While most people start their first visit to Iceland with a stop in the capital city of Reykjavik, I decided to plan my trip a little differently and after nearly three days in the countryside ice caving and exploring waterfalls I finally made my way to the capital. With only a day and a half planned I did not have a ton of time but managed to take in as much of the city a I can and wanted to recap the top eight things I did in the capital city:
(1) Hallgrímskirkja Church: This Lutheran Church is one of the tallest structures in the entire country of Iceland and perched a top of a hill in the capital it is certainly an imposing structure. When you visit make sure to pay the extra to go to the top and stay aware of the time – I almost fell down the stairs while leaving because the bells started chiming and I was scared out of my wits! The view from the top is definitely worth the price though!
(2) Take a Walking Tour: Free walking tours are one of my favorite ways to get acquainted with a new city and I am happy the rain, sleet, and snow held off for most of my two hour tour of downtown Reykjavik. We covered many of the top sites including the Parliament building, the Concert Hall Harpa, the Hallgrímskirkja church (above), lake Tjörnin, and the City Hall.
(3) Eat a Hot Dog at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur: If it is good enough for Bill Clinton, Kim Kardashian, and Metallica I figured it would be good enough for me. Living in New York City I have had my fair share of hot dogs but as I learned at one of the waterfalls earlier in my trip the Icelandic people really like to put friend onion and sweet mustard on their hot dogs and all I have to say is yes, just yes. #justdoit
(4) Experience the Local Art and Culture: On my second to last night in Iceland I actually got to see Valdimar, a popular Icelandic indie pop and rock band, play as part of the music festival Iceland Airwaves thanks to some new friends. It was quite an experience and one I am actually contemplating going back for to do it properly and throughout the two days in the capital city (to likely no ones surprise) I kept stop to take pictures of the amazing street art – everything from chalk to permanent graffiti.
(5) Eat Cinnamon Buns at Brauð & Co: A friend recommended this spot and it did not disappoint – the fresh cinnamon buns are definitely something to talk about and even though I had one for breakfast with a coffee Trip Advisor claims it is the #1 of 30 Dessert places in Reykjavik, well okay then! You can check it out here.
(6) Buy Some Local Wool: Iceland is famous for their wool and while it is not inexpensive I did not want to leave without a few pieces. I tried on more than a dozen but ended up taking home the hat and the sweater you see in the two photos below – both so cozy and definitely items where I will always remember where I got them!
(7) Witness the History at Reykjavík 871±2: The best part of this exhibit in the heart of downtown Reykjavík is that the Icelandic people believe the settlement dates back to the year 871, but they are not quite sure, so they added the plus or minus two to indicate the percentage variance they might be off. Haha, I appreciate the accuracy though and inside the museum you can see remnants of Viking settlements that date back nearly that long!
(8) Take a Trip Out of Town to See the Northern LightsL This one kills me a bit because I tried to take my own advice two nights in a row but due to snow storms I was unable to see take a trip out of Reykjavik to see the Northern nights. The picture below was taken the week before I went in early November by a friend and after seeing it I was just DYING to get my own shot of these stunning green lights. * Sad face * I guess that is just another reason I will have to go back!
(9) Eat Warm, Local Delicacies: For a capital that is not known for it’s food the fact that three out of nine points on this list are about bites is a bit odd but seriously, there is some interesting and unique dining options in Reykjavik. I did my homework and on one frigid night after driving in a blizzard most of the day I enjoyed delicious ramen at the Noodle Station Restaurant and on the next night enjoyed another warm meal – meat stew at Svarta Kaffið, a famous soup restaurant!
As I mentioned, I didn’t spend very long in the capital but these are my top nine and I have to be honest, I was going to top eight but I might be too much of milleinal to leave it at that – please comment if you know what that is in reference to!
Have you been to Reykjavik Iceland?