Is Reykjavik too touristy?

Reykjavik is crowded with tourists. Shops on the main shopping street are increasingly geared towards visitors. The cafés have English speaking staff, the food culture is changing, and the atmosphere is different than before. Is that all bad?

No, I don´t think so.

But you need to know what you are doing in every interesting city of the world. Reykjavik is no exception.


A curious resident at the Reykjavik Pond


I think it is fantastic that Reykjavik is getting so diverse. And it´s not simply because of the tourists. Icelanders often live abroad for some time for work, for study and for adventures. Life on an island requires many of us to get away to maintain our sanity at times.  So, our culture is more and more influenced by those people returning home to Iceland after a stay abroad. Food, design, languages, way of being in general.

Some people want Reykjavik to stay as it was. or as they imagined it was.

But those who do want the city as it was, are perhaps not aware of some of the great things about this small but vibrant and diverse city that have occurred in recent years. Things that have added to the charm of the city.


A street sign in Reykjavik


Reykjavik is one of the easiest cities to visit which combines dramatic natural beauty, a vibrant lifestyle, and lots of unique features. I mean there is a salmon river in the middle of the city. There are cafés on nearly every corner. Green areas, the harbor, the beach, the mountains, the trendy restaurants and hotels, cinemas, museums, music, skiing areas on the outskirts of the city, playgrounds, geothermal outdoor swimming pools, wonderful old houses and cozy streets with cats hanging around and kids playing.

The center of Reykjavik is not the only Reykjavik. It is a city of parks and neighborhoods, so if you want to explore even more you have to go out of your way and bike, walk, drive or take public transport for 10 minutes. Then, you are in the most amazing green areas of the city among the Icelanders who often have chosen to live in the outskirts of the city, near to nature and sometimes with their own horses in their backyard.


(Picture by Sif Gudbjarts)


So those cursing the development and blaming it on tourists should just take a side street from the main shopping street, like you have to do in every major city of the world, to get an authentic experience, meet the locals and and perhaps even some cats. Or hop on a bus to the unknown. Life doesn´t need to be so complicated and the only thing you need to do is get out of your comfort zone and explore.

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