Travel tips Iceland, How to spend a day in Reykjavik, Best things to see in Reykjavik, Iceland tourism, luxury travel

How to Spend a Day in Reykjavik, Iceland

By: | April 27th, 2017 | 0 Comment

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Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, is a charming city with astonishingly beautiful views of the mountains and ocean. We spent two nights there during our too brief 5 day visit to Iceland this winter. Most people who visit Iceland spend time in Reykjavik after flying in through Keflavik International Airport, which is only 45 minutes away. Some people use it as a base for their time in Iceland, only crashing there at night and exploring the surrounding area by day. We only took one day explore this quaint coastal city because we had so many other things we wanted to discover in Iceland during our short visit, but you could easily spend a lot of time there visiting its many museums, shops, and restaurants. It’s the perfect city to take in the gorgeous views over a cup of coffee or glass of Icelandic Viking beer. Here are our suggestions for how to spend a day in Reykjavik.

Hallgrimskirkja Church

Visit Reykjavik’s most iconic building- Hallgrimskirkja Church- and go up the tower for panoramic views of the city. At 73 meters it is the largest church and one of the tallest structures in Iceland. It costs $9 to go up the tower but the views cannot be beat up there, unless of course you brought a drone to Iceland. We snapped the above photo of the colorful houses with Mount Esja in the background from the tower. This church was designed to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape and was named after a famous Icelandic poet and clergyman. The statue of Leif Erickson in front of the church was a gift from the United States in honor of the 1000th anniversary of Iceland’s parliament. Erickson was the first European to discover North America, long before Christopher Colombus.

 

Travel tips Iceland, How to spend a day in Reykjavik, Best things to see in Reykjavik, Iceland tourism, luxury travel

Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik was built to look like Iceland’s basalt columns. A statue of Leif Erickson stands in front.

Harpa Concert Hall

Admire the impressive architecture at Harpa concert hall and peer through the windows at the harbor and Mount Esja. You can take a guided tour or just wander around yourself snapping photos of the cool windows, angles, and beautiful views of the harbor, ocean and mountains. There’s free wifi and clean restrooms too which is a nice perk since many places in Iceland charge a few dollars to use the toilet. You can even grab a drink or have lunch in the restaurant or do some shopping there, although like everything in Iceland it is expensive.

Travel tips Iceland, How to spend a day in Reykjavik, Best things to see in Reykjavik, Iceland tourism, luxury travel

Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik is worth a visit for its unique architecture

Travel tips Iceland, How to spend a day in Reykjavik, Best things to see in Reykjavik, Iceland tourism, luxury travel

Dramatic windows and angles make Harpa fun to photograph

Sun Voyager Sculpture and Mount Esja

Admire the view and snap a photo at the Sun Voyager sculpture, just a short walk from Harpa concert hall. This steel sculpture of a Viking ship symbolizes the Viking past of the Icelanders, reminding visitors of when the first Viking settlers came sailing to Iceland.

Travel tips Iceland, How to spend a day in Reykjavik, Best things to see in Reykjavik, Iceland tourism, luxury travel

Snap the perfect photo at the Sun Voyager sculpture of a Viking ship in Reykjavik with Mt. Esja as a stunning backdrop

Visit a museum

Visit the Icelandic Phallological Museum aka the Penis Museum. This little gem contains a collection of phallic specimens from all the mammals found in Iceland. Yep, you heard me right. It has more than 220 penises and penile parts belonging to all the land and sea mammals that can be found in Iceland. The souvenir shop has some hilarious gifts like an apron with a giant penis hanging off it, penis coffee mugs, salt and pepper sets, and even stuffed animal penis dolls. It costs about $15 for admission and is open 11am-6pm.

If the penis museum isn’t your thing, there are several other interesting museums to choose from in Reykjavik, such as the Volcano House, National Museum of Iceland, National Gallery of Iceland, Saga Museum, Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik Museum of Photography, the Settlement Exhibition, and Whales of Iceland. You could probably spend a week just visiting the museums in Reykjavik.

Search for the perfect souvenir

Spend some time wandering the adorable streets, browsing the shops, maybe buying a souvenir if you don’t mind the crazy high prices. For example, a regular cotton sweatshirt was priced at $86! We just bought one stuffed animal- a puffin- for our kids to share and called it a day for souvenir shopping. We did have some fun trying on Viking helmets though! Bertaut looks good with blond braids right? 😉

Travel tips Iceland, How to spend a day in Reykjavik, Best things to see in Reykjavik, Iceland tourism, luxury travel

Having fun souvenir shopping in Iceland and pretending to be Viking warriors

Happy Hour and Icelandic traditional food

End your day with a delicious (although expensive) dinner tasting some traditional Icelandic cuisine. The Saeta Svinid Icelandic Gastropub was recommended to us by a local and it was very good. They offer a 3 course set dinner menu Monday through Thursday for about $50 which includes oven baked lobster, rack of lamb or ling fish with mashed potatoes and vegetables, and skyr cream cheese with blackberry jam, pistachios and lady fingers for dessert. We don’t typically spend that much on one meal unless it’s a special occasion, but we wanted to try Icelandic food and the 3 course menu is actually a good deal for Iceland. Fun fact- the cost of living in Iceland is 58% higher than in the United States, so expect to pay a lot more when eating out. If you want to drink alcohol, get there for happy hour from 3-6pm every day when drinks are half price and much more affordable. Cafe Loki near Hallgrimskirkja Church also offers traditional Icelandic food and is supposed to be good, although we didn’t get the chance to eat there this visit.

Travel tips Iceland, How to spend a day in Reykjavik, Best things to see in Reykjavik, Iceland tourism, luxury travel

Rack of lamb is traditional Icelandic food that we tried at Saeta Svinid Icelandic Gastropub in Reykjavik

Travel tips Iceland, How to spend a day in Reykjavik, Best things to see in Reykjavik, Iceland tourism, luxury travel

Cafe Loki is another option for traditional Icelandic food in Reykjavik

You may be tempted to breeze through Reykjavik in search of Iceland’s breathtaking wilderness, but set aside some time to enjoy this colorful and charming coastal city. You may learn a few things about Iceland’s history, see some interesting animal parts and works of art, capture some beautiful photos, and taste some delicious local food. At the very least you will enjoy meandering the streets and soaking up the relaxed vibe of this inviting city, where the locals are some of the happiest people on Earth. What is your favorite thing to do when visiting a new city? If you liked this post, please share and pin it for later. Check out our tips for visiting Iceland in the winter and our best drone shots of Iceland for more on this wonderful country. Sign up for our email newsletter for more travel tips and inspiration to travel the world.

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How to Spend a day in Reykjavik, Travel tips Iceland, best things to see and do in Reykjavik

About Bertaut & Alexis

How to Spend a Day in Reykjavik, Iceland
Travel addicts and proud parents of two young kids who make exploring the world a priority while working full time. Bertaut & Alexis enjoy traveling like millionaires without spending a fortune and share their tips on how to get luxury for less.
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