In my previous post, I told you all about our trip to Iceland where I described some of my highlights of our time there. As mentioned in that post, we stayed in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, and I absolutely loved it there. Reykjavik completely won me over with its unique sights and attractions, and with its insanely kind local people. We stayed at a hostel/hotel called Hlemmur Square, which was fantastic. If you stay there, you need to try their “Cherry Bond” cocktails, they are absolutely to die for.
So, in no particular order, here is a list of my top ten things to do if you’re staying in Reykjavik.
- So, you’ve just arrived in Reykjavik, you’ve checked in to your hotel or hostel and you fancy exploring the local bar scene before you get your adventure on the next morning. Or if you just want a lively atmosphere and some great cocktails. Visit Lebowski Bar! It is situated on the main street of Reykjavik, Laugavegur. It’s definitely a very touristy bar, but we loved it. If you hadn’t guessed already it’s in the theme of the film The Big Lebowski, and so it has an extensive cocktail menu filled with all different kinds of White Russians. It also offers your typical bar food, although I would recommend booking a table if you want food as it was always packed when we went! It’s pretty reasonably priced compared to most bars we went to, considering we accidentally spent the equivalent of £50 on two cocktails each at another bar. Oops. They offer a happy hour between 16:00-19:00, but the main reason we kept going back is because we had such incredible luck with this thing…We played this thing three times over the course of our visit and won every time! You pay 2000 isk (around £13) and you can win things like White Russians or shots, if the wheel lands on a prize. Their top prize is 10 beers, which we won on our second to last night in Iceland – neither of us drink beer, so we ended up drinking two each and donating the rest to a group of American guys we saw. They ended up buying us shots the whole night after that, so it was a good investment I guess. I would definitely recommend visiting Lebowski’s at least once for a truly unique bar experience.
- Walk. Just walk! Just walking around and sightseeing in this city is a must. There are some buildings dotted around Reykjavik that are covered in the most amazing street art.There are so many cute little souvenir shops down Laugavegur street that offer such eclectic little nic-nacs, and the harbour downtown is just beautiful. I always say that just walking around and taking in your surroundings in a new place is one of the best parts about travelling, and this definitely applies to the quirky city of Reykjavik.
- Another favourite: Reykjavik Escape Rooms! Visiting the escape rooms is such a fun experience – a truly unique way to spend your time in Reykjavik. Basically, you pick a theme and get locked in a room, and you have to follow clues and crack codes to get out within 60 minutes. The first time we went, we chose the theme “Taken” which was really spooky as the room was in almost complete darkness! We didn’t manage to escape within the hour that time, but they offer 20% if you come back and do another room, so we did just that on our last day in Reykjavik.We had so much fun doing this, that we’ve booked to do another escape room when we’re in Krakow in March for Shaun’s birthday.
- Visit the Hallgrimskirkja! This is one of the most famous churches in Reykjavik, and you can see it from pretty much anywhere in the city centre. It really is a spectacular looking building, and for a small fee you can go up to the top for a breathtaking view over the city.
- As always, try the local food! As a vegetarian I really didn’t think this was something I was going to be able to do while in Iceland, but our hostel’s restaurant offered a vegan sausage dish on their menu of authentic Icelandic sausage dishes! It was actually so delicious. Shaun also tried Icelandic hot dogs from a couple of places, and he tried traditional Icelandic lamb soup which he fell in love with. You can also get really authentic Icelandic dishes like fermented shark or boiled lamb head… if those kinds of things are what you’re into.
- Explore the waterfront/harbour. Reykjavik’s waterfront makes for a beautiful walk. There are countless photo opportunities here, with all of the weird and wonderful sculptures to find.There’s also the Harpa Concert Hall down near the harbour, which is a striking building made almost entirely of glass, and you can go and look inside to get a feel for a part of Iceland’s cultural scene.
- Visit the museums! There is a collection of interesting museums dotted all around Reykjavik, some of them particularly unique like the Icelandic Phallological Musem… yup. The view from our hostel room’s window was actually the front entrance of this museum! It prides itself on containing the world’s largest display of penises… so I guess this is kind of a must see when you’re in Reykjavik.It does make for a good laugh and if you’re up for doing something different with your day, then here you are.
- Go to the Icelandic Christmas shop!!! If you’re a Christmas lover like me, you’ll adore this endearing little shop. It’s filled with handmade decorations and lots of cute little bits and bobs, and even has a box outside where Icelandic children can post their Christmas lists off to Santa.
- Organise to go horse riding. You’ll have to venture a tiny bit outside of Reykjavik to do this, but it’s worth it. Honestly, I really did not expect to enjoy it as I had no experience at all and I was convinced it would be boring. How wrong I was. We did our horse riding with Laxnes Horse Farm, and the owners are so friendly and so accommodating, and they check with each individual what your experience with horse riding is so that they can pair you up with a horse of size and speed suited to you.We were too scared to take our phones or cameras out on the ride, in case we dropped and broke them. But oh my god – we wouldn’t have been able to capture the beauty of the scenery in photos anyway. We rode through the Icelandic countryside, over streams and rivers with the mountains standing proud in the background, and the views were unreal – seriously I cannot put into words how gorgeous these views were. It was so much fun trying something new.
- Book a day tour from your hotel/hostel! The days that we had tours organised were of course the most action packed. The pick-up and drop-offs that are offered with them mean you don’t need to waste time trying to figure out any public transport timetables. We booked our tours through Viator, but I’m pretty sure you can also book directly through the tour companies themselves; Reykjavik Excursions or Gray Line seemed to be the main ones.These tours allowed us to see so much of Iceland and many of its natural wonders, and with the informative tour guides that we had we learned so much about the history of Iceland as well, which was definitely a bonus. The Golden Circle tour and the South of Iceland tour are definitely worth doing, and the things you will see are breathtaking. We also arranged our trip to the Blue Lagoon with one of the tour companies, which was really handy as we were picked up directly from our hotel. Even when you’re on the tour bus, the scenery you’ll see out of your window on the way to your tour/destination really gives you a feel for how beautiful Iceland is, in all of its rural glory.
So, those are some of the awesome things that you can do while staying in Reykjavik. Have you been to Reykjavik? What were your favourite things to do? Let me know in the comments!