The world’s northernmost capital city is also the world’s greenest city, producing 85% of its energy from renewable sources. Reykjavik is so far north that the amount of daylight throughout the year ranges drastically from only 4 hours to 24 a day. Twenty thousand cats calling Reykjavik home just can’t be wrong. Let’s Visit Reykjavik!
Visit Reykjavik: What To Do?
Incredibly unique landscape, unusual architecture, great food, and some of the freshest air in the world? You too will fall for the magic of Reykjavik, Iceland.
Visit Reykjavik: Let’s Take a Walk!
With just over 100 square miles to explore, Reykjavik will surprise with unusual architecture and stunning views:
Iceland’s tallest church cannot be missed, literally and figuratively. This stunning structure soars 244 feet into the Reykjavik sky and is the best place to grab incredible views of the city below. For just under $8 USD, we’d say it’s worth the trip up to the viewing deck.
Harpa Concert Hall
Although unfortunately, we did not attend an event inside this beauty, we were quite impressed with it’s colorful and unique glass façade. Opening its doors in mid-2011, this hall sits on the banks of the bay and is a photo opp not to be missed.
Solfar Sun Voyager
Said to symbolize a dream of hope, progress, and freedom, this landmark sculpture is just east of the Harpa Concert Hall. Relax on the rocky banks and take in the beauty of the sea and Videy Island.
Visit Reykjavik: What To Eat?
When finished exploring Reykjavik there are plenty of delicious options to fill your belly and warm your bones. Here are two of our favorites:
Tommy Burger at B5
While this place is known as “the place” for late-night bottle service and dancing, we went for lunch and quite enjoyed the burgers and atmosphere.
Icelandic Fish and Chips
No surprises here, the menu is full of Icelandic fish and chips, but they are oh so good! We stopped in for lunch one day and found the crispy warm fish to be the perfect cure for a chilly day.
What To Do? Book a Day Trip!
It would be a disservice to travel all the way to Iceland and not venture out of Reykjavik for a day or two:
We booked a Golden Circle tour with Icelandic Mountain Guides, a popular small-group tour company operating out of Reykjavik. We were picked up from our hotel and had quite an adventure through the Icelandic countryside. The entire day was amazing, and we could recommend it more. The description for reads as follows:
“On this popular day tour from Reykjavík, we combine the famous Golden Circle route with stops at local farms for some traditional tastes, a visit to a local spa, and a chance to see the Northern Lights.
Heading out of Reykjavík, we set our course through Þingvellir to the local greenhouse, Friðheimar. There we get a taste of their delicious (homegrown) tomato soup and freshly baked bread for Lunch. Next, we visit the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall and the great Geyser geothermal area where the reliable Strokkur geyser spouts hot water up to 30 m.
After enjoying these jewels of Icelandic nature, we turn our attention back to the taste buds with a visit to the farm Efstidalur. There we get a few samples of their local products such as farm-produced Skyr and delicious ice cream. Then it´s time for some relaxation at the geothermal spa Fontana followed by a 2-course dinner at the local restaurant Lindin. After a nice meal, we head out to explore the mysterious nights of Iceland where we go and search for the magical Northern Lights.”
The South Coast
We went the independent route in search of the Northern lights, renting a car for a little exploration of Iceland’s south coast. The 200-mile round trip would be full of enormous waterfalls, black-sand beaches, an abandoned warplane, and hopefully, the elusive northern lights. And what an incredible day it was, as we drove towards the tiny town of Vik on Iceland’s southeast coast.
Reykjavik has no shortage of car rental options, and we went with Cheap Car Rentals Iceland (one guess what we googled). They delivered the car to our door and off we went!
First stop: Seljalandsfoss, a 200-foot waterfall, about an hour and a half into our drive.
Second stop: Solheimasandur beach and the famous abandoned DC plane that went down in 1973. When we were there you could drive to the wreckage, though apparently someone’s private property. The owner has now closed the road, which means you can only access via foot. This makes for a 5-mile round trip walk, but we’d definitely recommend it. You can find it labeled on Google maps under ‘Solheimasandur Plane Wreck’.
Third stop: Dyrholaey peninsula, complete with puffins, a lighthouse, and a massive stone arch carved out by the relentless sea. Take a look at this beautiful sunset video we recorded while there.
Fourth stop: Food! Luckily we stumbled upon the highly rated Sudur restaurant in the small town of Vik. We were greeted with a smile, served fantastic food, and left very happy.
Fifth ‘stop’: With our fingers crossed as tightly as possible, we were in search of northern lights the entire drive home. Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be seen. Guess we’ll have to go back! Have you seen the Northern Lights? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
Visit Reykjavik: Book a Tour!
Getting to Reykjavik
Getting to Reykjavik: FLY
If planned in advance you can find reasonable, direct flights to Reykjavik, from cities like London for $39, Barcelona for $60, Paris for $71, Miami for $99, or Boston for $100 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.
Reykjavik Flight Deals
Keflavik International Airport to Reykjavik City Center
Fly into Keflavik International Airport(KEF) and head towards the Reykjavik city center, about 31 miles away. How will you get there?
Tickets can be purchased from the Flybus or Airport Express kiosks at the airport and cost $22-$26 per person. This is our recommended mode of transport into the city.
Readily available outside of the airport, a taxi to the city center will cost about $130 for up to 4 passengers.
If planning on exploring Iceland, renting a car is a relatively affordable option. It’s easy to get around Reykjavik and Iceland by car. All the major car rental companies are represented at the airport and the directions into the city center are very easy to follow.
Getting around in Reykjavik
The hydrogen-powered bus system in Reykjavik is one of the world’s best. Download the user-friendly Strætó app to purchase tickets and follow live bus locations.
Walkscore.com gives Reykjavik a score of 86, calling it very walkable. We also found this to be true. Walking around Reykjavik is recommended, just make sure you’re bundled up!
Uber is currently not available in Iceland.
Where To Stay in Reykjavik:
Where To Stay in Reykjavik: HOTELS
Reykjavik offers a wide range of hotels to choose from. High-end hotels like 101 Hotel or Vaktahouse run about $450 a night, while reasonably-priced hotels like 100 Iceland Hotel or Reykjavik Hotel Center go for about $95 a night. When it comes to hotels, we recommend shopping Agoda.com, far and away the most competitive resource when searching for hotels in Reykjavik.
Reykjavik Hotel Deals
Where To Stay in Reykjavik: HOSTELS
With only 19 hostels in Reykjavik, you should plan in advance to ensure a bed. Prices generally range from $30-$40 a night for a dorm room, while private rooms cost a bit more at about $70-$120 per night. Hostelworld is our recommended resource when searching for hostels in Reykjavik.
Reykjavik Hostel Deals
Where To Stay in Reykjavik: AIRBNB
We love Airbnb! From private rooms to entire homes, there are plenty of choices when visiting Reykjavik. If you’re a first-timer with Airbnb, use this coupon and enjoy $35 off of your stay.
Where To Stay in Reykjavik: NEIGHBORHOODS
Choosing a neighborhood is an important part of trip planning that should not be overlooked! Here are some areas worth considering when deciding where to stay in Reykjavik.
Midbaer is the city center of Reykjavik and is home to many tourist sights including the Harpa and Hallgrimskirkja church. You’ll also find countless restaurants, coffee houses, and clothing stores.
Just west of the city center, this exclusive residential neighborhood is home to Universities and some of Reykjavik’s most expensive real estate.
Just east of the Hildar neighborhood, known as the recreational area, this district is home to the main stadium, the ice skating rink, and Iceland’s largest geothermal pool.
Just east of the city center, this mostly residential neighborhood is full of schools and home to The Pearl or Perlan, a dome perched above the city’s hot water storage tanks.
Reykjavik Travel Tips:
Reykjavik travel tips: Tipping
Although always appreciated, tipping in Iceland is generally not expected. At restaurants, check the bill for a service charge and leave 10% if not already included. Taxi drivers will not expect a tip, but rounding up the fair would be a gesture accepted with a smile.
Reykjavik travel tips: Money
Iceland’s national currency is the Krona and is currently exchanging at 114.06ISK to $1USD. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATM machines are readily available.
Reykjavik travel tips: Insurance
Traveling through Reykjavik is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.