Iceland has a rich literary tradition from the Sagas written in the middle ages to our very own Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness. Icelanders love to read and write (about one in ten Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetime). But where do the natives go when they are in a need of a good book?
This is one of the oldest bookstores in Reykjavik and it’s conveniently located on Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s main shopping street. The bookstore is on five floors but the top floor is where you’ll find a good selection of books in English. Give yourself some time to browse here.
Their fiction section is fine but it is the specialty section where you can find really interesting titles. If you love popular science, history or art this might be the store for you. If you are lucky enough to find something to your liking take it to the coffee shop and browse through it before you decide to buy. Also, keep an eye out for the bargain bin, it isn’t always on display but when it is you can get some great deals.
This is the flagship store for Iceland’s largest bookseller. You’ll see their stores all over the country but if you get the chance you should check their Austurstræti location in the heart of downtown Reykjavik. There is a great selection of titles in English. Magazines are on the second floor, one of the country’s best selection of fiction is on the third floor and specialty and travel books are on the top floor.
One of the great things about Eymundsson Austurstræti is the coffee shop. It has a nice balcony where you can enjoy a cup outside on sunny days and you are free to look at books and magazines while you relax.
This is Iceland’s go to place for all things concerning superheroes, science fiction and fantasy. They have a very large selection of comics, board games, movies and books and if you are a fan you need to give yourself a fair amount time to peruse through the store.
Nexus is located a little outside of downtown Reykjavik but if you are up for the walk it is definitely worth your while. The staff is super nice and almost everything is in English.
If you like used bookstores then you should make your way here. It is an old-fashioned bookstore with large stacks of books next to the shelves where you can hunt for a good bargain. They have a nice selection of English titles. But be aware that most of the books are in Icelandic. The staff is very knowledgeable if you want to ask if they have something in particular.
Across the street from the old harbor, you’ll find Grófin Culture House which is part of the Reykjavik City Library. It is very nicely laid out and has a fantastic view of the harbor. It is on multiple floors and if you are into photography be sure to check out The Reykjavik Museum of Photography located in the same building.
You might not be able to check out a book but feel free to stop by relax, read something interesting or just walk between the shelves and look at the different titles.
Iceland’s largest library is located close to the Natural History Museum in the western part of Reykjavik. The building itself is beautiful and built to resemble a turtle (yes, really!). The surrounding garden is very nice. Unfortunately, it is right next to one of Reykjavik’s busiest streets but take your time and walk around the building.
The library itself is huge and has a quiet atmosphere. During winter, it’s filled with university students so there are lots of seats. This is a great place for book lovers to relax and read but note that the everyone under the age of eighteen needs to be accompanied by an adult.
The best travel recommendations come from locals. Check out these Wanderguides from Iceland by locals sharing their travel tips and hidden gems.