Perfect Itinerary for a Weekend in Reykjavik Iceland
We traveled to Iceland in late February hoping to see the Northern Lights. We were very lucky and not only saw the lights one night, but all three!
Most flights from the US arrive in Reykjavik early in the morning. Take advantage of this and make the most of your first day in town. We took a rental car from the airport and drove ourselves into Reykjavik. The drive is about 45 minutes and as long as the weather is not bad it is a very easy drive.
For lunch we ate at the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Their hot dogs are supposed to be world famous and presidents and dignitaries stop here. I found the hot dogs to actually just be average but it is one of those things you just have to try to check off the list.
After lunch we took one of the double decker red bus tours. These tours are a convenient way to see the city as it is a “hop on, hop off” style so we didn’t have to show up at a certain time and they covered all the standard sights. By the time the tour was done it was time to check into our AirBnB and get a bit of rest before the evening.
In the evening we grabbed a quick dinner at Noodle Station. Noodle Station serves ramen style soup/noodle bowls, which are especially amazing in the cold Iceland winters. After enjoying the ramen we bundled up for our first Northern lights tour of the trip. Over the course of our four days we saw the northern lights 3 times, read my full write up about the tours we took here.
This is another must stop location on a Reykjavik trip. The blue lagoon is a geothermal hot spring and is located halfway between the city and the airport. If you do not have a car they also offer a shuttle bus from the city.
At the spa you will soak in the hot springs, have a drink at the swim up bar, try their natural mud mask and get an in water massage (at an additional cost.) There is both a cafeteria offering grab and go food and a proper sit down restaurant on site. A proper locker room is available with lockers to store your things to showers to tidy up after. As one of the most popular attractions in Iceland the spa does get booked up and advance reservations are required. Also expect it to be crowded.
Pro-Tip: Reservations are necessary at the Blue Lagoon. It will be sold out weeks in advance in the high seasons
On the way home from the Blue Lagoon we picked up delicious Thai food from Mai Thai. This is a cute little Thai grocery store slash take out restaurant on the main street, Laugavegur. I was surprised there are quite a few tasty Asian restaurants in Reykjavik. We took our food back to our AirBnB to enjoy and rest for a few hours before heading out on the Northern Lights Bus Tour. Read my full write up about the tours we took here.
On the third day we were ready to see what else Iceland had to offer outside of Reykjavik. We took a Golden Circle Afternoon bus tour from the city. The tour is a nice way of checking a lot of the natural sites off your list at once. We saw the geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss, the iconic waterfall of Iceland, and Þingvellir National Park where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. The “afternoon” tour is an abridged six hour tour; they also offer a full day version but the six hours felt like plenty to us. Combined with the freezing temperatures we were done for the day after the tour.
On our last evening we planned for a night off from northern light chasing. We started the evening at Hlemmur Mathöll the trendy new “food hall” on Laugavegur, the main street. We had local snacks and cocktails with the local vodka at SKÁL! We then went to Mikkeller & Friends Reykjavík to have some pizza for dinner. While sitting down to pizza we overheard the folks at the next table saying the Northern Lights scale was up to a 4 that night (the prior two nights were 3’s.) Even though we did not plan to view the lights that night we got quite excited and took this opportunity to quickly finish the rest of our food, jump in the car and drive to a nearby viewing spot to finish off our trip with a third viewing of the lights.
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