Down Town Reykjavik´s Laugavegur
Wonderful Winter Vacation
Laugavegur is one of Reykjavik´s oldest and best known shopping streets. In recent years, it has also become famous for all of its restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs. The lively nightlife on weekends is world renowned. Old down-town Reykjavik provides a truly unique December experience for Christmas shoppers. It puts you in an atmosphere that may remind you of the friendly Christmas settings presented in 50s American movies, and with a bit of luck you will get a truly white Christmas. Laugavegur is at the center of the craziness that is New Years Eve in Reykjavik, and you will find art festivals and music events in January and February.
The Nobel Poet (Það færi vel að hafa hér litla mynd af Laxness og vitna í hann undir myndinni) “Whoever doesn’t live in poetry cannot survive here on earth.”
– Nobel Poet Halldor Laxness
Laugavegur has very humble beginnings. The road construction started in 1886 and the prefix “laugar” means pools, which refers to the fact that it used to lead the way from the down-town to the hot springs in the nearby Laugardalur (Pool Valley), where the local woman used to bring their laundry back in the day. The new street nearest to the down-town area attracted new residents right away, and Iceland´s Nobel poet Halldor Laxness was brought to this world in 1902, in a little house by Laugavegur. Businesses followed the new residents and thus the street quickly began to develop as a mixed residential area and shopping street.
Reykjavik´s shopping center
The main part of Laugavegur as a shopping center starts at the Hlemmur bus-center at the edge of Reykjavik´s down-town. The street then leads you down a gentle slope all the way down to the old down-town area by Alþingi (the parliament building), and the beautiful little lake Tjörnin. These days, Laugavegur is brimming with life all year long as Reykjavik´s business and pleasure center. The street is endowed with the majority of Reykjavik´s shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants. And you can chose from a variety of hotels. Laugavegur has everything from small shops dedicated to eccentric local artists, to large stores that specialize in the best known internationally famous designer names. The street has a plethora of restaurants offering everything from old-school Icelandic food to modern gourmet international cuisine. And the nightlife on weekends is wild. Whatever you are looking for, be it flea markets or souvenir and gift shops, vintage stores or the latest fashion, you will find it in Laugavegur.
The ambiance in December is something else entirely. The decoration of Laugavegur and the surrounding area actually starts in November with Christmas lights and ornaments. The final week prior to Christmas eve is something special as the street is full of people and the stores offer hot chocolate and other niceties for passers by. The festive atmosphere peaks on December 23rd, which is called Þorláksmessa in Iceland, or St. Þorlak’s Day. Down town Reykjavik is packed with people and the shops stay open until 11 in the evening. Street performers play music, the crowd gets denser as the day goes by, and the bars start filling up as the evening approaches. Many desperate husbands are seen taking care of last minute shopping, but lots of people just show up for the unique experience, and spend the day strolling Laugavegur and stopping by some of the bars and cafes.
New Years Eve Madness
You will never forget why Reykjavik is known as the Party Town if you greet the new year in the city, and the fireworks display will not disappoint. The fun continues in the new year with all kinds of events throughout the winter, such as the Sónar music festival and the Winter Lights Festival in February.
Laugavegur is a truly wonderful base for your winter vacation.