Destinations Iceland

5 Things You MUST Do In Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland is a country like no other. It is truly a unique place. I would even describe it as one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Iceland is home to breath-taking landscapes, glorious waterfalls, rugged mountains, lively volcanoes, thermals baths and the Northern Lights! To top this of, it is one of the safest countries in the world. The Icelandic people are also some of the kindest and most welcoming people you will ever meet!

Iceland has experienced a large tourism boom in recent years, meaning it can be quite expensive. However, it is definitely a trip worth saving the pennies for! I guarantee the moment you step off that plane you will fall in love with Iceland (even if it is -6C)!

It will be a trip of a lifetime and one you will never forget.

The capital of Reykjavik is the perfect place to base yourself on your next Icelandic adventure. It is the core hub for transport and excursions around the Island. There is a vast amount to see in the Reykjavik region, so if you only have a short-period of time, it can be difficult to prioritise a select few activities.

To help you with your planning, I have compiled a list of my 5 recommended things you MUST do when visiting Reykjavik.

#5 Sample the authentic local cuisine

Dried Fish with Rye Bread and Fermented Shark

Iceland may not be wildly famous for its cuisine, but there are a range of traditional dishes you must try while you are there. (If you are brave enough!)

Café Loki located opposite Hallgrímskirkja church, is the perfect place to stop off and have a taste of these truly unique flavours.

Some of the most famous Icelandic dishes include Harðfiskur (dried fish), Svið (a baked sheep head), Plokkfiskur (mashed fish) and Hákarl (fermented shark). They may not sound the most appetizing, but as they say ‘when in Rome’!

#4 Explore the City Centre

Panoramic view from the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church

Reykjavik itself has a population of around 200,000, very low for a capital city! But this compact city is perfect for exploring and wandering through the streets by foot.

All you need is one day to see all the sights Reykjavik’s centre has to offer. Why not head to the top of Hallgrimskirkja church, which offers beautiful panoramic views of the city. It costs around £7 to catch a lift to the top.

Or head to the marina and take a stroll to the ultra-modern Harpa concert hall. Then walk along the shore wall, taking in the gorgeous views of the mountains and the ocean, until you reach The Sun Voyager. A famous sculpture created by Jón Gunnar Árnason – described as an ‘ode to the sun’.

If it’s a bit of shopping you’re after, head down to Laugavegur, a street filled with independent boutiques and cafes. 

If you enjoy a good museum, why not visit the National Museum of Iceland, where you can learn about Iceland’s fascinating history – Most Museums charge an admission fee. Maybe you’re after a more unique experience, if so the Phallological Musuem may tickle your fancy!

#3 Day trip to the Golden Circle

Gullfoss Waterfalls

If you love natural wonders and breath-taking landscapes, the Golden Circle tour is a must do! This tour allows you to visit some of Iceland’s most famous and stunning sights. These are comprised of; the Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss Waterfall and the UNESCO sight Þingvellir.

It is possible to self-drive around the Golden Circle. However this is normally only advised in the summer, as the winter roads can be very treacherous. There are many tour companies that will drive you around all the sights of the Golden Circle, normally taking around 8 hours. With entrance to all sights included a day tour would cost you around £47 each. Reykjavik Excursions and Gray Line are two of the top tour companies I advise.

#2 The Blue Lagoon

The thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located around 50 minutes from Reykjavik and 10 minutes from Keflavik Airport. This spa is a highly popular destination for visitors to Iceland. It is a unique and indulgent activity everyone must experience!

The mineral-rich hot water located beneath the Earth creates this wonderful warm lagoon. The geothermal water is also said to have very positive effects on the skin! The lagoon is huge, meaning there are many areas to explore. There is even a bar, so you can sip a nice cold drink while you soak in the relaxing warm waters.

There are many tour companies which offer a return transfer to the Blue Lagoon, such as Reykjavik Excursions – giving you the option to purchase your admission tickets separately. If you would rather it all be sorted and ready for you, there is the option for a package deal – tickets and transfer included.

#1 The Northern Lights

My experience of the Northern Lights in Iceland

No trip to Iceland is complete without attempting to witness the spectacular Northern Lights! These beautiful natural light displays are one of the world’s most astounding travel experiences. They were the highlight of my trip and an experience I will never forget.

If you are planning your trip to Iceland around seeing the Norther Lights, September to March is the best time to go. However, sightings are not always guaranteed, so it’s best to give yourself a few extra days, so you can keep searching! To keep track of the Aurora activity check the forecast.

If you are hiring a car, the best advice is to just head somewhere dark away from light polluted areas. There are also options for excursions, where passionate experts will drive you to the best location (around £35). You could even witness them while on a boat! (around £90). If you are unlucky and bad weather stops you or you head out on the trip and don’t see them – these tours will let you try again the next day free of charge.  So good luck and enjoy every moment of this breath-taking phenomenon!

If you are heading to Reykjavik – make sure to check out my Best Budget Accommodation In Reykjavik post!
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16 Comments

  1. Wonderful post with great photos! What I really want to know is whether or not you ate the fermented shark?!! My daughter brought some back from her travels which she shared with relatives before she arrived home. It was apparently more than everyone could handle!

  2. Oh I do want to go to Iceland. The odd food is cool sounding but the sights and land scape looks amazing.

  3. Love this post – Iceland has been on my travel list for such a long time. Seeing the northern lights seems a once in a lifetime experience. Great pointers!

    1. LiveLargeVoyage says:

      Thank you! It truly is an amazing experience, I hope you get to visit soon, you will have the best time!

  4. The Northern Lights are on my bucket list!!!

  5. The Northern Lights literally looks amazing, they are on my bucket list- I think they are on many peoples! Iceland just looks STUNNING! xx

  6. I’ve always known that Iceland is beautiful but seeing your photos really makes me want to go there. I’ve no idea what famous dishes are there lol but the food looks delicious.

  7. It would be a DREAM to visit Iceland, this looks amazing. The Blue Lagoon would be insane to visit, and I’m sure the food is just incredible as well to experience. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Brilliant post! My sister went to Iceland around 2 years ago and still talks about it now. She loved it so much she said she’d love to move there. Not sure how I would feel about trying the baked sheep head or fermented shark though 😂
    The Northern Lights are on my bucket list and that’s so good of that tour to offer you a free go if you don’t see them the first time around!
    The Blue Lagoon also looks amazing xx

    http://www.missblogsabit.com

  9. Great prioritization! Iceland has so much to offer, it can be tough to pick & choose when you don’t have time to do everything. All of this is on my list for our visit this winter 😍

  10. This sounds amazing!! One of my friends went there and recommended the place to me as well, so I will definitely add it to my bucket list! I would love to see the golden circle and the blue lagoon!
    I’m not sure I would be brave enough to try the local dishes you mentioned though haha
    Thank you for sharing!!

    Laura
    https://peanutsandcacahuetes.com/

  11. This looks like an awesome place to visit! I would love to go to the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon.

  12. YES! I don’t think I can eat the food, but I would love to do the final 4 things on that list. The Blue Lagoon would be my #1

  13. This looks amazing! I really want to visit Iceland and after reading this I definitely think I’ll have to get a trip organised

    Abi x http://healthyabsblog.wordpress.com

  14. jenchaos76 says:

    Not excited about the food, but if love to go.

  15. outsideoutsidenomadcom says:

    Had some friends recently visit Iceland and they had nothing but good things to say. Thanks for the info

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