You can read about our entire Iceland journey here.
Top Things to do in Reykjavík
While not in Reykjavík, this is a great stop on the way to the city after flying in. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located within a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Grindavík. You can swim in the geothermal waters while enjoying natural face masks and a delicious fruit skyr smoothie! It is well-known and a highly visited tourist attraction in Iceland (not to mention a bit pricey), but we found the experience fun and fitting for our first time in Iceland. Next time, we will probably opt for one of the smaller “hot pot” hot springs located throughout the country.
Tips: Pre-booking is required. "Comfort" tickets get you a towel, one drink, and a silica mud mask. Purchase the "Premium" tickets to get extra towels, bathrobes, and sandals, plus a silica mud mask, an algae mask, and a drink of your choice. For an enhanced experience, the "Retreat Spa" tickets provide access to an exclusive lounge, and offer private and spacious changing rooms. We chose the Premium and recommend it, unless you want to pack your own sandals (and maybe a robe/cover-up since it is usually chilly). Tickets can be purchased here: https://booking.bluelagoon.com/
Hallgrimskirkja is a Lutheran church in Reykjavík with an impressive and unique expressionist facade, taking over 40 years to build and completed in 1986. The church is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland and also contains an observation tower, up near the bells, that is accessible via an elevator (and a couple flights of stairs), offering amazing views of Reykjavík and beyond.
Tips: Make sure to get tickets in the church gift shop before queuing for the elevator. Adult tickets cost 1000kr (it is worth it!).
Sólfarið - Sun Voyager
Sun Voyager is a sculpture located in Reykjavík, along the Sæbraut road, adjacent to the water, and is described as "an ode to the sun". It is an interesting sculpture and commemorates Reykjavík’s 200th anniversary (in August of 1990).
Reykjavík Town Hall (Ráðhús Reykjavíkur)
Reykjavík Town Hall is a modern building situated on the shore of Lake Tjörnin in the heart of Reykjavík. The Town Hall is also the official tourist information center (the Guide to Iceland) and is a great place to obtain information about traveling around Iceland from the friendly staff.
Parliament House (Alþingishúsið)
Reykjavík’s Parliament House is in the heart of Reykjavík, adjacent to Austurvöllur Square. It is a where the Icelandic parliament is located, called Alþingi, and was designed by a Danish architect in the 19th century.
Austurvöllur is a public square in Reykjavík across from the Parliament House, and is a popular spot for locals to hang out. It also contains a large statue of Iceland’s leader of independence, Jón Sigurðsson.
Skólavörðustígur and Laugavegur
These picturesque shopping streets are full of cute shops, bars, and cafes. They are a great spot to grab a coffee, souvenir, or just browse the local goods. A must-do when exploring downtown Reykjavík!
Salt Eldhús (Culinary School)
If you feel like taking a culinary class to learn how to make traditional Icelandic food, then schedule a class at Salt Eldhús. We did not have time on this trip, but it comes highly recommended from others.
Food and Drinks in Reykjavík
Located in the Hotel Odinsve, Snaps is a bistro style bar and restaurant with great gourmet food, influenced by Scandinavian cuisine. It is a delicious spot for dinner, one that is definitely popular with the locals, and will not disappoint. Try the fresh catch of the day, cooked to perfection!
Tips: Contact by phone or email to reserve a table in advance (note: they only take reservations until 6:30pm).
Brauð & Co.
Brauð & Co. is an amazing small bakery in Reykjavík with delicious and fresh pastries, including Kanil Snúður (Icelandic cinnamon roll). The building is so colorful and artsy; definitely stop by!
Reykjavik Roasters is named one of the best coffee shops in Reykjavík, serving fresh coffee made with selectively imported beans, and the two cafe locations offer a nice and cozy atmosphere.
C is for Cookie
C is for Cookie is a charming little cafe, serving homemade cakes and pastries (in addition to breakfast and lunch) and Illy coffee. Plus, the artwork on the side of the cafe is too cute!
Kaffibarinn is a hip bar in downtown Reykjavik, serving up local beers and cocktails, and known to be a popular nightlight spot. They also serve Red Vines (licorice) as a bar snack! :)
Icelandic Craft Bar
We happened upon Icelandic Craft Bar and opted to try some of Iceland’s craft beers. The atmosphere and staff are welcoming and friendly. Be sure to try the “Shark Tale” shot for an interesting Icelandic treat (a piece of fermented shark followed by a shot, usually of Brennivín, Icelandic unsweetened schnapps).
Kaffitár is another cute and cozy cafe in downtown Reykjavík, with all coffee sourced from farmers in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Brazil, and freshly baked goods.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is a street food chain serving hot dogs in small stands around Reykjavík since the late 1930’s. The menu is small, but be sure to try a hot dog with all the works. The Guardian named it the best hot dog in Europe in 2006, and it was featured in Anthony Bourdain's travel show "No Reservations".
Where to Stay in Reykjavík
Hotel Odinsve is a boutique hotel in the heart of Reykjavík, offering well appointed rooms in the main building, and some apartments in an adjacent building. We were upgraded to a one-bedroom suite, which was clean and spacious, and offered a nice view over the city.