When visiting Iceland, you can’t avoid a stop in its capital, even if you want to. The picturesque Icelandic metropolis of Reykjavík, whose name is as cut from a children’s rhyme, is the center of all the island’s events. Despite its size – or I should rather say a small thing – you will find here places where history, natural scenery and modern buildings breathe on you.
The northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavík, has a population of no more than 130,000, making it one of the smallest capitals in Europe. All its attractions are so close to each other and you can get around them on foot in a single day. I have prepared for you a guide on how to spend such 24 hours in Reykjavík – how to get to the city from the airport, where to stay, where to eat and what to see.
Transport from Keflavík Airport to Reykjavík
There are several ways to get from Keflavík Airport to Reykjavík. In comparison with price and comfort, Flybus works best. The bus is delivered to the airport half an hour after each arrival (yes, even at night) and waits for passengers even in case of flight delay. Express will take you to Reykjavík in 45 minutes for ISK 3,499 (CZK 654)
Accommodation in Reykjavik, Iceland
There are countless places to stay throughout Reykjavik and its surroundings. From hostels to camping and private rooms to the most luxurious hotels. So it all depends on your comfort and privacy preferences.
Affordability of individual accommodation:
There are many hotels of all categories and classes in Reykjavík. But save a lot for you. The cheaper hotels cost around CZK 3,000 per night. The more expensive ones continue up to over 8000 CZK.
There are as many hostels and guesthouses in Reykjavik as there are hotels. The price per bed in a dormitory, where you sleep with 7-15 other travelers, ranges from 500 to 2000 CZK.
Apartments and rooms via AirBnb can be affordable if you are traveling as a couple (or more people). The cheapest rental near the city center can be found for 1800 CZK. However, the vast majority of rentals for 2 people are most often between CZK 2,000 and 3,000 per night.
The cheapest option, which is also used by many Czech tourists, is the only camp in the whole city of Reykjavik Eco Campsite, 3 km from the city center (you can get there by bus no. 14). One night of one person here costs 450 CZK. Although the price is quite high for a place in the meadow, I can recommend the camp for myself. It includes hot-water showers from Icelandic springs, a kitchen with all necessary equipment and a heated common room.
Where to go in Reykjavik or 7 attractions that you can look forward to in Reykjavik
Morning – walk through the historic center with the main sights
How else to start a walk along the historic center of Reykjavik than along its artery Laugavegur. The main street crosses the entire city center and is surrounded by traditional Icelandic architecture. The colorful, adorable houses house cozy cafés, restaurants of all cuisines and souvenir shops with all Icelandic motifs, including traditional Icelandic sweaters. An interesting feature of local houses is the lining with woolen sheet metal, which protects them from frequent adverse weather.
But you can see how Reykjavík is really colored from the tower of the Hallgrímskirkja church (1000 ISK / approx. 205 CZK). The gray and modern-looking church, which is a symbol of Reykjavík, was named after the Icelandic poet Hallgrímur Pétursson. Thanks to the tower measuring 74.5 meters, the church is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. In addition to the colorful play of Reykjavik rooftops, there are wonderful views of the sea and Mount Esja.
In front of the church, don’t forget to see the statue of the Viking Leifur Eiríksson, who was the first European in history to discover the American continent. Then take Frakkastígur Street towards the sea.
While walking along the waterfront, you will see not only the modern architecture of Reykjavík, but also the statue – or rather the steel structure – Sólfar. It is mistaken for a Viking ship, in fact it is a Sun Rider ship and was designed to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Reykjavik.
As you continue along the waterfront, you will come across the magnificent Harpa building by the harbor, which serves as a concert hall and conference center. It was Iceland’s basalt landscape that inspired Danish architects to harp the glass color design with irregular hexagons. The first opening concert took place here on May 4, 2011.
From the concert hall, continue along Lækjargata Street “inside” the city until you reach Lake Tjörnin. Its dominant feature is the white town hall building with an information center. Of interest is the statue of an unknown official in front of the town hall – a man in a suit with a briefcase, the upper half of which is covered with a large stone. The statue depicts the anonymous bureaucratic work of officials.
Just a few steps from the lake lies Austurvöllur Square – a park surrounded by other cultural and historical buildings of Reykjavík. The most prominent is the cathedral Dómkirkjan, which is the oldest church in the city. Equally important is the Alþingi Parliament, which has made the square the center of several protests in the history of the state. The statue of politician Jon Sigurðsson in the middle of the square, which was responsible for Iceland’s independence, will not escape the attention of tourists.
Afternoon – the natural wonders of Iceland in Perlan
You can spend the afternoon visiting Perlan. The architectural monument, two kilometers from the center, consists of six cones, on which a glass dome is placed. Perlan used to serve as a hot water reservoir, today it is one of the most visited attractions in Reykjavik. Although it may seem unbelievable, inside is the largest nature exhibition in Iceland. The permanent exhibition entitled “Miracles of Iceland” accompanies visitors with the natural phenomena of the island, who can experience the power of the ocean, volcanoes and earthquakes firsthand. The exhibition also includes the Látrabjarg cliff with real-looking birds and an ice cave 100 meters long and man-made.
The Perlan Museum also has a planetarium showing aurora borealis, an expensive restaurant and views of all of Reykjavík and its surroundings.
Where to eat
Near Austurvöllur Square and Lake Tjörnin, where you end your morning walk, you can have lunch at the cozy Icelandic Street Food Restaurant, which serves traditional Icelandic dishes (ISK 2000 / approx. CZK 400) and meat soups (ISK 1490 / CZK 300).
You can end the evening with dinner in Svarta Kaffid – a family restaurant and café in one, where they serve famous bread soups (price 1850 ISK / approx. 370 CZK). The company is located in the heart of Reykjavík, on the main street, Laugavegur.