Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland. The capital of the country, this southwestern city sits right on the water. The population of Reykjavik is just over 122,000 individuals but sees a large influx of tourists every year. Reykjavik is the northernmost capital in the world, and boasts itself as a cultural hub in which tourists can truly feel the Viking spirit. As a stop on the Ring Road, which can be driven on around the entire country, Reykjavik is a great place to spend an entire trip, or a wonderful starting point for longer-term travelers.
Guest post by Jessica Lynn
Site: Classic Travel & Tours
What’s the best time to visit Reykjavik?
Tourists will enjoy visiting Reykjavik year round, although the best time to visit depends on what one is looking to do. For travelers looking for slightly warmer weather (50-60F), the summer is the time to go. Summer in Iceland boasts the option to explore under the Midnight Sun; visitors will experience nearly 24-hours of sunlight. Iceland National Day, Secret Solstice, and other festivals will also take place during the summer. This is also a perfect time to go hiking.
For those who are more interested in hiking or snowmobiling on glaciers, or in seeing the Northern Lights, the months of September through March are better times to travel. Although the weather will be colder, darker, and icier, those who are chasing the beautiful natural phenomena will get their fix at this time.
Few Facts about Reykjavik
Reykjavik is full of culture and history, so it is a wonderful place to learn about Vikings. But if you’re looking for some more quirky things to do, you can check out the museum of phalluses (with over 200 specimens), grab a beer and wonder how it was illegal in Iceland until the end of the 1980s, or examine some of the street art. Just don’t go to Reykjavik expecting to grab a Starbucks coffee or anything from McDonalds – it’s the only Western European capital that doesn’t have either.
One Day in Reykjavik Itinerary
Top Things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik has a multitude of activities that you can plan to take on throughout the day without having to travel around much! Reykjavik is an easily walkable city, so you don’t have to stress too much about public transportation. It is easy to take the bus into Reykjavik from the airport, although you can just as easily rent a car and use that as well. Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in Reykjavik.
Start your day off by grabbing breakfast at The Laundromat Cafe before heading into Reykjavik to explore. One sight to see is definitely Hallgrimskirkja, a Lutheran church that is one of Iceland’s tallest buildings.
The architecture of the church was modelled on Iceland’s many waterfalls, with the front of the structure seeming to flow downwards towards the ground. For just a few kronas, you can buy a ticket to take the elevator to the top of Hallgrimskirkja for a stunning look at Reykjavik from above.
Afterwards, head to Laugavegur, Iceland’s main shopping street. It boasts a variety of clothing and gift stores, bars, and restaurants. Grab a cup of coffee or some freshly-squeezed juice and take a gander at the colorful street art that decorates many of the buildings.
At lunch, stop by Sægreifinn for fresh seafood. If you’re a fan of lobster, order their lobster bisque – it is a well-known fan favorite. You can also head to Islenski Barinn for a fried langoustine, hardfiskurr, or – if you’re feeling daring – some hákarl, fermented shark. If the flavor leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you can always chase it down with Iceland’s caraway-flavored alcohol, Brennivin.
After lunch, take a break from the ordinary by examining the collection at the Icelandic Phallological Museum (phallus.is), which houses the world’s greatest collection of phalluses.
If that’s too odd for you, you can always check out the National Museum of Iceland, take a photo in the honeycomb shaped windows at Harpa, or even head to the harbor for a whale-watching tour.
Of course, no visit to Reykjavik is complete without a visit to the Blue Lagoon. Buy your tickets ahead of time and be prepared for lines. If you want to take photos, cameras are permitted, so bring along a waterproof phone case. The warmth, beautiful blue water, and stunning terrain surrounding the Blue Lagoon leads to a relaxing and unique experience.
For dinner and drinks at night, head back towards Laugavegur. Reykjavik may not offer a lot of nightclubs, but there are a good number of bars that you can hop between. The nightlife in Reykjavik tends to be perfect for night owls, as many people do not go out until way later in the evening. Natives tend to dress well when out, so remember to bring some nice clothes to go out in!
Where to stay in Reykjavik, Iceland?
Located fairly close to the airport, the Galaxy Pod Hostel is unlike anywhere you’ve ever stayed before. The hotel pods, with their bright and colorful lighting, are spacious and clean. The pods feature a shared bathroom, as well as a shared kitchen. The Galaxy Pod Hostel is known as one of the best value hostels in the area, and is close to the city center, so you will not be missing out on the action.
Storm Hotel by Keahotels is a great option as well, especially for couples. Experience stunning views of the sea, private bathrooms, and clean, spacious rooms. Laugavelar, the main shopping street, is less than ¼ mile from this hotel, so travelers will be right in the center of the city.
Extra Tips for visiting Reykjavik:
– Reykjavik is an absolutely gorgeous city – but make sure to prepare for adverse weather conditions. Icelandic weather can change on a dime. While it may be sunny one moment, it could be raining the next, then back to sunny, and so on and so forth. Ensure that you pack clothes – some waterproof – to prepare for Icelandic weather.
– Also, while Reykjavik nightlife is extremely fun, drinks can be somewhat expensive. Take advantage of happy hours across the city. You can also buy your alcohol duty-free at the airport for much cheaper.
– Make your trip to Reykjavik even more exciting! Check out Tripadvisor for all the activities and organized tours in Reykjavik or around the area. Make sure to purchase your tickets to all the attractions right away to skip the queues.
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