With travel being increasingly accessible, even to students and young people without a lot of money, hostels are more popular than ever before. These low-cost forms of accommodation offer the best room rates and lots of fun freebies like Wi-Fi access for all guests and complimentary breakfasts, but being kind to your budget isn’t the only advantage of staying in a hostel. These locations also often feature many relaxing communal spaces like living areas, kitchens, game rooms, patios, and more, allowing guests to feel right at home and relax with books, games, computers, and good company, even having the chance to make some new friends. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
2.Galaxy Pod Hostel
3.Reykjavik Hostel Village
3 Best Hostels in Reykjavik
- Overview, Photo: Daxiao Productions/stock.adobe.com
- Galaxy Pod Hostel, Photo: Galaxy Pod Hostel
- Reykjavik Hostel Village, Photo: Reykjavik Hostel Village
- Hlemmur Square, Photo: Hlemmur Square
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Ossie - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: National Gallery of Iceland
The National Gallery of Iceland, part of a larger cooperative arts collection in Iceland called the Museum House, is a beautiful and unique facility that promotes the cultural and historical heritage of Iceland. Guests can visit and see a collection of art and history and learn more about what makes Iceland the cultural place it is today.
The museum was founded in 1884 in Copenhagen and was a completely distinct and isolate Danish museum before Iceland decided to combine forces and include it in its Museum House in 1928 (after an act of government). It was part of a larger collection before the art gallery and museum opened independently in 1951. It moved to its current location in 1987 and has been welcoming thousands of guests a year since then. It is currently located in Reykjavik, where it continues to accrue Icelandic art (some of it from famous artists) on its three stories.
The museum consists of a frequently rotating collection of temporary and traveling exhibitions to the area, focusing on a huge and diverse variety of art forms and mediums.
However, the permanent exhibit at the gallery is the Museum House. The Museum House, also known as Sjonarhorn, includes the three major Icelandic museums - the National Museum, the National Gallery, and the Natural History Museum, as well as other important historical and cultural buildings like the National Archives, the National Library, and the Argi Magnusson Icelandic Studies Institute. The combination of these major and important buildings allows guests a complete, historic picture of Icelandic heritage and culture. Below are a few of the highlights –
? Point of View - This exhibition takes guests through a history of Iceland’s cinema from its inception to the current time. Making use of perspectives from each of the different branches of the Museum House, the Point of View exhibition connects all several types of artwork relating to the cinema as well as films showcasing its history.
? Mirror of Society - Recently reaching its 135th anniversary, the Mirror of Society exhibit is home to a selection of National Committee documents from 1770. It focuses on the Danish King’s three-member investigatory committee that was delegated to take stock of Icelandic society and culture and the exhibit consists of over 4200 pages of manuscript. The letters describe a variety of societal features, like working conditions of farmers, their workers, deputies, commanders, district commissioners, national officials, and religious officials. It also looks at areas that may be able to be improved.
? Optimal Grip - This exhibition features a pamphlet with an image of the crucifixion of Christ. Above the image is Latin, proclaiming the image to be Jesus of Nazareth (the King of the Jews). Mary is also featured on the right side of Jesus, wearing a red coat and a blue headdress. John, one of Christ’s disciples, is standing on his left. This pamphlet dates back to the 14th century and is a true religious and historical relic.
Open hours for the National Gallery and Museum House are Tuesdays through Sundays from 10am to 7pm for a small admission fee. Children under the age of 18 as well as the disabled are admitted to the museum free of charge, while senior citizens and college students are provided a discounted admission fee.
School group field trips are welcome to the National Gallery and Museum House. Considered part of the goal of “collective education,” the staff at the museum works very closely with teachers to offer a curriculum-based program that not only supports but also supplements classroom education. There is a downloadable museum guide that is provided for download and printing on the gallery website, and teachers are encouraged to contact the museum staff to discuss and schedule a trip to the museum. These educational programs are all offered totally free of charge to students and are catered to groups from preschool through secondary education. Reservations are required prior to visiting.
There are also educational programs that are designed to help supplement college age students in their studies. The PDF based educational package is easily downloadable prior to a visit to the museum, although it can be used independently as well, from the museum website.
Dining and Shopping
There is a cafeteria conveniently located on the gallery campus to help assist hungry and thirsty visitors to the campus. There is also a small gift shop, selling a selection of Icelandic design and art pieces, posters, jewelry, and other home goods related to the many different art-based exhibits visitors will see during a stop at the gallery and museum.
National Gallery of Iceland, Frikirkjuvegi 7, 101 Reykjavik, 515 9600, Phone: +354-5-15-96-00
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Attraction Spotlight: Hallgrimskirkja
Hallgrimskirkja is possibly the most well-known landmark in the city of Reykjavik due to its sheer size and architectural design. Besides being a beautiful place to visit, it also is a functioning Lutheran parish church. Construction on this amazing Icelandic landmark actually started in 1945 but the structure wasn’t complete until 1986, when it was officially consecrated for use as a religious institution.
The original blueprint for that church included a much smaller tower, but the leaders at the Church of Iceland implored the architect to make it larger in an attempt compete with the local catholic church. The front of the building features a statue of Leif Eriksson that was commissioned prior to the church’s completion and was a gift from the United States to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the creation of Iceland’s parliament.
The church is open to the general public every day from 9am to 5pm, although the priests are not always available to talk to guests and parishioners that entire time. It is best to make appointments with them if guests plan to consult them during their visit to Hallgrimskirkja. Also, the church may be closed randomly due to special events like a wedding or a funeral, so call ahead of visiting to verify open hours.
While visiting the church, make sure to pay special attention to a few specific features.
? Church decorations - The majority of the decorations in this beautiful church are the craft work of Leifur Breiofjord. From the colorful stained glass located in the church entrance, as well as in many of the doors and the pulpit and nave, the scenes have been almost faithfully reproduced from the Hymns of the Passion manuscript written by Hallgrimur Petursson. There are also stained-glass symbols representing the Holy Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. At the back end of the pulpit, there is Christ’s monogram reproduced on a glass panel (with the Greek letters rho and chi to represent a line from the Bible).
? Organs - The largest concert organ in the country is located in the church, and it often draws visitors in from all across the world. Renowned organists have come from everywhere to play this beautiful instrument. The organ was made by an Organworks company in Germany in 1992 and consists of 5275 pipes, 4 manuals, 72 stops, and a pedal. It stands 15m tall and weighs about 25 tons. The biggest pipes on the concert organ are 10m long.
? Tower - One of the most scenic and beautiful parts of a visit to the church is the 73-metre-tall church tower. Take the church lift and view the city of Reykjavik from this unique perspective, which allows visitors to see the sights from a 360-degree viewing platform. With mountains, the ocean, buildings, and even the Americas, this is a sight of a lifetime. The view makes the tower one of the most frequently toured destinations in the entire country.
Tickets are required for admission to certain parts of the church and tower but are discounted for children between 7 to 16 and free for children under 7. They can be purchased at the church shop.
The church is home to many different special events throughout the year, many of them related to church holidays and religious events. The church also frequently hosts events for its parishioners, like weddings and even funeral services. These events can be scheduled by contacting the staff directly.
Mass is held at the church every Sunday and includes Eucharist. Mass is performed at 11am on Sundays and at 8am on Wednesdays. Also offered on a weekly basis is a meditation service held with live organ music, which occurs on Thursdays from 12 to 12:30pm. For English speaking guests, the church hosts an English service that includes holy communion on the last Sunday of every month at 2pm.
Concerts are also frequently held at the church and are arranged by the Friends of the Arts society group. The group hosts a full calendar of musical events on the Hallgrimskirkja website. Each day goes into specific detail about the events to be held, including the language they will be presented in, times, and additional costs involved (if there are any).
There is a small church shop located in the church, which specializes in religious merchandise like books, hymns, bibles, and other memorabilia. There are also CDs of some of the recordings that have been made at the church due to the popularity of the church organ. Purchases made at the shop help to support the church and its day to day operations.
Hallgrimskirkja, Skólavörðuholt, 101 Reykjavík, 510 1000
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Attraction Spotlight: Husavik Whale Museum
The Husavik Whale Museum in Iceland is one of the most direct ways that interested guests can learn about whales, almost directly right from the source. With a unique combination of interactive exhibits, physical specimens, and educated tour guides, the whale museum offers guests an experience they won’t soon forget.
The museum is a functional not for profit organization that was established in 1997 in a small town on the northeastern coast of Iceland in Husavik. It originally started as a small and simple exhibit focusing on whales that was located in a hotel in town, but very quickly grew into a need for its own, much larger building.
The museum moved into its current location, a former slaughterhouse, in 2001 and reopened its doors to the general public in 2002. It has been officially acknowledged as being an educational facility by the Ministry of Education in Iceland as of 2007 and the museum would like to continue to grow and offer more unique educational opportunities to guests of all ages.
The exhibits at the whale museum stretch out over 1.6 square meters and sit on two stories of space. Although the museum isn’t the largest, it makes up for its size with the comprehensive amount of information provided for guests. The staff has gone to significant lengths to make sure each specific exhibit is clear, as well as including many different visual components so that guests can see as well as read (and sometimes touch). The exhibits also contain many of the staff’s own creative signatures and show just how passionate they are about whales and educating the public about them.
The lower floor of the whale museum focuses on the different marine ecosystems and introduces the places that whales live and what makes each environment work for them. There are also smaller exhibits on some of the cetacean species that live in the North Atlantic, as well as the history of some of their stranding, history, whale watching, and both the past and the present of Icelandic whaling.
A small portion of the lower floor takes a look at some of the dolphin species that live around Iceland as well. A few must see before heading onto the upper level are the documentaries that introduce guests to the whaling conflicts (there are two, approaching the subject from two different angles), as well as the section dedicated to Keiko, possibly the single most well-known Icelandic orca.
The upper floor of the whale museum contains what is known as the whale gallery, which is home to nine authentic skeletons of different whale species. Starting with the first skeleton that was obtained by the whale museum in 1998 (a Sowerby’s beaked), the sheer scale of these whales is awe inspiring. The museum is still continuing to look for new and different skeletons as well, and their most recent acquisition was a narwhal that they obtained in 2004 from Greenland.
The museum is open during different hours in the summer and the winter, staying open longer and for more days during the warmer weather. Contact the museum by phone to confirm open hours before visiting, as the website is frequently under construction.
One of the most unique educational opportunities at the whale museum is known as whale school. Whale school allows students of all grade levels and experience to learn about whales in a more direct way than is possible with just textbook learning. Each program is designed specifically for the grade level - from kindergarten through college - and isn’t a simple one-time experience.
Whale school is an experience that lasts for their entire education, as students are expected to visit the school at least four different times in the course of their time in the school system - in kindergarten, 2nd grade, 5th grade, and again in 9th grade.
The museum also offers a volunteer program for students of marine biology who want to get more hands-on with their education. Not only do the students learn firsthand about whales and whaling, they also are important to keeping the museum running smoothly. Volunteers will get at least one trip a day on the whale boats to collect data, as well as acting as guides for guests visiting the museum.
Located in the lobby of the whale museum is a small gift shop. The merchandise offered for sale at this museum is dedicated to whales and is mostly all whale themed. There are books related to whales and Icelandic whale history, apparel like t-shirts for adults and children, locally sourced wool products, and smaller gifts like postcards and keychains. The shop is open during museum hours only.
Husavik Whale Museum, Hafnarsteitt, 640 Husavik, Iceland, Phone: +35-44-14-28-00
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