REYKJAVIK.

Reykjavik is not the biggest nor the flashiest city in the world, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in atmosphere. The architecture is interesting, the people are welcoming, the nightlife is wild, and the sights are amazing… what’s more to desire? Despite the compact size, the attractions of Reykjavik can rival those from the bigger metropolises – Hallgrímskirkja, one of the most iconic churches you’ll find anywhere in the world, being the prime example. But there is more – the National Museum, situated in Old Reykjavik, will please even the most seasoned museum-goers. Then, there is the futuristic concert hall Harpa and other equally beautiful buildings. And what’s outside of Reykjavik is perhaps even more interesting than the city itself, as the area surrounding the city is just perfect for hiking or observing wildlife. After all, it is Reykjavik where people go to observe the humpbacks and blue whales, among other fascinating animals. All in all, a city break to Reykjavik is nothing like a city break to any other, more popular city in the world, and that’s what makes it so intriguing and interesting!

Money Saving Tips

Money Saving Tips

Best Period to Visit Reykjavik

Best Period to Visit Reykjavik

Accomodation Tips for Reykjavik

Accomodation Tips

Getting Around Reykjavik

Getting Around Reykjavik

Top 10 Things to See and Do in Reykjavik

Top 10 Things to See and Do in Reykjavik

Other Things to See and Do

Other Things to See and Do

Money Saving Tips

Visit the Duty-Free Stores

Since the prices of alcohol tend to rich astronomical prices in almost all of Iceland, you might want to stock up on beverages at the airport in a duty-free store. There is, of course, a limit to how much duty-free stuff you can buy, but it can still save you some money. Remember that you can drink outside in Iceland.

Do not go to 10-11

While from afar the shop might look like a good, cheap spot to shop for groceries and food, 10-11 is actually one of the most expensive stores in all of Iceland, and will surely increase your bill by at least a half. Instead, go to some low price stores, like Netto or Bonus, and you are sure to save some money.

Drink tap water

An easy way to save a lot of money when visiting Iceland is to avoid bottled water at all cost. It is mostly the same as the tap water, as the quality of tap water in Reykjavik is remarkable. You can also ask for free tap water in restaurants and other places, and make sure to take some with you on trips.

Utilize Happy Hours

Remember that alcohol in Iceland is extremely expensive, which means that a pint of beer in a pub or a bar might reach as much as €10, and it is usually of poor quality. If you still want to have a drink somewhere, make sure to come between 3 p.m and 8 p.m., as during these time many places offer happy hours.

Visit restaurants at lunchtime

While not as expensive as alcohol, food in Iceland is still quite a blow to a tourist’s budget. If you do not want to make your own meals, or do not have the time to do so, make sure to go to a restaurant during lunch time, usually around 12 a.m., as many places offer the meals of the day which are considerably cheaper.

Use public Wi-Fi

If you plan on using the Internet a lot while on your stay in Iceland, make sure not to use the data transmission in your phone. The fees for data transmission for foreign visitors is very expensive, but you can still resort to free public Wi-Fi networks, or you can ask at your hotel if they have one themselves.

Do not go to the Blue Lagoon

You are sure to be bombarded with advertisements and offers of the Blue Lagoon right from the moment you land at the airport, but do not allow yourself to be tempted by them. The Blue Lagoon is not only horrendously expensive, but is often swarmed with tourists, and as such is not a very pleasant place to visit.

Hitchhike!

If you plan on seeing some of the countryside landscapes of Iceland outside of Reykjavik, the best way to do so is to hitchhike. Hitchhiking is very popular in Iceland and is quite a common thing to do. Just remember to chip in for gas, or if you are the one driving, ask the hitchhikers to chip in with you.

Do not use taxis

If you think that taxis in France or Germany are expensive, you’ve never had to use a cab in Iceland. The taxi flag in Reykjavik starts at around €5, and even a short drive might be as expensive as €15, which would otherwise take you about fifteen minutes to walk, so make sure to use other means of transportation.

Book in advance

If you book your accommodation and tours well in advance, you are sure to have better prices than you would if you were to get them right before your trip. Moreover, since Reykjavik is a place frequently visited by tourists, you have a much higher chance of finding accommodation and a flight which is not crowded.

Best Period to Visit Reykjavik

Tourism

Reykjavik is attractive throughout the year, but the crowds are never really severe. Each season offers a different set of attractions and entertaining things to do – check our events section for more information.

Weather

Reykjavik is the warmest from June to August, with temperatures reaching 13 °C highs. This, plus the fact that that’s when the days are the longest, with up to 21 hours of sunlight, is what makes this season the most attractive for tourists. Winter brings really low temperatures, up to -3 °C lows.

Money

If you want to save some money on accommodation, food and entertainment while in Reykjavik, then winter is the time to do. From June to August, the prices can be up to 20% higher than throughout the rest of the year.

Events

Winter Lights Festival (February)
Reykjavik Food and Fun Festival (March)
Reykjavik Fashion Festival (March)
Secret Solstice (June)
Reykjavik Midsummer Music (June)
Reykjavik Jazz Festival (August)
Reykjavik Gay Pride (August)
Reykjavik Fringe Festival (September)
International Film Festival (September-October)
Iceland Airwaves (November)

Accomodation Tips

Apartments

If you want to experience Reykjavik from an entirely different angle, then consider renting an apartment instead of a hotel. Especially larger families will be delighted with this form of accommodation, which offers a higher degree of privacy.

Budget (1-2 star) hotels

To save money while enjoying all that Reykjavik has best, book a 1- or 2-star hotel. These hotels are very cheap compared to other forms of accommodation, allowing you to dedicate more resources to entertainment, food or exploration. This is the best option for students, backpackers and people on a tight budget.

Standard (3-4 star) hotels

Those interested in a higher degree of comfort should consider booking a 3- or 4-star hotel in Reykjavik. These standard hotels in Reykjavik are usually situated close to the tourist attractions and points of interest around the city and offer many convenient facilities. Nightly rates for such hotels start around $60.

Luxury hotels in Reykjavik

Luxury hotels in Reykjavik offer state-of-the-art accommodation, with the most popular attractions right at your doorstep. The facilities leave nothing to be desired, ensuring your comfort and satisfaction. Such convenience comes at a price, but it is well worth the additional expense. Nightly rates for luxury hotel in Reykjavik start around $200.

Getting Around Reykjavik

Bicycle

Since Reykjavik is quite a small city, a bicycle is a good way of traversing its premises. The network of cycle lanes is improving each year and is well-developed even in its current state. There is also a bike-sharing programme with docking stations in eight places around the city. Moreover, there is a number of rentals where you can get your own bike if you do not feel like using the bike-sharing programme.

Boat

An easy way to get around different islands located in and around Reykjavik is to use the ferry rides. The ferries are not overly expensive and often provide an opportunity to see whales and other ocean life.

Bus

There is a good number of bus routes in the city of Reykjavik, which allow you to quickly traverse the city from one end to the other. The buses also ride along the suburbs and villages on the outskirts of the city, along with some long-distance buses to outer towns. Each stop has a printed map of the bus lines, but there is also a smartphone app which will help you get around town.
The buses start their service around 7 a.m. and work all the way until midnight. Take note that during the night there is only limited service, which runs until 2 a.m., and the night buses depart very infrequently.

Tickets and Passes

A single fare ticket costs kr420, which is around €3.30 and allows you to get on a single bus ride without any transfers. You can also get one or three day passes for respectively kr1500 and kr3500, but only do so if you are going to use the buses a lot, since they are quite expensive. There are also transfer tickets, which are handy if you need to take more than one bus to reach your destination, and those are valid for 75 minutes.
If you own the Reykjavik City Card, you are entitled to free bus rides for the duration of the card, along with free ferry rides. Moreover, there is a range of attractions and swimming pools which are free to visit with the card.

Car and Motorcycle

Since Reykjavik is a small town, using your own vehicle to traverse it is not really necessary. You can easily just take a walk or rent a bicycle to traverse small distances, and use the buses for longer ones. Moreover, you might have some trouble finding a free parking spot in the city, and parking in the city centre is quite expensive.

Taxi

As covered before, it is strongly discouraged to use taxis at all when visiting Iceland. The flag fall starts at around €5, and each kilometer of the journey is an additional expense. Even a short ride, which would otherwise take only twenty minutes to walk or five minutes to travel on a bike, might cost you up to €20. Stay away for the taxis whenever possible and only use them as a last resort.

Top 10 Things to See and Do in Reykjavik

Golden Circle Classic Day Trip

This whole-day trip will allow you to see some of the gorgeous landscape of Iceland, located in the volcanic vicinity of Reykjavik. You will see the best highlights of the Golden Circle, including some of the famous spots used in movies, all without the hassle of having to arrange your own transportation.

Small-Group Golden Circle and Secret Lagoon Trip

Not only will this trip take you along the sights of the Golden Circle, taking you between its natural landmarks, but you will also be able to enter the Secret Lagoon with a skip-the-line ticket. In there, you will have plenty of time to relax and unwind after hiking in the thermal hot springs of the lagoon.

Southern Iceland Glaciers, Waterfalls and Beaches Day Tour

This day tour starts right from the centre of Reykjavik and will take you along several of the most famous sights of Southern Iceland. A local guide will show you the sights and tell you their history as you visit such renowned sights as the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafass waterfalls, as well as glaciers and beaches.

Puffin Express Cruise to Akurey from Reykjavik

This one-hour cruise will show you the natural habitat of the native species of Iceland, including puffins and other seabirds. A guide will show you along the way, as he tells you the facts about the birds. The trip also has an additional option to provide a hotel pickup and drop-off, for a very reasonable price.

Whale Watching Tour

Take the opportunity of having the unique experience of watching live whales on a trip which starts right from the centre of Reykjavik. An educated guide will tell you facts and stories about the local marine life, as you visit indoor and outdoor viewing areas to see the whales and other wildlife of the ocean.

Silfra Snorkelling Tour

This four-hour trip will take you to the rift of Silfra, which is a renowned snorkelling spot in Iceland. You will be provided with professional equipment and an instructor to help you get started, as you snorkel through the crystal-clear waters of the Silfra rift, where you can see the local water creatures yourself.

Game of Thrones Filming Locations Tour

Just like many other famous TV-series and movies, the Game of Thrones was also filmed partly in Iceland. This tour will take you along the Thingvellir National Park, as well as the Lake Thingvallavatn, as a well-accustomed guide tells you some trivia about the show as you see the gorgeous Icelandic landscape.

Icelandic Horseback Riding Tour

If you are in for an unusual attraction, try this four-hour tour which will take you on a horseback ride through the landscapes of Iceland. As you ride through lava fields, mountain ranges, and lakes, an instructor will show you how to ride a horse properly, and you can even choose a difficulty level.

Northern Lights Tour from Reykjavik

This evening tour will give you the best possible chances of seeing the famous Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis, while you travel to the countryside of Iceland by night. A professional guide will show you the best spot to notice the natural phenomenon, and if you do not manage to see the lights – you can come again for free.

One-Hour Small Group Raufarhollshellir Tour

The Raufarhollshellir is a famous lava tunnel, located not far off from Reykjavik. This tour ensures you get a free spot at a preferred time slot, allowing you to choose from a few departure times through the day. With a small group of visitors, you will go through the tunnels while a guide gives you a geology lesson with information on the tunnel.

Other Things to See and Do

Hallgrimskirkja

Being one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Reykjavik, the Hallgrimskirkja is a Lutheran church located in the centre of the city. The church is relatively new, as it was commissioned in 1937, and is said to resemble the glaciers and mountains of Iceland’s landscape, giving it a unique shape.

Grotta

If you are looking for a spot to take a romantic evening stroll or a place to jog, make sure to visit the Grotta seaside. Not only is this spot filled with beautiful, natural scenery with little man-made objects, but there is a small footpath where locals often relax, as well as a small lighthouse not far off.

Reykjavik Art Museum

While not exactly free to visit for everyone, the Reykjavik Art Museum provides free entrance to children under the age of eighteen and students, but adults can visit all three establishments that belong to the museum with a single ticket, gazing at the large collection of visual arts.

Tjornin

The lake Tjornin is a very popular place to go for the older locals of Reykjavik, as they spend their afternoons feeding the birds and watching the calm water. You can even ask a local bakery for some free old bread to feed the birds, but be sure to take note of the signs as it is not always allowed to feed them.

Nautholsvik

Called by many the Icelandic Copacabana, this artificial beach is filled with hot tubs and heated water and is often an even more relaxing experience than natural beaches. Make sure to come a bit earlier, as the beach often gets crowded on sunny days during the afternoon, and if you’re feeling bold, swim in the cold water with the locals.

Perlan

While dining at the Perlan restaurants will, of course, cost you some money, and a lot of it at that, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the landscape of Reykjavik for free from its viewing deck. The design of the building itself is a sight worth seeing, and there is even an artificial water geyser right next to it.

Kolaportið

Make sure to arrange some free time in your schedule to come to this unique flea market, where you can easily make friends and socialise with the locals, who come to the market to sell their handmade products. Take in the sights and smells of the market, with unusual delicacies and beautiful craftwork.

Elliðaárdalur

Located still in the city of Reykjavik, this outdoor recreation area provides the perfect retreat for an afternoon walk to relax when surrounded by nature. The area is filled with rivers, forests, waterfalls, and local wildlife, and the area is so big that there is a very small chance of even running into somebody else.

Mount Esja

If you dream of climbing the Mount Everest but are too afraid of the hard and dangerous journey, visit the Mount Esja near Reykjavik instead. The mountain is 914 meters high, and its slope is just enough to provide a demanding workout while not being too dangerous and difficult. Make sure to take some pictures at the top.

Þjóðarbókhlaðan

As is customary with Icelandic cities and monuments, this one too has an impossible to pronounce name, but do not let that discourage you. The Þjóðarbókhlaðan is the National Library of Iceland and is a must-see if you are interested in the culture of the nation. Moreover, there are often free exhibitions of various artifacts and art.

Geothermal Pools

There is a wide range of geothermal pools, both natural and artificial, located in and around the city of Reykjavik. Most of those pools are free, so do not let yourself be persuaded by the flashy advertisements of the paid pools. Relax in the hot tubs or take the challenge of swimming in unheated water.

Hit the beach

The beach of Reykjavik is one of the most popular spots in all of the city, attended both by locals and tourists alike. Interestingly, the beach of the city is one of the few places where the temperature of the water is high enough to allow swimming without protective gear. Take a note that it is still quite cold!

Street festivals

Since the nightlife in Reykjavik is expensive, and so are the drinks, people have taken advantage of the empty streets of the city during the night. There are a lot of parties, festivals, music concerts and so on taking place right in the middle of the streets, where you can see the locals have fun on their own, unique way.

Möðrudalur

Take a hike to the highest positioned farm in Iceland, located over four hundred and fifty meters above the sea level. It is only a short ride from the city of Reykjavik and is definitely a place worth visiting, as it provides you a unique view of the landscape of Iceland, along with mostly untouched, tranquil terrain.

Myvatn

Being one of the most gorgeous lakes in all of Iceland, the Myvatn Lake also has a number of small islands on it, which contain volcanic geysers and craters with thermal hot tubs. While the hot tubs are definitely not safe to swim in, they are still a great sight, and the local birds that live there are a nice bonus.

Free walking tours

There is a number of free walking tours in Reykjavik which you can attend without any admission fee. One of such tours is the City Walk, which has one of the best reviews on Tripadvisor when it comes to attractions. A local guide, who is also a history graduate, will take you along the city with a lot of trivia to tell.

Austurvollur

The city square of Austurvollur is one of the most popular spots attended by the locals, where they gather with their friends and go out to have fun. The square is surrounded by a number of cafés, small-time shops, and cosy clubs, and there is even the parliament building right next to it.

Laugavegur Street

Even if you are not planning on doing any major shopping, it is still worth it to visit the Laugavegur Street in Reykjavik. It is the main shopping street of the city, located right in the centre of the city. The street is filled with local shops and stalls, which present souvenirs and handmade memorabilia, which are free to look at.

See the Northern Lights

While there is a bunch of paid tours which will show you the best spots in the city to see the Aurora Borealis, you can go to such places on your own without having to pay anything. One of the best spots in all of Reykjavik to see the Northern Lights is the old harbor to the far west, as well as the Grotta island.

The Einar Jonsson Art Museum

Filled with gorgeous sculptures showcasing the art history of Iceland, the Einar Jonsson Art Museum is a place worth visiting. The architecture of the building is beautiful on its own, looking as if it were a sculpture itself, and the museum and the surrounding gardens are free to visit every day of the year.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the best hotels for Reykjavik city break?

    Our list of the best hotels in Reykjavik are: Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura, Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, Hotel Odinsve, Hlemmur Square and CenterHotel Thingholt. Discover the full list of best hotels in Reykjavik.

  • What are the luxury hotels in Reykjavik?

    The finest examples of luxury hotels in Reykjavik include Hotel Reykjavik Centrum, Fosshotel Reykjavik, Grand Hotel Reykjavik, Radisson Blu Saga Hotel Reykjavik, Radisson Blu Saga Hotel Reykjavik, and Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre. Discover the full list of luxury hotels in Reykjavik.

  • What are the cheap hotels in Reykjavik?

    Those trying to visit Reykjavik on a tight budget will find everything they need in hotels such as CenterHotel Plaza, Reykjavik Residence Apartment Hotel, Fosshotel Baron, Skuggi Hotel Reykjavik by Keahotels, 22 Hill Hotel, City Center Hotel Reykjavik and Hotel Leifur Eiriksson. Discover the full list of Cheap hotels in Reykjavik.

  • What is the best period to visit Reykjavik for a city break?

    Taking factors such as weather, crowds and prices, the best months to visit Reykjavik for a city break are June, July, August and October.

  • What are top 5 things to see and do in Reykjavik?

    Reykjavik offers plenty of exciting attractions and things to do. Must-sees in Reykjavik include: Golden Circle Classic Day Trip, Small-Group Golden Circle, Southern Iceland Glaciers, Puffin Express Cruise and Whale Watching Tour.

  • How much does an Reykjavik city pass cost?

    A city pass in Reykjavik costs around €31.

  • How much does public transport in Reykjavik cost?

    24-hour ticket for public transport in Reykjavik costs around €12.

  • What are the best night clubs in Reykjavik?

    The best night clubs in Reykjavik include: Prikið, Austur, Gaukurinn, Pablo Discobar and B5 Bar.

  • What are the best bars in Reykjavik?

    Judging on the reviews and customer opinions, the best bars in Reykjavik are: Kíkí Queer Bar, Kaffibarinn, Paloma, Slippbarinn and Snaps Bistro-Bar.

  • What are the best places to eat in Reykjavik?

    Your choice of the best restaurants in Reykjavik may vary depending on your taste, however, Dill Restaurant, Grillmarkadurinn, Fiskfelagid and Baejarins Beztu Pylsur are some of the most popular choices.

  • What are the top 5 best restaurants in Reykjavik?

    Top 5 restaurants in Reykjavik include: Skolabru, La Primavera Ristorante, The Coocoo's Nest, Flatey Pizza and Bryggjan Brugghús.