After driving in Iceland for several days (read about that HERE and HERE), we ended our 6-day itinerary exploring Reykjavik for the weekend. Reykjavik is the northernmost capital of the world and such a unique little city. I didn’t expect to see as many colorful homes as I did (super happy about that). I also didn’t expect to see the hefty prices on the restaurant menus (not so happy about that). Here are some ideas for where to stay, what to eat, what to do for your 2 days in Reykjavik.
Quick Tips on Reykjavik
> Everyone speaks English
> The currency is very difficult to understand, after 6 days in Iceland we still didn’t understand it
> It’s the most expensive city I’ve ever visited
> They have a lot of happy hour options
> They have a great cafe culture
> We visited Iceland in May and it was still cold, but I’m always cold. The temps ranged from 35º- 50ºF
Where to Stay in Reykjavik
You don’t need a car to explore the city center if you’re staying nearby. The city is very walkable. We had an Airbnb near Hallgrímskirkja church and were able to walk everywhere twice per day. We even kept running into the same strangers because that’s how small the town is. A safe bet would be to stay anywhere near the center. Any corner of the center (or just outside of it) will do just fine and you’ll be able to walk anywhere you’re looking to go. They have plenty of Airbnb’s to choose from and seem to be a cheaper option than hotels in this specific city. Reykjavik is incredibly safe. Iceland has been voted the safest country in the world multiple years in a row. So if you’re going to try Airbnb anywhere, Iceland would be a good start. Click here for $40 off your first booking.
Where to Eat Cheap in Reykjavik
As I mentioned, Reykjavik is the most expensive city I’ve ever visited. From what I’ve learned the food costs so much because importation is expensive, so is labor, and so is farming. Liquor is especially expensive! One cocktail can cost you $20-$25. I quickly had to figure out a way to not blow my entire month’s budget on this one weekend. So we had a light breakfast, stuffed ourselves during happy hour, then ate the famous (and cheap) hot dogs for dinner!
For breakfast, we would have coffee and a pastry. They have several great local bakeries, and we were never disappointed with the sweets. Our first morning there we splurged and created a “cafe crawl” of our own. We tried Reykjavik Roasters, Mokka Kaffi, and Cafe Babalu. We were going to do a fourth (Stofan Cafe), but couldn’t handle any more caffeine. Our favorite was Reykjavik Roasters! Mokka Kaffi did have really good waffles though, so I recommend giving those a try.
There’s actually an app you can download to see what time restaurants have their happy hours in Reykjavik—that’s how popular they are! The funny thing is, they usually offer 50% off their prices which equals to a regular priced meal in Chicago or NYC.
We tried Solon Bistro and had a good experience. Make sure you also take advantage of half off cocktails during this time. We visited Apotek Restaurant for drinks and loved everything we were served. Try Brennivín, Icelandic’s signature beverage also known as “the black death”. It’s seriously not that bad, especially when it’s in mojito form. Another happy hour spot we didn’t get to try, but I’ve read great things about is Slippbarinn.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is the place to be! Hot dogs are only a few dollars (which is unheard of in Iceland) and they are delicious. A lot of celebs have visited, and it was also on Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations.
source: flickr.comsource: bostonglobe.com
Across the street from the yummy hot dogs, you’ll find Harpa, a stunning concert hall and a conference center. It has a glass facade and makes for some fun photos inside.
The best view of the city is definitely from the top of the Hallgrímskirkja church. It’s the largest church in the country and right in the city center. You’ll get a 360º view over all of Reykjavik from the top of the tower. It costs $15 for two tickets.
Of course, my favorite part of Reykjavik was all the color! Iceland isn’t the sunniest destination, but the colorful homes really brought the city to life. There’s also tons of cool street art and plenty of fun shops to wander around for hours.
How cool is this building?!
Reykjavik is a great base if you don’t plan to drive the ring road around Iceland. There are plenty of tours offered that take you to the blue lagoon, the waterfalls, northern lights chasing, etc. directly from Reykjavik.
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