Reykjavik hero


Reykjavik, the capital and largest city of Iceland, beckons travelers with its captivating blend of natural beauty, rich history, and modern charm. Nestled by the coast and surrounded by mountains, the city is a gateway to some of the most stunning landscapes on Earth. The Northern Lights paint the skies with ethereal colors, a spectacle that leaves an indelible mark on anyone fortunate enough to witness it. Reykjavik’s streets are lined with historic wooden houses juxtaposed against contemporary architecture, telling tales of a city that respects its past while embracing the future. The city's cultural scene is bustling with world-class museums, galleries, and theaters, offering a glimpse into the Icelandic way of life. The geothermal pools scattered around provide a unique relaxation experience, allowing you to immerse in warm waters while surrounded by snow-clad landscapes. Furthermore, Reykjavik is a testament to sustainable living, with most of its energy coming from renewable sources. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, history buff, or someone looking for a serene getaway, Reykjavik promises an experience unlike any other.



Reykjavik is a city brimming with attractions that cater to a wide array of interests. Here are some of the best attractions the city has to offer:

  • Hallgrímskirkja: Dominating the city's skyline, this iconic church is the tallest in Iceland. Its unique architecture is inspired by the basalt lava flows of the Icelandic landscape. An elevator ride to the top offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

  • Harpa Concert Hall: An architectural marvel with its geometric glass facade reflecting the surrounding sea and cityscape. It's not just an architectural delight but also a cultural hub hosting concerts, operas, and other events.

  • Sun Voyager: A striking stainless steel sculpture located by the sea, representing a dreamboat and an ode to the sun. It's especially beautiful during sunset when the sculpture gleams against the setting sun.

  • Reykjavik Art Museum: Spread over three locations, this museum showcases modern and contemporary art from Icelandic and international artists. It provides insight into the vibrant Icelandic art scene.

  • The Settlement Exhibition: Delve deep into Reykjavik's history at this museum which is built around the remains of a Viking longhouse from the 10th century. Interactive displays offer insights into the lives of the first settlers.

  • Perlan: Originally a set of hot water tanks, now transformed into a unique attraction. It houses an observation deck, a planetarium, and an exhibition about Icelandic nature.

  • Old Harbor: Once a bustling trading port, the Old Harbor has been rejuvenated with restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. It's also the starting point for whale watching tours and puffin excursions.

These are just a few highlights. Reykjavik's charm lies in wandering its streets, discovering its nooks and crannies, and soaking in its vibrant atmosphere.

Kids Attractions

When traveling with children, Reykjavik offers a plethora of attractions tailored for the young ones:

  • Family Park and Zoo: Located in Laugardalur Valley, this venue introduces kids to Iceland's native animals such as seals, reindeer, and arctic foxes. The park also has amusement rides and play areas, making it a fun day out.

  • Viking World: This museum offers an interactive experience, allowing kids to explore a real Viking ship, the Icelander, which is a replica of a famous ship found in Norway. The museum also offers exhibitions on Viking history and culture.

  • Aurora Reykjavik: A great place for children to learn about the Northern Lights. Through interactive displays, kids can understand the science behind this natural phenomenon and even try their hand at creating their own aurora!

  • Tjörnin Pond: Located in the heart of the city, this pond is a favorite among families. Kids can feed the ducks, geese, and swans that inhabit the pond. In winter, it transforms into a skating rink.

  • Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach: A unique beach where golden sands meet geothermal waters. Children can play in the sand, swim in the warm waters, or take a dip in the hot tubs.

  • Laugardalslaug: One of Reykjavik's largest swimming pools with slides, hot tubs, and an Olympic-sized pool. The geothermally heated waters ensure a comfortable swim, even in chilly weather.

  • Whale Watching Tours: Departing from the Old Harbor, these tours offer kids the exciting opportunity to see majestic whales, playful dolphins, and seabirds in their natural habitat.

Reykjavik ensures that kids not only have fun but also learn about Icelandic culture, history, and nature during their visit.


Icelandic cuisine is deeply rooted in its history, traditions, and the abundant natural resources of the island. In Reykjavik, you can savor a wide variety of dishes that reflect this rich culinary heritage. Here's a taste of what the city offers:

  • Icelandic Lamb: Known for its distinct flavor, the lamb in Iceland grazes freely on vast meadows, feasting on wild herbs and berries. Dishes like lamb soup or grilled lamb chops are must-tries.

  • Skýr: A dairy product similar to yogurt but thicker. It's been a part of Icelandic cuisine for over a thousand years. Often enjoyed with berries or honey, it's a delightful breakfast or snack.

  • Seafood: Given its location, Reykjavik offers some of the freshest seafood. From lobster soup to grilled cod and the traditional fermented shark, there's something for every seafood lover.

  • Pylsur: The Icelandic hot dog, often considered the country's unofficial national dish. Made with a blend of lamb, beef, and pork, it's typically served with a variety of toppings including fried onions, raw onions, ketchup, mustard, and remoulade.

  • Brennivín: Often referred to as "Black Death", this is Iceland's signature distilled spirit. Made from fermented grain or potato mash and flavored with caraway, it's typically consumed during traditional feasts.

  • Rúgbrauð: A type of dark rye bread that's traditionally baked in the ground using geothermal heat. Its slightly sweet taste pairs well with Icelandic butter or smoked fish.

  • Icelandic pastries: From kleinur (twisted doughnuts) to vinarterta (a layered cake with prune filling), Icelandic pastries are a treat for the sweet-toothed.

  • Café culture: Reykjavik boasts a thriving café scene. Many cafes roast their own beans and offer a cozy atmosphere, perfect for sipping a cup of coffee and enjoying a slice of cake.

Dining in Reykjavik provides an opportunity to experience the flavors of Iceland, from age-old traditions to modern interpretations. Whether you're indulging in a gourmet meal at a high-end restaurant or grabbing a quick bite at a street stall, the city's culinary offerings are sure to tantalize your taste buds.


Reykjavik might be a small city, but when the sun sets, its nightlife scene bursts into life, offering a diverse range of experiences for night owls:

  • Bars and Pubs: Reykjavik is home to numerous bars and pubs, each with its own unique vibe. Whether you're looking for a quiet place to sip on craft beers or a lively venue with dance floors, the city has it all. Kaffibarinn and Lebowski Bar are among the popular choices.

  • Live Music: The city has a rich musical heritage and has given birth to internationally acclaimed bands and artists. Venues like Gaukurinn and Húrra regularly host live music events spanning various genres.

  • Nightclubs: For those looking to dance the night away, Reykjavik's nightclubs, such as Paloma and Kiki Queer Bar, offer pulsating beats and a vibrant atmosphere.

  • Cultural Events: The Harpa Concert Hall hosts a variety of events, from classical music concerts to contemporary performances, offering a sophisticated night out.

  • Thermal Pools: Imagine soaking in a geothermally heated pool under the starry sky or the Northern Lights. The Laugardalslaug pool is open late, providing a unique nighttime experience.

  • Festivals: Throughout the year, Reykjavik hosts various festivals like Iceland Airwaves and Reykjavik Pride, which add a special flair to the city's nightlife.

  • Midnight Sun: During summer, Reykjavik experiences the phenomenon of the midnight sun, where it never gets completely dark. This leads to a unique nightlife experience with extended hours of activity.

  • Northern Lights: In winter, the city becomes one of the best places to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Many local tours offer late-night excursions to chase this natural spectacle.

Reykjavik's nightlife is a blend of traditional Icelandic charm and modern urban energy. Whether you're a party enthusiast or someone seeking a tranquil evening, the city ensures memorable nocturnal adventures.


Reykjavik offers a unique shopping experience, merging local craftsmanship with international trends. Here’s a glimpse into the shopping landscape of the city:

  • Laugavegur: The city's main shopping street, lined with boutiques, design stores, and cafes. Here, you can find everything from Icelandic woolen goods to contemporary fashion.

  • Kolaportið Flea Market: Open on weekends, this market offers a treasure trove of vintage items, second-hand clothes, Icelandic delicacies, and souvenirs.

  • Handknitting Association of Iceland: For authentic Icelandic wool sweaters, known as lopapeysa, this is the go-to place. Each piece showcases the intricate craftsmanship of local knitters.

  • Aurum: A renowned jewelry store where you can find pieces inspired by Icelandic nature. Think designs reflecting lava rocks, glaciers, and the Northern Lights.

  • Geysir: A local clothing brand offering stylish garments inspired by Icelandic traditions and landscapes. Their stores also house other Nordic brands.

  • Icelandic Design: Numerous stores in Reykjavik showcase the creativity of local designers, be it in home decor, clothing, or accessories.

  • Smáralind: If you're looking for a mall experience, Smáralind is one of the largest shopping malls in Iceland, housing both international and local brands.

  • Mál og Menning: A delightful bookstore where you can find a vast collection of books, including works by Icelandic authors translated into various languages.

  • Local Art Galleries: Reykjavik is dotted with art galleries selling artworks by local artists. These pieces, inspired by Iceland's mesmerizing landscapes and culture, make for unique souvenirs.

  • Skincare: Due to the geothermal resources, Iceland boasts high-quality skincare products. Brands like Blue Lagoon and Sóley Organics offer products harnessing the natural goodness of Icelandic herbs and minerals.

Shopping in Reykjavik is not just about purchasing items but immersing oneself in the local culture and appreciating the talent and craftsmanship of the Icelandic people. Whether you're looking for souvenirs, fashion, or art, the city promises a fulfilling shopping experience.


Reykjavik's location near the Arctic Circle gives it a subarctic maritime climate, leading to cool temperatures and distinct seasons. Here's what you can expect:

  • Winter (December to February): The city experiences short days with only a few hours of daylight. Temperatures hover around freezing, with averages between -1°C to 2°C (30°F to 35°F). Snowfall is common, painting the city in a pristine white layer. This season offers the best chance to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights.

  • Spring (March to May): As winter recedes, the days start to get longer, and the city comes alive with blooming flowers. Temperatures range from 0°C to 7°C (32°F to 45°F). The snow begins to melt, revealing the green beneath.

  • Summer (June to August): This is the warmest period in Reykjavik with temperatures between 8°C to 15°C (46°F to 59°F). Due to the Midnight Sun phenomenon, the city experiences almost 24 hours of daylight, making it a great time for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

  • Autumn (September to November): The fall season witnesses a transition from the mild temperatures of summer to the colder winter months. The city's foliage turns into shades of gold and red. Temperatures fluctuate between 2°C to 10°C (35°F to 50°F).

While Reykjavik doesn't experience extreme temperatures, it's essential to pack layers, especially if you plan to engage in outdoor activities. Waterproof and windproof clothing is recommended year-round due to the city's unpredictable weather patterns. Whether you visit during the ethereal midnight sun or the magical winter nights, Reykjavik's climate adds to its charm and allure.

Popularity and Crowds

Reykjavik, being the cultural and economic hub of Iceland, attracts a considerable number of visitors each year. Its popularity has been on the rise, and here's a breakdown of what to expect:

  • Peak Season (June to August): Summer is the most popular time to visit Reykjavik due to the pleasant weather and the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun. Tourist spots, especially the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon, can get crowded. It's advisable to book accommodations and tours in advance during this period.

  • Shoulder Season (May and September): These months offer a balance between decent weather and fewer crowds. You can enjoy most of the tourist attractions without the summer rush, and prices for accommodations might be slightly lower.

  • Off-Peak Season (October to April): Winter sees fewer tourists, but those who come are primarily in search of the Northern Lights. While some attractions in the countryside might be less accessible due to snow, Reykjavik remains lively. It's an excellent time for those seeking a quieter experience.

  • Festivals and Events: Events like Iceland Airwaves (music festival) and Reykjavik International Film Festival attract a significant number of attendees. The city becomes lively, and accommodations might be scarce.

  • Accessibility: Despite the crowds, Reykjavik remains accessible and friendly. The city has been enhancing its infrastructure to cater to the growing number of tourists.

  • Local Perspective: While tourism has boosted the economy, there's a conscious effort to promote sustainable tourism. Locals are generally welcoming but appreciate it when visitors are respectful of the environment and Icelandic customs.

In conclusion, Reykjavik's popularity as a travel destination has grown exponentially in recent years. Whether you prefer bustling summer days or serene winter nights, it's always a good idea to plan ahead to make the most of your visit.


Reykjavik, like much of Iceland, is often perceived as a pricier destination. Here's a breakdown of the cost landscape to help you navigate your expenses:

  • Accommodation: Prices vary depending on the type and location. Downtown Reykjavik tends to be more expensive. Budget travelers can opt for hostels or guesthouses, which cost around 8,000 to 15,000 ISK per night. Mid-range hotels or boutique guesthouses range from 15,000 to 30,000 ISK, while luxury accommodations can go above 40,000 ISK.

  • Dining: Eating out in Reykjavik can be costly. A meal at a budget restaurant might set you back 2,500 to 3,500 ISK, while a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost between 6,000 to 10,000 ISK. To save, consider visiting local supermarkets like Bónus or Krónan and preparing your own meals.

  • Transportation: The public bus system, Strætó, is efficient and covers most of the city. A single ticket costs around 490 ISK. Taxis are available but can be expensive. Renting a car is a popular option for those wanting to explore beyond the city.

  • Attractions: Entrance fees to attractions vary. Museums and galleries might charge between 1,000 to 2,500 ISK. Tours, especially specialized ones like whale watching or Northern Lights excursions, can range from 10,000 to 25,000 ISK.

  • Shopping: Prices for souvenirs, especially handcrafted items like woolen goods, can be high. However, they reflect the quality and craftsmanship. It's worth noting that tourists can avail of a VAT refund on certain goods.

  • Alcohol: Due to high taxes, alcohol is expensive in Reykjavik. Buying from the state-run stores, Vínbúðin, is cheaper than consuming at bars. Happy hours in various bars can offer some relief to your wallet.

  • Tipping: Tipping is not a common practice in Iceland. Service charges are usually included in the bill.

While Reykjavik can be on the higher end regarding expenses, it offers experiences that are truly unparalleled. With a bit of planning and budgeting, you can make the most of what the city has to offer without breaking the bank.

Getting Around

Navigating through Reykjavik is relatively straightforward, thanks to its compact size and efficient transportation options. Here's how you can get around the city and its surroundings:

  • Walking: Reykjavik's city center is compact and pedestrian-friendly. Most attractions, restaurants, shops, and accommodations are within walking distance. The city's clean air and well-maintained sidewalks make strolling a pleasant experience.

  • Bicycling: Reykjavik has been making efforts to be more bike-friendly, with designated bike lanes and paths. You can rent bicycles from various outlets or hotels. It's a sustainable and healthy way to explore the city.

  • Public Buses - Strætó: The city's public bus system is efficient and covers most areas of interest. Buses are modern, clean, and punctual. You can pay with cash (exact change) or use the Strætó app for electronic tickets. The central bus station, BSÍ, is a hub for intercity buses.

  • Car Rentals: If you plan to explore beyond Reykjavik or visit the Icelandic countryside, renting a car is advisable. Numerous rental agencies are available. Remember to drive safely, especially during winter, and familiarize yourself with Icelandic driving regulations.

  • Taxis: Taxis are available but are pricier than other transportation options. They can be hailed on the street or booked via phone. Most taxis accept credit cards.

  • Tour Buses: Numerous tour operators offer day trips or extended tours from Reykjavik to popular attractions like the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, and South Coast. They provide the convenience of transportation and guided commentary.

  • Domestic Flights: If you're short on time and wish to visit distant parts of Iceland, such as Akureyri or Ísafjörður, domestic flights operate from Reykjavik Domestic Airport.

  • Ferries: For destinations like the Westman Islands, ferries operate from the port in Reykjavik.

  • Parking: If you're driving, be aware of parking regulations. The city center mainly has paid parking zones, marked by different colors indicating the price per hour.

Reykjavik's transportation options cater to different preferences and budgets. Whether you're exploring the urban landscape or venturing into the Icelandic wilderness, getting around is hassle-free and convenient.

Tourist Card

If you're planning to spend some time in Reykjavik and want to make the most of your visit, considering the Reykjavik City Card can be a wise decision. Here's what you need to know about it:

  • Benefits: The Reykjavik City Card offers free access to numerous museums, galleries, and thermal pools in Reykjavik. Additionally, it provides unlimited travel on public buses (Strætó) within the city and discounts on select tours, shops, and restaurants.

  • Validity: The card is available in three durations - 24, 48, or 72 hours, allowing you flexibility based on your stay.

  • Included Attractions: Some of the prominent places accessible with the card include the Reykjavik Zoo and Family Park, Árbær Open Air Museum, National Museum of Iceland, The Settlement Exhibition, and city's geothermal pools like Laugardalslaug and Vesturbæjarlaug.

  • Price: As of my last update, the prices for adults were approximately 3,900 ISK for 24 hours, 5,500 ISK for 48 hours, and 6,900 ISK for 72 hours. There are reduced prices for children and teenagers.

  • Where to Buy: The Reykjavik City Card can be purchased at the Tourist Information Center in Reykjavik, various museums, and online.

  • Additional Perks: The card also offers discounts on the Reykjavik Excursions Golden Circle Tour and the Flybus between Keflavik Airport and Reykjavik.

For tourists aiming to explore multiple attractions within the city, the Reykjavik City Card offers value for money and the convenience of not having to purchase individual tickets. However, it's advisable to plan your itinerary in advance to maximize the benefits of the card.


While Reykjavik is undoubtedly a captivating destination, like all places, it has its drawbacks. Here are some cons to consider when planning a visit:

  • Cost: As previously mentioned, Reykjavik can be a pricier destination. From accommodations and dining to activities and shopping, expenses can add up quickly.

  • Weather: The city's subarctic maritime climate means unpredictable weather. It's not uncommon to experience rain, sunshine, and wind all in one day. Proper clothing and preparation are essential.

  • Short Daylight Hours in Winter: While the winter months offer the chance to see the Northern Lights, the limited daylight hours (as few as 4 hours during the depths of winter) can restrict sightseeing opportunities.

  • Over-tourism: With the rise in Reykjavik's popularity as a tourist destination, certain attractions can get crowded, especially during peak season. This influx has also led to concerns about sustainability and environmental impact.

  • Limited Nightlife: Although the city has a vibrant nightlife, it might not match the intensity or variety of larger European cities.

  • Accessibility in Winter: While the city remains accessible, some nearby attractions might be challenging to reach during heavy snowfall or icy conditions.

  • Language Barrier: While most Icelanders speak excellent English, especially in the service and tourism sectors, there might be instances where communication can be a challenge.

Despite these cons, many visitors find that Reykjavik's charm, culture, and unique experiences far outweigh the negatives. Being aware of these potential drawbacks allows travelers to plan better and set realistic expectations.