city break (noun): a short vacation spent in a city, such as during a business trip.
Before the adventure travel, there were city breaks—short spaces of leisure time that give you access to the cultural and culinary amenities that big cities have to offer. In this series on TripIt, we explore some of the best cities in the world to plan a quick getaway or extend a work trip.
Here are our tips for making the most of your city break in Reykjavík.
where to fly
Reykjavík is served by Keflavík International Airport (KEF), the main international airport for all of Iceland. It is located 30 miles from Reykjavík.
Once on the ground, travelers have a few ground transportation options to get to their final destination. If you prefer to travel by bus, book a ride through Airport Direct or Flybus. The former operates on a fixed schedule, whereas the latter has no fixed schedule and will wait for you if your flight is delayed. Both journeys take around 45 minutes to the city centre.
There is also a public bus service, called Strætó, that runs regular routes from the airport. Taxis are also available from KEF. However, rideshares like Uber and Lyft are not available in Iceland.
Like to get around your own will? Your best bet is to rent a car. Service desks are located inside the arrivals hall.
Where to stay during your city break
If you prefer centrally located accommodations with a touch of luxury, look no further than The Reykjavik Edition (pictured above), which boasts views of the nearby harbor, as well as Mount Esja and Snæfellsjökull glaciers in the distance. The hotel also has a myriad of dining and entertainment venues, including Tides—a seafood-focused restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Gunnar Carl Gieslason.
Looking for more budget-friendly digs? KEX Hostel, located just a few minutes from the port, is a delightful place. In addition to giving you a place to lay your head, KEX has cultivated something unique: an effortless vibe that attracts locals and travelers alike. Even if you don’t plan to book a room, you’ll want to spend some time there. Grab a bite at Flatus, order a beer or cocktail at DRINX, or peruse the barbs of Text. No need to stay overnight.
Want to stay somewhere that falls between five stars and shared space with strangers? I get that! Here are a few to consider:
- The three-star City Center Hotel is true to its name, located in the heart of Reykjavík and only a few minutes’ walk to the main attractions, restaurants and nightlife.
- Storm Hotel, also a three-star hotel, is indeed a welcome refuge from the infamous Icelandic weather. Thoughtful design and comfortable accommodation make it a smart choice for your city break; It is centrally located and walking distance to most city attractions.
- The four-star Foshotel Reykjavík is Iceland’s largest hotel, with 16 floors and 320 rooms—many with spectacular views of the city, harbor and beyond. If you’re in Reykjavík on business, it’s a great place to host a conference or meeting; The latter can be placed on the top floor of the hotel.
Vacation rentals like those booked through Airbnb are also available in Reykjavík.
How to get around
Part of Reykjavík’s charm is its easy walking—yes, even in inclement weather. The city has invested in an underground geothermal heating system for its sidewalks and streets, saving streets from destructive snow plowing, as well as pedestrians from falling on slippery surfaces.
If walking isn’t possible or desirable, Reykjavík’s city bus will take you to many of the city’s sights and attractions. Pay for bus fares, plan your route and see where the buses are in real time with the Klappid app. Bus fares can also be paid through Clap Card or Clap Ten (a 10-pack of tickets). If you want to buy a card, you can do so at these shops in Reykjavík.
For your micromobility options, you can rent electric scooters through Hop. Download the app to get started. At launch, an e-scooter costs just 100 Icelandic krona (ISK) to unlock, and then 33 ISK per minute to ride.
Taxis are also available to travel around Reykjavík.
While renting a car isn’t really necessary if you plan to stay within the city limits, you’ll want one if you plan to explore more of Iceland during your trip. (And you definitely should, if you have the time!)
Pro tip: Use TripIt’s navigator feature to explore the transportation options available to you It will show you the estimated cost and travel time for each option, so you can decide which one works best. For example, if you add a restaurant reservation to your itinerary (more on where to eat below), Navigator helps you find the best transportation options to get to your table. You can find the navigator within your plan details screen.
where to eat
If you only have time for one meal in Reykjavik, dine at Snaps Bistro (pictured above). The food is delectable, the wine list impressive, and for a city that’s often short on daylight, you’ll appreciate dining inside the greenhouse. You will need a reservation, so book one as soon as possible.
Spending a few meals in the capital? Love seafood? Put Joar (mentioned above) and fish market on your dining itinerary. Similarly, you will need a reservation for both.
Prefer more casual dining options? KEX Hostel’s restaurant Flatus (mentioned above) is a great place for pizza and other casual fare. Icelandic street food is another great place for casual dining. Just want something you can grab and go (especially after the pub)? Try “the best hotdog in Europe” at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur—open (late!) at night, and notably, since 1937.
Speaking of pub culture, in Iceland, the ban on beer (but not wine or spirits) was in effect until 1989—and microbreweries have been making up for lost time ever since. You can try local craft beers at the city’s many bars and pubs, including Microbar, Reykjavík’s first craft beer bar; Kaldi Bar; and Scully – Craft Bar.
Suggestion: Alcohol is expensive in Iceland, so stretch your krone at happy hour. Many pubs and bars offer discounted prices. Check out their social media accounts for deals and hours.
Fewer night owls, more early risers? For breakfast, head to Brauð & Co for fresh baked goods, or Café Babalú for sweet and savory crepes. The latter’s colorful exterior is hard to miss, and the cafe is one of the best places for a cup of coffee in town. Other options for a cup of joe include Reykjavik Roasters, Mokka Kafi and Kafibrenslan.
What to do on your city break
If you only have a short time in Reykjavík, be sure to tick the boxes for the city’s most impressive sights, including Holgrimskirja (tip: climb to the top of the tower to snap it). that Iconic image of colorful buildings fanning out below); Harpa, the city’s glass-windowed concert hall and conference center; and Sun Voyager, pictured above.
For a dose of the country’s history, head to Parlan, a museum—and an operating geothermal water storage facility; It is well worth a visit. The fourth floor has a 360° observation deck located above the hot water tank and offers a one-of-a-kind view of Reykjavík and the surrounding area.
Want to up your Nordic style? Head to Laugavegur, one of Reykjavík’s oldest streets and main shopping district, with high-end boutiques, vintage clothing stores, home decor, cozy cafes and more.
Planning to explore more of Iceland during your trip? Thingveli National Park has many beautiful attractions in the country, including the Blue Lagoon, Silfra (where you can snorkel between two tectonic plates), Gulfs (waterfalls), Strokkur (geysers), Reynisfjara (black sand beach), Skogarfoss (waterfalls). , and Seljalandsfoss (waterfall) within a few hours’ drive.
Disagree: Be sure to consult and comply with all local guidelines and travel restrictions as destinations around the world reopen, as they vary widely and will continue to change. One way to stay on top of guideline changes is to consult COVID-19 travel guidelines TripIt app features for destination-specific information, including testing and vaccination requirements, current infection rates, quarantine rules upon arrival, and other information you need to know before visiting the area.