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Nick Catania | 03.02.2018

You’ve just landed in Keflavík Airport. Whether you're just looking for a quick taste of the country or you're catching a stopover special with Iceland Air or Wow Air, you now have 48 hours to learn as much as you can about this beautiful county and check a few adventures off of your to-do list. Fortunately, Outdoor Project is here to help guide you through your visit so you get to experience the best of Reykjavík!

Only 125,000 people live here in Iceland’s largest city and capital. Since your stay will be brief, your best bet for transportation from the airport will most likely be Flybus and Airport Express. Each has departures 30 to 45 minutes after incoming flights to the BSÍ Terminal (Reykjavík’s main bus terminal) as well as the Reykjavík Eco Campsite / Reykjavík City Hostel bus stop. Reykjavík Campsite is a five-star eco-friendly campsite located right in the middle of Iceland’s largest city. It’s an extremely popular overnight choice for tourists and can accommodate 900 people in tents, cabins, cars or caravans. So grab some Hákarl, eat some Svið and hop to it! You have to catch as many of those long summer sun hours as possible!


Standing 74.5 meters (244 feet) on a hill overlooking the city is the Evangelical-Lutheran church of Iceland. It’s the largest church in in the country and one of the most visited destinations. The stepped concrete facade reflects the volcanic basalt columns and high fjords present throughout the Iceland landscape, and it is the perfect introduction to this national symbol and architectural style. Take a lift up the tower to the clock interior and viewing platform. On a clear day you can see all the way west to Snæfellsjökull; the massive glacier capped volcano that is the starting point in Jules Verne’s classic science fiction novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth." The statue of the Viking explorer Leifur Eiríksson set in front of the church was a gift from the United States in honor of the 1930 Alþingi Millennial Festival (prior to Hallgrímskirkja). It was designed by Alexander Stirling Calder and commemorates the 1,000th anniversary of Iceland’s parliament at Þingvellir in 930 AD.


A second iconic structure in Reykjavík is the glass domed building set atop several large hot water tanks. At 25.7 meters (84.3 feet) high, it can be seen from all over the city. Inside, there is a newly installed Wonders of Iceland Exhibition with an incredible Glaciers and Ice Cave experience along with a Vatnajökull Glacier educational area. Up in the dome you can grab something to eat and venture outside to the large observation deck with a 360-degree viewing platform. Around the building there is also a network of walking and cycling paths through various flora and wooded areas for you to explore.

Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach

Obviously you’ve heard of all the hot spring activity in this land of fire and ice, so you're anxious to find somewhere to relax in the Icelandic style. Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach is a local swimming and bathing paradise on the coast of Reykjavik that is open all year. Water that is heated by the natural volcanic activity of the land is fed into the bay making it an extremely popular spot to enjoy all year long. There is also a hot tub on shore!

Ægissíða Biking and Walking Path

A wonderful coastline biking and walking path extends around Reykjavík and around the city limits out over the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula to the west. You can travel on this coastal route for over 20 kilometers (12 miles) past a number of unique structures and features as you return home to the city.

  • Sólfarið, or the "Sun Voyager," is a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason the resembles a Viking ship. Through this work the artist aims to convey the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom.
  • The Harpa Concert Hall is a conference center and home to the national opera and symphony. It’s design features a distinctive colored glass facade inspired by the hardened basalt landscape of Iceland.
  • The Grótta Island Lighthouse is at the northwestern tip of the peninsula. It’s one of the best spots in the city to catch the ethereal Northern Lights, but you need to be familiar with the tide charts because the sandy strip connecting the lighthouse to the mainland becomes submerged during high tide.
  • Golfklúbbur is the Seltjarnes golf course at the southwestern tip of the peninsula. Ægissíða continues around the coast here, but move briskly to avoid any potential incoming golf balls!

The weather in Iceland is extremely unpredictable, and you could very well experience all of the seasons within a single day. Take care to be prepared for anything! If you find that the weather outside is not the best for outdoor exploration, you can always find some fascination indoors at the various museums scattered throughout the city.

  • Saga Museum: A construction of scenes that re-create of historical moments in Icelandic history and depict life throughout Iceland over the centuries.
  • Maritime Museum: Icelanders have survived by means of fishing off the coast for over a millennia. This museum shares stories of fishermen through exhibitions based on archeological and historical findings.
  • Culture House: Hosted in one of Iceland's most beautiful buildings, this museum has a number of exhibition spaces displaying items and artifacts from some of the country's most notable museums.
  • Punk Museum: Opened by John Lyndon (aka Johnny Rotten) of the Sex Pistols in November 2016, this museum celebrates ths punk music seen and shares photographs and objects related to the punk culture around the 1980s.
  • Árbaer Open Air Museum: A village construction of over 20 historically accurate old Icelandic homes.
  • Whales of Iceland: Here you can find 23 man-made life-sized models of the various whale species found in Icelandic waters throughout its natural history.
  • Phallogical Museum: As perhaps the most unusual museum in Reykjavík, and possibly the world, the Phallogical exhibit allows you to fascinate yourself with specimens from across the animal kingdom including sixteen types of whales, seven types of seals and walruses, a polar bear, and a homo sapien.

Two other hostels in the city that you could check into for accommodations include Reykjavík Downtown Hostel and Reykjavík Loft Hostel. Of course, you could always search for an Airbnb or Couchsurf with the locals, but remember that this is a top tourism destination, so your chances are not great for getting a last-minute booking through these services. As a note, grocery stores, ATMs, a bank, restaurants, and city buses are easily accessible and can be easily found within a few blocks. Credit cards are accepted everywhere, but if you feel like you need to have some Icelandic currency on you, Landsbankinn will give you the best exchange rate, and it is located right in center of the city. If you want to take the weight off and you need somewhere to store your bags while you explore, your best options are the various luggage lockers located in the bus terminal and around the city.

Have a great time and make sure you take advantage of the vibrant nightlife scene that boasts some of the best parties and entertainment in the world! With such a grand introduction, we pretty much guarantee that you'll begin planning a trip back to explore Iceland’s Best Hikes and Iceland’s Ring Road! If you have some extra time, be sure to book a trip to the Blue Lagoon from the BSÍ Terminal en route back to Keflavík Airport. This geothermal spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland, with its milky-blue waters, blue-green algae, mineral salts, and fine silica mud. It's an unforgettable and enchanting hot spring experience!


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