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Plan Your Reykjavik Holiday: Best of Reykjavik

What is Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best?
This award is our highest recognition and is presented annually to those businesses that are the Best of the Best on Tripadvisor, those that earn excellent reviews from travellers and are ranked in the top 1% of properties worldwide.
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Explore Reykjavik

For most visitors, Reykjavik is a gateway to the out-of-this-world natural sites that make up the Golden Circle, like Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. But the city itself deserves a few itinerary days to help you get a feel for Icelandic culture. Start by digging into Nordic food (order anything with fish or lamb), then dive into Reykjavik’s legendary music scene—it’s a hub for the indie and electronic musicians that fuel its nightlife. Afterwards, recharge in one of the area’s many hot springs. You can’t go wrong with a soak in the Blue Lagoon, though locals often prefer the casual Sundhöllin public baths.
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Travel Advice

Essential Reykjavik

How to do Reykjavik in 3 days

From waterfalls to bar crawls, the perfect itinerary
Read on

A parent’s guide for bringing teens to Reykjavik

It’s tough to keep the jaded youngsters happy on the family holiday, especially when they are in the teenage years. But Iceland is cool enough to get even the moodiest teen off their phones for a while - and then will provide plenty of Instagram opportunities as well.
Hilary Meyerson, Seattle, WA
  • Perlan
    3,501
    An excellent first stop to get the lay of the land, literally. Iceland is a unique geographic island, and volcanoes and glaciers and geysers have shaped both the land and the people. The Perlan building itself is an architectural gem, and the virtual lava show and (real) ice cave will be a hit with anyone who blows hot and cold. Grab a bite at the glass-domed restaurant for great views of the city.
  • Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
    5,658
    Probably the most famous eatery in Iceland is the modest hot dog basket that has been serving up wieners since 1937. Don’t be alarmed by the line, it moves fast. Dogs are made with lamb meat, and are best with crispy onions. Who doesn’t love a good dog?
  • Hallgrimskirkja
    23,047
    This stunning church on the hill can be seen from anywhere in Reykjavik. It’s the largest church in Iceland, and source of pride for Icelanders. Pay the extra fee to go up the tower for the best views of the city, and it’s OK to pretend you’re a Norse god in Valhalla.
  • Laugardalslaug
    1,171
    Iceland sits directly on top of the meeting of two tectonic plates, creating more than 200 volcanoes and making earthquakes a common occurrence. The plus side? Cheap geothermal energy, and thus amazing public geothermal pools. Jump between hot, hotter and freezing pools, enjoy the sauna and waterslides along with the locals. Children under 16 are free.
  • Sun Voyager
    9,002
    This impressive sculpture, reminiscent of the bones of a Viking ship, is worth a visit. It’s a modern work by artist Jón Gunnar Árnason. It’s been described as an “ode to the sun” and the artist says he wanted to convey the “promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom.” It’s free to visit, and the setting on the waterfront is unmatched. It’s particularly impressive at night, when it’s lit up.
  • Lauga-as
    176
    For authentic Icelandic cuisine, especially seafood. The lobster soup is always a hit, and when we visited the special was minke whale. But they also have burgers and chicken nuggets for those not looking for adventures in dining.
  • Icelandic Riding
    179
    The Icelandic horse is a source of national pride. Icelandic law prevents the breed from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return. The breed is hardy and small (more like a pony) and they have an extra gait (the “tolt”) that is unique (most horses just have the walk, trot, canter/gallop) and makes for smooth riding. Take a riding tour and get to see some of the unique scenery from horseback.
  • Vera Food Court
    12
    The Icelandic horse is a source of national pride. Icelandic law prevents the breed from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return. The breed is hardy and small (more like a pony) and they have an extra gait (the “tolt”) that is unique (most horses just have the walk, trot, canter/gallop) and makes for smooth riding. Take a riding tour and get to see some of the unique scenery from horseback.
  • Blue Lagoon
    19,841
    Before you hit the airport to depart, stop by Iceland’s most famous spa destination, the Blue Lagoon. It is not a natural hot springs, but instead was created from the runoff from a nearby geothermal power plant. Still, it’s worth the trip to enjoy the luxurious spa environment and have a hot soak. Applying the white silica clay to your face is great for the skin and makes a nearly required photo for Instagram. The restaurant serves up healthy gourmet fare in a sleek modern atmosphere.

Reykjavik Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips for experiencing Reykjavik

Barbara A

There are tons of hiking and walking opportunities to enjoy, not to mention breathtaking viewpoints both in and around the city, including valleys and mountains containing some of Iceland's best-kept natural secrets. You may even catch a glimpse of the beautiful northern lights if you're lucky enough!

TigerLilly813

Take a tour for the Northern Lights. You have to drive way out of the city where there are no lights. For safety and for expertise, take a tour.

Sarah_Londoner

Go to the Blue Lagoon—I recommend going on the way to the airport as it is a perfect end to your holiday. They have bags in the changing room so you can wrap everything up and put it into your luggage before heading back.

icelandicguide

You typically will not be automatically brought the bill at your restaurant table. You ask for the check or pay at the counter on your way out.

Whitney C

Reykjavik is a beautiful city with wonderful people. There're plenty of things to see and experiences to be had, with many of the best highlights lying just off the beaten path.

Barbara A

Reykjavik offers many great open-air adventures — whether you are coming on your own, with friends, a partner, or family.

Freddy F

Reykjavik has a certain vibe and is small enough that you can explore it easily on foot. You can eat at some very good cafes, walk along the long promenade admiring the views, do a whale watching and puffin tour, visit the Harpa centre, go up the top of the cathedral for the views, and go to Perlan.

What is the best way to get there?

flying

Keflavik International Airport is located 31 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of Reykjavik, in the town of Keflavik. Shuttle buses run from the airport to downtown Reykjavik.

Do I need a visa?

Check the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration to find out whether or not you need a visa.

When is the best time to visit?

Early Fall to Winter: Reykjavik weather is always changeable so make sure you bring warm clothing any time of year. Average Summer temperatures are around 68-77° Fahrenheit (20–25° Celsius.) Summer is peak tourist season but by early September the biggest crowds are gone. Winter and Spring, which bring the Northern Lights, is also appealing and, despite its latitude, Reykjavik temperatures are mild, with averages being around 14° Fahrenheit (−10° Celsius).

Get around

walk

A compact city, Reykjavik is ideal for exploring on foot.

bicycle

Bicycles can be rented from tour operators and where there are no dedicated bike lanes guests can ride on the sidewalk. Though, pedestrians have right of way.

bus

Strætó, Reykjavik’s public bus system is clean and reliable. If you are planning to use it a lot, get a multi-day pass. If you need to change buses to reach your destination, ask for a transfer ticket (skiptimiði).

taxis

Taxis are the most expensive way of getting around Reykjavik, but if you need one, call or wait at a taxi rank: the main ranks are in front of Hallgrimskirkja and Harpa Concert Hall.

ridesharing

There is no Uber or Lyft service in Iceland but home-grown carpooling site Samferda lets you request for rides or passengers for your journey around Iceland.

scooters

Zolo is a dockless electric scooter sharing scheme which offers rental via its smartphone app.

On the ground

What is the timezone?

Iceland observes Greenwich Mean Time all year. There is no Daylight Saving Time.

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. There are two plug types, C and F. Type C has two round pins; type F has two round pins, with two earth clips on the side.

What is the currency?

Icelandic Króna.

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Yes.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes and are typically preferred.

How much do I tip?

Tipping is not obligatory in Iceland, however, a tip for exceptional service is always appreciated.

Are there local customs I should know?

Drinking

The legal drinking age in Iceland is 20.

Public transport

Allow others to disembark before boarding. Stand to offer seating to the elderly, pregnant women, or someone with a disability.

Language

Icelanders do not expect visitors to know much of their difficult and little-spoken language, but a few Icelandic words such as halló (hello) and takk (thanks) go a long way.

Always refer to people by their first name

Unlike much of the world, Iceland doesn’t have a family naming system. Even the Prime Minister is referred to by their first name.

Follow the rules and regulations at hot springs and pools

Geothermal pools are popular around the country but note that you must shower before getting in.