A month ago I was traipsing around Reykjavik, Iceland and the surrounding area with my college roommate. While I sit in a non-Icelandic coffee shop back home, I figured it was time I finally shared my Reykjavik city guide. And since Reykjavik is a teeny tiny city, this guide is going to include everything we did in Iceland that was in about a 2-hour radius. A little extra bonus travel ideas — what a true treat.
Where to Stay
Since Reykjavik is so small, anywhere you stay in town is walking distance from most things. Based on price we opted for Centerhotel Midgardur. It’s at the top of Laugavegur Street (the main shopping street) and just a 5-10 minute walk from the most bustling part of town. The hotel was clean, hip and perfect for our needs. Breakfast was complimentary every morning, which helped with our budget as food in Iceland is crazy expensive. As Biana mentioned in her Reykjavik post, there are a bunch of Centerhotel locations around town, so you can pick a location that best fits your needs.
Where to Eat and Drink
Our goal was to spend as little as possible on food during this trip, which proved relatively difficult. Most meals were a standard $20 for one item and a tea or soda. Definitely not the cheapest place I’ve travelled. So if you’re looking for some cheaper, no frill options, this list is for you. If you want something a bit nicer, check out Biana’s recommendations.
- Sandholt – I’m still dreaming about their hot chocolate and baked goods.
- Svarta Kaffið – The soup in a bread bowl is perfect for a chilly night.
- Icelandic Fish and Chips – The Icelandic fish and chips hit the spot after a day of glacier hiking.
- Reykjavik Chips – Because who is never in the mood to chow down on some french fries?
- Mai Thai Market and Bistro – You can get a delicious Pad Thai and then shop for all the Thai groceries your heart could desire.
- Noodle Station – If you want ramen-inspired soup, this place is for you!
- Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – If you went to Reykjavik and didn’t eat one of these hot dogs, did you even really go to Reykjavik?
- Taqueria La Poblana – This wasn’t a really authentic Mexican burrito, but it was really delicious.
- Hlemmur Mathöll – This food market houses La Poblana (see above) and some other delicious looking food/drink options!
- Brauð & Co – Prepare for delicious pastries as far as the eye can see.
Where to Shop
- 10-11 – Yes, I know this is a convenience store, but it’s a bomb place to get all the Icelandic candies.
- Ísey – I picked up a ROCKING Icelandic wool poncho from here, and I don’t regret the $200+ I spent on it. My wallet does, but my heart does not.
- Art Patra – This art gallery is filled with gorgeous Iceland-inspired paintings. I ended up with “Dance in the darkness,” which is now hanging in my living room.
- Woolcano – This was one of my favorite places to pick souvenirs.
- Eymundsson – This bookstore has a lot of great local gift options. My roommate got a fun print here and I picked up a Christmas gift for my niece.
- Aurum – This lifestyle store has all sorts of beautiful interior items, clothing and more.
- Farmers and Friends – It’s like an Icelandic All Saints store — so beautiful and cozy.
- Cintamani – You come here to buy all the fabulous and hip Icelandic outerwear.
What to See and Do
- Hallgrímskirkja – If you go to Reykjavik and don’t visit Hallgrímskirkja, did you even go?!
- The Sun Voyager – This status is along a walking path beside the water. Hit it up as you go for a stroll.
- Harpa – This concert hall is gorgeous. Even if you’re not seeing a show, go to check out the architecture and gift shop, they’ve got some good goodies.
- Horseback Riding – We went horseback riding with Islenski Hesturinn and couldn’t have had a better time. It’s only 15 minutes outside downtown Reykjavik and you’ll feel like a badass tolt-ing through the lava fields.
- Golden Circle Tour – Whether you rent a car and do it yourself or take a bus tour, make sure to hit up the Golden Circle. We did our tour with Extreme Iceland and had a great time. Our tour stopped at Gullfoss, Geysir, National Park Thingvellir, Hellisheidi Power Plant, Faxi waterfall, Kerid and more. Plus, we stopped at Farmhotel Efstidalur for some delish homemade ice cream.
- South Coast Tour – Just like the Golden Circle, we hit up the South Coast with Extreme Iceland. Our tour included black sand beach of Reynisdrangar, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skógafoss Waterfall and a glacier hike at Solheimajokull. Also just like Golden Circle, you could do this on your own if you rent a car.
- Glacier Hike – This was part of our South Coast tour, but you could do it on it’s own as well. We hiked Solheimajokull, which was about 2 hours round trip. It’s a cool experience and you learn a lot about Icelandic nature and glaciers specifically … obviously.
- Blue Lagoon – Potentially the most basic bitch thing to do in Iceland … the Blue Lagoon. It’s expensive to get in, but it was worth it for my first Icelandic trip. I don’t think I’d do it again, but I don’t regret the cost. We also opted to buy in-water massages, which were totally amazing!