You´re in Iceland and looking for something fun to do. While Iceland is known for its natural wonders, there is more to our beautiful country than just glaciers, waterfalls, volcanos, and hot springs. We also recommend exploring the capital city, Reykjavik.
Did you know that Reykjavik means Smokey Bay? As so many other places in Iceland, the name comes from the natural surroundings. The city sits by a bay and the smoke referred to is from hot springs in the area.
That, however, is far from being the only interesting thing about Reykjavik.
The culture center of Iceland
Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland. Both by land area and population. More than 60% of Iceland's population live in Reykjavik. Making it the culture center of Iceland.
There you can find interesting things to do at every corner. Reykjavik might not be the biggest city you ever visit but it might just be the most interesting one.
To make the most out of your visit in Reykjavik we have listed a few of our top things to do in Reykjavik.
Bæjarins beztu – Hot dog stand
In Reykjavik you can find the best that Iceland's cuisine has to offer. Out of all the great options, there is one very special place we recommend for all travelers. In between the tall building in the center of Reykjavik sits a small hot dog stand, called Bæjarins Beztu.
For decades Bæjarins Beztu has been the most popular restaurant in Iceland. In recent years it has also gained international recognition as the best fast-food place in Iceland.
There is only one course on the menu. The delicious Icelandic hot dog, called pylsa. Or pulsa, depending on who you ask.
You can however choses your toppings. Most popular is “one with everything,” which includes deep fried onion, raw onion, mustard, ketchup, and remoulade.
Pylsa is considered by many to be the national dish of Iceland, so if you want a taste of our culture, Bæjarins Beztu should definitely be on your list.
Public Swimming pools in Reykjavik
Public swimming pools are also a huge part of Icelandic culture. We just love going to the pool, both to exercise and socialize. There are many excellent public swimming pools in Reykjavik where you can go for a swim or simply relax in a hot tub.
Out of all of them there are two swimming pools we recommend if you fancy getting wet. The first one is Sundhöll Reykjavíkur. It is an indoor swimming pool with outdoor hot tubs as well.
Located in the downtown area, it is among the oldest swimming pools in Iceland. So, you get a bit of history while there as well.
The second pool is Laugardalslaug. Located in Laugardalur valley, right next to the national station of Iceland. It is one the largest public swimming pools in Iceland. It is close to the downtown area and just around the corner from the Reykjavik campsite.
Laugavegur – Shopping Street
From Laugardalur valley to the center of Reykjavik, is Iceland's most famous street, Laugavegur. It is the main shopping street in central Reykjavik. There you can find all sorts of shops, restaurants and other local attractions.
Laugavegur is about two kilometers long. It is one of Reykjavik´s oldest streets and the main street for nightlife in Reykjavik, home to many bars and clubs.
Flea market – Kolaportið
One of the most interesting places you can visit in downtown Reykjavik is the Icelandic Flea Market, called Kolaportið. There you can find all sorts of good for a great price, new or old. It is especially known for selling local treats such as liquorice and dried fish. So, whether you´re looking for a bargain in shopping, hidden gems or just want to explore something different we recommend visiting Kolaportið.
When in Reykjavik you got to go down to the docks. Iceland is a fishing nation and Reykjavik Harbor is the beating heart of the city. There you can find some of the finest restaurants in the city, serving fresh seafood straight from the docks.
Not only can you see boats and ships at the harbor, you can also get on a boat and take various tours. Tours operators are located right at the docks offering many different tours. Such as whale watching, puffins’ tours and rod fishing. There is no lack of adventures available.
Harpa Concert Hall
By the sea, in the downtown area, also stands one of the most iconic buildings in Iceland, Harpa Music hall. It is the home of Icelandic music and culture. The building is a piece of art itself.
Not only does it have a unique structure, but the entire building is also covered in glass which changes colors at night. Apart from the Northern lights, Harpa Music hall is the greatest lights show in Iceland.
Hallgrímskirkja is the biggest church in Iceland. Located on the highest ground of central Reykjavik. It is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. There you can take a trip to the top of the clocktower. Getting the best view in Reykjavik.
Skólavörðustígur, also known as the Rainbow street due to its iconic street art, connects the church and Laugavegur shopping street. It is one of Reykjavik´s most interesting streets.
There is one place in Reykjavik where you can get that old European city vibe and that is Austurvöllur, Parliament Plaza. The plaza is a grass field in front of the Icelandic parliament. It is the oldest part of Reykjavik, and the plaza is surrounded by beautiful old buildings, bars, and cafés. In summer it is one of the most popular outdoor spots in Reykjavik.
Renting a car in Reykjavik
ZERO CAR has an office in central Reykjavik. Conveniently located and within walking distance from the downtown area. Perfect for those visiting Reykjavik and want to rent a car and explore interesting places in and around the capital area. Such as the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon.