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A City Break in Reykjavik: Exploring the Quirky Capital and Nearby Nature

The cool and artsy vibes of Reykjavik serve as the perfect jumping off point to immersing yourself in Iceland's natural wonders.

Alluring Reykjavik is not only an exciting city break destination, but often the starting point of road trip adventures around intriguing Iceland. It’s the northernmost capital city in the world, and approximately 60% of Icelanders live in the metropolitan Reykjavik region. And with the introduction of Iceland Air’s stopover program, it’s now easier than ever to visit.

Depending on when you visit Reykjavik, you could witness the midnight sun and up to 21 hours of daylight. Conversely, Reykjavik experiences only four hours of daylight in the dead of winter, which is perfect for viewing the northern lights.

No matter when you decide to visit Reykjavik, here are our top recommendations for making the most of your time in this quirky, colourful capital.

What to see and do in Reykjavik

Though Reykjavik is a small capital city compared to most and it won’t take long to explore the entire place on your own two feet, there’s no shortage of interesting attractions and fulfilling experiences to keep you entertained.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Reykjavík

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A design hotel in the city centre

In the heart of Reykjavik, you’ll find the artsy 101 Hotel with its stylish rooms and long list of amenities. Its name stems from the city centre’s oldest postal code, 101. Located in a former office building on a popular city centre corner, you’re within walking distance of every popular attraction in town. The rooms are equipped with modern specialties, like large walk-in showers and underfloor heating. Some suites have spacious balconies, offering panoramic city views and serving as the perfect place to enjoy that first cup of coffee in the morning.

101 Hotel

Top rated
Reykjavík
8.8 Excellent (401 reviews)

The comfort and conveniences of home

Opal Apartments is only a short walk from the middle of town and situated on the main shopping street, Laugavegur. Each contemporary apartment contains one or two bedrooms, sleeping between two and four people. These clean and modern spaces feature the comforts of home while you’re away, including HD smart TVs, washing machines, and even blackout curtains for those summer days of the midnight sun. My favourite part of staying at Opal Apartments was preparing home cooked meals in a fully equipped kitchen. Two major supermarkets are only a five minute walk away.

Opal Apartments

Reykjavík
8.8 Excellent (59 reviews)

The art deco hotel with flair in Reykjavik

Overlooking Austurvöllur park and next to the Reykjavik Cathedral, Hotel Borg is an imposing city landmark in itself. With an art deco style throughout its 99 hotel rooms and suites, Hotel Borg is one of the most impressive hotels in Reykjavik. It was originally built by Olympic athlete and strong-man Jóhannes Jósefsson, opening in 1930. The hotel also delivers a little taste of Italy to Iceland at its restaurant, Jamie’s Italian by chef Jamie Oliver. Featuring fresh ingredients, sourced both locally and internationally, Jamie’s Italian showcases the best of traditional Italian cuisine in the heart of Reykjavik.

Hotel Borg

Top rated
Reykjavík
8.6 Excellent (1532 reviews)

A historic building meets modern design

Built in 1900 and renovated in 2013, Hotel Kvosin Downtown showcases contemporary Scandinavian décor and everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay. Every room has a spacious living space, kitchen facilities, a Nespresso machine, a smart HD TV, and complimentary organic toiletries. The Kvosin Concierge Team are on hand around the clock to ensure that you have a memorable vacation. Located in downtown Reykjavik, you can easily walk to reach most of the main attractions.

Kvosin Downtown

Top rated
Reykjavík
9.3 Excellent (1151 reviews)

Day Trips From Reykjavik

When you visit Reykjavik, you’ll also want to get out of Reykjavik, too – Iceland is best known for its natural marvels and landscapes. You’ll need to venture outside of Reykjavik to make the most of your journey. Thankfully, many spectacular scenes are within a short driving distance of the capital city.

Must See

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is a famous driving route that’s only a short distance from Reykjavik. You can see many of Iceland’s natural wonders om the Golden Circle, including Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir National Park), Geysir, and Gulfoss.

Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the site of Iceland’s first parliament. It’s also the only place in the world where two individual tectonic plates appear above the ground.

Geysir is a site with several geysers, although the largest one (“Geysir”) rarely erupts anymore. A slightly smaller one, Strokkur, erupts once every two to ten minutes. You’ll want to stick around to witness this giant blast of hot water erupt high into the sky.

Last, Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most magnificent and stunning waterfalls. There’s a path alongside the waterfall and several viewpoints along the way.

Black Sand Beach and Skogafoss

Trek about two hours outside of the city to check out this local beach where lava has made the sand as black as coal and majestic rock formations jut into the sky. Almost next door is Skogafoss, another epic waterfall. Make sure you take the hike up the stairs to climb to the top – the view of the ocean is next level.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a miniature version of Iceland that you can easily see in a day. This region is home to Kirkjufell, Iceland’s most photographed mountain. In addition, a large part of the peninsula lies within the Snæfellsjökull National Park, with volcanic rocks and stark landscapes at every turn. At the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge, venture into a lush gorge inside a massive cavern.

Near the Airport

Viking World

The Viking World Museum features the Íslendingur (the Icelander), an exact replica of the Viking ship, Gokstad. The ship was reconstructed using only tools and materials available to Vikings, and it took two years to complete. There’s also an exhibition at Viking World produced by the Smithsonian Institution, “Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga”. Browse the four exhibitions at Viking World to step back in time over 1000 years to the realm of the Norse Vikings.

The Blue Lagoon

One of the most famous attractions in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon, and it’s conveniently located near the Keflavik Airport. The a man-made geothermal spa features milky blue waters that have a rich mineral content. We suggest checking out the Blue Lagoon upon your arrival to Iceland or before you leave – it’s the perfect way to rest your aching muscles after a long flight, or a wonderful conclusion for your trip to Iceland.