Reykjavik is such a cool place that is home to nearly 2/3 of Iceland’s population of 330,000. This “big city” has a small-town feel but is full of life, color, and charm. My husband, David, and I spent two days out of our seven-day honeymoon in Iceland’s capital city and easily fell in love with it. Here are 10 things you can’t miss while you’re in Reykjavik, Iceland.
1. SHOP & EXPLORE ON FOOT
Reykjavik is a fairly small city and is quite easy to navigate on foot. So, park the car and get walking! Laugavegur is Reykjavik’s main shopping street and here you will find many shops, cafes, bars, and hotels. Along the streets of Skólavörðustígur you will also find a number of boutique shops. If you wander closer to the ocean, you will find a picturesque Oceanside path providing impressive views of Mount Esja.
2. VISIT HALLGRIMSKIRKJA CHURCH
Hallgrimskirkja Church is the largest church in Iceland; in fact it is one of the tallest structures in the entire country. This impressive building is visible from nearly any point around the city. Visit the church to snap some photos or pay approximately $9 USD to take a trip up to the tower and witness some impressive views of this colorful city.
3. EXPERIENCE THE NIGHTLIFE
Okay, I will admit that David and I never stayed awake long enough to experience the true nightlife of Reykjavik. BUT I HEAR that it is pretty epic with bars staying open until 5am on the weekends. We got a small snapshot of what the nightlife might be like as we wandered back to our hotel around 10pm on a Sunday night. Since we visited in June, the sun was shining, bright as day, and the streets were still flooded with people. Families biking, friends gabbing over pizza and beer, groups of men singing in robust voices on the sidewalks…you get the picture! Just a word of caution: drinking, like everything else in Iceland, is expensive. Be prepared to pay $8-$10 USD for a beer and close to $20 USD for a mixed drink. Most bars do offer happy hours for those on a budget.
4. SAVOR COFFEE AT REYKJAVIK ROASTERS
Reykjavik Roasters is home to hands-down the best cup of coffee I have ever had in my life. Order the pour-over and be ready for your mouth to explode with flavor. The cappuccinos are delicious too! Save a little money by foregoing the takeaway cup. Sip and savor your coffee inside the quaint little café or take it outside to enjoy on a nice day. Don’t forget to buy a bag of coffee beans to take home with you!
5. ENJOY LUNCH AT DURUM RESTAURANT
Enjoy an inexpensive, delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Durum Restaurant. They offer an abundance of sandwiches, wraps, and pizza. David and I ate lunch here twice during our trip and were not disappointed!
6. PIG OUT ON PIZZA AT ELDSMIDJAN
After a long night of travel, waiting two hours to get our rental car, and a five-hour time difference, by the time David and I arrived in Reykjavik, we were starving. We stumbled upon Eldsmiðjan Pizzeria, which was just a couple of minutes walk from our hotel, and boy, am I glad we did! We ordered cheesy garlic bread, salad, and margherita pizza and easily devoured it all. For those with a more adventurous palate, Eldsmijðan offers pizzas with an array of unique toppings including cream cheese, shrimp, tuna, pineapple, and even maple syrup!
7. ADMIRE THE ART
Reykjavik’s art scene is not hard to find. As you walk through the streets of this creative city, you will find street art covering the sides of many buildings. Visit the Sun Voyager, a beautiful sculpture that serves as an ode to the sun. Visit the Harpa Concert Hall ; whether you simply stroll past it or attend an event here, the structure is impressive and unique. Also, while we did not visit any during our time here, Reykjavik is also home to several different art museums.
8. RELAX AT THE BLUE LAGOON
While not technically in the city of Reykjavik, it would be in your best interest to drive the 45-minutes to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Choose the package that best fits your budget and be prepared for ultimate relaxation. Swim and float around in the 98-104°F (37-40°C) water, enjoy a cold beverage at the swim up bar, and lather your skin with an algae mud mask. You can even pay a little extra to enjoy an in-water massage! But be sure to book your tickets in advance.
9. BOOK AN EXCURSION
Feeling a little adventurous? Why not book an excursion. There are a wide variety of tours available around Reykjavik. Strap on some crampons and hike up a glacier! I recommend using Glacier Guides. We booked a glacial tour with them from Skaftafell, but they offer tours from Reykjavik and they will pick you up from your hotel. Snorkel between the continents in the clearest, purest water you will find anywhere. Dive.is even offers combo tours that allow you to snorkel and experience the famous Golden Circle, explore lava caves, ride Icelandic horses, or go whale watching!
10. STAY AT THE ALDA HOTEL
Looking for a great place to stay while you’re in Reykjavik? The Alda Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Reykjavik’s downtown area, making it a quick, easy walk to many of the destinations I have already mentioned. The front desk staff were incredibly helpful and even surprised us with a bottle of wine and chocolates for our honeymoon! The rooms are impeccably clean, as are the amenities. This hotel offers a fitness room, an outdoor hot tub, and a restaurant/bar area. Also, instead of a traditional room phone, we were given an android cell phone at check-in which we could take with us outside the hotel. We could use it to make local calls and access various travel apps useful for tourists!
Have you been to Reykavik, Iceland? We’d love to hear your stories and tips in the comment section below! Read Next > Iceland Road Trip: 5 Epic Hidden Gems to Seek Out