Hlemmur is the centre of the postal district 105 Reykjavík – the Austurbær (East Town) – once the eastern extent of the city. In the 1980s, this was a comparatively rough district and Hlemmur housed the main public bus station: a hangout for punks, and also of the homeless and addicted. For years there had been talk of moving the transport hub and today, though the bus stops are all still in use, the central bus station has been replaced by the Mathöll (Food Hall), which opened in 2017. It’s a great place to stop for lunch – a kind of microcosm of London’s Borough Market, the operative word being micro (it’s tiny).
Leave Hlemmur on Laugavegur (the road between the Hlemmur Square hotel and the Icelandic Red Cross thrift store). Cross over Snorrabraut and continue along Laugavegur, which is Reykjavík’s main shopping street. As you browse the shops and cafés, cross Barónsstígur and Vitastígur before turning left up Frakkastígur. It’s a short walk up the top of the hill.