- Choice of accommodations
- Hotel V.A.T. (Value Added Tax) and service charges
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should go?
Iceland's friendly capital is ideal for a vacation with the family. Children of all ages will love the clean, outdoor thermal pools (many with waterslides and fountains) and the attractions based on Iceland's Viking traditions. The Reykjavík Zoo and Family Park in Laugardalur also features a collection of wild and domestic Icelandic animals, as well as offering a family garden with several family-oriented rides.
Nature Lovers & Active Travelers
Nature takes center stage in Reykjavík, and green spaces are never more than a couple steps away. Visitors can take their pick of parks, plus paths for cycling and walking along the coast. Two more favorite rambling destinations are Mount Esja, largely located within the city limits, and the Úlfarsfell mountain, located on the edge of the city. Farther afield, Laugavegur, Iceland's popular 88-mile hiking trail, connects the nature reserves Landmannalaugar and Ţórsmörk. And for those who want to explore even more of Iceland's unique landscape, there are glaciers, geysers, waterfalls, fjords, active volcanoes, and plenty of fascinating birds and marine mammals.
Iceland's many museums, art galleries, and exhibits showcase the history of the island's unique culture in its totality, from Viking longhouses, artifacts, and traditional handicrafts to contemporary artworks. Reykjavík also boasts a hip music scene, which has fostered alternative artists such as Björk, Sigur Rós, and Mugison.
What's the climate like?
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, temperatures are relatively moderate year-round in Reykjavík. Average July temperatures are around 52°F.
How do I get around town?
Transfers from Keflavík International Airport to your hotel are not included with your hotel package. Taxis from the airport are pricey, so your best bet is to take the Flybus into town. Purchase your ticket in the terminal and board the Flybus outside the arrival hall. The bus stops at the BSí bus terminal, various hotels and guesthouses, and the City Hostel.
Reykjavík is a good walking town, easily navigable on foot, with most of the tourist sites, restaurants, and shops concentrated along the central streets.
Despite its narrow streets, Reykjavík is relatively negotiable by car, and there are public parking lots in the city center that are marked on tourist maps. To see sights outside the city, you'll need to either rent a car or take one of many organized day tours and excursions.
Taxis are expensive, even for short rides. However, since taxis charge per ride, not per passenger, sharing a taxi can make the fares more affordable. Taxi drivers accept credit cards and there is no need to tip.
If you want to rent 2 wheels, Reykjavík is easily explored by bicycle and has a good network of bike paths. You can even ride on the sidewalks.
There is a good public bus service, but unless you are heading for the suburbs or the Árbær Museum, you may not need it to get around the city.
What kinds of dining and nightlife are available?
You can find plenty of innovative, high-quality, chef-driven dining in Reykjavík, along with a thriving coffeehouse culture. On some menus you may find unusual Icelandic specialties such as horse, shark, puffin, sheep's head, whale, and dolphin.
Entrée prices are high at the average sit-down eatery, but more affordable options can be had at one of the city's Thai, Indian, or fast food venues, or by stocking up on lunch items from the grocery store.
Here's a selection of options for every budget:
á Næstu Grösum
Vegetarians will love this casual, cafeteria-style eatery that dishes up hearty organic comfort foods, including vegetarian gratins, lasagnas, and curries, all served with unlimited bread and hummus.
Iceland is famed for its lamb hot dogs, and this small stand near the harbor has been serving the country’s best hot dogs since 1935. Order one with everything for the most authentic Reykjavík taste experience.
Fast service, spicy seasonings, hearty portions, and budget prices make this small Thai restaurant in the old harbor neighborhood popular with students and others in search of a bargain.
“Classic dishes, refined” rule the seasonal menus at this restaurant. Owned by celebrity TV chef Siggi Hall, who actively oversees operations, the selections here are inspired by French, Spanish, and Scandinavian cuisines and local ingredients, including an excellent shellfish soufflé and wine list.
Sjávarkjallarinn (Seafood Cellar)
For a special celebration, order a multi-course meal at this wildly popular restaurant, which many agree serves the best food in Iceland. Innovative presentations of exquisitely prepared seafood and other dishes are expensive, but still provide good value, especially the prix fixe menu with wine pairings.
This small city is famed for its nightlife, offering more than 50 bars and clubs in the city center. Good live music can be heard every night of the week, from rock and indie to electronica. Classical music also thrives here, and if you travel in June, you can hear the Iceland Symphony Orchestra at the stunning new performance complex, Tónlistarhús.
On weekends, the action doesn't get going at the clubs until midnight, and continues in some venues until 8am. Dress is trendy and sneakers are frowned upon at the more upscale spots, but there are also sports bars and more bohemian hangouts where dress codes go out the window.
Current happenings and nightclubs can be easily found in The Grapevine, a free English-language circular/website.
Where should I go shopping?
Whether you are after designer brands, unique Icelandic design, or quality souvenirs, you'll have plenty of choices in Reykjavík—and you can also claim a 15% VAT rebate on purchases over ISK 4,000.
Warm woolens, well-crafted pottery and glass, and resilient outdoor wear are practical as well as beautiful keepsakes of your stay in Iceland. Look for a traditional Icelandic lopapeysa—a knitted wool sweater with special design at the top and on the sleeves—or high-quality scarves, gloves, hats, blankets, and more made from dual-layered Icelandic wool.
Jewelry is also a relatively good buy in Iceland, with designs that often replicate Celtic and Old Norse patterns in gold or silver, sometimes incorporating Iceland's native minerals or lava rock.
Most shops are concentrated on these streets: Laugavegur, Skólavörđustígurood, Austurstræti, Hafnarstræti, and Bankastræti.
When are the local events?
May 31 – June 4. This arts and cultural festival, held in the town of Hafnarfjordur, features musical, cultural, and artistic events in a program that offers something for everyone.
Festival of the Sea
First Sunday in June. The Festival of the Sea celebrates the sea and sailors with lighthearted strongman competitions and rowing competitions between ship crews and companies in Reykjavík harbor, with lots of fun for the whole family.
June 14-17. Held in the nearby town of Hafnarfjordur at the Viking Village, this Summer Solstice festival incorporates Viking clothing, instruments, jewelry, crafts, song, dance, and of course, food and drink.
June 17. The National Day of Iceland has been celebrated on June 17th since 1944. The festivities in Reykjavík include colorful parades, street theater, music, side shows, and dancing.
Reykjavík Jazz Festival
Late August. This annual festival is an increasingly prestigious event on the international jazz scene, featuring many acclaimed international jazz players as well as Iceland's leading jazz musicians.
Tried and True Travel Tidbits
The Reykjavík Tourist Card
For admission to most major museums and galleries, along with access to public transportation and the city’s geothermal pools, this card could save you some krona. You can purchase one good for 24, 48, or 72 hours.
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon, just a few minutes from Keflavík International Airport, is a highly popular destination, with mineral-rich, milky-blue hot waters in which you can soak amid a spectacular lagoon, all set in a rugged lava landscape. You can reach it by car or by bus from Reykjavík (approximately a 40- minute drive).
In Iceland the sea is normally far too cold to tempt swimmers, but at Nautholsvik Bay in Reykjavík, a thermal beach has been created, where natural hot water flows out into the sea, and you can frolic in the waves as if you were in the Mediterranean. Visitors will enjoy a beach of golden sand, refreshments, and an enclosed ocean “pool” where the water temperature is about 68şF.
Good to Know
|Keflavík International Airport
||June - August
||December - February
||Icelandic króna (ISK)
||Reykjavík is 6 hours ahead of Central Standard Time.
|Proof of Citizenship:
||Government legislation requires all people traveling via air to and from the United States and Canada to have a valid passport. For details on passports, visas, and health requirements, see Entry Requirements.
||A service fee is included in the prices at restaurants, for taxi fares, and for other services, so tipping is not required.
||Summers in Reykjavík are cool and weather can be very changeable, so pack a jacket for chilly and wet weather, along with a swimsuit for outdoor bathing in the geothermal pools.