Despite its small size, Reykjavik offers plenty of things to do and proves itself to be a great base for us while we explore the surrounding countryside.
If you are going to Iceland (YAY!), you will be landing in Keflavik International Airport (KEF) and will probably find yourself in Reykjavik for a couple of days or so.
Here are 6 suggestions on how to spend your time in this capital city.
Views from the top: Hallgrimskirkja Church
Commissioned in 1937 and finally completed in 1986, Hallgrimskirkja is the tallest church in the region and can be spotted from the highway just as you are entering into the city. Its architect, Guðjón Samúelsson, designed the church to model the basalt lava flows of Icelandic landscapes, hence its rather strange appearance. Make your way to the top of the observation tower to see an eagle’s eye view of Reykjavik.
Check out Solfar or the Sun Voyager
One of the most recognizable monument in Iceland, the Solfar is an ode to the sun, a dream boat that resembles light and hope. Its architect, Jón Gunnar Árnason, was ill with leukemia when he thought about the concept behind the sculpture. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of Mount Esja in the background on a cloudless day.
Wander the aisles of Kolaportid Flea Market
With stalls selling vintage clothing, old books, and antiques knick-knacks, eclectic would be the best way to describe this flea market. They even had a section with vendors selling Icelandic delicacies like dried fish and fermented shark, none of which I dared to try because FERMENTED SHARK!
None of us has any photos from this particular stop, not even Ella! It was probably because we were too busy drying off after walking under the torrential rain.
Laugavegur is the street where everything happens in Reykjavik. Boutique stores, ice cream shops, dining venues, bakeries and cafes, and design stores can be found along this stretch of Reykjavik’s shopping street.
Stroll through and keep an eye open for beautiful wall murals that are often found in alleyways branching off this street.
Soak in a natural/man-made hot pot
If you are inclined to spend some time in a thermal bath, but want to do so in a more budget-friendly way, consider giving the local pools in Reykjavik a try. We went to Laugardalslaug on a snowy winter evening and absolutely loved our experience there.
Attempt to catch the Aurora
We’ve been told that with a little bit of good fortune, you can, in fact, see the Aurora from Reykjavik harbor, negating the necessity of joining a Northern Lights Tour. We opted out of the organized tour and decided to try our luck instead. We monitored cloud cover and weather conditions obsessively from the day we arrived, crossed our fingers, and hoped for a sighting.
Unfortunately, the “Aurora forecast” meter never got beyond 5, but being the dutiful tourists that we are, we ventured out anyways. At 4 AM on Tuesday no less! We drove to the Grotta Lighthouse located at the far edge of the city, cooped up in our little Toyota with multiple blankets, and craned our necks upwards for a couple of hours. We called it quits when we realized it was daybreak and it was time for breakfast!
Admittedly, you can probably do all of the above in a day or maybe two-days if you take it slow. We did them in the span of the five days we were there, alternating each activity with our road trips out of the city, which turned out to be a wonderful balance for us. Whatever you do, make sure you spend a little bit of time in Reykjavik. You won’t regret it!
Have you been to Reykjavik? What else would you add to the list? I’m all ears!
Also, I just came back from Rio de Janeiro yesterday. See Instagram for a some pictures. For now, this post concludes Iceland and Sweden is up next! Maybe I’ll sprinkle in some Rio as well. We’ll see. As always, thank you!