36 Hours in Reykjavik

Reykjavik panorama

There’s so much to do and so little time! Reykjavík is among the most unique and quirky cities you’ll ever get to visit. With its unstoppable night life, miraculous natural wonders, hot springs, bars, clubs, and the mind-blowing aurora borealis that can be seen dancing across the sky like a vision from a distant dream, Reykjavik is a city that’s shines in so many ways!

Hallgrimskirkja church Climb as high as possible

So where do you start? It’s always a good idea to get a bird’s-eye-view of the city, no matter where you travel to. For this, head to the grim Hallgrimskirkja church and its high tower that offers a magnificent view of the colorful buildings of Reykjavík. It’s something you’ll never forget! Another viewing spot is available at the Perlan (The Pearl) – go to the 4th floor and enjoy the view of the Hallgrimskirkja church towering over the city.

Explore sculptures and street art

Reykjavik has been long known for its vibrant murals and colorful graffitis, so just walking around the city is like exploring a museum of street art of all kinds. There are whole lanes covered in art and artworks that are as big as buildings themselves! Most of Reykjavik’s sculptures are done by Einar Jonsson. Visit his incredible sculpture garden and learn more about his work in the museum dedicated to his art that’s located right near Hallgrimskirkja.

Street art
Murals are popular along the streets of Reykjavik

Eat, drink, and then eat some more!

The dining scene in Reykjavik is pretty outstanding, but only if you know the best places. They are not necessarily posh or luxurious, but there’s a number of cozy cafes and small restaurants that will satisfy even the pickiest eater. Prikio has a vibe of an American diner which somehow got transported into an old-fashioned Icelandic wooden house. Head here after you’ve had a rough night partying for the most heavenly bacon in all of Scandinavia. Reykjavik Roasters is an ideal place to have a coffee break. Nothing can compete with freshly-ground beans! If you’re a Star Wars fan, then you should definitely visit the toilet at Babalu – it’s decorated with original characters from Star Wars!

Mingle with the locals in a swimming pool

This is one of the most authentic experiences you can have in Reykjavik. Of course you can go to the gorgeous Blue Lagoon, but it’s quite expensive and the whole place is crowded. If you don’t want to pay extra, then head to a local public swimming pool and mingle with the locals like a real Scandinavian boy or gal. They have steam saunas, hot tops and thermal pools. Head to Vesturbaejarlaug  and Laugardalslaug to get your swimming pool experience.

Delve into local music

As it turns out, everyone in Iceland is a little bit crazy when it comes to music and musical instruments. Rumor has it, everyone in Iceland can play at least two instruments! Whether it is true or not, you should definitely explore the local music scene. After all, the famous SIgur Ros and the magnificent Bjork are from Iceland, and that says a lot. Stop by the 12 Tonar shop at Skolavorрustigur and chat with the shop’s owner about the modern music in Iceland. There are plenty of LPs and CDs too!

About the Author

Headshot of Ivanka Yurchenko

Ivanka Yurchenko is a writer and photographer with a passion for traveling. Born in Kiev, Ukraine, she spends a lot of time exploring the vibrant local culture that is filled with all kinds of events like music festivals, yoga retreats and art gallery openings. She enjoys writing about her travels to inspire other people to go out and see what the world has to offer. She left a job at marketing and went exploring Myanmar, India and Nepal. Now Ivanka is striving to become a great photographer to share the beauty of the world with as many people as possible.

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