Guide / Reykjavik
”Reykjavik is quirky, personal, trendy and honest”
On food walks and speakeasies in the heart of Iceland
17 Jun 2022

Tell us about yourself!

— My name is Birna Hronn Bjornsdottir, born and raised in Reykjavik, and I doubt I will call another place my home. I have had the privilege of welcoming people to Iceland and planning their travel and spectacular destination weddings for 11 years now, ever since I and my wonderful wife started Pink Iceland, Iceland’s first LGBTQ+ travel and wedding company.

Birna and her wife and business partner Eva Maria Lange. Photography: Juliette Rowland

For someone who hasn’t been to Reykjavik, how’d you describe the city?

— Quirky, personal, trendy and honest. I always recommend people to spend at least a day walking around the city centre, pick a small street with the small coloured houses, and see the view of Hallgrimskirkja church from ’the rainbow street’. 

My favourite thing that makes me proud of Reykjavik: 

— The Reykjavik Pride festival is one of the biggest festivals in the city. Could it be the biggest little Pride in the world? I’m not sure but at the festival, I and my extended chosen family come together every year to enjoy various events — everything from interesting panels to raging dance parties. Then it feels like everyone in Iceland comes out for the Parade day to show their support and Reykjavik lights up rainbow-coloured. The mentioned permanent rainbow street also has a special place in my heart and located on Skólavörðustígur street with a view of the iconic Hallgrimskirkja making it a stop for every visitor. 

My favourite cultural spot: 

— The Reykjavik Swimming pools. Geothermal pools have long been an integral part of Icelandic culture. First, we had to learn to swim to survive being an island nation depending on fishery but in later years this is where we reconnect with ourselves, hang out with friends, and eavesdrop in the hot tub about where our neighbours stand in the politics. It’s a wonderful feeling sitting in the outdoor hot tub in the midst of winter with snowflakes on your face. 

My favourite place for a creative or business meeting: 

— The Pink Tower.

My favourite place for dining out:

— As a special treat, Reykjavik speakeasy Restaurant Ox is a delight for all senses, tucked in the back of another busy and delicious restaurant. You are seated at the counter of an ’old kitchen’ and with the chef behind the counter making your dishes and telling you about them and the wines that go with them makes it a super enjoyable and delicious experience. 

My favourite breakfast place:

Ráðagerði, not only is it in a unique location that takes you a little outside of the city centre into nature along the seaside but it also has amazing food.

My favourite excursion:

— There are so many but in the Reykjavik Food Walk you are introduced to local food and drink and at the same time get to know the city in the company of a local. 

My favourite route for a run or walk: 

— It may not be the smoothest streets and you have to turn many corners and be careful of sidewalks where roots of old trees try to break free but I love exploring the Þingholtin neighbourhood when I walk my adorable dog. For running, I love to make my way towards the Nature reserve by the Nordic House and the University of Iceland or go down to the seaside overlooking the bay and the Esja mountain. 

My favourite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:

— Hands down that would be Lady Brewery, a female-run brewery. Þórey, the genius behind this super tasty gypsy (new and small, Ed’s note) brewery is an innovative artist always inspiring others and growing her company. Now, it’s opened its own experimental kitchen, súper market, and a growler bar in the trendy neighbourhood of Grandi. Her beer First Lady is my favourite IPA ever! 

Running or walking along the harbour allows for great sceneries. Photography: Annie Spratt.

My favourite hotel for a staycation:

— If you are aiming for a night on the town in Reykjavik I would recommend the mountain view suite at Room with a view. Check-in and soak in the hot tub with some bubbles before getting ready for the night — since it’s located on the main street in Reykjavik you just have to step out of the building and there are restaurants and bars on every corner. Then there is nothing saying you can’t take another dip in the hot tub when you come home after a night out dancing. 

My favourite place for fashion:

Kiosk is a store where Iceland designers come together and more often than not they are the ones working in the store so you’ll get to meet the creators. Two other personal favourites are Hildur Yeoman and Aftur. 

My favourite space for great design: 

— Taking a walk through Harpa Concert hall is just divine. I always ask people to walk around the building as well as each side is different and then when you come inside it keeps impressing. 

My favourite local media:

— Without a doubt: PinkIceland — our wonderful LGBTQ+-owned wedding and travel company with beautiful, inspirational and uplifting stories and photos of people coming to Iceland and enjoying it to the fullest. 

My favourite thing at home: 

— I think I can safely say that my house has the best view of the city, we see the mountain ranges of the peninsulas, buildings like the concert hall and national theatre, the coloured rooftops as well as the bustling city life below. I absolutely love sitting down with my wife having our morning coffee, happy hour Spritz or even our BBQ dinner and just take it all in.