Photo from Wikimedia Commons, by Vera de Kok No Edits made.
At the heart of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, is Hverfisgata, which means "Neighborhood Street." It is a historical city street and a social and cultural hub. Because of its friendly and cozy atmosphere, Hverfisgata is one of the more popular destinations in Reykjavik.
Hverfisgata runs parallel to Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s popular shopping street. Though Laugavegur is the more famous destination, Hverfisgata has undoubtedly established its own identity and created its unique appeal. It’s part of various Reykjavik walking tours catering to children and adults alike.
Here in Hverfisgata, you’ll find locals and tourists enjoying good food or sharing bottles of excellent beer. You’ll also see good finds from different shops that suit your budget.
The History of Hverfisgata
Before becoming a significant spot for social and cultural activities in the city, Hverfisgata went through some challenging times. Not too long ago, the street looked old and unappealing.
Hverfisgata was gritty and was considered the poor man’s version of Laugavegur. The street didn’t have much to offer regarding dining and shopping options.
The only attraction that stood out during this time was The National Theater of Iceland. The theater opened in April 1950 after the British army had left.
But around the mid-2010s, things started to change for the better. Hverfisgata’s street facade improved, and exciting spots began to appear. The street’s transformation didn’t happen overnight, as much work was needed to give Hverfisgata its much-needed facelift.
Reykjavik’s Environment and Planning Division had to arrange for the soil replacement of the entire street. Moreover, all the pipelines and conduits were also replaced.
The pavements and bicycle lanes also got a boost with the installation of a new snow-melt system. To spruce up Hverfisgata’s surface, they laid paving stones or tarmac. They also planted trees, added lighting, and installed walkways.
They also improved access for pedestrians, cyclists, and the physically impaired. Commuters now have a reasonably easy time riding a bus because of their adjustments to the pavements. Today, they use ramps to help passengers enter buses safely and conveniently.
Dining and Nightlife in Hverfisgata
During the day, Hverfisgata is bustling with locals and tourists walking or relaxing on the benches. You’ll also see people dining in restaurants or chatting in cafes.
At night, Hverfisgata becomes lively. The street is home to bars and clubs where people party through the wee hours of the morning.
Hverfisgata is also a good place for finding quality Reykjavik craft beer. BrewDog Reykjavik is a famous spot for local craft beer. It’s located on the corner of Hverfisgata and Frakkastigur.
For excellent food, there's Hverfisgata 12, offering some of the best pizzas and cocktails in town. But if you want authentic Icelandic cuisine, head to The Dill, beside Hverfisgata 12.
The Dill boasts a Michelin Star for its top-notch, high-quality cooking. However, be quick on the booking, as the restaurant’s waiting list can get long.
Reasons to Visit Hverfisgata
Many things make Hverfisgata special. Firstly, street art. Here, you’ll see different kinds of graffiti from local artists.
The artworks feature various colors, from light tones to vibrant ones. The themes also range from animals to humans to images depicting Icelandic daily life.
Another is the street’s architecture. The homes and buildings on Hverfisgata present a unique blend of traditional and modern architecture, showing how the street’s character is evolving.
Furthermore, shoppers will love the small boutiques and specialty stores on Hverfisgata. Some of these stores offer hand-made products and locally-sourced items. You can even find clothing and jewelry that mainstream shops in Iceland don’t offer.
Hverfisgata is approximately 0.93 miles (1.5 kilometers) long, which is shorter than Laugavegur’s length of 1.2 miles (2 kilometers). It’s mostly flat and straight, so you can stroll while appreciating the varying architecture around you.
Additionally, It is strategically located in the heart of Reykjavik, making Hverfisgata more accessible and appealing to tourists visiting the capital.
Getting to and Around Hverfisgata
Getting to and around Hverfisgata is simple. If you stay in any central Reykjavik hotel, you can walk toward Hverfisgata or ride a bike.
Riding a public bus is your best bet if you’re staying on the city’s outskirts. The area has several bus stops that’ll take you in and around the area. The specific Reykjavik bus routes are 1, 6, 11, 12, 13, and 14.
Ridesharing apps like Lyft and Uber are prohibited in Iceland. Taxis, however, are available, though they can be expensive.
You can also join different walking tours in Reykjavik. A food-lovers walking tour is perfect for learning more about Icelandic cuisine.
You can also try a Viking walking Tour of the city to learn more about the settlement and history of the country.
Nearby Attractions to Visit
When it comes to nearby attractions, there are plenty to visit. For starters, there’s Laugavegur shopping street that’s parallel to Hverfisgata. As the name implies, it’s the top spot when shopping in Reykjavik.
Meanwhile, the famous Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre is only about 0.49 miles (800 meters) from the bottom of the street. Apart from the concerts and exhibitions in Harpa, its unique glass design is a must-see.
About 0.56 miles (900 meters) from north of Hverfisgata is one of Reykjavik Art Museum’s buildings, Hafnarhus. It is home to some of the finest contemporary artworks from local and international artists.
Another attraction is the Sun Voyager, about 0.68 miles (1.1 kilometers) away. This sculpture resembles a Viking ship and represents Iceland’s ideals of hope and freedom.
Last but not least is the Hallgrimskirkja church. It is a Lutheran church built on top of Skolavorduhaed hill and one of the most iconic landmarks in Reykjavik.
The Hallgrimskirkja church measures 245 feet (74.5 meters) tall and is the largest church in Iceland. Going up the tower gives you majestic views of the city.