Destinations / Iceland / Tips & Advice / Travel

My Favorite Things to Do in Reykjavik: Where to Eat, Stay, and Play

What to do in Reykjavik

The only problem I had with my trip to Iceland was that it was too damn short. Between seeing the southern part of the country, snorkeling in Silfra, and visiting the Diamond Circle,  I was only left with about 24 waking hours in Reykjavik.  Although I had little time to see the capital city, the time I spent there was wonderful and packed with things I’d happily do again next time I visit (and trust me, there will be a next time!).

If you’re planning your trip to Reykjavik or if you still need convincing that you should visit Iceland like yesterday, here are my suggestions to see and experience the best of the best during your time there: where to eat, where to stay, and what to do!

EAT

Kryddlegin Hjörtu was recommended to me by my awesome gal pal and foodie goddess Angela. Up until that point I hadn’t really had any crazy-omg-it’s-so-good food experiences in Iceland, but KH basically sent me straight to heaven. Imagine this: vegan soups, meaty stews, homemade bread, a salad bar…and all of it is all-you-can-eat. I’m not usually big into buffets but I just about wanted to pour some soup into my bag and take it to go. A big plus for me is that it’s a little off the main street so you have to really know about it or be lucky and stumble upon it to dine there.

Kryddlegin Hjörtu

Also, at some point during your Icelandic adventures, be sure to try skyr. I’d read about skyr before making my trip and knew it was something I wanted to eat. It’s a dairy product very similar to yogurt that’s served with milk and sugar. To me it basically tasted like Greek yogurt, but mixed with the sugar and milk it was almost like a rich dessert. It was actually the first thing I ate when I arrived in Iceland and stopped by Cafe Loki, although you will be able to find it at many restaurants throughout the country. I received a huge bowl of it — so big that I couldn’t even finish it in my jet-lagged stupor — but it was delicious. Unless you’re lactose intolerant, make sure to eat some skyr on your trip! (ps the hot chocolate at Cafe Loki was also insanely good)

STAY

As a traveler who enjoys personal interactions with locals, I highly recommend AirBnB in Iceland. There are plenty of options in all price ranges, Icelandic architecture is a thing to behold, and Icelanders are pretty dern friendly! I stayed at this spot in a private room with my dude, and we had the most amazing time with our hosts.  They were kind enough to invite us to eat dinner with them and they helped us finalize our route for the rest of our trip.  It seems like such a simple gesture, but it was one of the most memorable parts of the trip.

If you’d prefer a hotel, there are endless options as well. I tend not to splurge on fancy hotels but was intrigued by the Fosshotels that can be found near some of the major attractions in Iceland. The Fosshotel Lind in Reykjavik isn’t really the most extravagant hotel choice, but it was close to the city center and a reasonable price. I also liked that breakfast was included, which wasn’t the case at any other hotel or B&B my dude and I stayed at.

Kiki Queer Bar

PLAY

Shopping on Laugavegur is a must-do. Yes, it’s a tourist hot-spot, but it’s also sort of the main drag as there are many restaurants and bars in the vicinity. Shopping at stores in another country is always an interesting adventure — even going to the grocery store can be an experience. Now, I don’t souvenir-shop much when I travel, but I do love small, local shops. Of course, I totally fell in love with Fóa, on the corner of Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur. They have unique gifts and art that I could see locals and tourists alike wanting to buy. It was a classy little store with finely crafted products, and I got some fun postcards here as well as a magnet. If I’d had my way I might have even gone back for a print by a local artist.

Aside from taking in the colorful buildings and the view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja, I’d also highly recommend taking some time to wander the city at your leisure because there are some stellar murals and street art to be found. My dude and I got to see some, but I’d have loved the chance to search for more of it. There are lots of hidden gems and it’s so special to be walking around and discover one (I got a kick out of a tunnel covered in a colorful houndstooth design).

What would be first on your to-do list in Reykjavik?  Have you visited before and have other favorites in the country’s capital? 

Photo credits:
Matt Christensen
moi

15 thoughts on “My Favorite Things to Do in Reykjavik: Where to Eat, Stay, and Play

    • I did see the Northern Lights! Actually, I think I saw them 4 out of 5 nights, so I was lucky. They’re a really fleeting thing, but you’re best bet will be November-February near the northern part of the country (and far from cities or towns). And if you’re lucky enough to see them, they are soooo beautiful! 🙂

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