Unravel Reykjavik in 3 days

20 June 2021

WhatsAppCopy LinkPinterestTwitterFacebook
Love

Friendly disclaimer! We want to be as accurate as possible, but given these challenging times, we urge you to recheck that the venues are open when you decide to visit.

When the first Icelandic settlers founded Reykjavik in the late 9th century, they probably didn’t imagine that the capital city would grow into one of the most economically and culturally progressive cities in the world. Characterized by its picturesque coasts and architectural innovation, Reykjavik celebrates the beauty of its mesmerising landscapes by using them as inspiration for its most impressive buildings. 

 

Explore the ins and outs of the wonderland called Iceland and bask in the natural wonders of the world’s northernmost capital, with this three-day itinerary for Reykjavik. 

Reykjavik 3-day itinerary at a glance

Day 1 – Museums and Venues of Prominence

 

Start the day off with a visit to the viewpoint on top of Hallgrímskirkja and soak in the panorama of a glorious Reykjavik morning. Move on to the National Museum of Iceland, where you can familiarize yourself with Icelandic history and culture. To bring yourself back to the 21st century, explore the National Gallery of Iceland which specialises in Icelandic contemporary art. From here, Lake Tjörnin is just a stone’s throw away, where you can have a stroll and feed the water birds. After a snack at the popular Austurvöllur Square, make your way to the fascinating Icelandic Phallological Museum. End your first day in Reykjavik with music – by attending a performance at the Harpa Concert Hall. 

 

  • Explore Hallgrímskirkja
  • Visit the National Museum of Iceland
  • Tour the National Gallery of Iceland
  • Have a stroll at Lake Tjörnin
  • Admire and grab refreshments at the Austurvöllur Square
  • Browse the Icelandic Phallological Museum
  • Catch a Performance at Harpa Concert Hall

 

 

Day 2 – Golden Circle Tour and Blue Lagoon

 

Your second day in Reykjavik is going to be spent mostly outside Reykjavik because you’re going to be tackling the infamous Golden Circle! You can either book a Golden Circle tour package or drive around in a classic rented car – either way, you’ll be spending your morning snorkelling or hiking at the historic Thingvellir National Park. Visit the Geysir Hot Springs and stare in awe at the magnificent geothermal eruptions in the area. Make your way to the most prized and protected waterfall in Iceland, the Gullfoss. You can spend the rest of your evening at Blue Lagoon, a spa amidst beautiful lava formations where you can unwind after your journey through the wilderness.

 

  • Go snorkelling under the Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park
  • Visit the Geysir Hot Springs
  • Gaze at the Gullfoss Waterfalls
  • Relax at Blue Lagoon

 

 

Day 3 – Whale Watching, Shopping and Food

 

Begin your final day in Reykjavik on the waters spotting beautiful whales and other aquatic creatures that have made the capital city their home. Your next stop is the Kolaportið Flea Market, where you can find anything from dried fish to John Lennon’s guitar pick (if you search hard enough, that is). After spending your afternoon trying out Icelandic delicacies over a food tour, stroll across the coast to spot the famous Sun Voyager. Browse through the exhibits of the awe-inspiring Perlan Exploratorium and enjoy the colourful nightlife of Reykjavik at Laugavegur. 

 

  • Enjoy a Whale Watching Tour
  • Visit the Kolaportið Flea Market
  • Sign up for an Icelandic Food Tour
  • View the Sun Voyager
  • Explore the Perlan Natural Exploratorium
  • Have fun at Laugavegur

 

Detailed 3 day Reykjavik itinerary

Day 1

Explore Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja
By Andreas Tille/WikiCommons

Dedicated to Iceland’s famous poet Hallgrímur Pétursson, Hallgrímskirkja is the largest church and the tallest building in the country. Its architect, Guðjón Samúelsson, was said to have designed the structure with inspiration from Iceland’s landscapes and Nordic legends, which lend themselves to the emblematic exterior of this revered Lutheran church. 

 

Hallgrímskirkja is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. So popular, in fact, that it is one among the 5 summer sensations in and around Reykjavik!

 

Things to do: 

  • Explore the church interiors. Make sure you catch the large pipe organ which has over 5000 pipes
  • Take the elevator to the Hallgrímskirkja church tower, where you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of Reykjavik illuminated by the morning sun
  • Drop by at the nearby Reykjavik Roasters for amazing coffee
  • Try some authentic Icelandic dishes and the signature Rye Bread Ice Cream at Cafe Loki.

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: 
      • Church: Monday- Saturday: 11:00 am- 3:00 pm. Sunday: 10:00 am- 3:00 pm.
      • Tower: Monday- Saturday: 11:00 am- 2:45 pm.
  • Cost:
      • Church: Free entry.
      • Tower: 
        • Regular rate: ISK 1000.
        • Reduced rate (for children aged 7-16): ISK 100.
        • Free entry for children aged 0-6.
  • How to Reach:
    • Bus: Barónsstígur / Egilsgata (line 5, 15).

Visit the National Museum of Iceland

National Museum of Iceland
By Ypsilon from Finland/WikiCommons

Established in 1963, the National Museum of Iceland (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands) aims to gain insight into the culture and history of Iceland through its series of permanent and temporary exhibitions. Collected from various Danish museums and private collections, the exhibits on display at the National Museum of Iceland weave a story of Iceland and its journey through time – from 1200 years ago to the present day and even the future. 

 

Things to do: 

  • View the different exhibits in the Museum that showcase Icelandic culture, including their Viking and medieval history through a self-guided or guided tour
  • Check out the Valþjófsstaður door, a 13th-century carving of a dragon being slain by a knight to free a lion.

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings:
      • 16th September- 30 April: Tuesday- Sunday, 10:00 am- 5:00 pm.
      • 1st May- 15th September: day, 10:00 am- 5:00 pm.
  • Cost:
      • Regular rate: ISK 2000
      • Reduced rate (for seniors aged 67+ and students): ISK 1000
      • Free entry for children aged 0-17 and the disabled.
  • How to Reach:
    • Bus: Háskóli Íslands (line 1, 3, 6); Þjóðminjasafn (line 12).
National Gallery of Iceland
By Geraldshields11/WikiCommons

Founded in the late 19th century in Copenhagen by Björn Bjarnason, the National Gallery of Iceland showcases contemporary Icelandic art from the 20th and 21st centuries as well as various pieces of international art, such as those of Pablo Picasso and Edvard Munch. Here, you’ll be able to find permanent exhibitions on Icelandic art as well as exhibitions of individual Icelandic and international artists. 

 

Things to do:

  • Tour the various exhibitions hosted in the gallery
  • Visit the Museum shop and cafe for merchandise and refreshments.

 

Unravelog Tip: If you are a connoisseur of contemporary art, make sure to plan your visit in such a way that you’ll be able to make it to the gallery on Thursday at 2:00 pm to sign up for a guided tour of the place in English. 

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: 
      • 1st May- 30th September- daily, 10:00 am- 5:00 pm.
      • 1st October- 30th April- Tuesday- Sunday, 10:00 am- 5:00 pm.
  • Cost: 
      • Regular rate: ISK 2000.
      • Reduced rate (for seniors aged 67+ and students): ISK 1000.
      • Free entry for children aged 0-17 and holders of Reykjavik city card.
  • How to Reach:
    • Bus: Fríkirkjuvegur (line 1, 3, 6, 11, 12, 55).

Have a stroll at Lake Tjörnin

Lake Tjörnin iceland
By Andreas Tille/WikiCommons

Situated in the heart of Reykjavik, Lake Tjörnin (also referred to as the Pond) is a bustling but tranquil lake which is home to over 40 species of water birds. It is recommended to spend your evening here, strolling around the picturesque lake and feeding the birds (in fact, the birds here are so frequently fed by locals and tourists that the lake is often referred to as “the biggest bread soup in the world”). 

 

Things to do: 

  • Take a walk and make some winged friends in the lake
  • Spot the nearby Iceland Parliament, which you can get a closer look at from the Austurvöllur Square
  • Visit the Reykjavik City Hall where you’ll come across a 3D map of Iceland. 

 

Unravelog Tip: 

  • If you can spare the time, try to stay here throughout the evening (or take a short food break at Austurvöllur Square and the Icelandic Phallological Museum and return to the lake) to enjoy a beautiful sunset
  • If you’re visiting in the winter, keep in mind that you’ll have the chance to ice skate on a part of the lake!

 

Useful Information:

  • Location: Tjörnin 101
  • Timings: Always open.
  • Cost: Free entry. 
  • How to Reach:
    • Bus: Fríkirkjuvegur (line 1, 3, 6, 11, 12, 55); Ráðhúsið (line 1, 3, 6, 11, 12, 13, 55).

Enjoy the food and buzz at the Austurvöllur Square

Austurvollur Square
By Church on Austurvollur Square/WikiCommons

This off-beat and unassuming square is extremely popular among locals due to many reasons, including the bars and restaurants that line its streets and the statue of Jón Sigurðsson that stands as a reminder of the Independence struggle of Iceland. As a result, the square is popular both for a fun evening out and for protests that voice the opinion of the people – all of this, right next to the Iceland Parliament

 

Things to do:

  • Try some Icelandic dishes and drinks or relax on the grass lawns in the square;
  • Visit the Domkirkjan, which is the oldest church in Reykjavik.

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: Always open.
  • Cost: Free entry. 
  • How to Reach: 
    • Bus: Ráðhúsið (1, 3, 6, 11, 12, 13, 55); Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík / MR (line 1, 3, 6, 11, 12, 13).

Browse the Icelandic Phallological Museum

Phallological Museum Reykjavik
By ThomasWF/WikiCommons

Founded from the interest of a collector to share his phallic specimens with the rest of the world, the Icelandic Phallological Museum exhibits 282 specimens of the phalluses and penile parts of 93 different species of animals. The museum aims to bring to attention the discipline of phallology, an underrepresented field of ancient science. Trust us when we tell you that you can find the unlikeliest of souvenirs in their gift store

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: Daily, 10:00 am- 7:00 pm.
  • Cost: ISK 2500 (for adults). 
  • How to Reach:
    • Bus: Arnarhóll / Lækjartorg (line 3, 14); Stjórnarráðið (line 1, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14).

Catch a performance at Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall
By Vilve Roosioks/Pixabay

Characterized by a stunning coloured glass honeycomb facade, the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre is among the most iconic buildings in Reykjavik. The structure is situated next to the Reykjavik harbour and hosts regular performances by its residents – the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Maximus Musicus, the Icelandic Opera, the Reykjavik Big Band as well as of other individuals and group concerts and festivals. Spend your first night in the city at the Harpa Concert Hall, attending a beautiful musical performance. 

 

Useful Information:

  • Location: Harpa Concert Hall
  • Cost and Timings: Depends on the event chosen.
  • How to Reach:
    • Bus: Harpa (line 3). 

Day 2

Go snorkelling under the Silfra Fissure at Thingvellir National Park

Silfra Fissure Snorkeling
By Shriram Rajagopalan/Flikr

Founded in 1930, Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park with an impressive geological history and the vast Þingvallavatn Lake, is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys being in the presence of nature. The region is also popular for viewing the northern lights, which is why it’s part of our 8 ways to experience the Northern Lights around Reykjavik.

 

Things to do:

  • Visit the Thingvellir Church, which is open for tourists only at 10:00 am (so if you want to experience a guided tour, make sure to arrive on time)
  • If you’re into adventure activities, visit the Silfra fissure and go snorkelling between two tectonic plates, which is something that you can’t do anywhere else in the world. In fact, this activity is part of our top 5 summer sensations in and around Reykajvik.
  • Go horseback riding in one of the two designated horse trails in the National Park.
  • Bring your hiking gear and explore Thingvellir by one of the many hiking trails scattered around the park
  • If you love fishing and are visiting Iceland during the angling season (May 1-September 15), you can fish on the Þingvallavatn Lake.

 

Unravelog Tip: If you are staying for more than three days in Reykjavik, we highly recommend that you camp overnight at Thingvellir National Park. It is among the best camping sites in the world.

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: N/A
  • Cost: Free entry, parking fee applicable. Check the official website for more information.
  • Website: https://www.thingvellir.is/en/ 
  • How to Reach: There are no public transport options to Thingvellir National Park. You can book a Golden Circle Tour package to ensure transportation, but we highly recommend that you rent a car for the day to explore the place (and discover off-beat paths) on your own time. By car, you can reach Thingvellir via road no. 36.

Visit the Geysir Hot Springs

Geysir Hot Springs iceland
By PxHere

When it occasionally erupts, the Great Geysir is truly a sight to behold! The steaming water from within bursts upwards to anywhere between 60 to 80 metres in height. The Great Geysir has been erupting since the late 13th century when an earthquake created this geothermal wonder with hot springs scattered all around. Another smaller but more frequently erupting geyser, which erupts every 4-8 minutes, is the Strokkur, located merely 100 metres away. 

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: Always open.
  • Cost: Free entry. 
  • How to Reach: There are no public transport options to the Geysir hot springs. You can book a Golden Circle Tour package to ensure transportation, or rent a car for the day to explore the place.

Gaze at the Gullfoss Waterfalls

Gullfoss Waterfalls Iceland
By WoSie/WikiCommons

Gullfoss, literally meaning “Golden Falls”, is what the Golden Circle is named after; these waterfalls are the pièce de résistance of the entire tour. The Gullfoss (which is part of the Hvitá River) and its surroundings are collectively known as the Gullfoss Nature Reserve, where you can enjoy the breathtaking waterfall and (if you’re lucky) witness the rainbow that appears when sunlight hits the spraying waters. 

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: Always open.
  • Cost: Free entry.
  • Website: http://gullfoss.is/ 
  • How to Reach: There are no public transportation options to the Gullfoss waterfalls. You can book a Golden Circle Tour package or rent a car for the day to explore the place.

Relax at the Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon iceland
By McKay Savage/WikiCommons

Blue Lagoon is a spa amidst the beautiful milky blue geothermal seawater offset with the striking black lava fields in the background. Rich with minerals including silica, the waters of the Blue Lagoon offer a sublime and tranquil experience, as do their massages, sauna, steam rooms and spa. Blue Lagoon is also an impressive place for viewing the Northern Lights if you’re visiting in winter.

 

Things to do:

  • Spend an hour (or five) to relax in the Blue Lagoon along with its in-water bar and massage 
  • Revitalise your body and mind at the Retreat Spa.
  • Grab something to eat at their Café or enjoy a proper fine-dining experience at one of their three restaurants.
  • If you choose to, you can stay the night at Silica Hotel or Retreat Hotel.

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: The timings vary depending on the season and services. For more information, check the official website
  • Cost: ISK 6990 onwards.
  • Website: https://www.bluelagoon.com/ 
  • How to Reach: There are no public transport options to Blue Lagoon. A few Golden Circle package tours also offer Blue Lagoon as one of their destinations, but if your tour doesn’t offer that, you can still visit Blue Lagoon after returning to Reykjavik by pre-booking your bus transportation with Destination Blue Lagoon. If you’re arriving by car, take road no. 41 (towards Keflavík International Airport), transfer to road no. 43 and make your way to road no. 426.

Day 3

Go on a Whale Watching Tour

Whale Watching Reykjavik
By Free-Photos/Pixabay

Spend your last morning in Reykjavik touring the Faxaflói bay, where you can spot many varieties of whales along with adorable porpoises and dolphins. Some of the tours that you can pre-book include Reykjavik Sailors, Reykjavik Sightseeing and Special Tours.

 

Unravelog Tip: Iceland is also popular for its puffin colonies; however, you will have to leave the capital city to be able to find these precarious little creatures. If you have more time in Iceland, we highly recommend that you go puffin watching. To know more, check out our top 5 summer sensations in and around Reykjavik.

 

Useful Information:

  • Cost and Timings: Varies depending on the tour chosen.

Visit the Kolaportið Flea Market

Kolaportid Flea Market Reykjavik
By Atli Harðarson/Flikr

Kolaportið has anything and everything that one can expect to find in a flea market. Located next to the old harbour, this weekend market is likely to stun you with the smell of fermented shark, but your nose will adjust to it soon and you can begin browsing the unending lines of items for sale. From rye bread and fermented shark to centuries-old books and priceless artefacts, this market truly aims to please browsers

 

Unravelog Tip: Since the shops in the market rarely accept cards, it is advisable to carry cash with you. You can find ATMs in front of the market.

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: Saturdays and Sundays, 11:00 am- 5:00 pm.
  • Cost: Free entry.
  • How to Reach: Bus: Hafnarhús (line 14).

Sign up for an Icelandic Food Tour

Icelandic Food Tour
FromPxHere

The food of Iceland is something that you really shouldn’t miss out on. A food tour is the perfect way to taste and explore traditional Icelandic cuisine. The following tour groups offer a food tour with whom you can spend your afternoon- Reykjavik Food Walk, Your Friend in Reykjavik, Reykjavik Excursions and Magical Iceland.

 

Useful Information:

  • Cost and Timings: Varies depending on the tour chosen.

View the Sun Voyager

Sun Voyager
By darrenquigley32/Pixabay

Designed by Icelandic sculptor Jon Gunnar Arnason, the Sun Voyager (Sólfar in Icelandic) is a steel sculpture- a dreamboat as an ode to the sun that stands beside the waterfront of Reykjavik. Tourists are welcome to stroll around the shore and appreciate Sólfar as a symbol of hope, progress and freedom.

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: Always open.
  • Cost: Free entry.
  • How to Reach: Bus: Sæbraut / Vitastígur (line 3).

Explore the Perlan Natural Exploratorium

Perlan Natural Exploratorium
bY Axel Kristinsson/Flikr

Designed by architect Ingimundur Sveinsson, Perlan (or the Pearl) is an iconic landmark of Reykjavik. Placed pristinely atop the Öskjuhlíð hill, this six-district structure with a rotating glass dome houses many incredible sites, such as a viewing platform, the world’s first indoor ice cave, Iceland’s only planetarium and many other displays. 

 

Things to do: 

  • Admire the picturesque vista of Reykjavik from the viewing platform of Perlan;
  • Explore the world’s first indoor ice caves in the comfort of the city
  • Observe worldly phenomena like the aurora borealis in detail at the Perlan Planetarium
  • Browse a multitude of exhibits, including those on the forces of nature, aquatic life and the water in Icelandic nature, among many others
  • Visit the amazing Adventure Land, wherein you can find the biggest bouncy castle in the world.

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: Monday- Friday: 10:00 am- 5:00 pm. Saturdays: 12.00 pm- 5:00 pm. 
  • Cost: 
      • Regular rate: ISK 4,490.
      • Children aged 6-17: ISK 2,490.
      • Family rate (2 adults and 2 children): 9, 990.
      • Free entry for toddlers aged 0-5.
  • How to Reach: Bus: Perlan (line 18). 

Have fun at Laugavegur

Laugavegur
By josef knecht/WikiCommons

Packed with popular boutiques and crowded restaurants, Laugavegur is Reykjavik’s vibrant shopping district. It is, without a doubt, the place to be if you want to have some fun! Spend your evening shopping at the high-end boutiques and vintage shops of the district, and visit some of the popular bars in the area like the popular rock music venue Dillon and the film-fanatics’ beloved Lebowski bar

 

Useful Information:

  • Timings: Always open.
  • Cost: Free entry. 
  • How to Reach: Bus: Hlemmur (line 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18).

If you have more time to spend in Reykjavik and would like to chase more experiences, check out our top 5 summer sensations in and around Reykjavik and 8 ways to experience the Northern Lights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like