This technicolour town may be smaller than other European capitals, but it’s bursting with northern charm and cosmopolitan flair, making it a serious rival to the likes of Rome, London or Paris.
Colourful streets host a casual cafe scene, which at night transforms into rows of trendy restaurants that bolster Iceland’s foodie cred. Hop from craft beer bars to cocktail clubs, unpicking a nightlife defined by live music and eclectic DJs. Cool galleries, street art and unmatched architectural gems throw a design-forward edge to your adventure. So hit up a subtitled screening of classic Icelandic arthouse cinema and wax lyrical with locals at a rooftop hot bath, whilst the sun sets into the wild sea.
Kolaportið Flea market
Iceland’s only flea market is the best place to score a few treasures. From vintage toys to a vast assortment of books, switch on your bargain hunter instincts and route through second-hand gems. You’ll also find a host of foodie delights, with standards like fermented shark and sheep’s heads ready to challenge your adventurous side. Seek out the Icelandic rye bread, cooked underground by geothermal heat.
Bæjarins Beztu Hot Dog Stand
With a variety of exquisite restaurants to pick from, you may be shocked to find us recommending a hot dog stand; but this just happens to be a local’s fave, voted the best in all of Europe. Join the queue and order your dog with everything – the Icelandic pylsa (lamb sausage) is best dressed with all the condiments on offer. Join the ranks of Bill Clinton and others with a famous taste of foodie Iceland.
Reykjavik has no shortage of exquisite dining spots, yet a few names crop up time and time again. For new Nordic treats, head to the first restaurant on the island to be awarded with a Michelin star, Dill. Classic fine dining can be found at the stalwart Gallery Restaurant, open since 1965, or head to Fiskfelagid for exquisite seafood in basement lounge comfort. There’s plenty more to discover, so head out into town to start your foodie journey.
Icelanders love coffee. Cafe culture is extremely important, most-likely due to the freezing weather and tempting aroma of freshly ground beans. Well, it all started here, at one of Iceland’s oldest espresso bars. Unchanged since 1958, the interior evokes smart mid-century lines, complimented by the hiss and aroma of the ancient espresso machine. Pair your cup with waffles for a classic Reykjavik pick-me-up.
Iceland is home to an eclectic mix of coveted designers, with a unique Icelandic style talked about by fashionistas across the world. Head to colourful Laugavegur Street, where boutiques, cafes and bars line the road offering a true glimpse at Icelandic style. Try Kiosk, a co-op of eight designers flaunting their wares and ready to steer you toward your next outfit. Hand-picked vintage is abundant in Spúútnik and cool Icelandic homeware abounds in Hrím. Cafes, bars and eateries complete the chic experience.
The instantly recognisable, rocket ship-esque church Hallgrímskirkja is an architectural marvel that seemingly sings against the dramatic Icelandic backdrop. This expressionist monolith towers over the city, an unmissable ode to spirituality in Iceland. Pay the small fee to head to the sheltered viewing spot at its summit for stunning panorama over the city and surrounding mountains.