Published July 19, 2017
Wanna crack open a brewski and sit in the sun? Us too. Weather permitting, here are a few green and leafy places to do just that.
Austurvöllur isn’t so much a rolling, lush park as a flat square of grass in the city centre. Nevertheless it’s still a popular spot on summer days, when there’s sometimes live music to see. It’s right opposite Parliament, and also lined with bars, so you might see famous MPs walking past, or drunks puking into a trash can. Or even puking drunk MPs. Maybe.
Located on the banks of Tjörnin—the city pond—Hljómskálagarður is quite secluded considering its downtown location. There are pathways, picnic tables, playing areas, sculptures galore, benches by the water, and plenty of tucked-away spots to get a bit of privacy.
Einar Jónsson Museum, Eiríksgata
This small walled garden is a bit of a forgotten park. It’s on the grounds of the Einar Jónsson Museum, and filled with his large stone sculptures, inspired by history and mythology. If you want a bit of shade, you can go in the museum and see Einar’s work, and his perfectly preserved apartment.
This large wooded area is on the same hill as Perlan, the glass-domed visitor centre visible from downtown. There are loads of trails, and you might find yourself wandering through a large rabbit-infested graveyard, a geothermal area, WWII-era bunkers, or the remains of one of the larping society’s most recent elves vs. aliens adventures. Nauthólsvík, the man-made beach and sea swimming area, is nearby.
You might have seen this small city-centre hill on TV last year when Icelanders greeted their England-conquering footballing heroes as they returned from Euro 2016. In the winter, it’s crisscrossed with sled trails in the snow, but in summer, it’s full of sunbathers looking out across Harpa and the old harbour area.
A ten-minute walk from eastern edge of 101 lies Laugardalur. This sprawling park is home to the Laugardalslaug swimming pool, the national sports stadium, a petting zoo and playing area, a botanical garden, and the lovely Café Flóra, where you can sip tea amongst the verdant greenhouse plants.
Right on the far edge of the city is Heiðmörk, a large area of wilderness on the Elliðavatn lake. You’ll need a car to get there, but the trip will reveal public barbecues in tucked-away spots, pine forests with hiking trails, and the crumbling and beautiful Rauðhólar volcano craters.
This large park is just on the edge of downtown, so it might be a bit less busy. It can be quite glorious in the summer, with people playing football, throwing around frisbies, and barbecuing. The Kjavalstaðir art museum is nearby if you want a drink, or to hide from the huge fireball in the sky amongst some old paintings.
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