Iceland—this small country has so much to see and do! Gorgeous waterfalls, landscapes that resemble the moon, black beaches, hot springs, volcanoes, glaciers—an adventurous traveler’s ideal destination! Iceland’s capital Reykjavik is a great place to stay as a home base for a few days or at the start of a longer trip. There’s a reason two-thirds of Iceland’s population lives in this fascinating city. One of our well-traveled friends just got back from a few days in Iceland with her college aged kids and here’s how they spent a day in Reykjavik before heading off to explore the Golden Circle.
Reykjavik is a year round destination, but we think it’s best to avoid the winter when it’s never truly daytime. The flip side is that in the summer the sun only sets for a few hours. Yes, it makes it hard to fall asleep, but just think how much you can pack into a never-ending day!
The best time to see the Northern Lights is between September and March.
Here’s your chance to try some unusual dishes—how often do you see elk, puffin, foal and whale on your local restaurant’s menu?
Iceland is great for families due to all the action/adventure activities; it can feel like a walking science class.
Check out Audur’s charming and informative blog. I Heart Reykjavik, before you go.
Check In: 101 Hotel, I think this eclectic boutique hotel is the most stylish stay in Reykjavik. The downtown location, quirky artwork, cool minimal bar and restaurant compensate for the small, more contemporary than luxurious rooms.
See the City: Reykjavik is a small walkable city, easily navigated in a morning stroll. Start by wandering the city center to get a feel of Icelandic culture, old and new. Yes, shopping! Doesn’t everyone want a stuffed animal Puffin to take home? Local craft and quirky souvenir shops along with cutting edge Scandinavian designer boutiques are a good way to get acquainted with this city’s cutting edge style. Be sure to check out 66 North for Iceland’s version of Patagonia and Kisan, a concept store with a little bit of everything. (I got a handmade Icelandic sweater) Then head over to the old town center; check out Parliament, City Hall, Harpa Symphony Hall, and Hallgrimskirkja Church. The church can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, go to the top tower for great views.
Unique Experience: Icelandic Phallological Museum is the world’s only museum to house a complete collection of penises of all mammals. Really. This is an amusing experience, quirky, slightly bizarre, and definitely unique!
A Short Drive Away: The Old Fishing Harbor, as well as the viewing platform at Perlan, which is built on water tanks that house the cities hot water supply are both worth seeing if you have the time. (Perlan has a revolving restaurant at the top if you want to go for a meal)
Lunch and a Dip: 35 minutes away is the famous Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa (this is one of the main attractions in Iceland) Lava restaurant is an unforgettable setting for lunch; the sunlit room is built into a lava cliff with incredible views over the lagoon. It’s stunning, memorable and the food is good!
Float: I highly recommend you reserve a private lounge to fully enjoy the Blue Lagoon in style. It’s more money than a regular entry fee, but in my opinion worth it. If you can, why not splurge on the experience, when will you be back here again? The set up includes a private indoor room with direct access to the main lagoon and a fireplace. There is also a private outdoor lounge deck with an incredible view over the entire complex. This really made our stay at the Blue Lagoon feel like a whole spa afternoon-can’t think of a better way to experience such a singular place! Have a drink, float around, pack the mud on you and then have a shower to rinse it all off and get clean. What a perfect afternoon!
Dinner: My friend who travels to Iceland every summer to ride horses recommended Fiskfelagid Fish Company, and the concierge at 101 was impressed and surprised we knew to go there. It was a great experience and a fun concept—a seafood journey around the world, dishes from Japan, France, Sweden, Iceland to name a few. Quality, fusion and fun, plus a stylish interior—We loved our dinner!
Late Night: Reykjavik is a late night city and doesn’t even get going till after midnight. In the downtown area are countless bars, nightclubs, and pubs; you can easily spend the whole night out!