24 Hours in Reykjavik – Exploring Iceland’s Capital

Eating hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in Reykjavik

Part of our Iceland trip, of course, also included visiting the capital, even though we only spent 24 hours in Reykjavik. We planned on visiting towards the end on purpose.

One reason was that we visited the Blue Lagoon on the last day of our trip which is nearby Reykjavik and close to the airport. Another reason was that we didn’t care if we will have 1, 2 or 3 days in Reykjavik, as the most interesting part for us was the nature and not city life.

Let’s see what you can do here in Reykjavik in this short time?

church Hallgrímskirkja in reykjavik

24 Hours in Reykjavik

Since we only had 24 hours in Reykjavik, we had to choose a few activities amongst many. Those are the ones we decided to do in the end: 

Free Walking Tour

In almost every city nowadays you can find so-called “Free walking tours”, even though they are not free in that sense as you should give a small tip at the end of the tour. Online we found CityWalk Reykjavik and immediately reserved a seat. There are different tours – just check their website. 

Reykjavik and immediately reserved a seat. There are different tours – just check their website. 

Free walking tour with CityWalk Reykjavik

Fun Facts we learned 

FUN FACT 1: The first religion/god Icelandic people followed was “Thor”, and also the weekdays nowadays are named after Thor, e.g. “mid-week day”, “third day”, “fifth day” and so on. 

Ingólfstorg square in Reykjavik with billowing steam vents

FUN FACT 2: One fun fact of Reykjavik is that pipes are installed underneath the ground throughout the city. Those actually make the snowmelt in winter. So, there is no need to shovel away the snow yourself. What a brilliant idea!  

FUN FACT 3: Energy is very cheap in Iceland. In fact, it is mainly renewable energy everywhere. That’s why Icelandic people often have the heater on all year round, even if the windows are open. There is no point of turning it off ever. 90% of all homes in Iceland are also supplied by geothermal water which is pumped from boreholes straight into the homes. 

FUN FACT 4: Reykjavik is also known as the “steamy/smoky bay” because of all the hot springs located in that area. The area looks rather steamy from above.

Inside Icelandic Hotpot Hrunalaug

FUN FACT 5: Last names of Icelandic people are very random. Children often have different last names than their parents. Let me explain to you why! If it is a girl, you take the mothers or fathers first name and add the suffix for either son (son) or daughter (dóttir) to it. E.g. Jon gets a boy, so the last name will be Jonson. If Jon gets a daughter it will be Jondóttir. Easy enough? That’s why it is not possible to tell who belongs to one family and who doesn’t. 

FUN FACT 6: The Irish flag represents nature. Red stands for the Magma from the volcanos, white for the snow and blue for the glacier. 

FUN FACT 7: Iceland has a great welfare system. First of all, they have no army that needs to be paid from tax money. Second of all, no one complained about the high tax, which is between 37%-50%. Why? Because it goes right back to the people who paid it. All Icelandic people have free health care and education. 

FUN FACT 8: The 4 creatures (dragon, eagle, bull, rock giant) on the windows of the Parlament each protect a different part of Iceland. They are also on the back of the Icelandic coins.

Parlament of Iceland in Reykjavik

Bike Tour Through Reykjavik

In my opinion, the best way to explore a city is either by foot or bike. First of all it is much better for the environment, you can stop anywhere you want, you have a small workout and are much faster at times than with public transport. 

Therefore, we decided to rent WOWcitybike during our 24 hours in Reykjavik and explore the city centre a bit. We spent around 5€ for 1h. All you need is a credit card and you are good to go. You simply pay on the machine. No staff required.

We drove through the city centre and along the promenade. The city is actually very small, so you will see everything in no time. 

Bike tour through Reykjavik with WOWcitybike

Where to eat in Reykjavik

All those activities make very hungry, so it was time to eat. Everyone told us to not eat in restaurants since it is super expensive, so we were looking for an affordable alternative. Here is what we found:

Iceland Street Food in Reykjavik

During our 24 hours in Reykjavik, we found the most affordable place to eat which is „Icelandic Street Food“. According to the motto, no one leaves with a hungry belly, it is an „all you can eat“ restaurant.

The place serves only 3-5 dishes, but you can get an unlimited refill, plus brownies and waffles included for free.

The owner recently opened a second place where you can enjoy drinks and comedy shows. Most of the time when you eat in “Icelandic Street Food”, you also get a voucher for one free beer in the new place. Go check it out! 

Icelandic street food restaurant in Reykjavik

Most famous Hot Dog in Reykjavik

Most famous and apparently best Hot Dog in Reykjavik you can get at the Hot Dog stand Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. It only because famous when Bill Clinton ate there and said: “This is the best Hot Dog I ever ate.”

The difference of Icelandic Hot Dogs is that the sausage is not made out of beef/pork etc., but lamb. We also ate a hotdog there and it was very delicious and affordable. However, I wouldn’t say it was super special or best hotdog of the world. For me, it tasted like a regular hotdog elsewhere. I probably shouldn’t say that! Ha! 

Eating hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in Reykjavik

That was my 24 hours in Reykjavik. I hope you will visit some of the places and tours when you there yourself.

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