Reykjavík in detail

Itineraries

Day One

  • Old Reykjavík

Explore the historic Old Reykjavík quarter, taking in the Ráðhús (town hall) and Alþingi (Parliament), then peruse the city’s best museums, such as the impressive National Museum, Reykjavík Art Museum or the Settlement Exhibition, built around a Viking longhouse.

Wander up arty Skólavörðustígur, shop for the latest Icelandic music at 12 Tónar, then photograph the immense church, Hallgrímskirkja. For a perfect view, zip up the tower. Then stroll Laugavegur, the main shopping drag, with boutiques such as Kiosk, Kron and KronKron, or bookshop Mál og Menning.

Enjoy people-watching and drinks at Bravó or Kaldi, and craft beer at Mikkeller & Friends. Many cafes like Kaffi Vínyl turn into night-time party han-outs, perfect for joining Reykjavík’s notorious djammið. Don’t miss perennial favourite Kaffibarinn, and tag along with locals to the latest drinking holes, wrapping up for a late-night dance session at Kiki.

Day Two

  • Old Harbour

After a late night out, get a blast of sea air and stroll to the Old Harbour for brunch at Kaffivagninn or the food stalls at the Grandi Mathöll. Take in the re-vamped Reykjavík Maritime Museum then head to Kling & Bang and the other fabulous, free art spaces in the Mars­hall House. Alternatively, head out on a whale-watching tour.

Visit Laugardalur, east of the city centre, for a soak at the geothermal pools, gardens, idyllic Café Flóra and cool art at the Reykjavík Art Museum – Ásmundarsafn or at Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum.

Hit one of the new breed of cocktail bars, such as as Pablo Diskobar or Loftið. Or go on a beer crawl from Frederiksen Ale House to Micro Bar to Skúli Craft Bar.

Day Three

  • Viðey

Rent a bike at the Old Harbour and ferry out to historic Viðey to cruise its paths between historic buildings, fishing village ruins and art installations. Make sure to stop at Áfangar – 18 pairs of basalt columns installed by artist Richard Serra, which are designed to provide a series of shifting frames for the landscape. Tour done, ferry back to the city centre (summer-only boats).

  • Lunch At Gló if you're feeling healthy, or Snaps if you want a wine-soaked bistro meal.
  • Laugavegur & Skólavörðustígur

Take a dip at the Sundhöllin, a beautiful 1937 swimming baths with a rooftop pool, then examine the extraordinary collection of penises on display at the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Or wrap up your Icelandic shopping at tempting design stores such as Kiosk and Skúmaskot.

  • Dinner Sample high-end Nordic cuisine at Nostra, seafood at Þrír Frakkar, or Icelandic fusion at Mat Bar.
  • Laugavegur & Skólavörðustígur

Catch a show at Harpa, an Icelandic movie at Bíó Paradís, then live music at Mengi.

Day Four

If you’ve got the time and can rent your own wheels, you can make easy country loops to West or South Iceland. Day tours are also a popular, effective option.

  • Golden Circle

Get an early start zip out to spouting Geysir and cascading Gullfoss, leaving time for river rafting out of Reykholt or a soak at the natural, restored spring at Gamla Laugin in Flúðir, before exploring the rift and historic parliament site Þingvellir.

  • Lunch In Laugarvatn on delicious local fare at Lindin.
  • West Iceland

Choose between exploring inland lava tubes at Viðgelmir and the interior of a glacier at Langjökull Ice Cave, or hiking, whale watching and glacier walking in Snæfellsjökull National Park. Or, spend the afternoon at Borgarnes’ Settlement Centre.

By now it should be late-late, so make a beeline to Paloma for DJs and dancing, or Húrra for live music. Or, if you haven’t the time to visit the Blue Lagoon coming or going from the airport, go late this evening, after the crowds have dwindled, before returning to Reykjavík.