One day in Reykjavík

Reykjavik and I got along very well. I think I like the small-town vibe, but it was winter, so I’d really like to go back in warmer weather. Until then, I have recently discovered Albi from gingeraroundtheglobe.com who used to live in Iceland and wanted to share her tips for when you decide to visit the city — if even for one day. So here you go, introducing Albi!


You can often hear how is Iceland filled with tourists. Well, not Reykjavík. In fact, the capital of country of Fire and Ice is very often overlooked. Perhaps it is because it is too small, or for its lack of glaciers and waterfalls. Yet, Reykjavík is still city with very friendly and even hipster-ish vibes, that is worth to visit for at least one day.

Cathedral in Reykjavik

Starting your one day in Reykjavík

So, what to do in one day in Reykjavík? Prepare yourself, a lot of what to do will include walking! And let’s start at the top. By “top” I mean start your day by going to Halgrimskirkja. That weird looking church, that sort of looks like a rocket. What to do there? Well, first, you will get to see a modern architecture of churches. But check some special days, sometimes there are concerts there.

There is a fee for going to the top of cathedral, but it is definitely worth it. You will get to see whole Reykjavík and its colorful houses. Also, all the strange modern buildings around.

Need advice on packing for Iceland? We have a whole post on it!


Harpa Center

Harpa and coast

When it comes to strange buildings, don’t forget to visit Harpa. It is a very modern concert hall. When you are googling Reykjavík, it is the one with all the strange windows that look like cubes. Even though it is a concert hall, you can get to the common areas and see at least some of the architecture inside. Other than lots of souvenir shops, Harpa also offers a seating area. It is a great place for chilling while watching life in the harbor.

Viking Boat sculpture

However, for me this is a place to spend half an hour. But feel free to go out and head little bit more out of the center. There you can see the famous sculpture of the Viking boat. It is another cool place to see. There is also one very often overlooked building right on the opposite of the road. It is called a Peace center. And in fact, this is the place where the cold war was ended.

Unfortunately, you cannot go in. But if you want to know the story of ending cold war, look around. There is plenty of information about it on the signs around the building. Including a lot about the meeting between the Russian and American presidents.

So far this itinerary might be for half of the day. An important thing to know is that the weather keeps changing. Which is why I have few alternatives in my pocket for the rest of the day.


If you like whales…

It may surprise people, but Iceland is generally good spot for whale watching. The most popular places are in the northern Iceland, but if that is not in your itinerary, you can do it in Reykjavík too. And they have very good prices, and statistics. Generally, there is a 95% of chance that you will see a whale. And if you feel like it is too cold for you – companies here have everything ready for you. The warm wear, gloves, and everything else.

A great alternative, if you don’t feel like being cold on a sea, is the Whales of Iceland museum. They have an exhibition of around 50 species, all in life size. You can also get there all the info about whales, all their habits, and where to find them. At the same time, part of the price for the ticket goes to a nonprofit that is dedicated to saving whales.


If you are looking for strange places…

There are a lot of them! But my most favorite one is, that they have a penis museum! You won’t be able to find it anywhere else in the world. Here you can see 350 specimens from about 300 species. And you get to know all about them. It might sound crazy, but it is fun thing to do when spending time in Reykjavík. Besides, they have so many visitors, that you won’t feel strange or creepy there.


Northern Lights

Winter is special

Overall in winter it is worth it to pay attention to night sky in Reykjavík, because you might see northern lights. Reykjavík has a special addition to the Northern Lights. During winter, you can see here the Imagine Peace Tower. It lights up very close to the coast and you can see it quite far from the distance. Yoko Ono comes here every winter to light the tower. You can see the light from John Lennon’s birthday until the date he died. It gives a special atmosphere to the night sky.


Reykjavik on a sunny day

Places to eat and have fun

The good thing about eating in Reykjavík is the fact that you can eat every specialty here. The cute puffin birds? They are there. Want a taste of whale? You’ve come to the right place! The one issue that you might notice is the lack of proper Icelandic cuisine. A lot of times, when you finally find it, it is place for tourists and prices are rocket high.

But even there are some better one of these is Íslenski barinn. It is a place where everything is very Icelandic. The beer, the music, the bartenders, everything. Also, most of the food is local and fresh. Yum!

Bryggjan Brugghus is a place where even locals come. This local brewery offers both food and drinks for good prices. As a bonus you can feel an authentic atmosphere.

If you are feeling more adventurous, go to The English Pub. This facility doesn’t offer food. But it will make it up to you by wide offer of beverages. Moreover, they have live music every day, so there is something to dance or sing to every day.

We found our own favorite spots as well (as tourists, of course!). Here’s where we found some good food in Reykjavik.


Reykjavik

Conclusion

Reykjavík is a small but very vibrant town. Reykjavík might not have a lot of attractions. But it doesn’t make it less interesting. The capital of Iceland can offer also a very quick taste of what visit rest of the country will feel like. Surrounded by nature with some nice views. Reykjavík is fun to visit both upon arrival to Iceland, or before you leave. You could get used to the local climate as well as relax after adventurous hikes.


About Author

My name is Albi Mrazová, but I’m also Ginger around the globe. I come from Czech Republic, but venturing around the world. Currently, I’m living as an expat in Denmark, where I study. Before that, I used to live in Iceland for six months and fell in love with the country. In my posts, I often write about Scandinavia and living as an expat. Find me on Facebook to connect.

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