Exploring Reykjavik and Beyond
Exploring Reykjavik

Exploring Reykjavik and Beyond

Indescribably beautiful. This land of vikings, volcanos, and earthquakes is nothing short of unforgettable. Exploring Reykjavik? Let’s go!
Traveling to Reykjavik
exploring reykjavik

For a new discount airline running out of the States, our experience with WOW Air was a rather good one… There were no extra charges at check-in and the employees were extremely friendly. This said, it is worth noting that the super-cheap fares do not include shiny packages of nuts or caffeinated liquids…The jet lag challenge: A five-hour flight from Boston to Iceland, spanning five time zones, with sunset and sunrise added for dramatic effect.

exploring reykjavik

Reykjavik Arrival Tips:

1.International arrivals land in Keflavik, a 45-minute drive to Reykjavik, so a transfer is needed… We recommend Flybus. With departures 40 minutes after each flight arrives, they comfortably deliver to your hotel’s doorstep for about $20/person;
2.Make sure your hotel allows for early check-in, or it could turn into a very uncomfortable morning…

Exploring Reykjavik
exploring reykjavik

Although a small city by most standards, there’s really no shortage of things to see and do when exploring Reykjavik. Many tourists start with Hallgrímskirkja, the magnificent church that took nearly 40 years to complete. Take the elevator 244 feet to the top, and you’ll get some pretty incredible views and a good lay of the land…

exploring reykjavik

From Hallgrímskirkja, take a stroll down the colorful streets emanating towards the waterfront. Peak inside Reykjavik’s impressive number of cool and funky shops and restaurants(“sooo cute!” as Krissy said repeatedly)..

Once at the waterfront, check out the Old Harbor, the amazing glass cube that is the Harpa Concert Hall, and The Sun Voyager sculpture. Of course, all Reykjavik sights come with beautiful views of the Esja mountain range across the bay..

Your Chariot Has Arrived

exploring reykjavik

Exploring Reykjavik by foot is a cinch, but the hydrogen-powered bus system is definitely worth mentioning.. There are lines that run through almost every residential neighborhood, and you can buy tickets at the BSI or Hlemmur bus stations, but there’s also a great app to save you the trouble.. They also have an app that allows you to follow the bus location in real time, so you’re not standing out in the cold for too long.. Make sure to grab the transfer ticket when getting off, and your next ride (supposed to be within 1.5 hours, but very lenient) is free..

Let’s Eat!

exploring reykjavik

Yelp.com doesn’t seem to service Reykjavik, so here’s a couple of tips that might help. If you’re into trying traditional food, you can get your Hakarl (fermented shark) or sheep’s head cheese at Cafe Loki. Grillmarkadurinn is highly rated and serves puffin, whale, and horse on the menu..

Normally adventurous eaters, we skipped all of these options… Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern have both noted Hakarl as the most disgusting thing they’ve ever tried, and we’ll take their word for it… Puffin, whale, or horse? Just doesn’t seem right..

So we stuck to the delicious burgers at Tommy’s, the flakiest fish and chips ever at (you guessed it) Icelandic Fish and Chips, and tacos served a la wood log at Bunk Bar… I know, not crazy stuff here, but all very delicious, and totally recommended… For more recommendations for great restaurants and the multitude of music options in Reykjavik, check out www.grapevine.is..

Day Trips from Reykjavik
exploring reykjavik

Reykjavik is a really wonderful city with plenty to see and do, but what a shame if we had missed out on all the natural wonders of Iceland! There are many tour options, and although I’m sure we’ll be back for more, we couldn’t have been more pleased with our choices…

The Golden Circle

exploring reykjavik

The Golden Circle is a 300km route starting and ending in Reykjavik, that showcases some of Iceland’s most famous natural landmarks. There are many operators with similar offerings, but we chose a tour recommended by popular Iceland travel blog, www.iheartreykjavik.net, with Icelandic Mountain Guides, called Golden Circle and Traditional Tastes.

exploring reykjavik

Our knowledgeable and friendly guide, Siggy, took our very small group on a twelve-hour tour around the countryside of Reykjavik… Our itinerary:

1. A tour of Fridheimer Greenhouses, which grows 18% of Iceland’s tomatoes, complete with a lunch of homemade tomato soup and Bloody Mary’s
2. The amazing Gullfoss waterfalls
3. The steam and powerful geysers of Geysir
4. Icelandic milk cows, Farm-to-table burgers and ice cream at Efstidalur Dairy
5. A roadside visit with the famous Icelandic Horses
6. A soak in the hot spring steam baths and pools at Laugarvatn Fontana
7. Lamb steak and Arctic Char dinners with Icelandic beers at Lindin Restaurant
8. UNESCO world heritage site, Thingvellir National Park, where Vikings held the oldest existing parliament in the world, and the North American and European tectonic plates are literally pulling apart. Scenes from the popular TV show, Game of Thrones are also shot here.

exploring reykjavik
Bet you didn’t know:

1. There are large unusual rocks around Iceland that are inhabited by Elves (Hidden People). On occasion, the rocks need to be moved due to construction projects, and special Elf consultants are contacted to negotiate with the elves, or “very bad things” will happen. Disturbing the elves is a very real concern and these circumstances have been brought in front of Icelandic Parliament as recently as 2015.
2. Trolls turn to stone if caught in the daylight, the most famous example being Reynisdrangar, where two trolls got caught stuck trying to drag a three-masted ship from the sea…

The South Coast

exploring reykjavik

Upon recommendation from Leon Hill, Iceland’s Secret Solstice Festival marketing director, we rented a car and headed out on Iceland’s South Coast along Route 1… We did some research and hoped we could time everything just right. Multiple stops for exploration, dinner in the coastal village of Vik, and a return trip in 2.5 hours of darkness, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights..

We rented a Toyota Yaris hatchback from the nice people at Cheap Car Rental Iceland for about half the price advertised elsewhere (they even delivered it to us!), and we were on our way..

With stops at the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, the ruins of the crashed landed 1974 Douglas Super DC-3 on Sólheimasandur beach, and sunset with the puffin colony at Dyrhólaey, it was quite a day for the memory books. We even made it on time for a yummy late dinner in Vik! Now for some Northern Lights!?

exploring reykjavik

As scheduled, the sun dipped below the horizon at roughly 11pm, although the sky never darkened completely.. Instead of becoming completely dark, the glow of dusk just floated across the north sky, exactly where the Aurora Borealis should have been, and back to the east sky before rising again just before 4am… Add a full moon, and we were out of luck, stymied, denied… Is it too much to ask for everything to go our way!? Oh well, we’ll have to wait until next time through.. See you again soon, Iceland!

If you’re planning on exploring Reykjavik, you might want to check out our Reykjavik resource page.

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2 Responses to “Exploring Reykjavik and Beyond”

  1. Britt

    Iceland was a huge disappointment. Foss girl was rude and everywhere was ridiculously expensive. Food wasn’t good at all and a stringy burger cost 25$. The people and the prices made something magical into something horrible

    • Josh Sedivy

      Fair enough, nothing worse than spending your hard-earned money and vacation time in a place you don’t like. What’s the best place you’ve visited?


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