What to Do & Where to Eat on Your Summer Trip to Iceland
As you guys know, we just got back from a 4-day trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. This was our first international trip together and let’s just say it did not disappoint! Wow, what a gorgeous country and a cool place to visit.
We booked out trip about 6 months ago and spent the months leading up to our trip researching how to best spend our time in this amazing place. Because of our limited time, we didn’t want to waste any of our precious hours…so we landed in Iceland with a gameplan for how we would spend our time.
Here’s what we did during our 4 days there. Hopefully this list helps you as you plan your vacation to Reykjavik in the summertime.
Things to Do on Your Summer Trip to Iceland
Explore Reykjavik On Foot
We arrived early in the morning on Friday and got to our apartment at around 10 am. That left us with the entire day to explore the adorable town of Reykjavik. As Chicago gals, we’re used to a big metropolitan city. Reykjavik is surprising pretty urban, but it definitely isn’t huge. You can walk the entire city by foot in less than 30 minutes.
With our gym shoes on, we explored the colorful streets in the village ducking into shops and restaurants as we walked along. We definitely suggest giving yourself an afternoon to explore the city by foot and snap pics along the way.
Golden Circle Tour
On our 2nd day, we booked an 8-hour Golden Circle Tour through BusTravel Iceland. We did the premium package which took us all over the countryside of Iceland. We were transported along the Golden Circle in a bus that fit about 12 people, which was nice because it wasn’t too large of a vehicle (or group)…just the right size! And the bus picked us up and dropped us of at the end of the day right outside our apartment, which was super convenient.
Our tour guide was an Iceland native and he knew everything there is to know about his country. We were fascinated listening to him as he drove us through the winding roads, explaining everything we saw out the window.
We made numerous stops throughout the day to see waterfalls, a crater, Geysirs, a dairy farm, and more. It was such a cool experience because everywhere we stopped was unlike the last destination. So we truly were able to see quite a few diverse hot spots throughout the countryside.
Definitely recommend booking a Golden Circle Tour during your trip to Iceland!
Oh, and you get to see the Icelandic horses which are all throughout the countryside. I mean can you even with this picture of B & a horse? Ha!
Hallgrimskirkja Church Views
Our apartment was right across the street from the big landmark in Reykjavik, the Hallgrimskirkja Church. This gorgeous structure is large and ornate, and boasts the best views of the city. We explored the gorgeous church before paying the extra $9 to go up into the clock tower to capture the colorful views of downtown Reykjavik. We would definitely recommend this expense because the views were definitely worth it!
We left our 3rd day completely open so we could see where the day would take us. Because we were blessed with a sunny & warm day, we rented bikes and rode to the beach in Nautholsvik. The Icelandic bike system is just like the one in Chicago, and it was easy rent bikes and dock them at major attractions throughout town. The beach was quite the sight! Even though the temp was only in the 50’s, the locals were in their bikinis sunbathing! We could hardly believe it as we sat bundled up in our layers watching! Finn was the brave one and he decided to hop into the warm pool at the beach to relax with the locals. He certainly looked like he belonged!
We did read how the Blue Lagoon can be a bit of a tourist trap, but we absolutely loved this spot! Because the Lagoon is about 10 minutes from the airport, we decided to visit on our final day in Iceland on our way back to the airport. Make sure you purchase your tickets ahead of time!
We went with the premium package which included a robe rental, flip-flops, towel rental, a free drink at the bar, and a mud mask! To us, it was well worth the upgrade.The Blue Lagoon was everything we imagined it would be and more! The water was warm, but not too hot and it felt so great on our skin. The water really is a bright milky blue color and it was so relaxing to just wade around and hang out in the water. Such a nice way to end our trip and relax before our long trip home.So even though it’s a bit pricey (& touristy) we are so very happy that we visited the Blue Lagoon. It was so different from anything we’ve ever experienced, which made it even more fun!
Places to Eat in Reykjavik, Iceland
To save some money, we ended up buying alcohol from the duty-free shop right when we landed in Iceland to stock up for the weekend. We also packed snacks and granola bars from home so we had some nibbles on hand when hanging out in our apartment or while we were out exploring.
Overall, we did not have one bad meal while in Iceland. All of the food and drink was delicious. But beware…everything is extremely expensive! We’re talking $20 for a glass of wine, and $30+ for most entrees. We were also told to make reservations for dinner because things book up ahead of time. Not sure if that was completely necessary, but it worked well for us!
Breakfast & Coffee
Braud & Co: Adorable spot for pastries in the morning or an afternoon cookie.
Sandholt: After getting lots of recommendations, we went here for brunch one day and it did not disappoint! Such a gorgeous interior too, with marble and light wood all over.
Reykjavik Roasters: A yummy coffee shop with delicious lattes.
Cafe Paris: We hit up this spot for breakfast right when we arrived in Reykjavik and were famished! The eggs benedict hit the spot and their coffee kept us fueled up for a long day exploring the city.
Lunch & Dinner
Public House Gastropub: This was a cool spot with a nice ambiance. We had a variety of foods (sushi, wings, sliders, curly fries etc) so everyone left happy!
Icelandic Fish & Chips: A casual spot with fresh fish and chips. Plus it’s right on the water with amazing views of the harbor.
Eldsmidjan: This was actually only 2 blocks from our apartment and had great wood fire pizza.
Sushibarrinn: We ended up ducking into Kofinn (more details below) for a drink, and they serve sushi from the spot next door. We got the salmon lovers sushi and it was to die for. So fresh and delicious!
Baejarins Beztu Pylsur: Hot dogs are a favorite of the Icelandic people (who knew?!) so we made a pit stop at a famous hot dog stand in Reykjavik. It was definitely worth a visit, but we prefer the flavors of a Chicago dog over an Icelandic one any day!
Drinks & Dessert
Kofinn: We headed into this spot because of the name (when your last name is Finn you gotta stop in a place called Kofinn!), and absolutely loved it. A very laid-back vibe with hot-tails. Hot toddies, bailey’s lattes, and hot chocolate, we all our drinks!
Slippbarinn: This is another spot right in the harbor and it is worth checking out just for the amazing decor! The inside is eclectic, and the drinks are incredibly unique! Hop in here for a tasty cocktail during your trip and you won’t be disappointed!
Joylato: We went inside this place on a whim and were so happy that we did! They take fresh milk and add liquid nitrogen to make fresh ice cream right in front of you! We tried chocolate and salted caramel and it was unlike any ice cream we’ve ever tasted before. Seriously magical!
Eldur & Is: On our final night in town, we decided to get ice cream and crepes after dinner. This little spot is located in the heart of town and all of our treats were unbelievably delicious.
We are so happy to cross Iceland off our bucket list. It was everything we dreamed it would be and much more. Hopefully, someday we can come back during the winter to see the Northern Lights and try some of the glacier adventures.
If you’re considering a trip to Iceland, this is your kick in the pants to make it happen! You really only need a long weekend to get a taste for all of the amazing things this country has to offer.
Pssst…make sure to check out our Iceland packing post right here.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.