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24 Hours In Reykjavik: How To See As Much As Possible

24 Hours In Reykjavik: How To See As Much As Possible

So, you’ve only got 24 hours in Reykjavik before going off and exploring some of Iceland’s awe-inspiring nature such as the black sand beaches of Vik and the waterfalls at Gullfoss and Skógafoss? That’s perfect! One day in Reykjavik is plenty of time to get a feel for the city.

One of the things we love about Reykjavik is it’s a small city. Even though 200,000 people call it home (which is a lot when you consider the entire population of Iceland is only 330,000!), it’s very small and easy to get around. Put it this way, you’ll be able to walk from one side of the city to the other in about 20 minutes.

This means exploring Reykjavik is very easy making it perfect for a short Iceland layover. From climbing to the top of Hallgrimskirka to wandering around the Harpa building, this is our  Reykjavik itinerary for you. If you’ve only got 24 hours in Reykjavik it’s time to make the most of your day in the city!

Walk Down To The Waterfront For Sunrise

Waking up at 08:00 depends on whether you’re in Reykjavik during the summer (when it’s super easy), or winter (when it’s super hard). During winter the sun rises around 10am which is obviously quite late to start your day. On the flip side, if you’re here during summer, the sun rarely sets. Either way, if you can get up early then you should head down to the waterfront and say hello to the mountains. It’s amazing how close Reykjavik is to the great outdoors, seeing the water and the mountains the perfect wake up call.

Sunrise Over Reykjavik

Head to the Laundromat Café for the biggest breakfast of your life. There’s a reason why breakfast at the Laundromat Café is famous – their portion sizes are legendary With granola and yoghurt, bacon and eggs, a grilled tomato, potatoes, sausages, a stack of pancakes, Nutella, butter, a pile of fruit and even a wedge of cheese for good measure, this isn’t exactly the healthiest starts to the day, but it will keep you going on and on and on, especially when you’ve only got 24 hours in Reykjavik. No matter where you eat in Reykjavik and Iceland it’s expensive, but this is one of the more budget-friendly options.

 Laundromat Café

Stand In The Shadows Of Hallgrimskirkja

Standing at 74.5 metres, Hallgrimskirkja is the tallest church in Iceland and it is one of the top places to visit in Reykjavik. The unique architecture is based upon the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape (the pillars do look a lot like the ones you find on the black sand beach at Vik). We recommend taking the lift to the observation tower at the top. From here you’ll have some of the best views of the city and it’s usually quiet at this time. Also, it’s good seeing Hallgrimskirka in the morning as it’ll orientate you. Being the biggest landmark in Reykjavik, once you know where it is you won’t get lost.


Next, take in the amazing street art around the city. A little surprising, but there’s a really thriving street art scene in Reykjavik with some truly epic pieces. With streets artists like Dface being commissioned with huge murals, more and more pieces have popped up around the city. The best way to see all this street art is take a wrong turn down a side street and see where it takes you. Make sure you bring your camera – you’re going to need it!

 Reykjavik Street Art

Visit The National Museum Of Iceland

The National Museum of Iceland is a journey through time. It begins with a ship landing in the country in medieval times and takes you all the way through to the modern-day. The museum caters for all ages and you can even dress up in traditional local costumes. And in case you were wondering, the Icelandic Phallological Museum is a lot of fun. This is always rated as one of the top things to do in Reykjavik (very tongue-in-cheek, not one for the kiddies).

 The National Museum of Iceland

If you’re feeling peckish it’s time for a cinnamon bun and a strong coffee from Braud & Co. You know a place is going to be good when you can smell the amazing cinnamon buns from a good block away, and you can see the line-up for the shop from a good block away. Braud & Co. has become one of the places to go in Reykjavik purely for their cinnamon buns. They are absolutely delicious and well worth queuing for. They also do a damn strong coffee too. If you’ve only got one day in Reykjavik and you’re looking for a quick caffeine fix then we can’t recommend this place enough.

 Braud & Co Cinnamon Bun

Drool Over Some Photo Porn At The Reykjavik Museum of Photography

With over six million photos, some of which date back nearly 150 years, there are some amazing examples of photography at this museum. Also, they always have some very thought-provoking events & exhibitions. The Reykjavik Museum of Photography is a very underrated museum and well worth a visit. Also, as it’s quite small you can easily squeeze it in with only 24 hours in Reykjavik.

 The Reykjavik Museum of Photography

Check Out The Epic Perlan Building 

This is one of the most unique buildings in all of Reykjavik and is a great example of the modern architecture you can find in the city. For those of you looking for somewhere fancy to eat, Perlan has a revolving restaurant inside. The reviews of this place are amazing. For everyone else, you can still come here for a coffee and to take in the stunning views of the city. The inside is equally as magnificent too!


After this, wonder at the beauty of the Harpa building. The Harpa is arguably the most beautiful building in Reykjavik. Home to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, it is also a mecca for all other musicians and bands in Iceland. If you can coincide your 24 hours in Reykjavik when there’s a performance or event going on at the Harpa then it’s a must, but even seeing the building in itself is enough for most people. 

 The Harpa Building

Dream about lands unknown at the Sun Voyager sculpture down by the waterfront The Sun Voyager is another fine example of the amazing art scene in Reykjavik. Down by the waterfront and a short walk away from the Harpa, the Sun Voyager is a dreamboat, an ode to the sun, and it’s supposed to represent the desire to explore the undiscovered territory. The best time to come here is when the sun is really low in the sky for the best photos.

 The Sun Voyager

Go For A Drink At Kex Hostel And Swap Stories With Other Travellers

A drink in a hostel full of backpackers? The Kex Hostel has quickly established itself as one of the best places to go for a drink in Reykjavik and there’s always an amazing atmosphere here. Tourists returning from their adventures in Iceland come to swap stories over craft beers and it’s a great place to pick up one or two recommendations. Also hugely popular with the locals too.

 The Kex Hostel

With only 24 hours in Reykjavik, if you’re looking for something cheap to eat then you can’t go wrong with the burgers from K-Bar on the main high street (one of the best burgers you will ever have) On the flip side, if you want to spend in excess of £100 on a meal then restaurants like Vox in the Hilton, Matarkjallarinn and Apotek are all amazing options. “Cheap” eating in Reykjavik isn’t really a thing but the food is damn good so just enjoy it!

  K-Bar Burgers

Party Until The Sun Comes Up

If you’ve still got some energy left in you then hit a bar like The Big Lebowski or Micro Bar for a couple of drinks. There are also a couple of late-night bars/clubs in Reykjavik and you really can party until the sun comes up. Also, if you’re looking for a few people to party with Wake Up Reykjavik do amazing bar crawls around the city! Guaranteed fun these!

 The Big Lebowski Bar

And that’s how to see Reykjavik in 24 hours! A lot of people say it isn’t enough time, and we would always recommend longer, but it should still give you a good overview of the city.

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