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In Brief: Spending a day in Reykjavík

By: Catharine
Posted in: General, Iceland, In Brief

We're going to do things a little differently in this installation of In Brief. Usually we ask a single travel consultant who is an expert on Oslo, Nuuk, Stockholm, etc. to give their tips for spending 48-hours in the particular city of their expertise.

But we here in Nordic Visitor's Reykjavík office live our day-to-day lives here in the Icelandic capital, so rather than limiting the helpful input to a single Iceland expert, we've polled the entire Iceland office with one question:

How do you like to spend a day in Reykjavík?

 

"I would go up the tower of Hallgrímskirkja for good view over the colorful houses of 101 Reykjavík, then to the Einar jónsson sculpture garden and a walk down Skólavörðurstígur. Stand at the base of Skólavörðurstígur for a great view of Hallgrímskirkja."

The iconic Hallgrímskirkja sita atop Reykjavík's tallest point, Skólavörðuholt. It's a sight to see in and of itself, but also offers an unbeatable viewpoint over the entire city.
The iconic Hallgrímskirkja sita atop Reykjavík's tallest point, Skólavörðuholt. It's a sight to see in and of itself, but also offers an unbeatable viewpoint over the entire city.

 

"Walk the coastline from downtown all the way out to Grotta and back.  Grab an 'ein með öllu' at the world's greatest hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu, for lunch. The Reykjavik Art Museum is great, especially if the weather isn't nice."

Grotta is a stunning spot to explore by day or night. Locals flock to this seaside vantage point to gawk at colourful sunsets and dazzling northern lights. (Photo by Dagur Jónsson)
Grotta is a stunning spot to explore by day or night. Locals flock to this seaside vantage point to gawk at colourful sunsets and dazzling northern lights. (Photo by Dagur Jónsson)

 

"I would start with a creamy latte from C is for Cookie with a delicious piece of carrot cake and then mosey on down to the National Gallery, which has the best--and I believe largest--collection of local and international artworks as well as a fabulous gift shop with interesting books, postcards, art prints and local handcrafts. From there, I'd stroll across the street to Tjörnin and see what mischief the ducks, geese and swans are up to. Then I'll cross the little bridge into the City Hall and look at the giant relief map of Iceland to put things in perspective."

The gaggles of geese and teams of ducks residing in and around Reykjavík's central pond are always fun to watch.
The gaggles of geese and teams of ducks residing in and around Reykjavík's central pond are always fun to watch. City hall, pictured in the background, often features exhibits or displays a massive topographical map of the country and is open for visitors.

 

"If you're travelling with kids the best place to be is in Laugardalur. You can visit the Reykjavik family park and zoo and let the kids play like crazy and pet the Icelandic animals. Afterwards you can stroll through the botanical gardens and visit the 'Þvottalaugar' which is where women washed clothes in the old days. There you get a chance to learn a bit about the history of Reykjavik and Laugardalur."

Laugardalur is home to Reykjavík's quaint zoo -- featuring Icelandic farm animals and a few seals and foxes -- and some great play structures for little ones to explore.
Laugardalur is home to Reykjavík's quaint zoo -- featuring Icelandic farm animals and a few seals and foxes -- and some great play structures for little ones to explore.

 

"My favourite way to spend a day in Reykjavík is to go to one of many thermal swimming pools with my children and then go for a hot dog and ice cream afterwards."

The spacious hot pots at Laugardalur are a great place to relax, and the emormous pools thre also have a waterslide those who like a little more excitement mixed in with their swim.
The spacious hot pots at Laugardalslaug are a great place to relax, and the enormous pools there also have a water slide for those who like a little more excitement while they swim.

 

"Sitting down on a bench or at a cafe is a must for an hour or so. Watching all the people go by is a nice relaxing thing to do!"

Catching some sun and doing a little people-watching is a great way to spend some time in the city. There's also no shortage of cafés to rest your legs in.
Catching some sun and doing a little people-watching in Austurvöllur (the central square in front of the parliament building) is a great way to spend some time in the city. There's also no shortage of cafés in which you can rest your legs.

 

"I would visit Hallgrímskirkja church tower to see the gorgeous view over Reykjavík city. Up next I would walk down Skólavörðustígur and Laugavegur street, with a little stop at a nice café on the way. Then I would walk to Harpa, the concert and conference hall, a beautiful building by the seashore. If I have some extra time left I would walk longer by the shore to the sculpture Sólfar - a beautiful sculpture of a viking ship by the sea."

The architecture of Harpa is impressive from the outside, but it's really breathtaking inside, with its geometric windows and vaulting angular walls and ceilings.
The architecture of Harpa is impressive from the outside, but it's really breathtaking inside, with its geometric windows and vaulting angular walls and ceilings.

 

"I love walking around the small streets of Reykjavík city center and hunt for the cool graffiti art work by many interesting artists with a hot cup of coffee and covered in wool!"

Reykjavík is a creative city, and the artistic talents of the residents are displayed in murals and graffiti throughout the city... still, respect the country you're visiting and leave the decorating to the locals.
Reykjavík is a creative city, and the artistic talents of the residents are displayed in murals and graffiti throughout the city... still, respect the country you're visiting and leave the exterior decorating to the locals.

 

"Later in the evening for those who want to know more about Iceland beer culture, bars like Skúli Craft Bar and Kaldi Bar focus on beer from Icelandic microbreweries."

For a country that only legalised beer in 1989 (yes, really), Iceland now boasts an impressive microbrew culture.
For a country that only legalized beer in 1989 (yes, really!), Iceland now boasts an impressive microbrew culture.

 

This is just a selection of the tips Nordic Visitor's Iceland locals passed along, but the common thread of the others not featured above were swimming pools, coffee and hot dogs... great minds think alike!


Figure out your favourite way to spend a day (or two) in Reykjavík with one of Nordic Visitor's short breaks in the Icelandic capital.

And remember that all our travel packages can be tailored to your own interests, so days in Reykjavík can always be added to your itinerary. Just get in touch to see what we can do for you!

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Post by: Catharine

Catharine Fulton is a journalist and travel writer. Though born and raised in Canada, she found herself stuck in the Nordic region since moving to Finland in 2007 to pursue her MA and then migrating to Reykjavík, Iceland in 2009, where she lives with her Icelandic husband and tries (albeit unsuccessfully) to master the Icelandic language.

More posts by Catharine

Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way, check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.

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