Many of us can find ourselves stopping in one place for only 24 hours when we are in transit. When looking for recommendations of how to spend our time it can be difficult. Looking at Reykjavik, a lot of the suggestions are very time consuming activities, such as hiking the glaciers and touring the golden circle. Unfortunately, 24 hours does not allow enough time for you to tick everything off your list, but there are several ways to experience a city in a small amount of time.
Read our guide to 24 hours in Reykjavik to find out how to really maximise your time in this beautiful place.
Many airports offer a VIP arrivals package, but Kefalvik International Airport offers a VVVIP arrangement! Once you touch down you can sit down in the lounge drinking and eating food and light snacks, while the VVVIP staff look after immigration, customs, baggage reclaim and duty free items pick up. Then, when you exit the airport you will be escorted by your own driver to anywhere you want to go in Reykjavik!
If you do use the VVVIP package, then your journey to your chosen hotel will already be taken care off. However, if you do not choose this package, then you can always rent a car using AssistAnt’s Luxury Car Rentals. This company has a world class fleet of cars waited to be driven away.
Now it is time to check in to your hotel. As you are only staying in Reykjavik for 24 hours you need to be staying in a good location, and what better position than the city centre? Hotel Holt is situated on a quiet, residential street just off the city centre, so you have the benefit of being near the action, but also a quiet neighbourhood so you can have a peaceful night’s sleep. The location is not the only advantage of Hotel Holt. This family run hotel has one of the largest privately owned art collections in all of Iceland, with over 400 paintings, installations and sculptures. Many of these works of art are created by Icelandic artists. This artistic atmosphere is carried out in every detail of the hotel, from the decadent bar to the coffee-and-cream coloured rooms.
Bergstaaastrati 37, +354 552 5700, holt.is
If you can pry yourself away from your luxurious room, hop over to Bergsson Mathus for some breakfast. The breakfasts are simple, delicious and filling, with plats such as bread with ham, cheese, jam and eggs, or a bowl of granola and yoghurt accompanied by a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Now that you have refuelled it is time for some sight-seeing. Begin by exploring the city on foot, walking around and seeing what you can discover on the streets and walls of Reykjavik. In the past few years Reykjavik has become famous for it’s colourful murals and graffiti, ever since the zero-tolerance policy for street art was loosened. Walls and lanes have now become covered in art- often commissioned by the building owners themselves, and often created by female artists. After exploring Reykjavik from the ground, you should explore the city from the sky. Go to the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church and bask in the 360-degree view of Reykjavik.
Finally, if you have time, ensure that you visit the Einar Jonsson sculpture garden. Almost every statue and sculpture in Reykjavik was created by Einar Jonsson, and you can learn more about his life and works by visiting the museum and gardens for free.
City explored, it’s time to eat. When in Reykjavik, eat like an Icelander! Visit Tryggvagata for the best fish and chips in Reykjavik (and we eat a lot of fish and chips!). This family owned restaurant serves fish and chips with a difference. The fish selection varies, depending on the catch of the day. The fish if fried in a beautiful spelt and barley batter, and accompaniments such as dill-flecked fries and pickled vegetables will make your mouth water. You can even have an organic Icelandic brew from the tap whilst sitting next to the harbour, soaking in the view.
Tryggvagata 8, 101 fishandchips.is
Once you have finished your lunch you can head back into the city for a spot of shopping. The best shopping experience can be found in the downtown area of the city. Here you will find a lot of boutiques in one area, and there is something to suit everyone’s needs, whether you want to find some international brand names or obscure fashion, some artwork or some souvenirs.
If you prefer shopping in a big mall environment, then visit Kringlan. This large mall has around 150 shops, restaurants and services all under one roof.
Dinner time- our favourite time of day. If you are worrying that you cannot possibly find a meal that surpasses your lunch, then fear not, because Dill Restaurant will have your taste buds tingling. This restaurant is burrowed on the edge of Vantsmyri, Reykjavik’s urban wetland and wildlife reserve. Dill serves up local, Nordic food with seasonal ingredients. The dinner menu changes weekly with three, five and seven course menus available, with the option of a matching wine menu. The dish that really impressed me was baked rutabaga with a cheese foam and crispy millet. You will not be disappointed.
DILL Restaurant, Nordic House, Sturlugata Sturlugotu 5, 101 Reykjavík, +354 552 1522
Dinner over? Time for some drinking! The alcohol scene in Reykjavik has been a bit hit and miss up until recently, as the prohibition lasted into late 1989, banning all beer stronger than 2.25%. As such, Iceland tried experimenting with alcohol production, and failed a lot before it succeeded. Now, Iceland is back, with some great craft beer. One brilliant bar to sample the craft beers at is Kalidbar. This is a tiny bar which feels more like a living room than a drinking spot, but the selection here is incredible. Another small bar is Dropar, a basement bar on the main shopping street of Laugavegur.
For somewhere a bit different, try Kex. Kex is a Hostel, bar and eatery housed in an abandoned biscuit factory. The building was due to be demolished, but was saved when the plans to build skyscrapers in it’s place fell short of funds. Now, travelers and locals visit Kex to drink bear, eat food and watch impromptu gigs.
Kex Hostel, Skúlagata 28, +354 561 6060
The 24 hours is nearly up. Whether to sleep or party the night away is up to you!
5 Quirky Things You Didn’t Know About
• With a latitude of 64 08 N, Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city of an independent nation.
• The organ inside the Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland’s largest church, weights in at 25 tonnes!
• There are over 20 species of whale recorded in Icelandic waters, including Humpback Whales.
• The majority of present day Icelanders believe in the existence of fantastical beings, such as elves and trolls.
• Reykjavik has a Taco Bell and a KFC, but you will not find a McDonalds, as there are none in Iceland!