Intro to Reykjavik

What’s there to do in Reykjavik, Iceland? Well, a lot. I have no doubt that Iceland is at the top of your “countries to visit” list. And, if it’s not, it’s most likely on a friend’s. Why? Iceland is a phenomenal country with extremely diverse nature – from glaciers to forests to black-sand beaches – kind, welcoming people, a form of government that seems to work more than most, and endless opportunities for adventures both near and far. In short, Iceland is a must-see country. And, if you’re going to Iceland, you’re most likely making Reykjavik your first stop. Whether the city is as awe-inspiring as you’ve heard is entirely up to you to find out.

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Beautiful streams shooting from above the Gljúfrabúi waterfall in Iceland
Beautiful streams shooting from above the Gljúfrabúi waterfall in Iceland

Things you should probably know about Reykjavik

Cost – Reykjavik isn’t Southeast Asia; it’s expensive. If you’ve been to New York City, you’ll be paying for goods and services around the same price, if not more sometimes. So, plan and budget accordingly if you don’t have thousands of dollars laying around.

Language – Icelandic people are amazing at English. So much so that you won’t need to learn a word of their hard-to-learn, but very unique, language – but, you should! Before you go, at least brush up on a few greetings and salutations, they’ll appreciate it.

Transportation – It’s important to note that there are no public railways in Iceland. There are taxis, but I would never recommend taking one for a long distance. To get from town to town, you can take buses or planes (depending on distance). But, I recommend renting a car. It will give you a lot more flexibility in getting around at your own speed (see what I did there?) and you can avoid the drag that tour groups can be. However, it’s important to note that rental cars aren’t cheap. It was the first time I rented a car internationally, and cost a couple hundred dollars for three days versus a country like Costa Rica where I rented a car for an entire week for $280. It’s also important to not race on the Ring Road. I guess I was speeding, because a few months after I arrived back to the States, I received a letter from Iceland. “Yippee!” I said to myself. “Who could it be from?” I wondered. Well, the wondering stopped when I saw the police insignia on the letter and a photo (how the hell did they get a photo in the middle of nowhere?) of my determined face with my foot no doubt crushing the pedal. Also, if you plan to head into mountains or go on back roads in the highlands (known as F-Roads) get a car with 4-wheel drive.

Seljalandsfoss showing off its power in Inceland
Seljalandsfoss showing off its power in Iceland

Safety – Iceland is one of the safest places I’ve been. Yes, I am a male. But, still, it boasts some of the lowest crime rates in the world and most risks in the country will be related to road hazards and nature (sometimes people die on those slippery glaciers). The weather is also pretty volatile, so plan ahead and make sure you’re with a buddy.

Poverty – Low crime rates typically also means low poverty rates. This holds true for Iceland. I saw two men asking for money (that would be like 2,000 people asking for money in the States), and my friend told me they were only doing it because they’re drunks. She also assured me that there were numerous places for them to go and get help, food, shelter, etc. The country really does take care of its citizens, and it’s a wonderful fact to witness.

A unique home cut into the side of a mountain in Iceland
A unique home cut into the side of a mountain in Iceland

Summary of Reykjavik

Reykjavik, the “Smoke Cove,” has been through a lot in order to get to where it is today. From Irish hermits to norsemen to the literal plague, the capital of Iceland has certainly earned its reputation as one of the most sought after destinations in the world, and it’s likely not to disappoint. Whether you’re in the mood for a delicious meal, fancy a night out on the town, or just want to use it as a starting point for your amazing Icelandic adventure, Reykjavik is the place to be.

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Mateo is a writer who quit his flashy job in NYC to live life on his own terms. He’s done everything from working at an orphanage in Nairobi to building a new university in Abu Dhabi to sleeping on volcanos in Guatemala. And right now, he’s writing his second novel. His writing has been featured internationally in publications including Matador Network, GoAbroad, Víkurfréttir, Caribbean News Now and Black & Abroad. Regardless of where he is, he’s always working. To keep up with him, follow him on Instagram & Twitter at @AskMateo and read one of his elaborate stories at



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