Guide to Reykjavik

Iceland’s most lively city Reykjavik is full of great restaurants, scenic views, and curated shops. We stayed in the heart of downtown, walking distance to everything we wanted to see.

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Shop

Full of Icelandic wool blankets, beautiful homewares, and unique ceramics, Geysir is an absolute must stop. They have two other storefronts, one dedicated to men’s clothing and accessories and the other for women. Downstairs there’s a small gallery featuring experimental art.

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If you’re looking for artisanal French goods to take home, Hyalin has you covered. Jams, spices, and chocolates make lovely gifts along with the candles and French skincare they carry.

Part gallery, part makerspace, part women’s artist collective, Kirsuberjatréð carries unique items found and upcycled materials. When we stopped by they were hosting a new art exhibit and welcomed us in with wine as we looked around. We saw handcrafted jewelry from unconventional materials, ceramics and pottery, and works in mixed media. They even had baskets and bowls made of radish paper! I was able to take home a beautiful ceramic mug as a souvenir.

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Check out new Icelandic vinyl at Reykjavik Record Shop. I found a few of my current favorites too but wasn’t able to fit them in my already stuffed carry on.

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See & Do

By far the most touristy activity on our list was the Reykjavik Excursions Northern Lights Tour. We hopped on a huge bus around 10pm, were driven out to the middle of nowhere to an area without light pollution and waited for the Northern Lights to appear. Surrounded by fifty other tourists who were chatty and loud we were starting to feel a little irritable, but seeing the Northern Lights made it all worth it. We saw green and purple and yellow flashes of light overhead, twinkling and rapidly moving. Such a magical experience!

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Take a walking tour of Reykjavik along the shore, stopping to see the Sun Voyager and other sculptures. The Harpa Concert Hall is beautifully illuminated at night, but the the honeycomb esque design is just as impressive during the day.

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If you’re looking for a laugh, The Secret Cellar hosts stand up, open mic comedy, and live music nightly. Entry is free but beer (like everywhere else in Iceland) is expensive.

Eat & Drink

Steps from Hallgrímskirkja, one of Iceland’s tallest and most striking structures, ROK is a cozy restaurant reminiscent of a ski lodge. We pulled up seats at the bar and had a pair of excellent old fashioneds before we were convinced to try to reindeer. When in Iceland, right?  

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Bright, airy, and full of plants, Snaps Bistro is an excellent place to grabs drinks and small bites. Their deviled eggs and french fries are incredible.

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A recommendation from my coworker who always knows the best restaurants, Grill Market has an insane prix fixe menu featuring arctic char and shark, along with puffin and whale steak if you’re brave enough to try. As always dessert is my favorite, and here it comes on a platter.

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Take a quick break from the shops and pop in to Vedur for a drink. Let the bartender surprise you with something since every drink here is fantastic.

 
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Cafe Paris is great for brunch especially if you’re looking for a healthy option. Their green juice and avocado toast made me feel like I was back in California.