On my third day in Iceland, I checked out of my AirBnB and into Hotel Holt in downtown Reykjavik. Because I was early, my room wasn’t ready so I dropped off my bags and headed towards Perlan, a futuristic-looking building with a observation deck and rotating restaurant at the top. The front desk agent at the hotel assured me that it was a walk-able distance away, and it was, but it wasn’t a very pretty walk. I looped over, under, and along the highway, and then up a set of stairs onto a path through a forest (a generous term for groves of trees in Iceland). Through the forest and a clearing filled with yellowed grass, the top of the Perlan building emerged in all its blue glass glory.
Inside, there’s a fine dining restaurant that spins, completing one full circle every hour, and a cafeteria, which is a cheaper option if you’re looking to eat here, but not by much. Around the cafeteria is the observation deck, which provides a stunning 360 degree view of the city and the mountains and ocean beyond it.
I did end up eating in the cafeteria, and paid more than I’d like to admit for a bowl of soup. But at least the complimentary view was nice! The observation deck is free to enjoy and the view is absolutely worth the hike over from downtown.
There wasn’t much else around Perlan, but according to my map it was walking distance to the Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach which was where I headed next. This actually would have been a really beautiful walk down a tree-lined trail and along the coast, however, I ran into some roadwork that cut a deep divot out of the road I was to be walking down.
There were two workers in the truck next to the construction site, and because I had no desire to turn around, I asked if I could climb through it to keep going onward. Luckily they said yes so I hopped in and climbed out the other side, waved back to the two in the truck and headed to Nautholsvik.
The Geothermal Beach was a crescent of golden sand among the grass and sidewalks. It had a locker room, a geothermal hot tub, and a portion of the Atlantic Ocean roped off for swimming. A pier flanked one side of the beach, and I walked to the end of it where there was an observation deck of sorts.
I watched locals and tourists alike enjoying the hot tub, then running into the ocean to cool off, before getting back into the naturally heated water. The experience looked very relaxing and the beach was beautiful; I was kicking myself for leaving my swimsuit back in my luggage back at the hotel. I did take of my shoes and wade into the ocean a bit, as a consolation prize.
The walk back to the hotel was equally as ugly as the walk to Perlan; this time I walked past the domestic airport and a lot of road construction. Don’t let this deter you from going though, there is a bus from downtown that goes out to Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach (Bus #5) and it really is worth a visit.
Have you ever been to either of these attractions? What’s on your must see list for Iceland?