Reykjavik Travel Guide: How to Explore the Northernmost Capital in the World
Have you ever dreamed of visiting a city that is surrounded by stunning natural wonders, such as geysers, volcanoes, glaciers, and hot springs? A city that is rich in history, culture, art, and music? A city that is modern, vibrant, and cozy at the same time? If yes, then you should definitely consider Reykjavik as your next travel destination. Reykjavik is the capital and the largest city of Iceland, as well as the northernmost capital in the world. It is a city that offers something for everyone, whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or inspiration. In this article, I will provide you with a comprehensive and informative Reykjavik travel guide that will help you plan your trip and make the most of your time in this amazing city.
How to Get to Reykjavik
Reykjavik is located in the southwest of Iceland, on the shores of Faxaflói Bay. It has good connections with the rest of the world by air, sea, and land. Here are some of the ways you can travel to Reykjavik from different parts of the world:
The main airport that serves Reykjavik is the Keflavík International Airport (KEF), which is located about 50 km from the city center. It is the largest and busiest airport in Iceland, and it handles flights from many international destinations, such as London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and more. You can use WayAway to check for cashback and discounted flights from your city to Reykjavik. To get from the airport to the city center, you can take a bus (Flybus or Airport Express), a taxi, or a rental car.
Another way to get to Reykjavik is by boat. There are two main ports that serve Reykjavik: the Old Harbour and the Sundahöfn Harbour. The Old Harbour is located in the heart of the city, near the Harpa concert hall and the Sun Voyager sculpture. It is mainly used by cruise ships and ferries that come from nearby countries, such as Denmark, Norway, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. The Sundahöfn Harbour is located about 5 km from the city center, near the Perlan Museum and the Nauthólsvík beach. It is mainly used by cargo ships and fishing boats. You can find some companies that offer boat trips to Reykjavik, such as Smyril Line, Iceland Pro Cruises, and Arctic Adventures. To get from the port to the city center, you can take a bus, a taxi, or a rental car.
If you are already in Iceland, you can also get to Reykjavik by bus. There are many bus routes that connect Reykjavik with other towns and regions in Iceland, such as Akureyri, Húsavík, Ísafjörður, Vík, Höfn, and more. You can find some companies that offer bus services in Iceland, such as Strætó, Reykjavik Excursions, Sterna, and Trex. To get around Reykjavik by bus, you can use the Strætó to plan your trip and buy your tickets.
Another option to get to Reykjavik is by car. Driving in Iceland is a great way to explore the country at your own pace and enjoy its scenic views. Indeed, Iceland has one of the best road trip routes in the world. However, you should also be aware of some of the challenges and risks of driving in Iceland, such as weather conditions, road conditions, speed limits, traffic rules, etc. To get around Reykjavik by car, you can rent one on Discover Cars, and then use Google Maps or Waze to navigate your way.
What to Do in Reykjavik
As one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world, Reykjavik is a city that has a lot to offer for its visitors. Whether you are interested in sightseeing, shopping, dining, nightlife, culture, or adventure, you can find it in Reykjavik. In this travel guide, let me introduce you to some of the main things that you can do in Reykjavik:
Reykjavik has many attractions and landmarks that showcase its history, culture, and architecture.
You can visit some of the most iconic and impressive buildings in the city, such as the Hallgrimskirkja church, which is the tallest and most recognizable structure in Reykjavik. It has a striking design that resembles a basalt column and a tower that offers a panoramic view of the city.
You can also visit the Harpa Concert Hall, which is a modern and elegant building that hosts various events and performances. It has a glass facade that reflects the light and the colors of the sky and the sea. The building’s appearance is much more impressive if you see it from the sea.
You can also visit the Sun Voyager sculpture, which is a steel sculpture that resembles a Viking ship and symbolizes the spirit of exploration and discovery.
You can also visit the Perlan Museum, which is a futuristic and innovative building that houses various exhibitions and attractions. It has a glass dome that rotates and offers a 360-degree view of the city and its surroundings.
Reykjavik is a great place to shop for local and unique products, such as woolen sweaters, handcrafted jewelry, volcanic soap, licorice candy, and more. You can visit some of the main shopping streets and areas in the city, such as Laugavegur, Skólavörðustígur, Bankastræti, and Kringlan. There are many shops, boutiques, galleries, and markets that sell various items and souvenirs. You can also visit some of the main shopping malls and centers in the city, such as Smáralind, Hafnarfjörður Centre, and Kópavogur Centre. They have many stores, brands, restaurants, and entertainment options.
Reykjavik has a diverse and delicious cuisine that reflects its influences from various cultures and regions. You can taste some of the local specialties, such as arctic char, lamb steak, skyr, black licorice, and lobster soup. The next part of this Reykjavik travel guide will give you more details about the local specialties. Besides that, there are international dishes, such as pizza, sushi, burgers, tacos, and more. You can visit some of the best restaurants and cafes in the city, such as Grillmarkaðurinn, Sjávargrillið, Reykjavik Rost, Lakkrís + Sjokólaði, and Svarta Kaffið. Furthermore, you can visit some of the best bars and pubs in the city, such as Kex Bar, Micro Bar, Lebowski Bar, Dillon Whiskey Bar, and Kaffibarinn.
Reykjavik has a lively and vibrant nightlife that offers various options for entertainment and fun. You can enjoy some of the live music and events hosted in various venues and stages in the city, such as Harpa Concert Hall, Gaukurinn, Húrra, Gamla Bíó, and Mengi. You can also enjoy some of the clubs and discos that are open until late in the night and offer various genres and styles of music, such as Paloma, Prikið, Austur, B5, and Bravo.
Reykjavik has a rich and diverse culture that showcases its art, literature, music, and folklore. You can visit some of the museums and galleries that display various collections and exhibitions of local and international artists. To elaborate, Reykjavik Art Museum, National Gallery of Iceland, National Museum of Iceland, Árbær Open Air Museum, and Saga Museum. You can also visit some of the libraries and bookstores that offer various books and publications of local and international authors, such as Reykjavik City Library, Bókabúð Máls og menningar, Eymundsson Bookstore, Nexus Bookstore, and Penninn Eymundsson Bookstore.
Reykjavik is a city that offers various opportunities for adventure and excitement. You can explore some of the natural wonders that surround the city, such as geysers, volcanoes, glaciers, and hot springs. You can also participate in some of the activities and sports that are available in the city, such as hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, rafting, diving, and more. Additionally, you can join some of the tours and excursions that the city offers. For example, the Golden Circle Tour, Blue Lagoon Tour, Northern Lights Tour, Whale Watching Tour, and Glacier Lagoon Tour.
What to Eat in Reykjavik
Reykjavik has a diverse and delicious cuisine that reflects its influences from various cultures and regions. You can taste the local specialties, such as arctic char, lamb steak, skyr, black licorice, and lobster soup. There are also some international dishes, such as pizza, sushi, burgers, tacos, and more. In this travel guide, I will introduce you to some local specialties that you should try in Reykjavik:
This is a type of freshwater fish that is similar to salmon but with a milder and sweeter taste. It is usually grilled or smoked and served with potatoes, salad, or bread. You can find it in many restaurants in Reykjavik, such as Grillmarkaðurinn, which is known for its local and fresh ingredients and its cozy and elegant atmosphere.
This is a popular dish in Iceland, as lamb is one of the most common meats in the country. The lamb is usually grass-fed and free-range, which gives it a tender and flavorful texture. It is often marinated with herbs and spices and grilled or roasted to perfection. You can try it at Sjávargrillið, which is a seafood grill restaurant that also serves excellent meat dishes.
This is a type of yogurt that is made from skimmed milk and has a thick and creamy consistency. It is high in protein and low in fat and sugar, which makes it a healthy and filling snack or breakfast. It is often flavored with vanilla, berries, or honey and topped with granola or nuts. You can have it at Reykjavik Rost, which is a cafe that offers a variety of smoothies, juices, coffee, and tea.
This is a type of candy that is very popular in Iceland and has a strong and distinctive flavor. The chef often coats it with chocolate or salt and comes in different shapes and sizes. Many Icelanders consider it a delicacy. Yet, it’s a challenge for many foreigners. You can find it in any supermarket or convenience store in Reykjavik, or you can visit Lakkrís + Sjokólaði, which is a shop that specializes in licorice and chocolate products.
This is a creamy and rich soup that is made with lobster meat, cream, butter, onion, garlic, and herbs. It is usually served with bread or crackers and garnished with parsley or dill. It is a warming and comforting dish that is perfect for cold days. You can enjoy it at Svarta Kaffið, which is a cozy and casual cafe that serves delicious soups in bread bowls.
Among the many dishes that Icelanders enjoy, there is one that stands out for its uniqueness and controversy: hákarl. Hákarl, or fermented shark, is a national dish of Iceland that consists of Greenland shark or other sleeper shark that has been cured with a particular fermentation process and hung to dry for four to five months. It has a strong ammonia-rich smell and fishy taste, making hákarl an acquired taste. Some people love it, some people hate it, and some people dare to try it. Anyway, it will be one of the most smelly foods in the world that you dare to try.
Where to Stay in Reykjavik
Reykjavik offers a wide range of accommodation options for different budgets, preferences, and needs. Whether you are looking for a hotel, a hostel, a guesthouse, an apartment, or a campsite, you can find it in Reykjavik. Below are some of the recommendations for your best accommodations in this Reykjavik travel guide:
Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Best Hotels in Reykjavik
Here are some of the main factors that you should consider when choosing your accommodation in Reykjavik:
Reykjavik is a relatively small city, but it has different neighborhoods and districts that have different characteristics and vibes. You should choose your accommodation based on your interests and plans. For example, if you want to be close to the main attractions, shopping, dining, and nightlife, you should stay in the downtown area or the Old Harbour area. If you want to be close to nature and the sea, you should stay in the Seltjarnarnes area or the Nauthólsvík area. If you want to be close to the airport and the Blue Lagoon, you should stay in the Keflavík area or the Grindavík area.
Actually, Reykjavik is not a cheap city, and accommodation can be one of the biggest expenses of your trip. You should set a budget for your accommodation and look for the best deals and discounts that suit your needs. You should also consider some of the factors that affect the price of accommodation, such as season, availability, quality, service, amenities, and reviews.
Reykjavik has a high standard of quality and service when it comes to accommodation. You can find many accommodation options that are clean, comfortable, cozy, and stylish. You can also find many accommodation options that have unique and charming features, such as historical buildings, artistic decorations, or local themes. Some platforms such as Booking.com, Agoda, and TripAdvisor can help you to find good quality accommodations. You should also consider some of the factors that affect the quality and service of accommodation, such as cleanliness, comfort, design, staff, and facilities.
Reykjavik has many accommodation options that offer various amenities and facilities that can enhance your stay and make it more convenient and enjoyable. You can find many accommodation options that offer amenities such as free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, free parking, kitchenette, laundry service, gym, spa, pool, etc. You should also consider some of the factors that affect the amenities and facilities of accommodation, such as size, type, category, and availability.
Suggestions of Where to Stay in Reykjavik
Here are some recommendations and reviews of some of the best places to stay in Reykjavik:
If you are looking for a cheap and cheerful place to stay in Reykjavik, you can choose from these budget options:
This is a hip hostel that is located in an old biscuit factory near the Old Harbour. It has cozy and funky rooms that are decorated with vintage furniture and items. It also has a bar that serves craft beers and cocktails. Moreover, it has a social lounge that hosts live music and events.
Kex Hostel is a perfect place to stay if you want to meet new people and have fun in Reykjavik.
This is a charming guesthouse that is located near the Hallgrimskirkja church. It has comfortable and bright rooms that are decorated with local art and crafts. The guesthouse also has a garden that offers a relaxing view of the church. It also has a kitchen that guests can use to prepare their own meals.
Guesthouse Sunna is a perfect place to stay if you want to feel at home in Reykjavik
This is an eco-friendly campsite that is located near Laugardalur Park. It has various options for camping, such as tents, cabins, or caravans. It also has a service center that offers showers, toilets, laundry, a kitchen, and Wi-Fi. The campsite also has a playground and a barbecue area that guests can use.
It is a perfect place to stay if you want to enjoy nature and the outdoors in Reykjavik.
If you are looking for a comfortable and affordable place to stay in Reykjavik, you can choose from these mid-range options:
Grandi by Center Hotels
This is a chic hotel that is located in the Grandi area, near the harbor and the whale-watching center. It has cozy and bright rooms that are decorated with Scandinavian design and local art. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves Nordic cuisine with a Mediterranean touch. It also has a bar that serves cocktails and snacks. In addition, it has a spa and a wellness center that guests can use.
Grandi by Center Hotels is a perfect place to stay if you want to enjoy the culture and relaxation of Reykjavik.
Reykjavik Natura – Berjaya Iceland Hotels
This is an eco-friendly hotel that is located next to Öskjuhlíd Hill’s quiet woods and about 1km from Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. It has spacious and comfortable rooms that are decorated with natural elements and colors. It also has a restaurant that serves Icelandic and international dishes with organic ingredients. In particular, it has a spa that offers various treatments and massages using Icelandic herbs and minerals. It also has an indoor pool, a sauna, and a fitness center that guests can use.
Reykjavik Natura – Berjaya Iceland Hotels is a perfect place to stay if you want to enjoy the nature and the wellness of Reykjavik.
Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel
This is a boutique hotel located near the Hallgrimskirkja church. It has cozy and stylish rooms that are decorated with Nordic design and organic materials. It also has a restaurant that serves organic and local food. Additionally, it has a garden that offers a beautiful view of the city and the mountains.
Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel is a perfect place to stay if you want to enjoy the charm and sustainability of Reykjavik.
If you are looking for a lavish and extravagant place to stay in Reykjavik, you can choose from these luxury options:
This is a contemporary design hotel that is set in Reykjavik’s Old Harbor area, about 500m from Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Center. It has modern and elegant rooms that are equipped with flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and private bathrooms. Also, it has a restaurant that serves international cuisine with an Icelandic twist. It also has a sauna and a fitness center that guests can use.
If you want to enjoy the style and convenience of Reykjavik, Exeter Hotel is the perfect place to stay.
This is a good hotel that is located in the heart of downtown Reykjavik. It is housed in a historic building that dates back to 1930. The hotel has elegant and spacious rooms that are decorated with Art Deco style. It also has a restaurant that serves Icelandic cuisine with a French twist. It also has a spa that offers various treatments and massages.
Hotel Borg is a perfect place to stay if you want to experience the glamour and sophistication of Reykjavik.
This is a new and luxurious hotel that opened in October 2021 in the heart of Reykjavik. It is part of the EDITION Hotels brand, which is known for its stylish and elegant design, high-quality service, and distinctive food and beverage outlets. It has modern and comfortable rooms and suites that offer stunning views of the harbor, the mountains, and the city. Besides that, it has a spa and a fitness center that guests can use to relax and rejuvenate. It also has a ballroom and several meeting rooms that can host various events.
Reykjavik EDITION is a perfect place to stay if you want to enjoy the style and sophistication of Reykjavik.
Have a Great Trip to Reykjavik!
Reykjavik is a city that will surprise and delight you with its unique and stunning natural scenery, its rich and diverse history, culture, art, and music, its modern and vibrant atmosphere, and its cozy and friendly people. It is a city that you will never forget and will always want to come back to. I hope that this Reykjavik travel guide has helped you to learn more about this city and to prepare for your trip. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them with us. I would love to hear from you. And if you are looking for more information and content about Reykjavik or other destinations, please visit our website or blog. Thank you for reading this Reykjavik travel guide and happy travels!
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