We came to Iceland literally a week after the new restrictions were introduced: two tests and quarantine. This meant that we had to spend 5 days in one place waiting for the second COVID test. We were not allowed to sightsee during that time, but we were allowed to go for walks. That is why we chose an apartment in the very centre of Reykjavik for the quarantine so that we could see some nice places during our “walks”.
Are you also one of those people who will not let COVID-19 cancel their travel plans and you are going to Iceland soon? Check out which places you can visit during the quarantine in Reykjavik.
What will you find in this article?
QUARANTINE IN ICELAND IN REYKJAVIK – YES OR NO?
In general, Reykjavik is not a city with many attractions, so it is not easy to spend 5 active days without sightseeing (i.e. going to museums) in this city. In our case, the weather was also bad, so we often walked many kilometres through the suburbs of Reykjavik, next to busy roads, with cold wind and rain every now and then – travelling level hard.
An alternative option is to rent an apartment or cottage outside of the city and go for walks in its vicinity. This option will be especially good for people who prefer contact with nature because in Iceland there are many accommodations with only a few houses in the neighbourhood and no other signs of civilization. The condition is that you have to rent a car to be able to get there and in order to get to the second test.
Organizing food can be problematic when spending the quarantine outside of Reykjavik – apart from the capital city, it is difficult to make orders from shops or restaurants with home delivery. Apparently, if you order from aha.is, you can add in the comments that you are in quarantine and want to pick up the purchases yourself. However, in this case, you have to go to Reykjavik in person. Over time, some accommodations have adapted their offer to the current situation and offer food delivery during the quarantine period – ask the owners about it.
We didn’t want to generate additional costs by renting a car for the entire 5 days of quarantine and we didn’t know about the quarantine option with aha.is. That’s why we decided that it would be easiest to spend the quarantine in Reykjavik.
WHAT CAN YOU DO DURING QUARANTINE IN REYKJAVIK?
The first evening, my mother asked me during a phone call How are the people in Iceland? I was in an apartment in the very centre of Reykjavik and I replied that I don’t know because I have not seen any yet. The capital of Iceland is a small city where, even under normal circumstances, you would probably not experience big crowds or traffic jams.
However, at the end of August 2020, the city was really deserted. After all, almost all the tourists were gone – except us! Only on weekends, it was a little bit more lively and you could hear some music or people laughing here and there. However, during the week, Reykjavik was really empty. So there was no problem with going for a walk around the city centre during the quarantine because it was super easy to keep 2 meters distance from other people.
THE GROTTA ISLAND
In my opinion, this is the coolest place you can visit while being in quarantine. It’s about 4-5 km from the city centre, so it’s a perfect half-day trip. You can go there through the city or along the road by the ocean, where if you are lucky you can even see whales.
Near the island, on the right, by the shore, there is a small round hot spring carved in a stone – Kvika Footbath. Theoretically, it was built with the intention of soaking only your feet in it, but two people will easily fit inside – we checked it! The water is around 38 C degrees so it was really comfortable to sit there while outside the temperature was only 10 C degrees. Only undressing and dressing are less pleasant – there are no changing rooms in the area.
There is a white lighthouse on the island. You can get there through a passage made of big stones (a breakwater?). It requires a little bit of sure-footedness. Remember that the island is closed from May till the end of July due to the bird protection period.
Grotta Island is also a great place to watch the Northern Lights.
Our apartment was right next to the church, so we heard its bells every day. During these 5 days, we definitely passed it countless times. During the quarantine, you can only see it from the outside.
HARPA CONCERT HALL
A very modern concert hall. The best time to see it is when it’s dark because the glass walls are illuminated with colourful lights. Of course, during the quarantine, the building can only be seen from the outside.
SUN VOYAGER SCULPTURE
Metal skeleton resembling a Viking boat. It is located near the Harpa Concert Hall. Since it’s one of the main symbols of Reykjavik, it’s worth taking a walk over there. On Icelandic FB groups, I saw several pictures of this place with an aurora.
It’s an old wooden house of historical importance. In 1986, during the Reykjavik summit, presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met there. Their meeting was one of the steps towards the end of the Cold War.
WALKS THROUGH THE CITY CENTER
Reykjavik doesn’t resemble the European capitals, but it certainly has a unique atmosphere. Therefore it’s nice to just wander around through different streets – after two days of quarantine in Reykjavik, you won’t have anything better to do anyway. During these walks, you will have the opportunity to observe the everyday life of the city, Scandinavian-style houses and often what is happening inside of them, because no one has heard of curtains in Iceland, but everyone loves huge windows. From time to time in the ground floor apartments, you can even watch Netflix with its inhabitants 😀
CATS OF REYKJAVIK
Cats are a characteristic element of the city. Apparently, there are about 20,000 of them in Reykjavik and the surrounding area! Most of them have their loving homes, but they spend time outside during the day roaming the streets of the capital city. Many of them are eager to approach people, hoping that they will get some food or at least cuddles, so it will be an additional attraction for all cat lovers.
We had a ground floor apartment in Reykjavik. Once we left the window ajar and when we returned home we found a cat inside our flat. Since she was a sweetheart, we “accidentally” left the window open some more times. This way the cat named Sola started to visit us every morning.
Another symbol of Reykjavik. It is a street leading to the Hallgrimskirkja church which has a colourful rainbow painted on the surface. Cool place for photos 🙂
Reykjavik is full of street art. Interesting murals can be found on many buildings in the centre and outside. An additional attraction when walking around the city during quarantine. If you can’t find them try Google Maps. Some of them are marked.
A park on the outskirts of Reykjavik with some nice walking paths. Some of them are leading through a forest. Unfortunately, the park is not as big as it appears on the map and these nice paths end too soon.
There is a river running through Ellithaardalur Park with several waterfalls (but only one is worth seeing in my opinion: the Kermoafoss Waterfall). There are also rabbits living there – some of them are brave enough to eat grass from people’s hands. For me, they were the main attraction of this place.
The road from the centre to Ellithaardalur Park is 6 km. It took us about an hour and it was not the most pleasant walk. It was cold and it rained every now and then, and most of the time we walked along a busy road in the suburbs. Therefore, this is an option only for those who really can’t stay at home anymore 😀
NAUTHOLSVIK GEOTHERMAL BEACH
We went there to see how a geothermal beach looks like. There are two small swimming pools with warm water. One of them is even right on the beach by the ocean. Unfortunately, it turned out that the pools are closed, but the place still looks very nice – you can do a picnic there if the weather is good. A walk from the city centre to the beach takes around 35 minutes one way.
WHAT ABOUT PLACES OUTSIDE OF REYKJAVIK?
Quarantine rules are constantly changing. You can do something for a while, and suddenly you can’t. In the beginning, some rules were formulated very broadly, so you could adapt them a bit to your needs. Over time, however, they became more and more specific.
In theory, a car rental is allowed, but only in order to drive to the place of quarantine and to the place of the second test. That is why we rented a car for exactly these 2 days (the day of arrival and the last day of the quarantine) and took this opportunity to go for a walk outside of Reykjavik.
I will not publish a list of places which we visited, to avoid unnecessary discussions about what is and what isn’t allowed and when a “walk” ends and “sightseeing” starts. Everyone has to decide on their own which places they think they can visit. For me, the main point of the quarantine is not to get in contact with other people and while Iceland is so empty this rule is even easier to follow outside of the city.
GOOGLE MAPS: PLACES TO SEE DURING QUARANTINE IN REYKJAVIK
Below is a map where I marked the places that you can visit during the quarantine in Reykjavik. By clicking on the star ⭐️ you can save it in your Google Maps Account under Your Places and use it later while travelling. Enjoy!