Godan Daginn, or Good Day as we say in English. No matter how you got to Iceland or if you came to see the amazing nature, you cannot miss the great Capital of Reykjavik, Iceland. Reykjavik is one of the smallest capital cities and is considered the most northern. While the beauty of the island is amazing, the great city of Reykjavik provides a great backdrop to learn more about its history, culture, food, and past. Many come to Reykjavik on shore trips via a cruise or a stopover between flights between the United States and Europe, but I would say you must take a stroll through this very walkable city to explore all the things to see, do, and taste while you are here. The city has a great history having been founded in 874 by Norseman Ingolfur Arnarson. Besides its Norseman past, there are so many tasty treats and the city has a unique architectural style and is quite colorful.Read more: 1 or 2 Days in Reykjavik Iceland? Here are the Best Things to Do in Reykjavik
I just wanted to share with you some great suggestions for things to do and places to see while you are here in Reykjavik. Besides that, there are some great Foodie Favorites I provided below. With the town being very walkable, I started in the center since it is near where I stayed.
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Things To Do In Reykjavik Iceland
This Lutheran church stands majestically at 244 ft high and is the tallest church in Iceland. It is impressive looking with a unique design. You can enter for free or there is an elevator that takes you to the top to get a 360-degree view of the city on the deck. The cost to do that is about $10/person. Either way, it is an impressive sight to see and was only finished in 1986.
Valid from 1st September 2023 – 30th April 2024, Church: 10:00 – 17:00, Tower: 10:00 – 16:30 (last entrance to tower)
Tickets are available in the church shop located to the left as you enter the foyer. The tower ticket is valid for one visit on the day of purchase. Adults: 1400 ISK Children: 7-16: 200 ISK Discount price for seniors (67+), disabled (disability card), and students (valid student card): 1000 ISK
Depending on what time you arrive or what time of year, you may want a great cup of Joe! Here are a few names. One is Reykjavik Rost coffee shop www.rekyjavikrost.is This is within walking distance of Hallgrimskirkja.
Rúblan bókakaffi is one of my favorite coffee shops because it also has a bit of a nightlife as well. I went here during the day for coffee, and at night enjoyed live music. It is also very unique looking like a bookstore and cafe as well.
Cafe Loki is also a great option for coffee or traditional Icelandic food. It is located very centrally by the Hallgrimskirkja Church.
Sweets Time at Braud & Co
If you love good bakery sweets, especially in the morning if you are walking around, come to Braud & Co @braudogco and have a tasty Cinnabon or croissant. You must keep up that strength while walking around! They do have several locations per their Instagram site. Check it out, it goes well with that coffee in your hand!
Sandholt is another great place for baked items, coffee, and also brunch. I loved the design here as well. It is located close to the main street.
Main Street and Shopping Streets
If you like to see some of the main streets and perhaps shop, you may want to check out Bankastraeti is the main street with shops, cafes, etc. while Laugavegur Street is the main shopping street. Check them out to get a feel for what Reykjavik is about and it is free to walk around to see the sights, and architecture or meet some locals.
The Great Icelandic Hotdogs
If you are in Reykjavik you can’t miss the famous hot dogs from Baejarins Beztu Pylsur www.bbp.is They are located in the red and white food stand and these dogs are served with two types of onions etc. It’s also famous for being open in the early morning like 3 or 4 am. This is also a great snack if you are out shopping or if you want a reasonably priced bite. This is one of my Foodie Favorites.
Iceland Street Foods
If you are hungry for a bit more, try Icelandic Street Foods at www.icelandicfoods.com they serve some traditional dishes and delicacies like fish stew! This will keep you warm on a cool day.
Perlan, a National History Museum
The Perlan is a natural history museum of Iceland. It offers a unique building containing a planetarium with panoramic views, Perlan’s ice cave, a restaurant, a bar, an ice cream parlor, etc. It is voted one of the best places to go in 2023 and costs around $40 to enter.
The Reykjavik Food Walk
If you have a little more time or are a foodie, my Foodie Favorite is The Reykjavik Food Walk.This walking tour is 3 hours and generally meets near the Harpa Concert Hall. It does include the famous Icelandic hot dog, but there are also many more places on their list to experience some island delicacies. I highly recommend it.
The Rainbow Street
Another favorite place to stop and see the color of Reykjavik is on Rainbow Street. To support the LGBTQ+ community and diversity, the city painted Rainbow Street in 2015 to celebrate the annual Gay Pride Parade that started in 1999. Many stop here to take a picture for Instagram or their photo book. The name of the street is Skólavörðustígur.
Harpa Concert Hall
The Harpa Concert Hall www.harpa.is is a grand landmark constructed in 2011 and has such a majestic look with its mirrored windows that glisten (especially when the sun shines). One of the main residents of this magnificent building is the Icelandic Opera www.opera.is where you can see various operas and performances. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra www.en.sinfonia.is, Reykjavik Big Band, and other performances and projects take place here. Go in at least to see the fantastic lobby area. I saw a performance here and loved it. This is another favorite way to experience their culture. Harpa is such a unique place you can even take a tour of this fantastic landmark. If you are looking for tickets you can also check out Stubhub.
While I was in town I saw Jesus Christ Superstar and it was worth it!
Grotta Island Lighthouse / Grotta Island
If you want to explore another area by the water, go visit the Grotta Island Lighthouse. While it’s a little further out of town, depending on the weather you may even see the Northern Lights from here or experience the sunset (depending on the time of year) as this is the place of the Midnight Sun. Learn more here on their site.
Flyover Iceland is a captivating adventure that takes you on a virtual journey across the stunning landscapes of Iceland. This immersive experience allows you to soar over glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls, and other breathtaking natural wonders. Using cutting-edge technology, Flyover Iceland combines panoramic visuals, wind, and scents to create a truly immersive sensation of flying over the country’s diverse terrain. From the iconic geysers to the rugged coastlines, this virtual flight provides a unique and exhilarating perspective of Iceland’s mesmerizing beauty. It’s a must-try for travel enthusiasts seeking a thrilling and visually stunning exploration of this Nordic island nation. Hours Monday-Sunday 9:30 AM- 7:00 PM.
Soak in Luxury Hot Springs
Sky Lagoon, a modern gem nestled in the heart of Iceland’s enchanting landscapes, beckons travelers to a unique geothermal haven. Overlooking the vast expanse of the North Atlantic Ocean, Sky Lagoon offers a contemporary retreat where relaxation meets natural beauty. This newcomer to Iceland’s geothermal scene combines cutting-edge design with the therapeutic power of geothermal waters, creating an oasis of tranquility. As you soak in the mineral-rich pools, feel the stress melt away while enjoying the soothing embrace of nature.
The Blue Lagoon, an iconic geothermal wonder nestled in the heart of Iceland’s volcanic landscapes, is a surreal escape into serenity. Its milky-blue waters, rich in silica and minerals, create a mesmerizing oasis surrounded by ancient lava fields. As you step into the warm embrace of the lagoon, the soothing, silica-rich waters promise a rejuvenating experience for both body and soul.
The ethereal steam rising from the vibrant blue waters adds to the mystical ambiance, creating a sense of timeless relaxation. Visitors can indulge in the therapeutic properties of the lagoon, don a silica mud mask for a spa-like treat, and bask in the natural beauty that defines this enchanting destination. If you are looking for a day tour that includes the day trip to see the Golden circle you can do that and see the Blue Lagoon in a day with this Viator tour.
Walk Along The Waterfront and Take A Photo at The Sun Voyager
Stroll along Reykjavik’s enchanting waterfront and discover the mesmerizing sight of the Sun Voyager sculpture. As you amble along the scenic pathway, the cool ocean breeze accompanies breathtaking views of the North Atlantic. The iconic Sun Voyager, a gleaming steel structure resembling a Viking ship, stands majestically against the backdrop of the sea and distant mountains. This symbolic art piece, created by Jón Gunnar Árnason, invites contemplation and reflection as you appreciate its sleek lines and the interplay of sunlight on its polished surface. Walking the waterfront unveils a perfect fusion of art, nature, and maritime beauty, creating a tranquil and inspiring experience in the heart of Reykjavik.
Wander the Harbor and Go Whale Watching
Embark on an exhilarating adventure in Reykjavik with a whale-watching experience that unveils the mysteries of the North Atlantic. Setting sail from the vibrant capital of Iceland, you’ll cruise along the picturesque coastline in search of majestic marine life. Reykjavik’s whale-watching tours offer the chance to witness these gentle giants – from humpback whales gracefully breaching the surface to playful dolphins dancing alongside the boat.
Watch the Northern Lights
There are many things to do in Iceland’s capital, however, if you are in town during the Northern Lights season even if you just have 1 or 2 days in Reykjavik you should try to see the Northern Lights. There are plenty of tours to take you to see the Northern lights just outside of Reykjavik. The best time for seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland is late September through April. However if you have more time I highly suggest you stay at the Hotel Ranga to enjoy the adventures in the South coast of Iceland.
Reykjavik Wrap Up
Who likes the top 10? Or if you have any suggestions drop me a comment. In closing, these are a few of my favorite things to do, see, or experience in Reykjavik Iceland. It is a gem and so unique to visit this island nation. While it can be more on the expensive side to visit, there are some free or low-cost options. Also, there is a bus that you can take from the airport that is much more affordable than an Uber. Some things are free and some may cost a little or may be higher if you take a tour or buy tickets, but it is truly an enjoyable visit. I know I will be back one day. “Takk fyrr ao koma” or as they say “Thanks for coming”.
What budget do you need in Reykjavik realistically per day? I would say you need a budget minimum of USD 100 a day.
Do people speak English in Reykjavik, Iceland? Yes, I never ran into issues communicating with people and everyone in Reykjavik speaks English.
How to get to Reykjavik, Iceland from Airport
To get to Reykjavik from Keflavik International Airport by bus or car rental, you can follow these options:
By Bus (Airport Express/Flybus):
- Airport Express (Flybus):
- The Airport Express (Flybus) is a convenient and popular option. The bus departs from Keflavik Airport and takes passengers to the Reykjavik BSI Bus Terminal.
- Buses are scheduled to coincide with flight arrivals, making it a reliable choice. Tickets can be purchased at the airport or online.
- Local Bus Services:
- Public buses also operate between the airport and Reykjavik. The route may vary, so check the schedule and stops in advance. It may require a transfer to the Reykjavik BSI Bus Terminal.
By Car Rental:
- Car Rental Desks:
- Car rental services are available at Keflavik Airport. Upon arrival, you can find car rental desks in the arrivals hall.
- Various international and local car rental companies offer a range of vehicles to suit your needs.
- Driving Directions:
- Reykjavik is approximately a 45-minute drive from Keflavik Airport via Route 41 and Route 40. Follow signs indicating Reykjavik to navigate through the well-marked roads.
Where to stay in Reykjavik, Iceland
Affordable Hotels In Reykjavik
Loft HI Hostel Reykjavik Iceland– This is located on one of the main streets in Reykjavik city center and it is the most budget-friendly. They offer dorms and private rooms as well. It is perfect if you are a solo traveler looking to meet others traveling solo throughout Iceland. Maybe find a travel buddy.
Mid-Range Hotels In Reykjavik
Hotel Fron Reykjavik Iceland is a contemporary hotel located on Laugavegur Street one of the shopping streets in Reykjavik city center. There are over 100 rooms of various sizes from singles for solo travelers to larger studios, etc.
5 Star Hotel Reykjavik
The Edition is a beautiful hotel located on the waterfront and is one of the newest additions to the Reykjavik 5-star hotels. They have a great rooftop as well as a lounge bar area. It is located close to Harpa so perfect to stay at if you are going for a show.
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Sarah Errafay – Travels of Sarah Fay
January 9, 2024