Reykjavík, the capital and largest city of Iceland, is a modern and charming city that is well worth visiting for a long weekend (if you are coming from UK or Europe) or use as a base for a longer holiday in the country.
My husband and I booked flights to Iceland shortly after coming back from New Zealand and throughout our trip we couldn’t help but comparing the two countries together. The landscapes share many similarities: from the spectacular coast lines, the glaciers and snow capped mountains, natural hot pools and geysers, beautiful hiking trails and deserted roads, at the side of which horses and sheep roam wild.
One of the things I really loved about Iceland was the isolation: being away from the big city world and feeling reinvigorated by it. One thing I didn’t love was the weather (mostly rain and fogs, with only two sunny days in the north of the island).
Before our road trip we stayed in Reykjavík for two nights to visit the city and plan the itinerary and accommodation for the following days. As we went to Iceland before the summer season officially started we didn’t have to book hotels in advance, so every day we decided how far to travel and where to stop for the night (using Booking.com to reserve hostel dorms or a room in a guesthouse).
Because Reykjavík is a popular destination all year round, we started looking for an room / flat there months before our trip (some of the best AirBNB listings were already fully booked). I am glad we did, as it can be difficult and expensive to find a last minute accommodation in the city. We eventually stayed in a central and modern one-bedroom apartment on Hverfisgata in downtown Reykjavík and were very happy with the place and most of all the location.
Another place I would recommend to stay if you are on a budget is the fantastic Kex Hostel (I have generally found that hostels in Iceland are beautiful and a good option for everyone, not only backpackers). We went there for breakfast and thought that the place looked really cool!
We spent most of our time in Reykjavík roaming the colourful streets, drinking coffee and eating delicious food, visiting Hallgrímskirkja church to see the view from the tower…
There is a lot more to do and see (museums, shopping, day tours) so please don’t treat this as a strict guide of what to do for a few days in Reykjavík.
Food-wise in Reykjavík you can’t miss The Sea Baron, a green old fisherman’s hut where you can have fresh seafood barbequed on skewers and their famous delicious lobster soup.
Another food that is equally famous – but no way as good as the lobster soup – is the hot-dog bought from the BBP street stand near the harbour. I was curious to try it, but to be honest I didn’t think much of it.
My most memorable meal of the holiday was dinner at Grill Market. We booked a table in advance and ordered from the A La Carte menu, choosing one main course each and sharing one starter and one dessert. I was full to burst at the end of the dinner and the bill came to around £40 per person, which was a reasonable price given the place and quality of the food. Overall I didn’t find Iceland particularly expensive and generally comparable to prices in the UK.
The food at Grill Market was great, from the bread with whipped butter and lava salt, the deep fried corn, the peanut steak (sometimes vegetarian options win over meat ones!) and the dessert: a chocolate ball covered in caramel sauce and served with coffee ice-cream. Delicious!
During the day our go-to spot was Reykjavík Roasters. Formerly known as Kaffismiðja Íslands, this coffee house offers a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and the best coffee in the city. They roast the beans on site and bags of their espresso blend and single origins are on sale in the shop, together with pastries and Omnom chocolate bars.
Another favourite food spot was Sandholt Bakery in Reykjavík’s main street Laugavegur. They use Reykjavík Roasters coffee for their espresso drinks, so the coffee was quite good. Most of all though you will want to visit for the delicious biscuits, pastries and breakfast boards.
We spent three nights in Reykjavík (two before and one after our road trip) and fell in love with the relaxed vibes of the city. I am definitely planning to go back for a few days of calm, good food and Blue Lagoon.