A guide to Reykjavik, Iceland
How to get there
You can fly direct to the capital from many European cities via many airlines such as Icelandair, Wow Air, Flybe and more. Icelandair offers a free stopover when flying between America and Europe which is very popular.
You fly into Keflavik International airport, about 50mins from the city Reykjavik. From there you can buy a ticket for the flybus for 1900K which will take you to the city centre.
A lot of people rule Iceland out of their destination list because they think it will be too expensive, but that’s not true and is not an excuse! I stayed well on budget and got to see everything I wanted. You just have to think of ways to save, such as couchsurfing, sharing car rental with a group, cooking your meals at home etc.
Where to stay
There are lots of good hostels in the city that are social and easy to meet people.
Kex hostel is really cool and attracts lots of locals to drink there which is rare. They often have live music and other social events on. It is on the edge of downtown about a 10min stroll to the middle of the action.
Reykjavik Backpackers is also a great choice. This is on the main street in the middle of the bars and restaurants. It has a bar downstairs which has happy hour 4-8pm, however this isn’t that useful as people don’t tend to go out until 12am or so.
It is super easy to meet people as there are common areas on each level. Many people leave notes on the doors/windows saying they are looking for people to share a car with to drive around the country. I met loads of cool people in my dorm and we did several road trips together which was fantastic.
It costs around 5000K a night ($50AUD or so) so isn’t cheap, but most of the hostels are this price. Unfortunately you have to pay for linen, which is a bit of a gimmack seeing how cold it is. But a lot of people bring their sleeping bags as they are planning to camp around the country, so I see why this isn’t included.
Where to eat
Reykjavik is very easy to coordinate around. There is one long main street with all the bars, supermarkets, cafes and shops and that is pretty much all you need to know!
Take a stroll down to get your bearings and you will find everything you need. For a good hangover brekky go to Prikid on the main street. It specialises in big English breakfasts and is delicious!
If you want something lighter, go to Noodle Station. It’s off the main street as you walk towards the giant church. It’s very well known and makes an amazing pho for 1190K ($10). There are also a few places in the main street that serve Icelandic specialty meat or seafood soup. This is a beautiful stew and can be served in a bread cob.
At the harbour you will find the most popular icecream shop in the city. Take a ticket and wait in line for beautiful authentic gelato with all the locals- it’s worth the wait!
What to do
A lot of people use Reykjavik as a base to do day tours around the country, but there is a lot of nice things to do in the city itself for a few days.
1. Visit the church. You will see this futuristic looking church from the outer edge of the city and it is pretty spectacular. It is a 5 min walk from the main street and often has nice choirs rehersing inside.
Pay 600K ($6) and go up the top of the tower. This is the best view of the city (one you will see if you Google Reykjavik in images) and will blow you away. It’s a great first thing to do to get a feel for your surroundings and to see just how close the nature is (you can see stretches of beautiful mountains).
2. Embrace the coffee culture. Every second shop in town is a cafe where young people sit, drink and gossip all afternoon. This is great for people watching and also free wifi. They are all colourful with progressive menu items and quite vibrant.
3. See the harbour. There is a lovely harbour about a 15min walk from downtown that has some great cafes, boats and views. This is a lovely area to walk around and see the old part of town.
4. Get out of the city! Iceland is all about its surroundings and nature, so look at the abundance of day trips available from the city, or even better hire and car and do it yourself.
How long to spend in Reykjavik
I spent 4 days in the city and it was pretty relaxed. You could spend 2 days here comfortably before heading off to the countryside.
For Iceland, Lonely Planet’s guide is a must have! Click below to grab one for yourself.