Housing can be quite tricky to find in Iceland, here a few help tips and links

Housing at Reykjavik University and Other Possibilities For Accommodation

  • If you're a student at the University of Reykjavik, sorry, there's no student housing for you.
    • Many Erasmus students coming here choose to live in guesthouses located all over Reykjavík because this is often cheaper and a lot of fun. It's nice because the students live together in one house.
    • You can find more information about these online but some examples of guesthouses are Snorri's Guesthouse or the Aurora Guesthouse.
      The guesthouses are kind of like dorms, they are not run by the university but there are many students that do live there and share a kitchen and bathroom, each one having their own bedrooms.
    • The guesthouses are kind of like dorms, the university does not run them, but many students do live there and share a kitchen and bathroom, each one having their own bedrooms.
    • There are many all over Reykjavík so you can google it to find more information.
    • You will not find rent much cheaper than 70,000-ISK per month, but it always depends on where you find a place.
    • Of course closer to downtown is more expensive.
  • There are also many Facebook groups in which people post advertisements of apartments for rent. We advise you to be quick to reply if you see something interesting:

Housing at University of Iceland

  • There is university housing at University of Iceland. Housing at Reykjavik University and Other Possibilities For Accommodation<
  • There are affordable apartments available both on campus and in downtown Reykjavík,
    but there is often a long waiting list. It is possible to find more information and to apply for one of these apartments at:

Useful Information for Incoming Students

Stuff to Bring

When you come to a country you've never been to before often you may have no idea what to bring. People either bring too many things or not enough. So we would like to point out some things that other exchange students have thought of as being useful to have:

  • Warm clothes
  • Skiing Pants (if not for skiing then for hiking or something else)
  • Hiking Boots (if you feel like hiking the beautiful mountains/landscape of Iceland with or without ESN)
  • Wool underwear - (recommended when going hiking or skiing "NO COTTON")
  • Rain Clothes (as it will most likely rain when you are here, even in the summer time)
  • Small backpack (that you could use when/if you go hiking)
  • Spikes (if you want to go hiking to some icy areas)

P.s for the people coming in January, there are always sales in the beginning of January.

Few things former students would have wanted to know before they came to Iceland

  • I wish someone had told me to bring REALLY waterproof shoes, pants and jacket.. You really need them good.
  • That the rate of currency changes so much.
  • That air conditioning is opening a window and putting heaters on/off
  • Public transport not included for students
  • That you can't buy alcohol in supermarkets: would have saved me some time looking for a bottle of wine
  • That the standard of a beer glass is 0,5 L ;)
  • People here can speak good English
  • That post boxes on the streets in the city centre were locked during january
  • How difficult it is to get basics medicine in Iceland where you need a prescription for everything.

Few things former students wanted to recommend to arriving students

  • Bring rain-gear and good shoes (but don't forget your party outfits as well!)
  • Check with your bank for using your credit card without fees
  • Make sure to live in 101 or close 105.
  • Take your hiking boots with you
  • Start making trips, friends,parties etc. early, the "I still have time" will be over soon
  • Iceland airwaves (or visit a lot of bands downtown! Icelandic music is awesome)
  • Lighthouse at Grótta to see the northern lights
  • Buy a 20 times ticket for swimming pool
  • The artificial beach in Nautholsvik
  • Flea Market! (Kolaportið) down town only open on weekends.
  • Just go for it! Participate to trips and really see the wonderful Iceland.

Stay updated

For Departing Students

  • How did you manage to survive Iceland? Please fill out this small questionary here (To make the stay for next students even better!)
  • Did you think the Survivalguide was useful? Do you want to change/add something? Please fill out this form right here!


ESN Reykjavík History

ESN Reykjavík is the only section currently in Iceland. Established in 2007 by 2 former students of the International Students Association (ISA) in the University of Iceland, after going to the Annual General Meeting of ESN.

The idea was that it would both benefit the organization and the international student community of Reykjavik to be a part of something bigger, stronger and obviously way cooler like ESN.

To make a long story short, they were right!


ESN Reykjavik is part of 2 universities (HÍ & HR).

University of Iceland is where ESN Reykjavik started with 20-40 students at the beginning. In 2010 University of Reykjavik became a part of ESN Reykjavik and together both schools combine to form over 600+ international students a year with a once in a lifetime ESN experience.

RU logo HI logo

ESN Office

There is currenty only one ESN office.

  • University of Reykjavik, Menntavegur 1, 101 Reykjavik - Room U203


ESN Card

How It Works

The ESN Card allows you to gain discounts at various stores, cafes, and bars, not to mention ESN Reykjavik events and parties. All you have to do is go to the counter of the shop, cafe or bar and show your ESN Card to receive a discount on your purchase.

To obtain an ESN Card is quite simple. You just fill out this simple form, then when the ESN office is open (opening times announced on facebook), you can come and pick-up your ESNcard and the NOVA sim-card. The price of the ESN Card is **** kr.- and is paid on pick-up.


Your ESN Card provides you with discounts all over Reykjavík as well as places around Iceland. With deals at bars, cafe's, to hostels and whale watching your ESN Card is your gateway to exploring Reykjavík. Your ESN Card does not only provides you with deals within Iceland. Going to ESNCard.org opens up a wide network of deals available to you in numerous countries in Europe.

ESN Card logo

Check out our deals in Iceland here! new deals coming soon!

Main Partners


Glacier Trip

Events is what ESN does best. ESN Reykjavik usually holds two large overnight trips out in the countryside for each semester. The first trip of the winter is usually held in early september. We usually cross glacial rivers and enter the wild Þórsmörk (Valley of Thor), a ridge located in the south of Iceland near the volcano Eyjafjallajökull, where we usually stay for a night that you won’t forget. Then there is another trip that is often different between years so it will be announced later when it gets closer to it.

River Rafting Trip Halloween Party

For those that arrive for the second semester or those lucky to stay for the whole winter, the spring semester awaits you with even more adventures. Firstly, there is usually a ski trip to the north of Iceland in the city of Akureyri, the ski capital of Iceland, around February or March (Depends on weather). Secondly, we will have some other long trip that will be announced later. Alongside these longer epic trips, shorter day-trips are held each semester as well and they will be announced later.

Last but not at all least, ESN has you covered in Reykjavik. We organize smaller events like café nights, pub-quiz, cinéma, go-kart and swimming in the sea and of course don’t forget the legendary parties we throw downtown almost every other Thursday night.

Phone Apps

112 Iceland

Official app for Icelands emergency service 112. The app sends an SMS to the Icelandic emergency service 112, with the phones GPS location, before calling 112

P.s This app does not need phone service to work!
So this one is your nr. 1 travel buddy!


Great app from NOVA. Easy to check your credits and top up! As well get Great 2 for 1 offers!


Free app provided by Strætó bs. (the public transport authority for the Greater Reykjavík area) for Icelandic public transport with travel info for the Greater Reykjavik area and many areas outside the Greater Reykjavik Area.

Icelandic Weather App

Weather forecasts, meteograms and extreme weather warnings.

Appy Hour

The Reykjavík Grapevine presents: Appy Hour. Every happy hour in Reykjavík in your pocket.

Nei! Nú hringi ég í leigubíl! (No! Now I Call A Taxi!)

Having trouble remembering all the taxi phone numbers? Call any icelandic taxi service with a single click!


Is the capital of Iceland it is rich with fine music culture and a vast selection of cafe's.


  • Founded in 1786
  • Reykjavík contains 60% of the country's population
  • Reykjavík translates to "Smokey Bay"
  • Its latitude, at 64°08' N, makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state.
  • In the 18th century the "Royal Treasurer" Skuli Magnusson was known as the father of Reykjavík due to his efforts of trying to modernise the Icelandic economy.
  • The current mayor of Reykjavík is also a well known comedian in Iceland (Jón Gnarr)
  • The capital of the tiny nation was established in 870 AD by Ingolfur Arnarsson and is home to 200,000 people today, Wikipedia and Google is a great source of information on Iceland.

Short History

  • 850-875 - The first Viking settlers arrive, bringing Irish slaves with them.
  • 930 - Chieftains from across Iceland gather in Thingvellir to form the Althing, the world's first parliament, or congress.
  • 1200s - Icelanders begin to write down the Old Norse sagas for the first time.
    Until now, the epic poems, legends and historical tales were memorized and recited.
  • 1264 - After many attempts, Norway takes control of Iceland. The move ends bloody civil wars between settlers.
  • 1380 - Norway and Iceland come under Denmark's control.
  • 1402 – 1404 - The Black Death plague devastates Iceland.
  • 1600s - Pirates from England, Spain and Algeria raid the coasts and ruin Iceland's trade economy.
  • 1800 - The Althing, the world's first parliament, is abolished.
  • 1915 - Iceland gets its current flag. It is a blue flag with a red and white Scandinavian Cross.
  • 1917 - Women get the right to vote in national elections.
  • 1918 - Iceland becomes a self-ruled state, but is still in a union with Denmark.
  • 1944 - After Icelanders vote to end the union with Denmark,
    Iceland is proclaimed an independent republic on June 17. Sveinn Bjorrnsson is the first president.
  • 1973 - A massive volcanic eruption on Heimaey forms Eldfell (fire mountain). Lava flows for sixth months.
  • 1975 - Iceland bans foreign fishermen from a 200-mile zone beyond its coastline. British fishermen especially resent the restriction.
  • 1980 - Vigdís Finnbogadóttir becomes Iceland's president. She is the first woman ever elected president of a republic.
  • 2000 - Mount Hekla's most recent eruption shakes the region outside Reykjavik in February. Since 1970, Hekla has erupted every 10 years.
  • 2003 - In August, Iceland embarks on its first whale hunt in 15 years.
    Its government says the hunt is being conducted to study the mammals' impact on fish stocks.
  • 2006 - The country ends its 21-year ban on commercial whaling.
  • 2010 - The Eyjafjallajokull volcano begins to erupt in March. It spreads volcanic ash across Europe,
    stopping airline flights and disrupting transportation for months.

Hidden Gems

Super Saturday (candy)

One of the nice things about Saturday’s in Reykjavik is that you can purchase candy at a 50% discount all day long. While it may sound uneventful it can definitely make your Saturday afternoons happy ones!


Feel free to sit as long as you please at any café in Reykjavik and sip on your single cup of coffee, you will rarely be asked to free the table or make another order. At some Te & Kaffi cafés in Eymundsson stores they even let you open and look at the magazines free of charge. Ska vi fika or what!

Online deals

Websites like 2fyrir1, Aha and Hópkaup offer various deal at the businesses in town. They’re all in icelandic but we’re certain google will help you figure out all those friendly words and you might be rewarded for your efforts with half price deals or even more!

Movie Theaters

Movie theaters have offers on tuesdays!



If you get the chance to have a bike while you live here, grab it! With a bike, you will find plenty of bike trails over all greater Reykjavik area which allow you for a cheap, green and healthy way of getting from A to B. At Reykjavik University there are nice and clean showers available for all the sweaty students who arrive to school after a refreshing morning bike ride.

Stræto (City-Bus)

If you don’t feel like gearing up for a storm every day you can always count on our "trusty" public bus system. With busses running between every 10-30 minutes depending upon which bus station you’re at the busses will take you to almost any place in the greater Reykjavik. Some of them even take you as far as Mosfellsbær and Akranes or even Akureyri up north!!

To buy a student bus card you will need to have kennitala "icelandic social security number"
Info about the student card can be found here (only in Icelandic though)


You know the drill, phone numbers are:

  • Hreyfill : 588-5522
  • Borgarleiðir : 422-2222
  • BSR : 561-000
  • And few others... Check out the Taxi app below!

In some cases (down town) there are taxi stops where you can just go straight to them without calling.

Bus - BSI

BSI has become a centerpiece for people seeking thrills in the nature. Don’t be surprised if one your journeys in the coming months begins here! Known for providing the adventurers the craving what they long for, BSI is the main bus station where you can almost hop into any bus headed out of town and into the wild. Also, don’t forget to grab a steaming sheep head before you go, we promise you won’t regret it!


Clubs / Bars

We have many different different bars/clubs/disco's. Most of the places are in down town Reykjavik!

ESN Party

Dress Codes

Most of the places don't have dress codes, but then there are some cases where they might be more strict for example at Austur/B5/Vegamót.

Prices (Beer/Alcohol)

NOTICE! You can ONLY buy alcohol drinks in the Alcohol Store "Vínbúðin" and at bars/restaurants.

Beers sold at 10-11/Hagkaup/Bónus and other stores/supermarkets are really cheap, but that is because they DO NOT have alcohol.



Swimming pools

We icelanders love to soak ourselves in hot geothermal water and discuss the ongoing events happening around us. We have a lot of public swimming pools in reykjavík and all of them accessible by bus.

Here is a list of the closest ones to the center but a full list of all pools in Iceland can be found on this website

  • Laugardalslaug
  • Sundhöll Reykjavíkur
  • Vesturbæjarlaug
  • Sundlaug Seltjarnarness

Dining Out

Hressó - Hressingarskálinn - Our Partner

Hressó is a great place to party, but an great place to eat at as well!

Icelandic kjötsúpa at hressó is very delicious and cheap, approx 700-800kr with the ESN card! And everything 20% off with the ESNcard.

Sushi Barinn - Our Partner

Sushibarinn is a small restaurant located at Laugavegur 2, 101 Reykjavík and has been up and running since september 2007.

We make our sushi by order to ensure maximum quality and freshness.

We serve everything on our menu inside, to take away and down to Kofinn next door.

Sake Barinn - Our Partner

Sakebarinn is Located on the corner of Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur. We opened in the summer of 2012 and like in Sushibarinn, we make everything by order to get the most freshness out of the ingredients. We aim for a very relaxed and personable atmosphere and have an upstairs room that's perfect for privat functions.

Sea baron

The ESN restaurant! This is the place that has been most popular amongst former Erasmus students and we are sure you will love it to. Don’t forget to try the halibut and the lobster soup special for lunch.

Tapas Barinn

Icelandic ingredients in spanish wrappings. If you feel like splurging a bit and getting a taste of what Iceland has to offer best, look no further! Here you can have a taste of delicious puffin, minke whale, icelandic lamb and fish and more treats. We highly recommend going in groups and having a taste of all the plates. (Price: ca 1200kr per plate)

Grænn kostur

Reykjavik’s nr.1 vegetarian place. They serve generous portions for an affordable price (1100-1500kr).


They do serve delicious and healthy food. The closest one to 101 is at N1 Hringbraut or by Glæsibær.

Sushi Samba

Brand new Sushi and South American fusion restaurant in Reykjavik. The restaurant has got great reviews and is the new hot spot down town.

Osushi - Sushi Train

The restaurant is located near Austurvollur and has a excellent service and yummy sushi.


Here is a list for Cafes :

  • Laundromat
  • Cafe Babalú
  • Tíu Dropar (Ten drops)
  • Cafe Paris
  • Súfustinn
  • Te & Kaffi
  • Kaffitár
  • Theater (Harpa)
  • And many many others ....


  • Bónus, really cheap. (Two down town at laugarvegur and at Hallveigarstígur and third one close at grandi)
  • Krónan, also really cheap (closest one to down town is at grandi)
  • Hagkaup, best selection (food/clothes/everything) a bit pricey (closest one is in skeifan)
  • Iceland
  • Nettó
  • Víðir (closest one : skeifan or vesturbær)
  • 10-11, pricey but handy because of 24/7 openings (one down town)
  • And few others ....

Other useful info

  • Clock in Iceland never changes (as in there is no summer/winter time). Timezone GMT "No UTC/GMT offset"
  • Planning a trip in Iceland? Please check out Safetravel.is, read the page, fill out travel plan and get the 112 app (see below)
  • If you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes!
  • The police can be asked questions on their facebook page or by calling 444-1000, in case of emergency please call 112!
  • Reykjavík Grapewine - Paper for tourists (in their last issue they collected all the "Best of Reykjavík", see it here page 22)

Some Icelandic Websites

Some Useful Icelandic Translations

  • Ég heiti XXX - Hi my name is XXX
  • Ég kem frá XXX - I'm from XXX
  • Má ég fá XXX? - Can I get XXX?
  • Hvernig segir maður XXX á íslensku? - How do you say XXX in Icelandic?
  • Hæ / Bæ - Hi / Bye
  • Viltu poka? / poka? - Want a plastic bag? / Plastic bag?
  • Get ég fengið poka? / Get ég fengið 3 poka? - Can I get a plastic bag? / Can I get 3 plastic bags?
  • Þetta reddast - Everything will be all right
  • And then worst case scenario Google Translate is your friend :) It is better to translate from english
  • Any other ideas? Just check out the "Want to improve the Survival Guide?" section

Want to improve the Survival Guide?

If you have any suggestions/improvements/anything please check out this simple form!