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Outside swimming pool Sundhöll Reykjavíkur.
NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

A guide to local favorites in Midborg

Outside swimming pool Sundhöll Reykjavíkur.
  • By Inga Kristin Skuladottir
  • Photos by Ernir Eyjolfsson
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The central area of downtown Reykjavik is often crowded with tourists, but at the same time, it’s full of interesting pockets with less traffic. In a town that swings from hibernation mode in winter to energetic in the summer, you’ll experience it differently depending on when you visit. Regardless of seasons, the city center — roughly what Midborg means — is full of music, art and great food. Peculiar, fun and chic all at once, this area will keep you entertained as long as you want it to.

Meet Inga Skuladottir

A local to the bone, Inga was born and raised in downtown Reykjavik. Ever since childhood she has been threading the streets of her city, making sure no nook or cranny goes undiscovered.

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Midborg

Cafe Babalu
This quirky spot is perfect for trying the traditional meat soup, but mostly enjoyable for its kitsch. Surrounded by stuffed animals and plastic flowers, you can lose yourself in all the knickknacks.
Cafe Babalu, 22 Skolavordustigur, Reykjavik, 101
12 Tonar
Explore some of Iceland’s famous musicians at this shop, which offers a free cup of coffee and a wide selection of records. It hosts the occasional concert in the backyard on Fridays.
12 Tonar, 15 Skolavordustigur, Reykjavik, 101
Sundhollin
You can’t go to Iceland and not go swimming. Just make sure to wash without your swimsuit in the single-sex locker rooms before entering the pool — or be ready to face down some seriously judgmental stares from locals.
Sundhollin, 45a Baronsstigur, Reykjavik, 101
Bio Paradis
This independent theater, hosting film festivals and special events, also serves as an everyday, laid-back hangout spot for movie nerds and bohemians, even if they’re just there for a drink.
Bio Paradis, 54 Hverfisgata, Reykjavik, 101
Einar Jonsson’s Sculpture Garden
Across the street from Hallgrimskirkja, this sculpture garden is often overlooked. The bronze casts of Einar Jonsson’s works make the garden a magical place.
Einar Jonsson’s Sculpture Garden, Reykjavík, 101
Mokka Kaffi
This beloved cafe is a time capsule, with its 1950s interiors and decades of Reykjavik footsteps woven into the carpet. There is always an ongoing exhibit by a local artist, and the waffles and hot chocolate alone are worth the visit.
Mokka Kaffi, 3A Skolavordustigur, Reykjavik, 101
Hallargardurinn
In this charming park that’s perfect for a picnic or to rest your feet is one of Reykjavik’s most stunning buildings, originally a private residence that’s undergoing restoration. Across the street you can also see the president’s office, in a white house on the corner with such a low profile that it often goes unnoticed by travelers.
Hallargardurinn, 11 Frikirkjuvegur, Reykjavik, 101
There's more to see
Inga Kristin Skuladottir
A local to the bone, Inga was born and raised in downtown Reykjavik. Ever since childhood she has been threading the streets of her city, making sure no nook or cranny goes undiscovered.
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Ernir Eyjolfsson
Ernir is a contributing photographer to The Washington Post. Born in Reykjavik and raised mostly there, he has been working as a news photographer for almost 10 years. His favorite place in Reykjavik to photograph is Thufa, and when he craves something greasy, he loves grabbing a burger at Bullan.

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