A Travel Guide to Reykjavik According To The Iceland Design Centreairport_transferbarbathtubbusiness_facilitieschild_activitieschildcareconnecting_roomcribsfree_wifigymhot_tubinternetkitchennon_smokingpetpoolresturantski_in_outski_shuttleski_storagesmoking_areaspastar
A Travel Guide to Reykjavik According To The Iceland Design Centre

A Travel Guide to Reykjavik According To The Iceland Design Centre

Icelandic design is internationally renowned for its ingenuity, creativity and unique style, and Icelanders are justly proud of their aesthetic culture. The Iceland Design Centre focuses on this cultural pride and their blog highlights some of the design delights that can be enjoyed throughout the whole country. From hotels to cultural venues to areas of the city, we look at a few of the great sites in Reykjavik and around Iceland from their Reykjavik Design Guide.


Located in the old Frón biscuit factory by the Reykjavik seafront, KEX (Icelandic for biscuit) is one of Reykjavik’s newest hostel. Injecting antique charm to the buildings inherent industrial chic, KEX’s décor is an eclectic collection from all over: an old US court office desk for the reception, 1930s East German school tables to study your guidebooks by and old maps covering the walls. And, in the true spirit of the building’s history, they even bake fresh biscuits to dunk in your coffee.

Read more at Iceland Design Centre’s Blog.


Hofsós Swimming Pool by Basalt Arkitektar

Although not in Reykjavik but actually located in Northern Iceland, the Hofsós Swimming Pool is such an icon that it had to be mentioned. Designed by Basalt Arkitektar and completed in 2010, The Hofsós municipal swimming pool is delicately integrated into the landscape, cutting itself into the site and opening up towards the view of the ocean and the island of drangey. In the Icelandic sagas, outlaw Grettir the Strong took refuge in The Drangey island. Not equipped with a boat, he had to swim to it across the icy cold fjord. When in the infinity pool, the swimmers will get to re-live Grettir’s swim – though safely in the lukewarm Icelandic geothermal water. The building and the landfill against the gables creates protection against both the strong northern wind as well as from disturbance from the road and the surrounding village. The main construction of the building is in situ cast concrete, clad with industrial glazing elements.

Read more at Iceland Design Centre’s Blog.


Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Natura

Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Natura is one of the oldest hotels in town, a lovely 1960s pearl that has been recently renovated from top to toe. Surrounded by nature, yet within a walking distance from the city centre and with views across the runways of the close by Reykjavik City Airport, Reykjavík Natura is the perfect place to rest after a day full of design. The geothermal beach of Nautholtsvík is closeby, or for a less adventurous bathing experience, visit the Sóley Natura Spa located in the hotel. The spa uses Sóley Organics, a collection made of wild Icelandic herbal ingredients and essential oils, mixed and tailor made to individual needs of each body and skin. Also keep an eye on Restaurant Satt (Icelandic for ‘true’ that here stands for fresh, local, organic and wholesome healthy food), located in the first floor of Reykjavík Natura.

Read more at Iceland Design Centre’s Blog.


Reykjavik Harbor Path

It is a rare treat to have an operating fishing harbour right in the centre of the capital, and in recent years, the harbour area has become more and more interesting and alive. A spin-off of their project on meanwhile spaces, the Harbour Path is a beautifully simple work by architect Massimo Santanicchia and his team (Mattia Gambardella and Ragnar Már Nikulásson). The project aims at connecting the harbour and to revive some of the dead spaces of the harbor, says architect Hildur Gunnlaugsdóttir from the city of Reykjavik. Using yellow, white and blue quick dry paint also used for marking road surfaces in Iceland, Santanicchia and his team connected the entire harbor area with a 1.4 kilometre long path that reaches from Harpa to the Grandi. Most people did not realise that it was possible to walk through this area, thinking that some of the areas were fenced off and inaccessible. There are some many interesting things already going on by the harbor that people are missing out on seeing today. Hildur Gunnlaugsdóttir has said she felt that a strong graphic connecting path would address the issue.

Read more at Iceland Design Centre’s Blog.


The Nordic House by Alvar Aalto

Masterfully designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, The Nordic House in Reykjavík is a cultural institution opened in 1968 and operated by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Its goal is to foster and support cultural connections between Iceland and the other Nordic countries. To this end the Nordic House organises a diverse program of cultural events and exhibitions. The house is the venue for front row activities in the Icelandic cultural calendar: Reykjavík International Film and Literary Festivals, Iceland Airwaves and The Nordic Fashion Biennale—launched by the Nordic House, now on its way to the runways of Copenhagen and New York. The house maintains a library and the Nordic Region in Focus information service. In addition, there is a shop for Nordic design and food products, exhibition space and auditoriums. The house also features an acclaimed restaurant serving New Nordic food. Restaurant Dill is run by chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason, captain of the Icelandic culinary team.

Read more at Iceland Design Centre’s Blog.


Reykjavik City Harbour

The Reykjavik downtown harbour area plays an important role in the city’s master plan for 2010-2030. As the harbour storage buildings have emptied, designers and creatives were the first to follow the competitive workspace rents. In just a few years, gaming companies, custom bike shops, coffee houses and galleries have followed. With new hotels and housing planned, the area is constantly changing. The aim is to re-establish its original role as one of the city’s most vibrant areas. Luckily, the new plans also go back from the pre-financial crisis plans of rebuilding everything from scratch. Rather, the plan is to mix new and old buildings with respect to the old. First steps will be taken on the currently empty slot between Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina and Reykjavik Maritime Museum.


Iceland Design Centre’s checklist for a walk in the Reykjavik City Harbour

Food and drinks: Kaffivagninn, MAR, Valdís ice cream store, Slippbarinn, Saegreifinn, Cafe Haiti, Baejarins Beztu, Bullan.

Designers: Steinunn, Farmers Market.

Architecture: Harpa, Reykjavik Art Museum.

Shopping: Myrin.

Culture: Reykjavik Maritime Museum, Reykjavik Art Museum, i8, Reykjavik Museum of Photography, Reykjavik City Library, Elding Whale Watching.

Read more at Iceland Design Centre’s Blog.

To find out more about Iceland Design Centre or to see their full Reykjavik Design Guide, please visit their website.