Wondering how to stay fit and healthy during your travels in Iceland? There is no denying that the eccentric nightlight and lavish restaurants beckon visitors to Reykjavik. However, during my recent visit to Reykjavik I chose a few health conscious alternatives to boozy nights and decadent meals. Here are some of the healthy things I did while visiting Iceland’s capital city.

Take in a Class with Reykjavik Yoga:

Reykjavik yoga offers multiple classes per week at their downtown studio. The owner Baddy is just lovely and embodies exactly all the right qualities you could want in a yoga teacher!  She exudes positive energy and creates a warm and trusting environment for her students, while offering up opportunities for a playful practice!

Baddy has practiced in Bali, and brings elements of this into her teachings, while also mixing in spirituality through meditation. I highly recommend taking in a class with her during your stay in Reykjavik!

Grab a juice:

Whether you are nursing a hangover or just want to indulge in something a little more green, Lemon is the holy grail of juiceries! With 12 different fresh juice options on their menu, there is sure to be something that you will love. I tried the honey bunny juice which has pineapple, orange and fresh passion fruits.

They also offer healthy food to fuel you up for an adventurous day – I had the vegan spicy sandwich with falafel, paprika, red curry and pesto – 100% win. It was SO delicious and guilt-free!

Get some fresh Icelandic air:

Visit the ‘Bakkatjorn Nature Reserve’ in the Seltjarnarnes neighbourhood for a beautiful and crisp nature walk along the beach. I believe fresh air is good for the soul, and you will definitely get a good dose of it here with the costal winds – be sure to dress warm!

Searching for the whale bones 🙂

In 2015, supposedly a whale skeleton washed up on the shores of the Seltjarnarnes beaches, offering a unique addition to the neighbourhood sands, though I couldn’t find it – maybe it has since been swept away?

I parked at the ‘Grotta’ parking lot close to the lighthouse. It is possible to walk over to the lighthouse but will depend on the wave conditions. While I was there the water was too strong, which meant you had to walk along the rocks to get across (which could be dangerous and slippery).

View of Grotta lighthouse from opposite side

Instead I walked all the way along the beach to the opposite end of the Seltjorn bay where the Sudurnes golf course is situated. On the south of the tip of the reserve, close to the golf course is the smaller Sudurstrond beach.

View from Sudurstrond beach

Detox in a hot pool:

Vesturbaejarlaug pool is in the heart of Reykjavik, yet remains a less ‘touristy’ local favourite. I chose Vesturbaejarlaug instead of the blue lagoon because it is a fraction of the price and does not require pre-booked time slots, meaning you can go more spontaneously and stay as long as you like. It’s also the perfect option to warm up after one of the walks or hikes I have recommended (It is just a few km drive away from Grotta).

Vesturbaejarlaug was recommended to me by Baddy to get a glimpse of true Icelandic hot pool culture. For 950 kr, the facilities offer one large heated swimming pool and 4 smaller tubs (one cold tub, one 38-40 celcius, one with jets at 38-40 celcius and one 40-42 celcius); there is also one larger hot tub with two split areas (one at 36-38 celcius and one 38-40 celcius).

The pool has slides, a basketball net and play area for kids and swimming lanes for those who want exercise. There is an outdoor changing area with showers, and an indoor change area. Though there is a water fountain outside, it is awfully cold to get out of the hot tub to get water so I would recommend bringing a bottle out with you to stay hydrated.

Note the change room rules: All visitors must shower with soap WITHOUT a bathing suit on prior to entering the pools for hygiene reasons….this means shamelessly baring it all inside the change rooms. At first I was a little thrown off, as in Canadian culture we are typically modest even in dressing rooms and don’t walk around naked, but as they say ‘when in Rome’.

Be inspired:

It’s not hard to be inspired in Iceland with the fresh air and mountain views nearly every where you look. One can simply walk along the marina to see the mountains, Sólfarið (famous Viking ship sculpture) and the architectural wonder Harpa…but why not take this one step further?

The Harpa concert hall is currently showing a short film exhibition in their expo pavilion on the diverse and stunning landscapes of Iceland (from waterfalls, to glaciers to volcanos). It is especially unique because the film plays on the 4 walls of a cube shaped room, for a 360 degree, floor-to-ceiling adventure film experience! For 1500kr, this is a great option for mountain and adventurers alike, and can be a preview of some of the places you could potentially explore beyond the city limits.

Reykjavik

Walk the city streets:

Explore Reykjavik by foot, checking out the interesting architecture, city parks, cute shops and café culture.

Reykjavik

You can also take in a free walking tour that runs daily to orient yourself to the city and Icelandic history told by a local. If you’re not familiar with city walk’s tours, they operate around the world on a tip only basis, so essentially you can anonymously tip at the end of the tour whatever amount you think it was worth. This is a great option for those on a budget, and also great for the tour guide who gets to pocket the cash. Here in Reykjavik, they run multiple times per day, but it is essential to reserve your spot online ahead of time as they are very popular and often reach capacity.

Go for a Hike:

Approximately 20-25 minutes from the Reykjavik’s centre is Öskjuhlíð Hill, the perfect little nature hike; so much so that you may even forget your still in the city.

Reykjavik
remaining wall from WWII inside the woods

Even though it was drizzling rain the day that I went, I still spent a good 1 or 2 hours wandering through the wooded trails before I headed up the hill to Perlan. They are currently renovating the inside of the building to create an Icelandic glacier museum that will open summer 2017. At the moment it is only open to the public for its café and free observation deck. I’m not sure whether it will remain free once the museum opens, but it was sure worth a trip there for this view!

Reykjavik
View from Perlan observation deck

Related: Easy Hike in Reykjavik: Öskjuhlíð Hill

 

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In the spirit of transparency, some of the featured content in this post was sponsored. All opinions are honest representations of my own travel experiences and as always, I write about things I have personally tried. 

 

Xo,

Stephanie - the pink backpack travel blog

 

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healthy and alternative things to do in Reykjavik iceland

40 Comments

  1. So many of these adventures sound like a blast!! It makes me want to get back to Iceland even more now. Especially to try Lemon – looks so tasty!

    If you really like hiking, there’s an awesome hike at the northern tip of Hveragerði called Reykjadalur which takes you to a natural hot spring. Both times I’ve visited Iceland it’s been a highlight for me, however it is being built up a little bit. It’s still worth a visit if you’re ever that way!! 🙂

    1. Hi Lindz, Thanks so much for the tip. The hot spring sounds unbelievable, definitely a must do for next time 🙂

    1. Leigh, you will definitely have so much to do in 24 hours 🙂 I know how you feel though, I had 8 days and I am already dying to come back!

  2. So many healthy things to do in Iceland! I love the suggestion of doing yoga. I do yoga here at home and it is very relaxing! It’s a great way to be active, but still get your vacation on!

    1. Hi Meghan, I 100% agree. If I am traveling long term I usually bring my yoga mat so I can practice as much as possible, but taking local classes are always great options too. Thanks for stopping by my corner of the web!

    1. Katie there are so many healthy food options; I was really surprised! I didn’t write about them because I didn’t have enough time or money to try all the places I found, but there are definitely tons of veg/vegan options and healthier meat options as well. Plus grocery stores are plentiful if you would rather cook for yourself.

    1. Thank you Ashley! It sounds like we may have just missed each other, I was there late Feb.. and I totally agree, I put on so many miles while I was there.

  3. This could not have come at a better time. I’ll be visiting Reykjavik in May, and I will definitely be interested in trying a few of these out. I’m about to research city walk tours as we speak. I’ve racked up several hundred in activities, and I haven’t even arrived yet!! Thank you!

    1. Oh great!! I hope you enjoy your trip, it is such a special place. Glad the post was helpful 🙂

  4. I’m dying to go to Iceland, and your photos are evoking some serious wanderlust! I’m happy to see there’s a variety of healthy activities to do while visiting! Looks like fun!

    1. Thanks for commenting Shannalyn! Out of curiosity, how do you normally find access to barbells during your travels? Do you find gyms or get more creative with weight training? 🙂

  5. LOVE this post! I did most of these things in Reykjavik, except for the yoga and little hike and I wish I had. Reykjavik really does have the best of both worlds with the awesome nightlife and the health culture. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I would definitely prefer a Yoga class with icelandic air. It is a perfect combination for my mind an my body. Thanks for sharing this post. I loved it! Cheers!

  7. What a great post & different take on exploring a city!

    I can’t get over how easy it seems to be to leave Reykjavik behind you and get lost in nature. Those coastal shots are just stunning!

    Happy continued travels,
    C

    1. I was surprised too! There were so many times I felt like I wasn’t even in a city! Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂 -S

  8. I’m going back to Reykjavik tomorrow night! What a timely read. I’ve never heard of Öskjuhlíð before but would love to check it out. Overall Iceland strikes me as a very healthy place. Lots of outdoors activities, very little pollution or damage from people. The land is just so raw and authentic and unspoilt! One of my favorite places in the world.

    1. Hi Diana, I totally agree! I couldn’t believe how clean and green Iceland is, as well as its untouched beauty 🙂

    1. Eric, no hot dogs for me, but it definitely seemed like THE thing to do! lol Agreed with the love for the outdoors 🙂

    1. Yes, in a country notorious for being expensive it was splendid to find activities that were fun and cheap 🙂

  9. Iceland is next on my bucket list, so I will most certainly be keeping this article in mind! Love finding healthy hidden gems to do in a city 🙂

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