Reykjavik is a UNESCO City of Literature.. and it's no "mystery" why people love it. This is why Icelandic bookstores rock!
An empty yacht sits in Reykjavik's harbor. There's no trace of its seven passengers. Have they met with misadventure at sea - or a murderous welcome in Iceland?
At first glance, this horrible tragedy is so haunting that even devoted travelers might be tempted to think twice about their trip. But, rest assured, Iceland is an incredibly safe country - and also the perfect setting for some of the best books and bookstores in the world. In this case, the mysterious boat and vanished passengers rest not in Reykjavik but rather in the imagination of renowned Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. Her compelling novel The Silence Of The Sea has earned rave reviews and routinely flies off the shelves at Reykjavik 's bookstores.
And while you're likely very relieved that you can't experience the plots of her books first hand, you can indulge your love of great books and writing in Iceland. This is the writing capital of the world, with 1 in 10 citizens publishing a book in their lifetime. Reykjavik has even been awarded the prestigious designation of being a UNESCO City of Literature.
So whether your tastes run towards murder mysteries or economic theory or modern poetry, Iceland is THE travel destination for readers and writers.
Your Iceland Book Lover's Bucket List: Festivals, Libraries, Museums, and Writing Retreats.
Even without the added intrigue of a mystery novel, Iceland is a fantastic travel destination. The country's incredible natural beauty, rich culture, high standard of living, and quality of life make for an amazing combination. It's no wonder so many people flock here- this county is a knockout! But it's not just the Blue Lagoon and the Northern Lights that are winning hearts - there are plenty of things to see and do with a literary bent.
Iceland has several significant literary festivals: The Iceland International Festival of Children's Literature is staged twice a year. The Reykjavik International Literary Festival attracts a glittering list of who's who in the world of literature. The Reykjavik Reads Festival, which happens every autumn, involves the entire city in its festivities.
The Halldor Laxness Museum honors the 1955 Noble Literature Laureate and Icelandic writer Halldor Laxness. This remarkably well preserved family home in Mosfellsdalur will inspire any visitor to pick up a pen and start drafting a poem or verse.
The National Library of Iceland is both a literary and artistic gem! It's designed in the shape of a turtle, no doubt a tip of the hat to its neighbor, the Natural History Museum. It's a beautiful place to relax (even as the university students around you show a little stress).
The Grófin Culture House (part of the Reykjavik City Library) is another fantastic spot for resting and people watching - and also hosts a neat photography museum. It's great for absorbing a less touristy-side of Icelandic life.
And if you truly adore all things writing and Iceland, the Iceland Writers Retreat is the perfect way to combine your duel passions for literature and travel - all while honing your writing skills.
Icelandic Bookstores Worth Travelling For
Whether you're recovering from jetlag or just taking a break from sightseeing, Reykjavik's amazing bookstore scene will make your spirits soar. There's no better place to recharge and refuel - and don't be shy about asking for recommendations. Both staff and patrons alike will be happy to point you in the direction of their favourite novel (likely translated into English), as well as great souvenirs, including postcards, bookmarks, and tote bags.
Here are 4 Icelandic bookstores in Reykjavik not to miss.
Mál og Menning - This huge bookstore has a yummy cafe upstairs that's decorated with local art.
Eymundsson Austurstræti - This Icelandic chain is the closest you'll come to the "big box" bookstore experience you'll find in other countries. Their coffee shops are great places to sit with a few magazines and they have a respectable English-language selection.
Bókin - Part bookstore, part treasure chest, the piles of used books here aren't for claustrophobic travelers. But those who don't mind digging will find a great foreign language selection (along with some books written in Old Norse) and other cool items.
Ida Zimsen - This cute bookstore has great views and (like most Icelandic bookstores) a great cafe as well.
It's time to read an Icelandic novel or three!
So what happens at the end of the book? I'm not going to spoil the ending by sharing the fate of Sigurðardóttir's seven missing passengers. But I can happily tell you the conclusion of every trip to Iceland: Great memories, great photos, and great books.
PS: This list is a great one for discovering new Icelandic authors.
If you enjoyed this piece, you'll also like:
5 Tips For Stockholm Savings
Our Favourite Berlin Food Tour
Amsterdam Cycling Tour
Where To Stay In Zurich: Our Favourite Hotels In Zurich Old Town
The Best Villages in Tuscany: Why We Love Volterra
Posts by Location
Posts by Date