Reykjavik Harpa

A Guide to Reykjavik

Although Iceland is known for it’s amazing natural beauty, the capital of Reykjavik is a gem that should not be overlooked.  Whether exploring as a break from the outdoor action or on a trip of it’s own, Reykjavik’s charm is worth getting to know.

Where to Stay in Reykjavik

Kex Hostel

Skúlagata 28, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

We love the community feel of a great hostel when traveling.  Whether you are a solo traveler or with a group, Kex hostel is a perfect home base within Reykjavik.  The hostel boasts eclectic decor and amazing biscuits (coincidentally, “Kex” means biscuit in Icelandic).   Even if you choose not to stay at Kex we highly recommend grabbing a drink at their bar!

The Perfect Group Airbnb

If you’re traveling to Iceland with a group, look no further than this fabulous Airbnb.  We stayed here with a group of friends and loved this Airbnb because it had two bathrooms, plenty of space to spread out, and instagram-worthy decor.  It’s central location is within walking distance to the bus station & major attractions within Reykjavik.  If you have a rental car, parking is very easy as well.

Art Deco Couple’s Retreat

For the jetsetting couple we recommend checking out this chic Airbnb in the heart of Reykjavik.  Located near all of the sights and with plenty of parking nearby, this is a great home base for your Icelandic escapades.    

Art Deco Couple's Retreat

Art Deco Couple's Retreat

Things you must see in Reykjavik

Sites

Reykjavik is home to many amazing buildings.. One of the most impressive, Hallgrímskirkja Church, features incredible architecture and offers great views of the city from the steeple.  The Church was completed in 1986 and the design was inspired by cooling lava. Before you leave, be sure to check out the Einar Jónsson Sculpture Garden next to the church.

The Perlan Observation DeckHarpa, and City Hall are also worth visiting. These buildings boast creative architecture, big windows, and free admission!

Street Art

Reykjavik is a city of colors- colorful rooftops, houses, doorways & buildings.  Take the time to also explore the colorful street art that covers alleyways and buildings throughout the city.  

Shopping

For the fashion lover, Reykjavik has a lot to offer.  If you are looking for the perfect winter coat look no further than 66 North. The local outerwear retailer offers warm and fashionable coats.   Another great spot (especially for minimalists) is a shop called Einvera.  Einvera carries a number of labels, most notably Kalda, an Icelandic label owned by two sisters.  Another favorite shop of ours was 38 þrep.  38 þrep boasts an artfully curated selection of Italian designer clothes and accessories.

Where to Eat & Drink in Reykjavik

Resto

Rauðarárstígur 27-29, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland

Resto is a great place to go out for a delicious, simple me. The restaurant is small so make sure you book a reservation in advance. Resto boasts a wide selection of fish, meats, and even some vegetarian options.  We loved the salmon here.

Café Babalú

Skólavörðustígur 22, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

For an affordable and delicious meal we love stopping at Café Babalú.  Be sure to try their delicious lamb soup!

Icelandic Fish & Chips

Tryggvagata 11, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

Icelandic Fish & Chips is a must stop spot for a delicious and inexpensive meal. For the equivalent of 8 USD you can get the local catch of the day with sweet potato or regular fries and your choice of a ton of great sauces. My favorite was the house cocktail sauce.  Icelandic Fish & Chips has both a brick and mortar restaurant and a food truck that conveniently parks outside the bars in the evening).

Dons Donuts

Dons Donuts is a food truck in Reykjavik that our friend Debbie claims are the best she has ever had!  On weekends it’s conveniently located outside of the bars making it nearly impossible to pass up.  If you spot the truck, be sure to try!

Reykjavik Roasters

Kárastígur 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

One of the best parts about traveling to Europe is the coffee.  Reykjavik Roasters is our favorite coffee shop in Iceland.  The atmosphere is relaxed and the coffee exceptional.  If you’re like us and like to start exploring as soon as you arrive, a Reykjavik Roasters Cortado is a great pick me up for a day of exploring!

Bergsson Mathus

Templarasund 3, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

Looking for the perfect place to grab breakfast after an early flight?  Look no further than Bergsson Mathus. Bergsson Mathus opens at 7 AM and offers a great selection of breakfast food and coffee.

Bravo

Laugavegur 22, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

Looking for great drinks, a relaxed atmosphere, and cool people?  Search no further than Bravo.  Bravo is bar boasting an intimate atmosphere & a wide selection of local beers.  Stop here between hitting up the shops or for an early evening drink.  

Laundromat Cafe

Austurstræti 9, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

If you want a great lunch, have to do laundry, wish to play a board game, or want a drink, the Laundromat Cafe is your one-stop stop.  Come here for a meal or a drink before going out on the town!

Kaldi

Laugavegur 20b, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

Love a cozy atmosphere and great drinks? Us too! We loved Kaldi’s extensive selection of micro brews & inviting atmosphere.  It’’s centrally located and walking distance to countless other bars.

Austur

Hafnarstræti 8, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

For a great night dancing, check out. Austur.  Austur is a club located in downtown Reykjavik. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as people in Iceland start partying late and stay out well into the morning.  If you are looking to try a local drink, order a shot of Opal.  

Amazing Salmon from Resto

Amazing Salmon from Resto

Getting Around Reykjavik

Getting to and from the airport is very easy.  The bus is affordable and conveniently drops off in downtown Reykjavik.  Cabs can be very expensive so unless you have a large group, the bus is the cheapest option.

The city of Reykjavik is incredibly walkable, but if you plan to explore the natural beauty of Iceland (which we highly recommend), you’ll want a rental car. Street parking is fairly easy to find throughout the city and is relatively affordable.

For rental cars, make sure you don’t skimp on insurance, since both the weather and terrain in Iceland are known to be extreme.  The worst way to end a vacation is paying for damage to a rental car.

Day Trips From Reykjavik

Reykjavik is a beautiful city, but some of the best sites in Iceland are the landscape itself.

If you are tight on time & looking to experience the varied landscapes Iceland has to offer, drive theGolden Circle.  The major stops are a GeysirGullfoss Waterfall, and þingvellir National Park. Depending on how many stops you add, the Golden Circle takes a little less than a day.

Another great day trip is a tour of Iceland’s rugged southern coast.  There are a lot of amazing sites including an abandoned plane & the picturesque town of Vik.  

If you are looking to take a tour there are endless options.  We recommend avoiding a tour that is you can drive yourself.  We loved Iceland Rover’s Þórsmörk Glacier Valley tour.  The tour takes you to the base of the Volcano that erupted in 2010 & an amazing canyon that is not easily accessible by rental car.

What do you love in Reykjavik?