Exploring Iceland’s Capital: A Guide to Reykjavik’s Best Attractions

We had SAS flights from Tallinn to Oslo and from Oslo to Reykjavik. In Oslo, the waiting time was six hours. Oslo was warm and sunny. We had so much time and took a train to the city. A 30-minute ride costs 86NK per person one way. We walked in the center of Oslo and enjoyed seeing places familiar from our Norway trip fountains, street coffees, and King’s Castle. After walking around and enjoying the day in the street cafe, we drove back to the modern Oslo Gardermoen airport. The airport is very well organized, and the departure went very smoothly.

Reykjavik welcomed us with cloudy weather, but it did not rain as promised. After getting the rental car, we drove from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik. This 40-minute drive surprised us with the views—lava fields all around us and no trees.

We did not have a GPS navigator this time (which was so unused to us); we only had a tourist map from the tourist info box in the airport. The drive from Keflavik to Reykjavik was easy. The map was also very tourist-friendly; some landmarks were even drawn on the map (the new church, the Pearl, Smaralind, etc.). We parked the car near Laugavegur street as we wanted to walk around. But we had no Icelandic kroons (paid parking until 6 PM). You do not need cash in Iceland; you can pay with plastic everywhere. But for now, coins for parking were required.

We walked down Laugavegur street. We also visited a church, Hallgrimskirkja, an attention-seeking building in the center. Hallgrimskirkja is relatively new, built-in 1940-1974 (34 years). The church’s interior is plain and clean. It’s worth visiting to see the organ. Outside you can see the most famous Viking-Leifur Eiriksson, the statue, of course.

Sægreifinn – seafood restaurant

We had dinner at Sægreifinn fish shop—a cozy place in a small harbor. They served lobster soup and grilled shrimp, both for 800 ISK. The soup was extra delicious, and the shrimp was very fresh.

Reykjavik is home to almost three out of five Icelanders. The name Reykjavik comes from the steam seen rising from hot springs by the first settler, Ingolfur Arnarson. Despite its name, Reykjavik is a smoke-free city since all houses are heated by geothermal water.

12 Unmissable Things to Do in Reykjavik

Visit the Blue Lagoon: This geothermal spa is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions and offers a unique experience of soaking in warm, mineral-rich waters surrounded by lava fields.

Explore the Old Town: Reykjavik’s historic center is home to charming streets, colorful buildings, and many museums and art galleries.

See the Northern Lights: Reykjavik is one of the best places in the world to see the aurora borealis, with optimal viewing conditions during the winter months.

Visit Hallgrimskirkja: This towering church is Reykjavik’s most recognizable landmark and offers panoramic views of the city from the top.

Go whale watching: Reykjavik is a great place to see a variety of whale species, including humpbacks, orcas and minke whales.

Explore Reykjavik’s street art: Reykjavik has a vibrant street art scene, with murals and graffiti art to be found throughout the city.

Visit the Reykjavik Art Museum: This museum features works by Icelandic artists, as well as international contemporary art.

Take a dip in a public pool: Reykjavik has a number of public swimming pools, which are popular with locals and visitors alike.

Take a hike: Reykjavik is surrounded by beautiful countryside, with a variety of hiking trails to explore.

Go shopping: Reykjavik has a number of unique shops selling everything from traditional Icelandic sweaters to contemporary fashion and design.

One of the most popular shopping destinations in Reykjavik is the Laugavegur shopping street, which is lined with a variety of boutiques, souvenir shops, and designer stores. The street is known for its unique Icelandic designs and crafts, such as hand-knitted woolen sweaters, traditional jewelry, and ceramics. Many of these crafts are made by local artisans and are a great way to take a piece of Iceland home with you.

Another popular shopping destination is the Kringlan shopping mall, which is the largest shopping center in Iceland, and offers a wide variety of international brands, as well as a number of local designer boutiques.

In addition to these destinations, Reykjavik is home to a number of vintage and second-hand shops where you can find unique vintage clothing and accessories.

Try local food: Reykjavik is home to a variety of restaurants and cafes serving traditional Icelandic cuisine, such as smoked fish and lamb stew.

One of the most popular traditional Icelandic dishes is “Hákarl,” which is fermented shark meat. It has an acquired taste, and it is a must-try for those who are looking for a unique culinary experience. Another popular dish is “Skyr,” a type of yogurt-like dairy product that is rich in protein, and it is usually served as a dessert or breakfast with some berries or honey.

Visit the National Museum of Iceland: The National Museum of Iceland is a great place to learn about the country’s history and culture.

We booked accommodation in Thingvellir National Park, in Fosshotel Nesbud. It wasn’t easy to navigate out of Reykjavik to find route 360. We asked for advice from the local gas station, K1. The attendant was extremely friendly and even found a better free map to find a way.

We found our hotel in the beautiful valley, within sight of the gleaming geothermal plant and the volcano Hengill. The hotel had hot pots—a jacuzzi and another with thermal mineral water. It was relaxing to rest in a hot pool under the clear sky. Although the weather was quite cold (+10C) and windy, it was warm in the bath.

We slept after a long day (we started at 5 AM at home, and there was a 3-hour time difference), and the hot pot was lovely.

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