 🙂

  4. Fiona says:

    Visited Reykjavik last October/November and have been wanting to go back ever since. Next time I’d love to stay in the old town – was staying about a 20 -minute walk away from the old town last time so it would be much nicer to be at the centre of things, especially he nightlife. Really love the small town/village-like atmosphere.

  5. Hörgdal says:

    Since I’m Swedish I can’t really say that I agree with you 100% 😉 Göteborg is not my home town, still I love it! For my taste I think Reykjavik is a bit small, I’ve only lived in Reykjavik for little over one month and I already feel like I’ve been all over town. But at the same time it’s nice that you learn the city very fast.

    1. mm Auður says:

      Oh, don’t get me wrong – I love Göteborg too actually and could write a post or two about what I prefer in Göteborg over Reykjavík. Since the blog is only about Reykjavík it doesn’t make much sense to write those posts though 🙂

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