What to do in Reykjavík

 In Local Advises, Summer in Iceland, What to do

Do you want to spend some time exploring Reykjavík or simply have a weekend getaway in Reykjavík? It has never been easier with the free stopover from our major airlines to stop in Reykjavík. Wandering what to do in Reykjavík, what to see and where to go.

Reykjavík is definitely a city worth visiting, with its endless opportunities for fun and adventure. It‘s maybe not the biggest city you will visit but definitely has a big heart. Reykjavík is known for its colorful houses and crazy nightlife. Here you can find out all about what to do in Reykjavík.

Most of the time you should be able to do your exploring by foot. Walking around the center of Reykjavík is not too hard, streets you must walk are Laugarvegur, Skólavörðurstígur, Bankastræti, Lækjargata and down to the Grandi sight as well, along with the harbor area.

Hallgrímskirkja

Arts and Culture

Reykjavík is definitely the place for you to explore the world of arts and culture. You will find dozens of art museums and galleries when strolling around town on foot. The largest ones are Reykjavík Art gallery, The national gallery of Iceland, Marshall House and Kjarval museum. Also just walking around Reykjavík center brings you some of Iceland’s finest architecture, Hallgrímskirja curch being the icon of Reykjavík city center, the tower is inspired by the basalt columns of Svartifoss design by Guðjón Samúelsson. Harpa Concert hall with its geometry hexagonal glass and fluctuating led lights is amazing to see at night time.

If you want to know more about Iceland the history and culture or nature and wildlife you could go to visit the National Museum of Iceland, the open air Árbær museum, Wonders of Iceland in Perlan also the Whales of Iceland museum, Maritime Museum, Aurora Reykjavík and the Northern light center. You could also visit the Icelandic Phallological Museum.

What to do in Reykjavík

Nightlife in Reykjavík

If you would ask an Icelandic person what to do in Reykjavík, I‘m pretty sure most of them would tell you to go out for a night downtown. Then they would explain for you not to go to early if you want to meet the locals and experience a real Icelandic night out. The thing is that Icelander will be out for partying around 1 am, why? Because they drink at home early to save money not just a penny, more like few thousand kronas, drinking in Iceland is not cheap. The cheapest is to buy alcohol in the duty-free or in vinbúðin, read more about vínbúðin here What to buy in Iceland. The clubs and bars are normally open till 4 or 5 am on Fridays and Saturdays and till 1 am other nights. So you better be ready for a real night out. If you want to do it the Icelandic way you have to eat before you go home, head to Lækjartorg or Ingólfstorg after the party and you can grab a slice of pizza, waffles or hlöllabátur (most popular fast food of Icelanders after party) to eat before you go home so your day after will be a bit more bearable.

Shopping and design

In the center of Reykjavík, you will find a big variety of shops and Icelandic design. I recommend also to visit the second-hand markets, the biggest one is Kolaportið it‘s only open on Saturday and Sunday from 11 am – 17 pm where you can find everything from Icelandic delicacy, books, old and new stuff and traditional  hand knitted Icelandic wool sweaters a must have souvenir, learn more about what to buy in Iceland. You will also find at least 3 red cross charity shops where you can often find hidden gems. Around the center, you will also find popular Icelandic fashion shops such as Spaks Mans Spjarir, GK, Stefánsbúð, Aftur, Kronkron, and Jör

Kolaportið second hand market

Swimming pools

The best thing about Reykjavík is without a doubt all the great swimming pools, you’ll find them all around the city. Swimming pools in Iceland are very popular among the locals, people will either start their day there, end it or just hang out especially if the weather is good. Doesn‘t matter if there’s a storm and -5°outside you can still enjoy the swimming pools, the hot tubs are commonly around 36°-40° even 42°C so you won‘t get cold. One thing you should know, you will be required to get naked among all the others before entering the pool. The changing rooms are gender separated, it‘s not a peculiar thing we do. It‘s all about hygiene, for you and the other guests of the pool, everyone have to wash theirselves thoroughly before entering the pool without bathing suit. Because there is a very low level of chlorine in the pools, if you try to avoid it, the bathing guard or the locals will most likely stop you from entering the pool without washing yourself. You can find all the swimming pools their location and opening hours on this website www.sundlaugar.is

Activities

If you are only stopping in Reykjavík over the weekend or short period you might want to go for a day tour from Reykjavík. Either joining a scheduled guided tour or rent a car and go exploring. The areas that are the most popular one is the golden circle, it‘s in an easy range of driving not too far from the city. You will experience all the best from nature and it is kind of a must to see if you ever visit Iceland. There you’ll see the famous Þingvellir National Park where you’ll witness the crack between the North American and Eurasian Tectonic plates,  Geysir which the name geyser comes from and also Gullfoss waterfall. Don‘t be surprised though if it‘s really crowded, a lot of people are doing exactly the same as you, as I said before, it‘s Iceland’s most popular sight. If you are looking for a little bit less crowded areas you could visit the Reykjanes peninsula or Snæfellsnes peninsula. You will find a lot of booking booths and information desks in the center which could help you decided what to do. Tours from Reykjavík can include for example scuba diving, horseback riding, caving, hot springs and glacier hiking.  Activities within the city could be whale watching, bowling or going to the cinema.

Geysir in Iceland

Eat and drink your way through Reykjavík

In Reykjavík you will find a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and bars. In the last 10 years or so the food culture here in Iceland has taken a big step and you can find some outstanding local and international food. You can find everything from the best sweaty burger to 4-course fancy meals and everything in between in Reykjavík. I would say when visiting a city like Reykjavík it is as important to enjoy the amazing food as it‘s to explore the city. Doesn‘t matter whether you want a traditional Icelandic meal such as lamb, seafood or meat soup. If you want real Icelandic food you can visit BSÍ bus terminal you can find boiled sheep head, it‘s a very traditional Icelandic plate and whether you love it or not, it can be a fun experience, they serve half of the head on a plate, doesn‘t look really good and I‘m not going to post a picture, so that it can be a surprise for you. The Icelandic hot dog is also something you shouldn‘t miss out on, you can get hot dogs in many places around town but there is only one place that I can recommend and it is Bæjarins Bestu („the towns best“) a hot dog stand near the harbor. There you will eat the best hot dog in Iceland. If you want the classic you ask for „eina með öllu“ which means one with everything, that includes, raw onion, fried onion, sweet mustard, ketchup and remoulade (mayonnaise-based sauce). It‘s cheap and good. Then you will most likely stumble across nice bars serving local beer from local breweries, which I highly recommend to try.

Icelandic meat soup

This should give you some idea about what to do in Reykjavík. Of course, there are a lot more things to do and it all depends on your preferences and interest. But feel free to leave a comment with the things you did or want to do in Reykjavík.

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