The Ultimate '48 Hours in Reykjavik' City Guide - BRB Travel

BRB's Travel Expert Ellis, shares how to spend 48 hours in Reykjavik.

12 min read

After our Founder Greg spending 48 hours in Madrid and bringing you some amazing travel recommendations, our Travel Expert Ellis takes you on a journey to Reykjavik, the northernmost national capital globally.

Ready, Set, Reykjavík!

This week BRB is going to new lengths and transporting you to the northernmost capital city in the world, Iceland’s truly spectacular Reykjavík. This amazing destination will leave you awe-struck and if it isn’t already on your travelling bucket list, it definitely should be.

Reykjavík is found in southwest Iceland on the sheltered shore of the sparkling blue Faxaflói bay. As if that isn’t a stunning enough location, the city is also opposite the striking volcanic Esjan mountain range and the views from across the water are completely breath-taking.

haolestyle808 Photo Credit: @haolestyle808

The city was not much more than a fishing town until the 20th century when American troops who were stationed in Iceland during WWII encouraged a growth in the leisure and entertainment industries. Since then, Reykjavík has grown and despite its relatively diminutive size, is home to a wealth of cultural treats. From fascinating museums to weird and wonderful delicacies, and a (perhaps surprisingly) vibrant night scene, Reykjavík has everything you’d want in a capital city and more!

It would be easy to spend 48 hours in Reykjavík just admiring the natural beauty of the country. However, we want to make sure that you get the most out of your trip and don’t miss a thing that the city has to offer. So, without further ado, here is the ultimate itinerary to help you navigate around Iceland’s seriously cool capital. Whether you are travelling in the mild summer months, or the glorious winter snow, this guide has got you covered!

4* Hotel Borg by Keahotels, Reykjavik

After a 3 hour flight from London Heathrow, I land at Keflavik International Airport (the main airport in Iceland). I want to make the most of my time in the city so I jump in a taxi and head straight to the 4* Hotel Borg by Keahotels to drop off my bag.

Located in the city centre, overlooking the Austurvöllur square and in close proximity to attractions such as the Icelandic Parliament and Cathedral, the hotel is a landmark itself. With a very elegant design as well as modern details Hotel Borg is suited to all travellers that are looking for more than accommodation in Reykjavik, looking for an experience.

hotel borg

The rooms are just splendid, spacious and with an ambiance strongly influenced by Nordic accents. With an average rating of 4.5/5, I am sure Hotel Borg by Keahotels will be an amazing experience for the BRB travellers.

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Day One

Morning

Begin your adventures by scrubbing up on your knowledge of Icelandic culture and history at the National Museum of Iceland. If you are anything like me you probably have very little knowledge of Iceland’s past – don’t worry, no judgement here! This museum is the perfect place to discover everything you could want to know about the fascinating past of the country.

vitekjakes Photo Credit: @vitekjakes

Featuring priceless artefacts and creative displays, the museum tells the story of the Iceland right from the early island settlement, through the Viking era and up to the country’s independence.

_andreas.henke_ Photo Credit: @andreas.henke

Wrap up your morning with a peaceful summer stroll or an enchanting winter skate around Reykjavík’s central inland lake, Tjornin.

gudmundawerner Photo Credit: @gudmundawerner

Admire the charming, coloured houses, interesting sculptures and wild birds that flock the water. Next up, make sure to check out the Hallgrímskirkja. Visible from almost everywhere in the city, this magnificent church is impossible to miss.

ouestmarti Photo Credit: @ouestmarti

Large columns cascade up to the central 75-metre-tall tower giving the building a dramatic silhouette that was intended to evoke Iceland’s volcanic landscape. Simply stare in awe at the building for a few minutes or, for 1000 ISK (roughly £5), go to the top of the tower and enjoy a panoramic view of the city below.

ihave_passport Photo Credit: @ihave_passport

Afternoon

Cross through the city to Reykjavík's First Food Hall, Hlemmur Mathöll, for a delicious lunch. The motto here is "All kinds of food, for all kinds of people" and that is exactly what you will find. Whether your tastebuds are timid or adventurous, you will be able to find something delicious and hearty to fill up on.

alda.sigmunds Photo Credit: @alda.sigmunds

I recommend making the most of the fresh fish and trying a local seafood dish. If you really want to get stuck into the culture, take this once in a lifetime opportunity to try some of the more offbeat Icelandic specialities such as Puffin breast, Minke whale and fermented shark!

skal_rvk Photo Credit: @skal_rvk

Stomach’s full, its time to head to one of Iceland’s most popular and most incredible attractions – the world-famous Blue Lagoon. Though the site is located about half an hour outside of the city, you would be crazy to visit Iceland and miss it.

bluelagoon_iceland Photo Credit: @bluelagoon_iceland

The Blue Lagoon has been stealing hearts since 1976 when psoriasis sufferer Valur Margeirsson discovered that the natural pools were not dangerous but in fact had healing powers.

I can’t think of a better place to have a purifying soak than in naturally bright blue, mineral rich, geothermally heated water, surrounded by epic volcanic landscapes. Not only is the relaxing bathe good for your skin, but your mind and soul will feel rejuvenated as well after this incredible experience.

Evening

Head back to the city centre to kick of your evening with a drink. There are horror stories of people picking up mammoth bills after an evening of drinking in Iceland as alcohol is taxed heavily making it expensive.

However, with a bit of street smarts, and of course inside knowledge from yours truly, you can avoid these large bills. Hit up either Boston (calm and inviting) or Dillon (bustling and lively) which both offer fantastic happy hour deals from 16:00 - 20:00 so you can sip away stress-free!

bostonbarreykjavik Photo Credit: @bostonbarreykjavik

triscatphone Photo Credit: @triscatphone

Late

After whetting the appetite with a drink, make your way to the wonderful Kol for a delicious dinner. Sophisticated and classy yet warm and welcoming, Kol is the perfect place for you to indulge in some amazing food. With a menu featuring all sorts from tender beef, scallops, and lamb sirloin to flavourful vegetable skewers and nut steaks, Kol caters expertly for carnivores and vegans alike.

mikininomiya Photo Credit: @mikininomiya

I guarantee you will leave with a full belly and a smile on your face. As the day comes to an end, find your way to one of the many fantastic bars along Laugavegur street. Either wrap your evening up with a nightcap or do as the locals do and stretch the night out until the early hours as you bar hop from place to place.

pame_poc Photo Credit: @pame_poc

Day Two

Morning

Rise and shine, its another beautiful day in Reykjavík and we don’t have a minute to lose! Make your way to the unique Perlan building, another of Iceland’s most iconic landmarks.

ichigo.photo Photo Credit:@ichigo.photo

Perched atop Öskjuhlíð hill, Perlan is made up of a set of six cylindrical hot water tanks that were converted into an eye-catching building in 1991. The water tanks are crowned with an amazing reflective glass dome that sparkles magnificently in the Icelandic sun. The building is impressive but the museum it holds inside is even more wonderful.

nordgefluster Photo Credit: @nordgefluster

The interactive exhibition allows you to explore the magic of Iceland’s natural wonders. Travel in virtual reality to the astonishing Látrabjarg bird cliffs. Wrap up warm before heading through the incredible 100m long ice cave made from over 350 tons of Icelandic mountain snow. Recline in the cutting-edge planetarium and marvel at the northern lights show. To top it all off, head to the Perlan roof deck for a gorgeous 360-degree view of Reykjavík.

gegengrader Photo Credit: @gegengrader

Afternoon

For the afternoon, I’ve got a little something special that you might not expect on a city break. How does a whale and puffin watching trip sound? Yes, you read that correctly, it’s time to head out on the water! It’s easy to book a boat tour from the harbour and with over 20 species of aquatic mammals inhabiting the bay from April to September, a whale spotting is practically guaranteed.

duilandmark Photo Credit: @duilandmark

Humpback and Minke Whale are the most common and you might be lucky to see White-Beaked dolphins, Harbour porpoises and seals also popping up. Make sure to book a trip that will take you past Akureyri, a small island inhabited by a huge puffin population. This is a magical experience that you won’t forget in a hurry!

akureyricity Photo Credit: @akureyricity

Back on dry land, walk off your jelly legs by taking a leisurely stroll along the mesmerising waterfront to the Harpa Concert Hall.

bada_011 Photo Credit: @bada_011

Completed in 2011, this dazzling modern building is sure to impress. After taking in this sight, continue for another few minutes and you will reach The Sun Voyager sculpture.

petrahkiss Photo Credit: @petrahkiss

Erected in 1990 to commemorate Reykjavík’s 200th birthday, this abstract stainless-steel monument has become a symbol of the city. Plus, with the mountains visible across the lake, it’s also a great place for a photo!

Evening

As always at BRB, we love finishing holidays with a bang! We are taking fine dining to the next level tonight at ÓX. Feel like a celebrity as you walk past people eating at the main Sümac restaurant and enter through a hidden door at the back of the establishment to your exclusive secret counter dining experience.

ox.reykjavik Photo Credit: @ox.reykjavik

With just ten other others, watch as chefs use a fusion of traditional and innovative techniques to prepare mouth-watering and insta-worthy dishes right before your eyes. As you can imagine, seats at ÓX fill up quickly, so make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Late

If you are in Reykjavík in the winter, now is the time to hunt the incredible Northern Lights. Otherwise known as The Aurora Borealis, the colourful swirls in the night sky are caused by electronically charged particles from the sun colliding with the upper atmosphere. Don’t worry, you don’t have to understand the science behind this natural phenomenon to be completely wowed by its beauty.

wintertravelz Photo Credit: @wintertravelz

If it’s a clear winter’s night, catch a bus out of the city to the Grótta Island Lighthouse for your best chance of seeing the miraculous lights.

lost.in.iceland Photo Credit: @lost.in.iceland

If you are visiting in summer, sadly the northern lights won’t be visible but instead of moping in your hotel room, drown your sorrows in cocktails at Bryggjan Brewery’s free jazz night and start planning your return trip!

cheers_to_travel Photo Credit: @cheerstotravel

Love Travelling...Hate Trawling Travel Sites?

If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Barcelona, Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!

The team at BeRightBack believes that the mission of a travel company should be to save you both time and money.

With BeRightBack, you get three trips a year to three surprise European destinations, all for the monthly cost of £49.99, which includes your return flights and your hotel.

With BeRightBack, creating a trip takes 60 seconds. Simply tell us how you like to travel when you create your account, and our concierge service does everything else for you. You won't have to lift a finger.

Best of all, you always pay the same price for your trips, no matter when you go away and we help you spread the cost of your travel, thanks to our monthly subscription.

Simply go to our how it works page to find out more about BRB or sign-up to the service now!

I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Reykjavik and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!

Ellis (Travel Expert at BeRightBack)

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