For those intrepid adventurers who have taken the plunge and booked our Icelandic Wilderness Adventure or the Touch of the Highlands Ride, your first port of call in this land of fire and ice will be Reykjavik. This city would have to be one of the most delightful capitals you’ll ever have the privilege to visit. It’s as charming, quirky, and friendly as the people who live there. Before and after your epic adventure on those incredible Icelandic horses, we’ve put together some ideas for you to truly make the most of your Iceland experience.
Best choice of transport from Iceland’s international airport, Keflavik, is the Flybus. They depart often and you can purchase your return ticket at the airport. The 45 minute drive into Reykjavik is the perfect teaser as you feast your eyes on moss covered lava fields and distant mountain ranges and the bus will drop you at a stop close to your hotel.
Sights and Activities
However long your pre or post-ride stay in the capital extends to, you won’t be bored. Take a guided walking tour with City Walk for the lowdown on all things Reyjkavik. Our tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable and happy to answer questions on local customs and politics, the best places to eat and life as an Icelander in general. Watch out for the ‘Icelandic Tinder’ gate, and as an added treat you’ll get to savour a delicious hot dog (Iceland style). For the more adventurous there’s an opportunity to try the more traditional local delicacy, fermented shark, washed down with a shot of Icelandic Schnapps.
Take a taxi trip from the city centre to visit Perlan. Built on top of the city’s water storage facility, Perlan is a dome shaped revolving restaurant with breathtaking 360 degree views across the city and beyond to the surrounding mountains. On site is a glacier museum and man-made ice cave with heaps of info for geology buffs. On the night we visited, there was a hitch with the revolving restaurant, however, the views definitely delivered. The food in the restaurant is a little on the pricey side (as is everything in Iceland), but you can enjoy the views from the observation deck without any obligation to eat there.
If you feel like venturing further out of Reykjavik to see some sights try booking a Golden Circle Tour or a trip to the Blue Lagoon. If you’ve hired a car you can drive to all locations yourself but given the car hire prices in Iceland, the tours are probably the best option. Be sure to book ahead as the tours do fill quickly.
You could also check out one of the local geothermal swimming pools. Laugardalslaug, the largest in Reykjavik, has 10 hot tubs, including a geothermal sea water bath. There’s a big steam room, slides, volleyball courts, a giant chess set and even a cold tub! If you really want to live like the locals, the pool is the place to be!
Places to Eat
If ice cream, mouth watering crepes and drool worthy hot chocolate (made from real chocolate) is on your menu, we found eldurogis. Judging by the crowd when we visited, we’d say this place is a hit with locals and tourists alike.
For local ingredients and traditional Icelandic cuisine, Rustik is the bomb. Dishes are designed for sharing, tapas style.
If that’s not enough tradition for you, make your way to Islenski Barinn, which translates to The Icelandic Bar. This place serves traditional food in a friendly family atmosphere and there’s plenty to choose from on the drinks menu.
Restaurant 73 offers a relaxed, easy dining experience with a good selection of local dishes to choose from. Or, if you just want to grab something quick and eat in, try Devitos Pizza. The pizzas are delicious and they come in a selection of sizes from generous to enormous!
Places to Stay
We stayed at Skuggi Hotel (not to be confused with Skuggi Guesthouse), located just one street back from the main drag, and can highly recommend it. If catching the Flybus from the airport, make sure you get off at Bus Stop 9 and it’s just a short walk around the corner.
Alternatively, there are lot of very modern and comfortable hostels in Reykjavik. Hostelworld is our favourite hostel booking site.
Reykjavik is a magical city. Enjoy!
This article was written by Bernadette Kelly, a loyal Globetrotter since 2010, with 16 rides under her belt spanning Africa, South America, Iceland, Europe, The UK, and Australia.