24 Hours in Reykjavik (and where to eat!)

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Reykjavik is a colorful, charming and growing city, full of activities and food. When traveling to Iceland, be sure to make exploring the city a part of your itinerary. You can do it in 24 hours and spend the majority of your trip off exploring all of the natural wonders and landscapes around the country. (or spend more time if you can!) We dedicated one full day to the city on our trip. Here are a few options of what to check out!

We stayed down by the old harbor and our backyard view was like a charming secret garden. We could walk anywhere in the city and come home to a pretty quiet street. The location could not be beat.  While we stayed in an Airbnb, there were multiple inns and guesthouses on our street.

To get a good solid day in, wake up early and head out for coffee. There are coffee shops all over the city. You could do a full coffee shop crawl and compare. The first one we popped into was Reykjavik Rost, right down by the harbor. The interior is a charming instagramable dream. I had a deliciously stuffed croissant with ham and cheese and the most perfect cappuccino.

Because this particular coffee shop is located on the harbor, I should mention the tours! There are tours you can take out onto the water, like whale watching and the northern lights. While we wanted to do both tours, the weather and cloudiness were not on board with our northern lights tour; so that didn’t happen. We also talked to travelers we met who did do a whale tour and they were not able to see much.. so we ended up skipping it. If you go, let me know how it was/is!

While food and drink costs can be high; many bars and restaurants offer a happy hour. Yes its probably geared to visitors to the city but the deals are worth it! Check out a few places for drinks and small bites, if it includes a charming outdoor patio, even better.

The street art! I could have spent a full day just checking out all of the street art in the city. My travel companions may think I’m a bit odd… snapping photos all over the city… but there’s so much to see! Who doesn’t want to pose like my friend below 😉

And because posing is hard work: back to the food 🙂

Be sure to grab a cinnamon bread from Braud and Co. Its a local chain bakery with the most delicious baked goods. I went here three times for this bread!

Look at that cinnamon perfection.

And you cannot leave the city without trying an Icelandic hotdog! Here they are made with lamb instead of pork or beef. Order it with everything; raw white onions and crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep, and remoulade sauce. Its delicious but sweeter than I anticipated. You can try different ones throughout the city. We queued up for the ones at Baejarins Betzu and I’m wishing I had ordered more than one… 

When you need a break from all that food; head to Hallgrímskirkja church and up the tower. You’ll see the city from above in all its colorful glory.

After taking in the view and getting a bit of an appetite back; a fish and chips crawl is always a good idea. We tried a couple different places like from a food truck and from restaurants.


There are a few museums in the city if you are interested; some of them seemed a bit too tourist geared (ahem the penis museum… yeah I said the P word) but you never know what might strike your fancy in there 😉

Shopping abounds all over the city. You can find cold weather gear, a Christmas centered store, local wool sweaters, art, you name it.

And but of course, I’ve gotta close this post out with more food. Two of the best meals we had in the city were at Fish MRKT and Forerttabarinn.

And of course this doesn’t hit all of the many options for your 24 hours of exploring the city but it sets a great starting tone. What other questions do you have about exploring the city?

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