A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Reykjavík

Reykjavík, a bustling port and the world’s most northerly capital, draws visitors from across the globe in record-breaking numbers – and its popularity shows no signs of waning.

This is a city with a reputation for hedonistic revelry, where highbrow museums mix with colourful streets and buzzing nightlife.

Ready to see what all the fuss is about? To celebrate the publication of the first Pocket Rough Guide to Reykjavík, we’re sharing a day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in the city.

Day one

1. Whales of Iceland

Begin the day at this creative new museum checking out the life-size, silicone models of the whales found in Icelandic waters and learning all about these giants of the sea.

2. Whale watching

Head down to the harbour and go in search of the real thing on a whale-watching tour off the Reykjavík coast (tours leave throughout the year).

3. Lunch

Stop for lunch at Apótek, an easy walk from the harbour. Once Reykjavík’s main apothecary, this stylish restaurant serves a good-value fishy lunch, amid a beautifully appointed interior.

Iceland, Reykjavik, The Whale Watching Centre in Reykjavik harbour

4. Þjóðminjasafn

Get to grips with Iceland’s stirring past at the National Museum, whose exhibitions on medieval church art and DNA testing are first class.

5. Tjörnin

From the National Museum, take a pleasant stroll back into the city centre along the banks of Tjörnin lake, for some great views of Reykjavík and its birdlife.

6. Hallgrímskirkja

Ride the lift to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja’s tower for superlative views of the city and coastline, then check out the huge church organ.

7. Sundhöllin

From the church, walk down to Sundhöllin swimming pool, where you can swim, bathe in the hot pots, or even sunbathe on the sun terraces if the weather allows.

8. Dinner

Splash out at Friðrik V, undoubtedly one of Reykjavík’s most creative restaurants. The tasting menu here lets you sample new Nordic cooking at its most inventive.

Iceland, Reykjavik mailbox

Day two

1. Landnámssýningin

Inspect the remains of a Viking-age hall, still in its original location, and learn all about the days of the Settlement in this informative and engaging museum.

2. Saga Museum

Put faces to some of the names who featured prominently during the Settlement of Iceland – the wax models in this museum are startlingly lifelike.

3. Lunch

Sample some of the freshest fish you’ll ever taste at Icelandic Fish & Chips, serving exactly what you’d expect from the name.

Iceland, Reykjavik, brightly-painted buildings in capital city

4. Volcano House

Watch the films of Icelandic eruptions in the Volcano House and witness the disruptive power Icelanders live with on a daily basis.

5. Laugavegur

Time for some retail therapy: go for a wander along the length of Laugavegur and you might just succumb to the range of goods on offer.

6. Hið Íslenzka Reðasafn

At the eastern end of Laugavegur, you’ll find Reykjavík’s most offbeat museum – and one of the world’s most unusual exhibits – dedicated to the humble penis. Examples of animal and human members abound.

Sólfar, the Sun Voyager sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason

7. Dinner

Classic Icelandic dishes are given a modern makeover at Matur og Drykkur, next to the Saga Museum.

8. Seafront stroll

Take a post-dinner stroll along Sæbraut for some great views of Mount Esja, as well as a chance to see the Sólfar statue and Höfði house.

Explore more of Reykjavík with the Pocket Rough Guide to Reykjavík. Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go. Header image via Pixabay/CC0.

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