Our favourite places in Reykjavik - An insider's guide

We pick our favourite things to do in the capital ...

We pick our favourite things to do in the capital city. Photo/ Iceland Monitor.

Here's our pick of the places to see, things to do and food to eat on a weekend trip to the coolest capital of the north. 

Hallgrímskirkja church towering over Reykjavik.

Hallgrímskirkja church towering over Reykjavik. Iceland Monitor/ Ómar Óskarsson

Two things you have to do: 

Pay a visit to Hallgrímskirkja church in the city centre, a strange modern church in a Viking/ gothic style perched on top of Skólavörðuholt hill in the city centre. Go up to the belltower for amazing views and check out the acoustics in the vast and minimalist interior. 

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre by the harbour.

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre by the harbour. Iceland Monitor/ Júlíus Sigurjónsson

Head to the harbour for a walk. Take a look at the stunning Harpa concert hall and conference centre, whose lit-up glass facade is designed by one of Iceland's most famous artists, Ólafur Elíasson. Stroll down to the marina on its left, enjoy the view of the fishing and whale watching boats and breathe in the fresh sea air. 

The Cuckoo's Nest.

The Cuckoo's Nest. Photo/ Iceland Monitor

Brunch: 

Cuckoo's Nest in the Grandi harbour area is a tiny restaurant situated in an old fish warehouse and owned by an Icelandic/ Californian couple.  The cuisine at the Coocoo's Nest is inspired by California and they offer a  fantastic San Francisco style brunch on weekends as well as the Italian version of happy hour, aperitivo. 

Dresses at Spúútnik second hand store on Laugavegur.

Dresses at Spúútnik second hand store on Laugavegur. Photo/ Spúútnik

Shop:

Second-hand shops in the city centre have a great selection of anything ranging from 1960's to 1990's. Top buys are furs, bomber jackets, vintage 501's and cosy woollen jumpers. For finer dressing, head to JÖR on Laugavegur which stocks classic men's and women's wear with a rock and roll edge, and to Kiosk, which offers a wide variety of Icelandic designs - knitwear, dresses and accessories. 

Bergsson RE fish restaurant is open for lunch only.

Bergsson RE fish restaurant is open for lunch only. Photo/ Facebook page of Bergsson RE

Lunch: 

Bergsson RE down at the Grandi harbourfront is super hip lunch spot with huge windows overlooking the harbour. It offers lots of fresh fish and seafood cooked in a healthy and most delicious manner. 

The Einar Jónsson sculpture museum.

The Einar Jónsson sculpture museum. Photo/ Einar Jónsson museum

Museum: 

We love the enchanting Einar Jónsson sculpture museum located opposite Hallgrímskirkja church. Built and designed by the sculptor in the 1920's it is now the home to his mystical, symbolic works. The whole building is like a magician's castle and is both beautiful and spooky. 

Lake Tjörnin.

Lake Tjörnin. Iceland Monitor/ Eggert Jóhannesson

Walk: 

Go for a classic promenade around Lake Tjörnin in the city centre. It's beautifully tranquil complete with ducks, swans and the Hljómskálagarður park. Things to see on the way around are the National Gallery, the City Hall and the nearby cemetary, also a lovely walk below the autumn foliage underneath its tall trees. 

Kolabrautin bar inside Harpa concert hall.

Kolabrautin bar inside Harpa concert hall. Iceland Monitor/ Ómar Óskarsson

Drinks: 

For drinks in a gorgeous setting, head to Kolabrautin bar on the fourth floor of Harpa Concert Hall and Conference centre. There you can relax in a relatively quiet atmosphere whilst soaking up the beauty of the building, and the stunning views. 

Hverfisgata 12 restaurant.

Hverfisgata 12 restaurant. Iceland Monitor / Ómar Óskarsson

Dinner: 

We love the laid back, cosy and yet super-hip atmosphere of Hverfisgata 12, owned by the people of Kex Hostel. This restaurant offers the best pizzas in town, including a fantastic vegan option, wonderful cocktails and on the third floor, the Mikkeller bar which offers a wide variety of exciting beer on tap. 

Kaffibarinn.

Kaffibarinn. Iceland Monitor/ Kristinn Ingvarsson

Club: 

Unfortunately most of Iceland's clubs offer the same dance music which you either enjoy or not. Kaffibarinn is a classic option, it's a tiny bar famous since the 90's which starts heaving with dancing crowds at around midnight. Reykjavik's cool cats also frequent Paloma, a seedy late night club that often offers interesting DJ's on two floors. 

Currency

USD USD 105.76 EUR EUR 124.30
GBP GBP 136.32 DKK DKK 16.71
NOK NOK 13.38 SEK SEK 13.07
CHF CHF 109.30 JPY JPY 0.97

Opinion

María Erian Guðmundsdóttir

What it means to visit back home

by María Erian Guðmundsdóttir

Sóley Björk Guðmundsdóttir

Iceland’s love affair with liquorice

by Sóley Björk Guðmundsdóttir

Sóley Björk Guðmundsdóttir

Unity and agony

by Sóley Björk Guðmundsdóttir

Most Popular

Zeitgeist

events