Reykjavik cityscape

Making the Most of Reykjavik in 12 Hours


Everyone knows that Iceland, and in particular Reykjavik, is expensive. Heck, even those who haven’t travelled to Reykjavik knows how extortionate the capital is, its reputation precedes itself that much. As a result many travellers trod the ‘airport-Blue Lagoon-campervan’ route out of the city ASAP, which is a shame. Reykjavik is a pocket-sized mixture of quirkiness, eye-catching art and design, and a heavy dose of fun and rugged scenery. With a little bit of prudence concerning your cash though, you can make the most of Reykjavik in only one day.


8:00 Grab some grub at Cafe Haiti: With arguably the best coffee in Iceland and plates piled high with bacon and eggs, there’s no better place to fuel up in the morning. If the weather is fine, grab a seat outdoors and enjoy watching the whale tour boats enter and leave the harbour. Tip: you can order bags of their coffee beans as a souvenir to take home.

9:00 Hallgrimskirkja, the church you want to visit but can’t pronounce: Iceland’s cutting-edge cool isn’t confined to its fashion – its architecture is also a thing to behold, particularly with its national church, Hallgrimskirkja. Featuring a modern design with motifs taken from Iceland’s landscape, visitors can pay a small fee to take in the panoramic views from the top of Hallgrimskirkja’s tower – Reykjavik isn’t called ‘rainbow town’ for nothing.

11:00 Shop for souvenirs down Laugavegur Street: Laugavegur is one of Reykjavik’s main streets, and a hipster’s paradise. Wander down the mixture of graffiti art and achingly cool boutique shops, and pick up a lava rock souvenir or two on the off chance you’re feeling a little flush.

12:00 Icelandic Phallological Museum, aka the Penis Museum: Just off of Laugavegur Street is the penis museum, where you will find clusters of tourists hover furtively by the entrance. Inside hundreds of examples of pickled penises from mammals worldwide line the shelves, interspersed with kitschy penis souvenirs and a few surprises. The cheap entrance fee means it is worth a visit for a giggle, even if you don’t plan to stay long.

13:00 Grab a hot dog for lunch: Iceland is famous for its hot dogs, foremost for being inexpensive and second for all their various toppings. Many of the convenience stores in Reykjavik sell them cooked to order, which offers more time and money for wandering around the capital.

Find the funny statues around the Hljómskálagarður park: Situated right in the centre of Reykjavik is the peaceful and scenic Hljómskálagarður. In between admiring its lake and colourful landscaped gardens, keep an eagle eye out for its quirky and unusual statues.

Wander Around Reykjavik’s Harbour: As a fishing port, Reykjavik’s harbour is the soul of the city. However it’s not all warehouses and fishing machinery, as the area has been regenerated and now features delis, a museum, the Harpa theatre and pop-up art installations, along with the city’s standard grafitti art. For an afternoon snack, pay a visit at Valdis, where you can enjoy massive scoops of rich ice cream has you wander around the water’s edge.

17:00 Go on a whale watching tour: Iceland’s waters provide the perfect environment for Humpback Whales, Mink Whales, even dolphins! The staff at Special Tours know the waters well, so well in fact they say there’s a 92% chance of seeing whales. The tours run throughout the day, but if you head out into the waters in the evening, you can experience some instagram-worthy sunsets sailing back into the harbour.

20:00 Dine at one of Reykjavik’s numerous burger bars: Eating out in Reykjavik can easily exhaust your funds, however if you healthy eating to the wind the city has an abundance of decent burger bars for fair prices. The Chuck Norris bar on Laugavegur Street offers hearty burgers stacked with toppings, or head to Hamborgara Bullan, which is crowded with locals after a night out.


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