Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital and trendy travel destination thanks to budget airlines making the city their hub. Travelers can now find cheap tickets or visit on a quick layover. Reykjavik is not a city of hundreds of tourist attractions. It’s small, some 200,000 people, yet there are plenty of things to do there year round.The city centre itself is small and walkable so you can soak up the local atmosphere fast! And it’s what I loved most about Reykjavík. It’s not about tourist traps; it’s about culture and community, mixing tradition and modernity, and welcoming visitors into the Icelandic way of life.
The church is one of the city’s most recognizable landmark. If you walk around Reykjavik, it will be hard to miss. The impressive and odd church also doubles as an observation tower and if weather is cooperative, you will have amazing city views.
Harpa is a beautiful glass structure that serves as a concert hall. I highly recommend taking a peek especially since its free…yay! To check out a show, find their schedule here.
FREE WALKING TOUR
These tours are not technically free since the guides work on tips but they’re generally interesting and entertaining. Book here
Laugavegur’s a fun neighborhood with lots of fun and colorful stores, cool bars, cafes, and restaurants. Just imagine, shopping for a new outfit, redecorating your home, adding to your library, and sipping a coffee…all within a few blocks! That’s what I call convenience.
THE SUN VOYAGER
The Sun Voyager is a stainless-steel sculpture of a boat by Jón Gunnar Árnason, representing “the promise of undiscovered territory” and it’s considered an homage to all travelers. The sculpture is walking distance from the Harpa concert hall.
EAT YOUR WAY AROUND
To my surprise, food in Iceland is mouthwatering! The seafood is exceptionally fresh, they’re soups are a warm hug, their yogurt (Skyer) is delicious, and the variety of modern and traditional cuisine is refreshing. So what better way to enjoy Reykjavik than eating your way around? Don’t forget to try the fermented shark, its a must! Some of my favorites are:
– Kaffi Loki: Try their lamb soup (Tried fermented shark here… never again!)
– Dill Restaurant: Only Michelin rated restaurant. Try their tasting menu with wine pairing.
– Kol: Best lobster bisque and scallops ever!
– Grillmarkadurinn: Try the reindeer mini burgers
– The Laundromat Café: Try their pancakes
– Islandic Street Food: Fantastic bottomless soups served on a bread bowl
– Snaps: Seriously, the fries alone are a reason to come.
More on Icelandic food to come…
SPAY DAY AT THE BLUE LAGOON
What better way to relax than with a spa day? Visit the Blue Lagoon and enjoy a silica facial for a pampering time amid the scenic mountain view. Before you head out there, make sure to book your ticket in advance here.
DAY TOUR AT THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
Take a day tour on the historic Golden Circle: the beautiful Þingvellir National Park, the majestic Gullfoss Waterfall, and the incredible (and VERY active) Haukadalur Geysir. This is the best way to sample Iceland’s natural beauty. If you’re planning a road trip around South Iceland, check out my 7-day guide.
EXPLORE THE OLD HARBOR
Walk the picturesque Old Harbour of Reykjavik and discover numerous seafood restaurants, their most famous ice cream parlor, and the best black coffee in town! The Old Harbour is also where you will be able to learn more about the city’s marine activities, including whale watching and puffin tours (available in summer)
EAT THEIR FAMOUS HOTDOG
The hot dog is Iceland’s unofficial national food, strange as it sounds. Try the world famous hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu! The queue is long, even in winter, and if couldn’t make it to their stand in the city center, don’t despair, they’re at the airport too! Is it the finest hot dog I’ve ever tried? Probably not, but it’s still pretty good and a local favorite so don’t pass it up.
Explore the street art
Reykjavik has become famous for its colourful murals and graffitis ever since the government loosened its zero-tolerance policy for street art. Many walls and lanes are now covered in art, often commissioned by the property owners themselves. Most of the art’s created by local artists, particularly women.
In short, Iceland is about more than Geysir, Blue Lagoon and glacier lakes – it’s about unique Nordic traditions be mixed with modern European tastes. It boasts an incredibly vibrant and progressive capital city that’s full of surprises. Reykjavik alone was worth a trip, and though I was exhausted after my first visit there, I’m not done by a long shot! ‘til the next time, Iceland!