Travel duration: 4 days
Visited: End of October, 2017
Main fitness & health activities in Reykjavik:
As we were staying in Reykjavik and travelling to other places from here, nearly all activities below are focused on this city. I believe other cities in Iceland should offer some fitness action too, however for this visit we focused discovering Reykjavik’s fittest. Here’s what we found:
- Like in many non-English speaking countries, it was a struggle to find a fitness class that would be delivered in English. Same with checking information online – only a few fitness websites had the option to read information in English.
- Generally, the available sport/fitness activities in this city fall in one of the following categories: gym, callisthenics or yoga. Not many people were cycling or running – potentially because of the weather.
- Fitness, like everything else, does cost in Iceland. Free fitness opportunities include only running and callisthenics parks.
There are a few gyms in Reykjavik, however the biggest gym chain is called the World Class. We went to the one that is located on Reykjavegur street as they had a daily pass option. Daily pass cost us 2200 Icelandic krona per person (~16 GPB), however that got us unrestricted access to the gym and swimming pool. The gym was massive – literally, massive – and had lots of various areas for everyone’s fitness tastes – cardio, functional and weight zones.
We went there around 5pm – it did not feel crowdy and we had access to all the equipment we needed, which was a real treat after constantly crowded London gyms. If one of these gyms is near you, I suggest checking it out!
Another gym option I considered was called Pumping Iron. It was closed on the day we wanted to go to the gym, so I haven’t tried it out. Once again, I had to translate their website from Icelandic to English with Google translate and if the translator did the job well, it seems that this gym might have an option to try it for free for the first time. Have a look at this gym, sign up for the free trial and let me know how you liked it!
There are quite a few yoga options in Reykjavik, however all of them with exception of one are delivered in Icelandic. I found one yoga place – Reykjavik Yoga – that was doing classes in English. It is located at Frakkastígur 16, in the colourful house above the bakery Brauð&Co and have classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Class cost 2000 ISK (~14 GPB) and no booking required.
You can have a look at other possibilities for yoga on Google maps. All of them do not seem to have English classes, however you can always try to email the venue to ask whether they could do an exception, i.e. teacher could deliver the class in English & Icelandic.
As a Calisthenics lover, I always investigate options to do calisthenics in each country I visit. Reykjavik, unfortunately, did not offer any callisthenics classes, at least none that I could find given that I do not speak their language.
I did find 6 calisthenics parks – see the link for their location on Calisthenics Parks website. There were two not too far away from where we lived, however Hlemmur’s was quite badly rated, so I tried the one in Klambratún park. That’s how it looks like:
It has few bars, however the pullup bar is not great (and also wobbly). It has another frame on it which prevents practicing some movements, say muscle ups. Despite this, it is still not a bad place to have a bodyweight based workout as it is in a park, so you could also do some sprints / running before or after some bar work.
- Viking workout
A class that I wanted to try, but did not have enough time to do so was a Viking workout and is in one of the boxing gyms (called Mjolnir) in Reykjavik. It looks like this workout is mainly bodyweight based for strength and conditioning, so might be a good option for those who will be staying in Reykjavik for few days. I emailed them to ask whether their classes were in English, however never received a reply, so can’t answer that…. In either case, it looks interesting enough, so I am planning to try it out next time I’m in Iceland.
- Running & Cycling
Perhaps because of the rainy season, there weren’t many runners or cyclists in the city. In summer season you could pick up a public bike (check out Wowcitybike) which is something like Santander Cycles in London. As for running, there is a nice path by the marina that quite a lot of runners use. Reykjavik has only a few tiny parks, but you could always check Vatnsmýri or Klambratún (the latter one has a small callisthenics bars in it too). For other running tracks check here.
- Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is most probably one of the most famous destinations in Iceland. It is a geothermal spa that is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland.
If you’re staying in Reykjavik, the easiest way to visit the lagoon is to order a tour from Reykjavik Excursions. You could select an option to have just a drop off or entrance fee included – the latter one is what we chose as the price when booking via tour provider or directly at Blue Lagoon’s website was the same and the tour provider had an added benefit of picking us up directly from the hotel and dropping us off in the airport (or Reykjavik for those who were going back to the city) afterwards. You can pre-order some in-water treatments in advance (cost extra) or just simply enjoy the thermal swimming pool experience. Blue lagoon is relatively expensive (standard ticket cost £44 per person), however definitely worth to visit.
- Where we stayed?
We stayed in hotel CenterHotel Arnarhvoll (3* hotel in Reykjavik city centre). It was quite a nice hotel (good breakfast too) and in a really convenient location. However our room was tiny and had just one small window, which was not great. We booked the hotel via Booking.com and it cost us 400 GPB for 2 people, so 200 GPB per person for 3 nights. Iceland is one of those places where everything is expensive – accommodation, travel, excursions, activities and food. Brace yourself – it’s expensive, but definitely worth it.
- What’s the weather like end of October?
The weather during our stay was mainly cloudy with some rain, temperature around +6. We were lucky enough to have nice dry sunny weather only on one out of 4 days. I suggest you take an umbrella and waterproof shoes/coat.
- How much money to take to Iceland for a 3-4 day trip?
See our cost breakdown here (for 2 people):
Hotel: 400 GPB (3 nights)
Pick up (KEF airport -> hotel in Reykjavik): 46 GPB
Food & drinks: ~450 GPB
Entrance to Church Observation tower & Phallalogical museum: 18 GPB
Blue lagoon pick up & entrance: 190 GPB
Golden triangle tour: 70 GPB
Northern lights tour: 71 GPB
- What are the most Icelandic things to do?
Eat: Fermented Shark (tastes and smells terribly), dried cod (experience like eating a piece of carton), puffin (little islandic bird) and mink whale (not a great taste either). Video about the taste of fermented shark below – enjoy! 🙂
Drink: Brennivín (local clear unsweetened schnapps)
Do: see Northern lights and enjoy Blue Lagoon. The rest can wait.
Overall verdict: Iceland is a very unique country. Depending on the season you’ll have plenty of activities to choose from – hiking in mountains in summer, snowmobiles in winter and the list continues. It is expensive though – on our 4 day trip in Iceland we have spent nearly as much as for a week in Manhattan (accommodation not included). The best thing to do when you decide to visit this country is to spend as little time in Reykjavik as possible (one day is enough to see all major sights as the city is really small) and to spend as much time in all the other places in Iceland hiking in mountains, exploring the nature, cycling around the island, whale-watching, horse riding and so on as possible. Brace yourself – it will be a very memorable, but a very expensive trip too! 😊