The residential area of Vesturbaer has all the character and charm of the old city center, yet none of the tourist traffic. A popular area in which to live, it is in a constant phase of self-reinvention. In recent years, a steady stream of restaurants, cafes and art spaces have been popping up here, adding to the already rich scene of traditional Reykjavik living.
Meet your local
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.
Where I live: In an industrial neighborhood by Fossvogur, right on the edge of Reykjavik — far enough from downtown to be affordable, yet close enough for a homegrown city girl.
Best way to get around the city: The central area is very walkable, but for longer distances, buses run in every direction.
Don’t leave without having: Fermented shark and a shot of Brennivin. Sure, it’s a bit touristy, but it’s also an initiation of sorts. Don’t let the smell scare you; the taste is far from that terrible.
But the local favorite is really: Going to the pool. There isn’t a town in Iceland without a public one; Reykjavik has a wide selection. Sundhollin is a personal favorite, with a distinct style and boiling hot tubs. Be sure to test out the diving board.
If I moved, I’d most miss: Gardening at midnight during summer, when there is round-the-clock daylight.
This tiny little burger joint is usually packed with customers. The menu is small, but less seems to be more here.
On a bright corner in a quiet part of town, Kaffi Vest is a delightful little cafe with secondhand furniture and potted plants in the windows. Its south-facing outdoor area makes it a popular hangout on sunny days.
The streets of Vesturbaer are a treat for architecture enthusiasts, showcasing the styles and colors of typical Icelandic homes. Asvallagata, Braedraborgarstigur and Oldugata streets are great examples, and if you head north toward the Grandi area you might see some murals.
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.