Healthy Things to Do in Reykjavik:
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 juices! 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!
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).
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.
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’.
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 was showing a short film exhibition in their expo pavilion while I visited 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.
Walk the city streets:
Explore Reykjavik by foot, checking out the interesting architecture, city parks, cute shops and café culture.
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.
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!
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