Iceland is a beautiful country to visit and their national air carrier, Icelandair, has a wonderful stopover program that is great for visiting the capital, Reykjavik, for a few days. This itinerary is just a short one that you could do on a one to two day stopover.
But, you can definitely extend your stopover for more days and see the many other attractions outside of the city center as well. The main attractions in the city center can be seen by foot, and you will be able to end your stay with some delicious local food as well.
Start your day by visiting Hallgrímskirkja
Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, is visited by tourists from all over the world every day, and is definitely an attraction you want to visit when you are in Reykjavik. The architecture of the church is like no other place I’ve visited before. The grey colored stones are built up into a steep point at the top and then flow downwards. It’s been said that the architect designed Hallgrímskirkja to resemble lava flows that occur all over Iceland. You can tour the church free of charge. It is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm in winter and 9 am to 9 pm in summer.
The church is located at Hallgrímstorg, 101, and is located near all the main city attractions, shops and restaurants. As an insiders tip, I would recommend booking a guest house close to the area of Hallgrímskirkja, since this is the main area you would want to explore in Reykjavik.
Check out the Gest Inn located at Njarðargata 29. It is a great homestay (including breakfast) that is quite inexpensive in comparison to other accommodations located nearby. A single room with a shared bathroom will cost you about 12,400 ISK (100 USD).
See an aerial view of Reykjavik from Hallgrímskirkja observation tower
It is definitely worth going to the observation area of Hallgrímskirkja to see a bird’s eye view of Reykjavik. From the top of the tower, you are able to see the entire landscape of Reykjavik, including the mountains that are not visible from below. You also can see the many colored rooftops of Reykjavik, which was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
The cost to enter the observation area is ISK 900 (7.00 USD). The tower is open the same time as the church. I would try to plan your visit here for a day that is sunny so you can see far into the distance.
End your day with a meal at Sægreifinn restaurant
After you are done exploring the city center of Reykjavik, you should eat at the Sægreifinn (Seabaron) restaurant located by the harbor. The restaurant was started by a retired fisherman and the food will not disappoint! Here you can get a selection of real Icelandic food including whale, fish and their famous lobster soup. I would recommend getting the lobster soup and a skewer of fish or shrimp.
Sægreifinn or Seabarron is located right by Reykjavik’s harbor on Tryggvagata street. If you are coming from Hallgrimskirkja, just head northwest on Skólavörðustígur where you will see all its wonderful little shops and artistically painted houses. Keep heading northwest on Hverfisgata street until you see the Volcano House on your right hand side. From here, you will be able to see Sægreifinn’s little shack.
The cost for a dinner for two starts from about 35.00 USD (4,400 Iceland Krona), including a bottle of their local beer. By far, this is one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik and is very priceworthy!
The best way to get to the restaurant from the city center is to walk since you can see the beautiful sights along the way. The walk from the city center to Sægreifinn restaurant will take you about 15 minutes.
When to visit Iceland
The best time to visit Iceland is preferably in the spring or summer. During this time, you will have sunlight that lasts from the early morning until 10 PM or later at night. Also, the weather during this time is great for enjoying everything Iceland has to offer. The temperature in the summer is about 20-25 Celsius (68-77 F).
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