Laugavegur (Main Street) Travel Guide
Laugavegur is the main shopping street in Reykjavík, renowned for its boutiques, restaurants, and bars.
It can be explored with a local guide on certain culture tours, and many self-drive tours and guided vacation packages, such as this 10-Day Circle of Iceland Self-Drive, will provide you with time to wander the street. There are also plenty of tours of Reykjavik which will show you more of the city. If you rent a car, you won't be able to drive this street in summer but there is plenty of parking around.
Photo above from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Marek Ślusarczyk. No edits made.
Laugavegur in Reykjavík
Laugavegur is one of the oldest streets in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík. Its name roughly translates to ‘the Water Road’, as it was up and down this area where women used to bring their laundry to be washed in the hot pools.
It was properly constructed in 1885.
The road begins in the east at Kringlumýrbraut, near the mall Kringlan and the town’s largest park Laugardalur, and runs west to Bankastræti, which leads into the downtown area. It is about two kilometres (just over a mile) long.
The popular shopping stretch of the street starts at the city’s bus centre, Hlemmur, and continues to Bankastræti; west of here is the economic district.
During pride, rainbow colours can be seen in almost every window.
What to do on Laugavegur
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Josef Knect. No edits made.
Laugavegur is home to a wealth of shops, restaurants and bars, all appealing to different tastes. In terms of museums, it has just two. The first is a favourite amongst visitors; the Phallological Museum began as a strange hobby of one collector, and is now the world’s only museum dedicated to the understanding of the genitals of male creatures from across the animal kingdom. It even has a preserved member of a man who donated it, and letters from many promising to dedicate their own when the time comes.
The second is a tiny but fascinating punk museum.
In terms of shops, Laugavegur largely has boutiques with high-end products, most of which are Icelandic designed and produced. It also has many tourist shops, selling fridge magnets, books, stuffed animals and all sorts of souvenirs. While the boutiques are beloved, these tourist shops are often scorned at, for selling things such as polar bear teddies to the unwitting, who do not know that you do not get polar bears in Iceland.
If you want to shop for clothes and jewellery without breaking the bank, there are second-hand and vintage shops along the road too.
Laugavegur has more competition than it used to with the opening of the Kringlan and Smárilind malls, but is still a thriving area. In fact, developers are beginning to open more and more shops and bars on the adjacent Hverfisgata, to turn this area into more of a hub for locals and visitors.
The wealth of restaurants along the road have a diverse selection of menus. Some of these are traditionally Icelandic, but there are cuisines from all around the world, and some establishments are even fusion restaurants of diverse cultures.
Veganism is on a rapid rise in Iceland, so those who do not eat meat and dairy will find many restaurants dedicated to them, and options at most others.
In terms of bars, Laugavegur has many of the city’s most popular haunts. Dillon, for example, is a rock bar renowned for its live music. Lebowski Bar is renowned for its food, quizzes, ‘wheel of fortune’, and dedication to the movie from which it is named. Just off the street are many other great drinking holes, such as Loft Bar, KiKi and Prikið.