Awe-inspiring nature, vibrant and rich culture, the Northern Lights… Iceland is the ultimate Nordic destination, on a bucket list of every traveller! Visiting this breathtaking place means exploring its natural wonders all over the country and staying less in a city, but its capital Reykjavik has an offer which is rapidly growing recently, and if 24 hours is all you have for this astonishing city, here is how to make the most out of your visit!
When arriving with a plane, check the direct bus line from the airport to Reykjavik.
08:00 – The proper way to start your day is to have a good breakfast! On Iceland you can get one of the healthiest breakfasts of your life. Icelanders usually eat hafragrautur or cooked oatmeals topped with brown sugar, raisins or a pat of butter, skyr (Icelandic type of yoghurt) and cod-liver oil. Several places such as Laundromat Cafe, Bergson Mathus or Kaffivagninn serve the generous homemade breakfast so head to those places and fuel yourself for the day ahead.
09:00 – Icelanders love to fight the winter with soothing open-air thermal pools, so act like a local and warm yourself up in the water. The Blue Lagoon is the most popular geothermal spa in Reykjavik, but it is located close to the airport, 50 minutes away from the city. Still, there are a few companies offering organized transfers, so we suggest you do this anyway and discover on your own why this complex attracts every single tourist. The second, closer option is Laugardalslaug, the largest thermal swimming complex in Reykjavik with a lot of different activities such as beach volleyball, mini golf, massage etc.
13:00 – It is time to get to know Reykjavik through its unique sights. On the top of the list is Hallgrimskirkja church, visible from every angle of Reykjavik. Climb this almost 75 m tall building for a spectacular 360° view. In front of the church is a statue of Leif Eriksson who discovered North America 500 years before Columbus. Next, walk 15 minutes to the coast and the Old Harbour. The magnificent Harpa, the main concert hall, will steal all of your attention. Stroll in and around the building and check why this is one of the most popular architectural designs around the world.
14:00 – Lunch time! It is the right moment to try some delicious Icelandic food. Traditional delicacies might be a bit shocking for you, things such as blood pudding sausage, sour ram’s testicles and sheep head might not be your cup of tea. Give it a try if you want to taste an authentic local cuisine, if not, there are plenty of other tasty dishes such as various types of fish, lamb soup, rúgbrauð etc. Some of the places where you can go for a good lunch are Fish&Co, Lamb Street Food, Bio Borgari or Mandi. If you’re looking for vegan options, don’t worry, Reykjavik is full of them.
15:00 – With your bellies full, you will be ready to continue, and there is still a lot to explore in the city. There are plenty of interesting museums in Reykjavik and we suggest you visit at least some of them. Try not to miss The National Museum of Iceland and get to know the Icelandic culture and history. The entrance fee to the museum is 2000 ISK (~14€). To immerse with the Icelandic incredible nature (without leaving Reykjavik) visit Perlan Museum. Its observation desk offers a panoramic of the capital area. In 2017, the first exhibition ‘Glaciers and the Ice Cave’ was opened, a unique way of experiencing Iceland with all the senses. The ticket to the museum costs 3,900 ISK (~28€). If there is more time, don’t stop here, just have in mind that most of the museums close till 6:00 pm.
18:00 – If you read about Iceland before your trip, then you are probably familiar with the suggestion of trying the best Icelandic hot dog. A popular opinion is that the world’s best hot dog is the one at Baejarins Beztu, and it is probably true because that is one of the places in Reykjavik where you might wait in line for more than 5 minutes. So, instead of a fancy dinner, try something super delicious from the street food culture in the city.
19:00 – Now is a perfect time to visit the center of all happenings, Laugavegur Street. All the trendy bars, cafes and unique shops are located in this street covered in amazing, artistic murals. Take a stroll down this street to feel the real Icelandic spirit, if the stores are still open, feel free to shop, but since it is getting late, the best would be to sit and relax in some of the numerous cool bars and enjoy some good drink! The day has almost ended!
21:00 – You’re in the ultimate northern country, remember? Let’s assume that your visit is happening in the period when the spectacular Aurora Borealis can be seen (September – April). Icelanders are truly privileged when it comes to Northern Lights, they can be visible from the entire country, therefore Reykjavik too. Wrap up this lovely day trip to this unique city by being mesmerized and amazed by this incredible natural phenomenon!