Vilborg Arna Gissurardóttir

  • Adventurer
  • Polar Explorer
  • Summiteer

Vilborg is an adventurer from Iceland who is the first Icelandic woman to have made a solo expedition from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole.

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My 24 Hours in Reykjavík

Mokka Kaffi is my favourite place for coffee in Reykjavík so obviously I would start a perfect day in the city right here. Especially around Christmas time this is such a lovely place to be. It was established in 1958 and it can actually be considered a pioneer, since this café was the first one in Iceland to have an espresso machine.

If the weather is nice and warm, I’d go to Café Babalu, which has a beautiful terrace that they open whenever the sun comes out. Here I love to savour their delicious crêpes.

Full up on delicious treats and with no clouds in the sky, it’s time to get a view of Reykjavík from higher up. The church Hallgrímskirkja is not only worth seeing because of its unusual architecture, the highlight itself is the view which you have from the bell tower.

Heading on down on street level once more, there are a few shops in town that I would definitely pay a visit to, as they all sell very special items and clothes, many of them with a local background. You have Insula which is a tiny interior shop with wonderful, high-class decorative pieces such as blankets, scarves, candles and many more. Then there’s Geysir, which offers many local fashion brands. I especially like what they have in store by the Icelandic brand “Farmers Market.” My all time favourite however is 66 North. It’s perfect for me as I can clothe myself perfectly for all my adventures in nature with their Icelandic outdoor and functional clothing.

Having finished with shopping now, it’s on towards the iconic building Harpa, which is home to both the Icelandic symphony orchestra and the Icelandic opera. Owing to its spectacular façade, designed by the artist Olafur Eliasson, it has become an architectural attraction and a new landmark of the capital.

Afternoon would have rolled around by now so I’d probably be craving some lunch at the Kex Hostel. This cute hostel was established inside an old cookie factory and it is a cosy place to have lunch at, or just to step by for a drink. Another great spot is Gló where they serve awesome vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food. The fresh ingredients and the daily changing menu make it one of my favourite places to eat. If you’re up for fish, go and have the best lobster soup at Sea Baron, located at the old harbour of Reykjavík. For dessert, Valdis has the most delicious ice cream. The sun in your face and ice cream in your hand, what else could you need?

Tired from walking all day long? Icelandair Hotel Marina is a nice place to take break, have a cup of tea and relax your legs.

For dinner I would go to Grillmarket. Ordering their “Tasting Menu” is a great way to try a bunch of Icelandic specialities at once – an extraordinary food experience!

Make sure you still have enough energy left over to check out some clubs and bars, as there are some truly legendary ones in Reykjavík. Kaldi Bar is more on the cosy side with local beer and piano music. Kaffibarinn is rather small, but don’t let that deter you, because the vibes here and the music they play are great, and it’s kind of an attraction of the city.

Some more recommendations to make the most out of your Reykjavík stay: Enjoy the best sunset view from the Grotta lighthouse. Have an “Einstök,” a local craft beer, and Skyr, a traditional Icelandic dairy product high in protein. Maybe not together though 🙂 A very relaxing place to take a break at are the hot springs of Nauthólsvík. A ride on horseback through the lush nature at Laxnes horse farm can be just as soothing though.

If you would like to check out more of my recommendations in and around Iceland’s nature, have a look at my South Iceland guide.

Locations



HallgrímskirkjaEiríksgata, 101 Reykjavík, Island

Best view over the city.
InsulaSkólavörðustígur 21a, Reykjavík, Island

Colourful and super cool accessories for your home.
GeysirSkólavörðustígur 16, Reykjavík, Island

Beautiful fashion from Icelandic brands.
66 NorthFaxafen 66, Reykjavík, Island

The best flagship store for everything you need when exploring the great outdoors.
HarpaAusturbakki 2, Reykjavík, Island

An incredible cultural and architectural centre, hosting concerts, plays and other events throughout the year.
Kex HostelSkúlagata 28, Reykjavík, Island

The hostel is located in an old biscuit factory (Kex = biscuit) and has a very lovely café/restaurant inside.
Sea BaronSægreifinn, Tryggvagata, Reykjavík, Island

Here’s where you get the greatest lobster soup there is!
ValdisGrandagarður, Reykjavík, Island

Delicious ice cream.
Icelandair Hotel MarinaMýrargata 2, Reykjavík, Island

Cosy place to have your afternoon tea and take a break from a long day of walking.
GrillmarketLækjargata 2a, Reykjavík, Island

Chic wooden interior. Serves delicious burgers and Icelandic specialities.
KaffibarinnBergstaðastræti 9a, 101 Reykjavík, Island

A cosy bar with a wholly unique bohemian atmosphere.
Grotta lighthouseGrótta, Seltjarnarnes, Reykjaviks storstadsområde, Island

From here you’ll have the most fabulous view of the sunset.
NauthólsvíkNautholsvik Geothermal Beach

Relaxing hot springs in a beautiful setting.
Laxnes Horse FarmÞingvallavegur, Mosfellsdalur, Island

Friendly family-owned horse farm where you can book a horseback riding tour through the nature of Iceland.
Mokka KaffiSkólavörðustígur 3a, Reykjavík, Island

Iceland was introduced to its first coffee machine here.
GlóKlapparstígur, 101 Reykjavík, Island

Conscious and healthy eating at the Gló restaurant; it is all vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten-free.
Café BabaluSkólavörðustígur 22, Reykjavík, Island

Great for sunny days and crêpe lovers.
Kaldi BarLaugavegur 20b, Reykjavík, Island

A very traditional pub offering their own brewed beer and decent soul food.
‘If you really want it, you will find a way.’
This is definitely the architectural attraction in Reykjavik.
  • Take a refreshing walk to the beautiful harbour of Reykjavik.
  • The shop 66 North is where you get outdoor equipment of high quality.
  • The church Hallgrímskirkja is an architectural benchmark in Reykjavik.
  • Valdis ice cream shop is a real treat!
  • Harpa is a center for cultural life and conventions.
  • Café Babalu has delightful rooftop terrace. Go and check it out!
  • The natural light in Iceland is especially beautiful.
  • Soak in the the stunning interior of Hallgrímskirkja.
  • Olafur Eliasson designed the Harpa’s façade.
  • At the shop Insula you can buy very special interior items.
  • Definitely have a look at the wonderful design store Insula at Skólavörðustíg.
  • Going on a horseback tour is a must when on the island.

My thoughts about Reykjavík

What do you love about your destination?

Even though Reykjavík is not exactly the biggest city in the world, it has a lot of things to offer. The atmosphere in Reykjavík is quite relaxed, so it’s nice to take a stroll down to the harbour and have a lobster soup. And from there you can keep on walking and enjoy the city life. My favourite church in Reykjavík is Hallgrímskirkja because it has really interesting architecture and a great view over the whole city. From there you can go and visit Harpa – our Concert Hall, which is a really beautiful building and is quite fun to visit for a good concert.

What‘s a "must do" in your destination?

Watch a really beautiful midnight sunset here in Iceland.
Explore the stunning nature.

The ice cream of Valdis is addictive.
The famous Icelandic ponies - just waiting for you to take a trip on their backs.
Iceland will put smile on your face.
The Grotta lighthouse is perfect place to watch sunsets from.

Take a vacation into My life

What’s your background?

My biggest passion is definitely taking on challenges out in nature, whether it’s skiing or climbing mountains. When I was 18 I had already been kicked out of school three times. People thought I wouldn’t have any future at all, but one day I climbed Iceland’s highest mountain and I just knew that this was something that I would like to do in the future—and basically I haven’t stopped since then.

My solo trip to the South Pole is definitely my biggest expedition so far, and it was a great experience!

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