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Reykjavik Itinerary – How To Spend 1 Day In Reykjavik

Located on the the south west coast of Iceland, Reykjavik is the northern most capital city in the world. A small but vibrant city it has lots on offer. So here’s a 1 day in Reykjavik itinerary.

Along with lots museums and art galleries to explore, there is also some stunning architecture, both new and old. As well as plenty of shops, boutiques, cafes, bars and restaurants.

Furthermore, if you’re looking for nightlife, this city is definitely ‘up for a party’, with every sort of live entertainment on offer you can imagine.

We spent a day in Reykjavik as a part of our larger 3 days in Iceland itinerary, and here’s how it went down.

How To Get Around Reykjavik

Reykjavik is a relatively small city, making it pretty easy to get around. Here are a few options.

On Foot

A lot of the main attractions in Reykjavik are situated quite close together. Making it possible to get round comfortably on foot.

Bicycle

This bike friendly city has plenty of outlets that offer rentals, along with lots of dedicated cycle lanes. Where there are no cycle lanes it is permitted to ride on the paths, as long as you give way to pedestrians.

Bus

The Straeto public bus system in Reykjavik is clean, reliable and inexpensive. Used by locals for their work commute, the yellow buses make many stops around the city.

There is also the Reykjavik: City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour that visits all the main attractions.

Taxis

There are 24-hour taxis operating in the city. Although this is one of the more expensive options for getting around the city.

Tour

For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.

For example, the Reykjavik: Sightseeing Walking Tour with a Viking offers a unique way of exploring the city.

Best Time To Visit Reykjavik

Reykjavik is a year round destination, so it will depend on your personal preferences as to the best time to visit.

The summer season of June, July and August are when most tourists choose to visit the city. This is when the days are at their longest and the weather is at its mildest.

If you want to avoid the crowds, either side of these summer months, and when the children are in school, is the best option.

However, don’t rule out a visit during the winter months. Snow covered Reykjavik is a magical place and, although the days are shorter, there are still plenty of activities on offer.

Between September and March, when the nights are long, is the best time to see the Northern Lights if that is a priority on your bucket list.

What To Pack

Photography Camera

Tripod

Day Bag

Power Bank

Reusable Water Bottle

Sunscreen

Lightweight Rain Jacket

Beanie Hat

Knit Gloves

Reykjavik Itinerary Day 1

Rainbow Street

A ‘must-see’ and a great place to start your 1 day in Reykjavik itinerary is colourful Rainbow Street.

Located in the busy downtown area of Reykjavik, this street has a brightly coloured rainbow painted along the surface of the road.

Organised by the City of Reykjavík and Reykjavík Pride, the rainbow was first painted on the road in 2015. At this time it was a temporary decoration to celebrate the city’s yearly Pride Week.

However, since 2019 it has become a permanent symbol of support for diversity in Iceland. Hence, the name Rainbow Street, for many people, has now replaced the original road name of Skolavordustigur.

This colourful street offers up some amazing photo opportunities, especially with the impressive Hallgrimskirkja church in the background.

There are also lots of nice little cafes, cute souvenir shops and trendy boutiques located in Rainbow Street.

For more information, the First Discovery Walk and Reading Walking Tour is an inexpensive phone app. This talks you through attractions in Reykjavik, including Rainbow Street.

Rainbow Street Reykjavik Itinerary
Rainbow Street Reykjavik Itinerary

Hallgrimskirkja Church

You literally can’t miss the next destination on your 1 day in Reykjavik itinerary.

Located at the top of Rainbow Street and dominating the skyline, Hallgrimskirkja is the largest church in Iceland.

Taking 41 years to build, this modern Evangelical-Lutheran church was completed in 1986 and is one of the most visited landmarks in Reykjavik.

The spectacular tower of this church reaches 73 metres high. Consequently, at its peak, it offers amazing panoramic views across the city and out to the surrounding mountains and ocean.

The minimalist interior of the church is filled with light from the tall plain glass windows. Undeniably the stand-out feature of the interior however, is the large church organ that stands at over 15 metres high.

It’s free to visit Hallgrimskirkja church, although there is a small charge to go up to the open-air viewing platform at the top of the tower.

Hallgrimskirkja Church Reykjavik Itinerary
Hallgrimskirkja Church Reykjavik Itinerary

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

Now for a food stop and, for something quick and inexpensive, the famous hot dog stand – Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – is perfect.

Bæjarins Beztu’s signature hot dog consists of the normal bun and sausage (Pylsur). However, what makes it unique is that the sausage meat is mostly lamb, rather than pork or beef as seen in other countries.

The toppings available are raw or crispy onions, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. The ketchup is sweeter than you would normally expect, as is the mustard, but make for delicious garnishes.

Established in 1937, the already popular hot dog stand hit the headlines in 2004 when Bill Clinton stopped-by during a visit to Iceland. He enjoyed a hot dog with mustard and this combination is now known as a ‘Clinton’.

The flagship stand on Tryggvagata is open from 9am until late every day. So don’t miss this famous Icelandic hot dog off your 1 day in Reykjavik itinerary.

If you’re vegetarian like me, head over to Vikinga Pylsur for a veggie dog.

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur Reykjavik Itinerary
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur Reykjavik Itinerary
Vikinga Pylsur Reykjavik Itinerary
Vikinga Pylsur Reykjavik Itinerary

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

Next, a popular tourist attraction that is a little quirky and can only be found in Reykjavik. Just a few minutes walk from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is the Icelandic Phallological Museum.

The museum was founded in 1997 by Sigurður Hjartarson. He became interested in penises after being given a cattle whip in his childhood that was made from a bull’s penis.

The exhibition includes 300 penises that have been collected from a variety of species, including humans. There is also a folklore exhibition of mythological penises belong to elves, trolls, kelpies etc.

This modern, large museum has plenty of room to get around and see all the exhibits. It’s also home to a penis-themed bistro and a souvenir shop. Open every day from 10am – 7pm, admission is 2500 ISK.

So, for something truly unique and fascinating, make sure the Icelandic Phallological Museum is on your 1 day in Reykjavik itinerary.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum Reykjavik Itinerary
The Icelandic Phallological Museum Reykjavik Itinerary

Svarta Kaffid

To finish your day of exploring the city of Reykjavik, I can highly recommend a visit to Svarta Kaffid.

Located on the main shopping street, this family run business famously serves the ‘Best Soup in Reykjavik’. And, when the locals eat there, you know it’s going to be good!

Their speciality dish of soup served in bread is why the majority of people visit Svarta Kaffid. Although they do offer a few other dishes as well as a selection of beers and spirits.

Every day there are two soups on offer (flavours change daily). With one always being meat and the other vegetarian.

So for a delicious meal in a friendly and relaxed environment, Svarta Kaffid is the spot. The perfect end to your 1 day in Reykjavik itinerary.

For real foodies, with a little more time, the Reykjavik: Icelandic Food Tour is a great option.

Svarta Kaffid Reykjavik Itinerary
Svarta Kaffid Reykjavik Itinerary
Svarta Kaffid Reykjavik Itinerary

Where To Stay In Reykjavik

Luxury

The Reykjavik EDITION

Set in Reykjavík, 600 metres from Solfar Sun Voyager, The Reykjavik EDITION offers accommodation with a fitness centre, private parking, a terrace and a restaurant. This 5-star hotel also offers a bar. 

The accommodation provides room service, a 24-hour front desk and currency exchange for guests. 

The units at the hotel come with a seating area, a flat-screen TV and a safety deposit box. With a private bathroom equipped with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at The Reykjavik EDITION also have free WiFi, while selected rooms will provide you with a city view. 

At the accommodation all rooms come with bed linen and towels. Guests at The Reykjavik EDITION can enjoy a continental breakfast.

Mid-Budget

Exeter Hotel

This contemporary design hotel is located in Reykjavík’s Old Harbour area, 500 metres from Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Centre. 

It features free WiFi, an in-house restaurant and a bakery, as well as a sauna and fitness room. 

Each room at Exeter Hotel comes with industrial décor, modern furnishings and wooden floors. Every room has a smart TV, refrigerator and Nespresso coffee machine. Some also feature a sea/mountain, or city and/or garden view. 

Staff can help organise tours and activities for guests. Solfar Sun Voyager and Hallgrímskirkja Church are both within 1 km. 

Budget

Igdlo Guesthouse

This family-run guest house, 500 metres from Reykjavik Bus Terminal, is a 45-minute bus ride from Keflavik International Airport. 

It offers free in-room WiFi and access to a communal kitchen and dining room. The bright and airy rooms at Igdlo Guesthouse feature wooden furnishings and floors. Some rooms also have a washbasin. Shared bathroom facilities are available on each floor. 

Guests can make use of barbecue facilities in the summer and self-service laundry services are available in the evenings. Free public parking is also available on site.

For more places to stay in Reykjavik, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.

Planning Your Trip

Book Your Flight

Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight.

They search websites and airlines around the globe to find you the best possible routes and prices.

Book Your Accommodation

Use Booking.com to find the best accommodation deals.

They consistently return the cheapest rates on everything from guesthouses to hotels for all of your budget needs.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Use SafetyWing to find the best travel insurance for you.

They provide travel and medical incident insurance built specifically for digital nomads.

Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.

Book Your Tours & Activities

Use GetYourGuide to book your activities in advance.

They sell the best tours, excursions and activities to attractions around the world.

Conveniently book, download and access your tickets on the move all from your mobile.

Book Your Rental Car

Use RentalCars.com to find the best deals on rental cars in the area.

They compare all major car rental companies and allow you to easily book the perfect vehicle for your trip.

Buy Those Last Minute Bits

Use Amazon to buy everything you need for your adventure.

They offer next day delivery and you can use my travel packing checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.