Reykjavik By Bike
In the past few years I have become a more and more active person, and that translates over to my travels. When researching a new destination I’m always looking for adventurous and physical ways to explore. So when I saw rave reviews for Reykjavik Bike Tours on Tripadvisor — also known as my online travel bible — I knew I had to get involved.
I’m a huge fan of bike tours when I travel — I dragged my family on one through Bangkok and gave myself a self-guided ones through Siem Reap and Ayutthaya. However, all of those had a big drawback — it was HOT! So I was looking forward to this tour, where I planned to work up a sweat by pedaling hard rather than by simply pausing in the shade.
My mom has become a pretty avid biker recently as well, so we signed on for the Coast of Reykjavik tour one evening while my sister logged some alone time in the hotel. I think the key to group travel is to not actually be in a group all the time, don’t you?
All tours start in the harbor near the whale watching boats. We worried that we might not be able to find the group, but the bright red shipping containers and bicycle were hard to miss! We were each assigned a bike with a cute Scandinavian name and a plate to identify it — so we didn’t mix them up during breaks. We kitted up in the provided bright vests, helmets, and warm gear and we were ready to go.
Our tour would take us all around the Reykjavik coast and peninsula. We started by riding through Reykjavik proper, and made a quick stop at Ráðhús, the City Hall. Another example of Iceland’s quirky architecture, this building features a walkway that brings you underneath the reflecting pond to enter. We tried to return on another day to see the massive 3D map of Iceland that is housed inside but alas — the building was closed to visitors during our stay due to the elections.
We then rode past Tjörnin Pond, a major landmark on Reykjavik’s map. Can you spot Hallgrímskirkja in the background of this photo?
After passing the Perlan Center and finally outside the city proper, we reached Nautholsvík thermal beach. A beach in Iceland? Sounds crazy, but during summer days it can be hard to find an empty spot on the sand. This place fascinated me — not only is that sand imported from Morocco, but the water is heated using geothermal energy! In most places in the world it would be unthinkably wasteful to try to heat the ocean, but here in Iceland there are so many naturally occurring hotpots that they basically filter the overflow here.
The vast majority of our ride was along the coastline, admiring the sea and the beautiful coastal homes and the amazing coordination required to take photos while riding a bike. Once again I was so grateful that I had ordered the Canon PowerShot S100 just in time for this trip. No way would I be able to one-handedly capture these photos with my Canon SLR! Biking footage in my One Week in Iceland video is also shot with the little point and shoot — its such a great camera!
Our group was a pretty hilarious mix. There was my mom and me, plus a group of four men from Amsterdam, plus a Canadian woman who challenged everything I thought I knew about how slow a person could possibly physically move. Putting her in a group with my mom and I, who are fairly in shape, and four men from the country that basically invented bike riding, and you’ve got an interesting dynamic. I really felt for our guide who handled the whole thing with humor and grace, and peppered us with interesting facts about living in Iceland.
At one point, he even discreetly pointed out Björk’s house! I was trying not to play it cool and not be my true obnoxiously celebrity loving American self, so I refrained from running up and taking tons of close-ups. But my mom did capture a peek of it in the photo below — it’s the black house (of course).
While Iceland is infamous for its 24 hour summer sun, things do get a bit duskier in the evenings. This was around 9pm, and is the darkest things would get all night. It’s a very surreal experience.
We rode all the way to the end of the peninsula and 11 miles later we ended up back where we started, in the Reykjavik Harbor. Along the way we passed famous buildings, beautiful beaches, suburban areas, lighthouses and universities. I saw a side of life in Reykjavik I would not have observed otherwise, and got to stretch my legs doing it.
At $40 per person this isn’t the cheapest tour around but actually represents good value for Iceland. Note, this is the only activity we did that we weren’t able to prepay for and required cash, though most currencies are accepted.
While Reykjavik Bike Tours offers a variety of tours, I thought this itinerary was the perfect way to spend an evening in Iceland — and get energized to take advantage of the city’s infamous nightlife!
Have you been on a bike tour on your travels? Where?
Note: I was in no way paid or perked for this review. I just wanted to share my experience with a great company!
I’m loving this weeks post—seeing Iceland through your eyes Thanks.
Thanks Gram! I’ve been so excited to share all these posts 🙂
Wow…Dick just sent me the link to your blog…I LOVE IT!!!! Looking forward to following you on your adventures! (Dick and I were adventurers together to the Galapagos early this summer with our kids!)
All the best,
Hi Chris! Thanks so much for reading…. and thanks to Dick for referring you! I would love to get to get to the Galapagos one day!
OK, either I didn’t notice the cute little Icelandic names on the bikes or – equally bad – I’ve forgotten that charming detail. Either way, I’m grateful to have you documenting the parts of my life that overlap with yours. The bike tour truly was a highlight of the trip…very well run, a great value, and amazing views in every direction. Oh, and did I mention how happy I was that the terrain was 95% flat?
Yes that’s true… 11 miles might not be such a leisurely ride uphil.
How much fun!!!!! I can’t believe those pics were taken at 9PM (even though I was in Iceland before haha). Awesome shots!
I know… we really didn’t get used to it! Every single day we were marveling at the sun, ha!
Reading your posts about Iceland is making me want to go there all the more. I would have already if the flights weren’t so much more expensive than other European flights, Iceland is one of my neighbouring countries after all. Doing that bike trip sounds great though, definitely on my list when I eventually get there if it’s weather for it. As I’d imagine it might no be as nice in rainy, cold fall weather.
I hope you’ll get there soon! I would definitely say its worth the extra cost for the flights 🙂
wow i couldnt tell the difference between this and the dslr. what a great camera
I can’t recommend it more! It’s a bit more than a usual point and shoot, for its worth it.
Oooh, I’ve been looking at the Powershot 100 – worth it? It takes great photos in any case! The bike tour looks like it was a lot of fun 🙂
It’s an AMAZING camera! I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know. A bit more than the average point and shoot but so worth it. And if you end up getting one, I’d love it if you could do it through one of those links… I’m an Amazon Affiliate 🙂
Looks wonderful. I had not been on a bike in over 3 decades when we decided to do a bike tour of the lower 9th ward in New Orleans last year. Loved it! I came home and bought a bike, and now I wonder why I didn’t ride one for so long.
I’m dying to go to New Orleans someday! When I finally do I’ll be sure to check out the bike tour!
This looks so much fun! Maybe they should have given the ‘larger’ lady a bike with a motor 😉
Actually she was thin as a rail! I guess she just wasn’t used to mild physical exertion!
The only bike tour I’ve done is through Vancouver’s Stanley Park and I will say it was amazing. Just a good, immersive way to see a place – especially if you’re not too rushed!
Yeah, they can be a bit rushed… that’s the only downside for me, because its hard to take photos!
I love your stylish vest.
I feel like that biking has become something you specialize in these past couple years! You know–like me and riding camels when I travel, you always find a bike 😉
I should have noted in the post that vest was part of my swag from TBEX — thanks Scottevest! I wore it constantly in Iceland. And yes, I definitely have become a major travel biker, which is funny because I don’t even have a bike at home! Well I guess I don’t really have a home either. So there’s that.
Also, I kind of want to be you, Alex. You’re so little and cute…and blonde. 😉
You remind me a lot of my sister (who is one of my favorite peoples!).
Haha, thank you Kristin! Funny thing… I kind of want to be you too sometimes! Usually when you’re getting paid to be in an exotic location with your doting hubs 🙂
Nice to know you weren’t paid or perked. 🙂
Well, frequently I do receive free tours in exchange for reviews. While I don’t let that bias me, I still like to let me readers know which are which!
Last month my husband and I and another couple rode bikes from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and then took the ferry back to SF. Not a tour, per se, as we were given a map and instructions to “just follow the bikes…” but very fun nonetheless. However, similar to your experience, not ideal for taking photos while riding. When you’re on the bridge in the railing-protected bike lane, there is only room for one person going each way, so no stopping to gawk at the scenery until you get across.
That sounds like an amazing day! You know I think the solution to this photo problem might be a GoPro… you could just strap it to your handlebars and shoot much more easily!
I am cracking up at an imported sand beach. I’m sure the warm water is really nice though!
When I get back to Iceland I’m definitely going to check it out! I’m such a warm water wussy though I bet I’ll be complaining of the cold even in spite of the artificial heating!
I’m a bit lazy but I must admit seeing a city by bike is the best way to do it, you can cover a lot of ground that you just can’t do walking. But forget doing it in Siem Reap – far too hot!
Yeah, my bike riding adventures in Southeast Asia have been super sweaty. At some point I acclimatized to the heat there, which made life so much easier!
One of the many things I loved about Europe was the bicycle culture. Being back in North America for only 2 weeks I miss it already. This tour looks fun!
I like that idea, “bicycle culture.” 🙂 We had a bit of it when I lived in Brooklyn, but I’m guessing it’s nothing compared to places like Amsterdam!
I like doing the bike tour thing. But in Baños, Ecuador, I rode the bike about 45 minutes downhill to visit a few waterfalls…getting back wasn’t as fun!
Hmm, yeah I don’t know about biking uphill like that! I think part of my enjoyment of this one came from the flat terrain 🙂
Bike tours are such a great way to get to know a city — I did a couple in Bangkok and loved both of ’em!
I did the nighttime bike tour of Bangkok with Grasshopper Adventures… it was amazing! Seriously one of the best things I’ve done in that city. Which did you do?
We are currently in Reykjavik (and are cringing from the prices!) – you are so lucky you got a beautiful sunny day! Looks like a blast.
We SO lucked out with weather on this trip, it was amazing. I think it was the world balancing things out after my family came to visit me in Thailand and it rained the whole time (sobs).
I love how sporty you are! A bike tour DOES seem the perfect way to see such a city though — although I dream more about its spas.
Well I love that you just described me as sporty! 🙂 That might be a first in my life, but in the direction I’m moving hopefully it won’t be the last…
Thank you for taking the time to write this article and post these picture which describe your positive experience on Reykjavik Bike Tour’s Coast of Reykjavik bike tour earlier this year.
Thank you Stefan! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and thank you all for the great trip!
Thanks for writing this nice article.
You’re welcome, Arjan, glad you enjoyed!
The article is a nice bonus to the joined hilarious bike tour we did.
Thank you for it and keep up the good (travelling and blogging-)job!
btw: it’s just ‘human behaviour’ to (trying to) take a peek at celebrity houses 🙂
Thanks Sebastiaan! Glad you found me here 🙂
Our family of 4 is headed to Iceland this summer, so we’re doing a little previewing with your blog and getting some great additional ideas. In Vancouver, it is great to rent bikes at/near Stanley Park. The park is almost completely surrounded by a bay and harbor and there is a trail that goes all the way around and some across. I’ve seen Cricket being played and redwoods while biking there. Place(s) to get a snack and of course the views along the water. Pretty flat, so fairly easy.
Thanks for the suggestion, Beth! I’ll keep that in mind when I make it to Vancouver someday. Hope you’ve found some helpful Iceland suggestions here — I LOVE that country!