Reykjavik is where all good Iceland trips begin. This Nordic capital city is small and quaint, but don’t confuse that with boring. Oh no, the city is vibrant and alive with new visitors beginning adventures everyday. Let’s take to the streets and see what this place is all about with this perfect Reykjavik itinerary.
This itinerary prioritizes history, wildlife, and time outdoors. You’ll see the most popular tourist attractions but with plenty of time to discover hidden gems on your own.
We feel strongly about this itinerary because it’s the exact one we followed, down the coffee shops. It was perfect for our first visit to Iceland and our toddler’s first international city. We have a feeling any first-time visitors to Reykjavik are going to love it too.
Let’s get started!
In This Post
Here’s what we’re covering in this post. We invite you to read the full post or jump ahead to the section you’re most interested in.
- Reykjavik Itinerary Overview
- Reykjavik Itinerary – Day 1: Free Walking Tour, Exploring Downtown
- Reykjavik Itinerary – Day 2: Whale Watching, Museums, Shore Walk
- Reykjavik Itinerary – Day 3: Puffin Tour, Hljómskála Park, Hallgrimskirkja Church
- Other Things to do Near Reykjavik
- Reykjavik Travel Tips
Reykjavik Itinerary Overview
This itinerary covers three days in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. It highlights some of Reykjavik’s most popular tourist attractions, museums and outdoor spaces. We suggest walking between attractions, so we’ve provided maps with routes that will take you through the beating heart of downtown.
We think this is a perfect itinerary for families with young kids, older travelers, or anyone who just wants a (relatively) relaxed three days in Reykjavik. The days aren’t too long, but we do fit quite a bit into each day.
As you prepare for your trip, you might also want to check out our complete city guide to Reykjavik. This post has a lot more information about the city itself and more details on planning a trip (like what season to visit, how to get to Reykjavik from the airport, where to stay and lots more).
Reykjavik Itinerary Requirements
Before we dive into the details, let’s set the baseline for this itinerary. In order for this itinerary to work, we’ll assume the following 5 things.
1. You are staying in the downtown area.
This makes it easy to start and end your day on foot and on time. We suggest staying in the general area between Hallgrímskirkja (main church), Hljómskála Park (largest park), and the waterfront to the north.
Personally and specifically, we recommend staying at KEX Hostel. You can read more recommendations for where to stay in our Reykjavik city guide.
2. You’ll be walking.
None of the attractions listed on this itinerary are more than a mile apart and most are much closer. The routes provided in this post total around 2- 4 miles each day, but your total walking distance will be higher since you’ll be walking at the attractions themselves (like through museums).
If you’re unable to walk these routes, there is good public bus transportation throughout the area. We’d suggest using Google Maps to give you the exact bus routes and times to fit your specific needs.
3. You have purchased tickets in advance when necessary.
Some attractions listed in this itinerary require tickets that must be purchased in advance. Any tickets that need to be purchased will be noted in this post with links and purchasing details.
4. You’re visiting in the summer (May – September ish).
This itinerary is heaving on outdoor time. While you certainly could do most of this itinerary in the winter (except the puffins), we cannot vouch for how pleasant it will be or that everything will be open and accessible.
5. You’re in town by about 11 AM on the first day.
The first day of this itinerary can be a half day on your arrival day or your first full day after your travel day. This depends on your travel schedule and personal preferences. We recommend getting to the first destination on day 1 around 11 AM ish.
Reykjavik 3-Day Itinerary Map
You can find all of the locations and walking routes referenced in this post on this map here.
A few quick tips for using this map.
- To view the map in Google Maps, click the expand icon on the top right corner.
- Click the star icon to save the map to your Google account for later. To access the map again, open Google Maps > click the Saved tab > click Maps.
- You can click the checkboxes beside each day’s attractions or walking routes to add or remove those items from the map. This will help you see the specific route or attractions for one day at a time. Alternatively, I’ve created separate maps for each day which I’ve linked to in each day’s section below.
What’s Missing from this Itinerary
You’ll quickly see that there are not any clubs or bars listed in this itinerary. We personally didn’t do those things on this trip (#parentlife) and can’t vouch for them. There are certainly a lot of cool places to drink and party, but we’re just not the best resource for that this time.
We’re also vegetarian. Since we only like to recommend places we have personally eaten at, we’re mostly sharing the best restaurants for vegetarians in Reykjavik. However, meat options are available at most of these restaurants and we assume they are just as good as the vegetarian option.
Okay! All the disclaimers aside, let’s get started.
Reykjavik Itinerary Day 1: Free Walking Tour & Exploring Downtown
Your first day in Reykjavik is low-key and slow to start. If you’re waking up in Reykjavik, feel free to sleep in a bit and get situated at your hotel. If it’s your travel day, hang in there! Head to your hotel first. You likely won’t be able to check in, but you should be able to leave your bags there.
This day works best if you begin around 10 AM, but you could skip coffee and start as late as noon.
Day 1 Summary & Map
- Coffee at Mokka & Kaffi
- Kolaportið Flea Market (weekends only)
- Free Walking Tour with City Walk (advanced booking required)
- Main Shopping Streets
- Dinner at Vegan World Peace
Coffee at Mokka Kaffi
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: all good days start with coffee. That’s never more true than on vacation. There’s lots of great coffee shops in Reykjavik, so start checking them off right away.
Mokka Kaffi is a great coffee shop. They serve handcrafted espresso beverages as well as pastries and dessert. Place your order at the counter in the back and then take a seat inside the cozy cafe. You cal also get your coffee for takeaway and enjoy it outside with a perfect view of Rainbow Street.
We recommend getting a flat white and a waffle and this is why:
Kolaportið Flea Market
This stop comes with the caveat that you’re visiting on a weekend, as this spot is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM – 5 PM. If your first day happens to fall on a weekend, keep reading!
Kolaportið is a popular weekend flea market in Reykjavik. It’s a large warehouse space filled with booths selling just about everything. There’s antique items like old books and nicknacks, new and used clothing, jewelry, records and so, so much more.
There’s also an area where you can find many traditional Icelandic foods. You can purchased prepared items and eat at the tables inside, which is a great option for a quick lunch on your first day in town. They also have a variety of packaged food items to take with you.
Several booths sell wool knit sweaters and hats, which are a really hot souvenir item in Iceland. According to our tour guide, you might have good luck getting a true, hand-knit item at a decent price at the flea market … but you also could get scammed and pay way more for a mediocre product.
We personally didn’t buy any knit goods, but do your research. Check with the staff at your hotel and/or chat with a local to see if they have any tips if you’re really interested in getting one.
Free Walking Tour
A free walking tours is our absolute favorite way to spend our first day in any city. They’re really popular in Europe and you can usually find them in most big cities.
The main (and I believe only) free walking tour in Reykjavik is through CityWalk. You need to reserve your spot on the tour in advance. They book five days out, so you’ll need to wait until just before your trip to sign up. You can register for free on their website here.
It’s a fun tour that explains the city and country’s history while walking around the downtown area. It’s a great way to learn about even more things to do during your visit, including nearby attractions and expert restaurant and bar recommendations from a local.
Tours are everyday at 1 PM and go on in rain or shine. They have allegedly never cancelled a single tour! The tour is about two hours and begins at Austurvöllur (a square in heart of the downtown shopping district) and ends at Reykjavik City Hall (by Hljómskála Park).
It’s called a “free” tour, but it’s really “pay what you wish.” At the end of the tour, you’ll pay your guide what you feel the tour was worth. Be sure to have cash for this. Icelandic currency is preferred but I’m sure they’d take USD or Euro if that’s all you had.
Walk the Main Shopping Streets
We spent a good amount of time each day walking up and down the main shopping streets in central Reykjavik. The streets are lined with stores, but also restaurants, cafes and bars.
The main shopping street in Reykjavik is Laugavegur between Snorrabraut and Lækjargata. If you’re looking for this on a map, look up the Google Map location for Sandholt (a popular bakery) and it’ll place you right in the middle of this main street.
Just off of Laugavegar is Skólavörðustígur, which connects Laugavegur to the main church, Hallgrímskirkja. This street is also known as Rainbow Street because it’s painted like a rainbow. To find this street, you can look up Rainbow Street on Google Maps.
Laugavegar becomes Bankastræti on the west end for the last few blocks before running into a main driving street, Lækjargata. On the other side of that street is another shopping district. Everything between Lækjartorg (square), the Settlement Exhibition and the Reykjavík Art Museum is a good area to explore.
Dinner at Vegan World Peace
… or you know, somewhere meaty if you’re into that!
We’re vegetarian and Vegan World Peace was the perfect spot for our first meal. It’s a nice restaurant in the heart of downtown that offers a wide array of plant-based menu options. The Banh Mi and butternut squash soup were amazing.
They also have highchairs (or baby chairs which was the term generally used in Iceland) if you’re eating with a little one.
Note that Vegan World Peace is closed on Mondays.
Reykjavik Itinerary Day 2: Whale Watching, Museums, Shore Walk
Day 1 was pretty chill, but as we head into the second day of this itinerary things really start to heat up. This day takes you on a 4 mile walk around town and is packed with some of the best things Reykjavik has to offer.
If you only had one day in Iceland, we would suggest a line up like this — plus Hallgrimskirkja and maybe substitute whales for puffins.
It’s worth noting that if you do everything we recommend below, this can turn out to be a pretty expensive day as nearly everything on this list costs money. You can easily tailor this lineup to your taste and budget. You can cut or swap out museums, fill your time exploring more of down town or just relax somewhere with a drink.
Day 2 Summary & Map
- Whale Watching Tour (advanced booking required)
- Coffee at Reykjavík Röst
- Lunch at Lamb Street Food
- National Museum of Iceland
- Settlement Exhibition
- Icelandic Phallological Museum
- Sculpture & Shore Walk
- Dinner at Blackbox Pizzeria
Whale Watching with Special Tours
Get your sea legs ready and set sail with Special Tours on a quest to find some of the most majestic animals that call the waters around Iceland home. A wide variety of whale species can be found near Iceland, including Humpbacks and Orcas.
Whale season is April through September, and it peeks in the summer months of June through August. However, whales can be spotted in the winter months too, and tours are offered in Reykjavík year-round.
If you’re interested in whale watching, we recommend a tour with Special Tours. The classic tour is about 3 hours and costs $95 USD per adult. They sail a pretty large vessel which gives you the best chance at a smooth ride.
You need to book a tour in advance which you can do on their website here. We wrote a whole post detailing our personal experience whale watching in Reykjavik which is worth a read if you’re considering this tour.
Coffee at Reykjavík Röst
After your tour, swing by Reykjavík Röst for a coffee. This coffee shop is actually more of a restaurant, so you can enjoy your coffee there or take it to go as you walk the harbor. We suggest the latter.
This wasn’t our favorite coffee shop in Reykjavik, but it’s location is perfect if you find yourself by the harbor.
Lunch at Lamb Street Food
If you follow the water northwest, you’ll find another little business district on the harbor. There’s a few restaurants, grocery stores, and a couple museums (including the Saga Museum which is really popular).
In this area is Lamb Street Food. It’s a fantastic quick-service lunch option where they serve a selection of vegetarian falafel wraps or meat-based lamb wraps and bowls. We loved it so much we ate there twice.
National Museum of Iceland
The walk from Lamb to the National Museum of Iceland is probably the longest single leg of this itinerary. It’s just over a mile, but it’s pleasant.
The National Museum of Iceland goes over Icelandic history from settlement to present. The museum is pretty small and you can easily see it all in about an hour.
A ticket to the National Museum of Iceland costs about $20 per adult and children under 18 are free. You can purchase tickets there when you arrive. The museum is typically open from 10 AM – 5 PM and closed on Mondays.
The Settlement Exhibition
In the 10th century, one of the first human settlements in Reykjavik history stood near what is now downtown. What remains of that building is now preserved exactly where it stood and the Settlement Exhibition museum was built above and around it.
This interactive museum takes you back in time to the Viking Age and allows visitors to experience what it might have been like living in Reykjavik during that time. There’s lots of virtual experiences, buttons to push and even a play area for kids.
It’s a really well done museum, but it’s very small (just one room). We spent about 45 minutes here, but it won’t even take that long for some.
A ticket to The Settlement Exhibition costs about $15 per adult and children under 18 are free. The museum is typically open daily from 10 AM – 5 PM.
Icelandic Phallological Museum
Ah yes, what Reykjavik itinerary would be complete without mentioning the Icelandic Phallological Museum, aka the penis museum.
The museum is very well done. Inside you’ll find the preserved penises of nearly all mammals found in Iceland and its waters (over 200). Other than the gift shop, which was pretty bachelorett-y with regards to the penis paraphernalia, the museum was purely scientific and not sexual or raunchy at all. That is to say that the penis museum is actually quite family friendly.
There’s a cafe and bar at the entrance and you can take your drinks with you through the museum. We highly recommend this to anyone, but parents specifically. It’s a rare chance for adults to have a drink and kids to do something other than just sit in a highchair.
I won’t lie, this was not at all something I was excited about, despite it being very highly rated, but this was absolutely one of the best things we did in Reykjavik. Our toddler loved running around here and it was also the only beer we enjoyed in Reykjavik.
A ticket to the Icelandic Phallological Museum costs about $20 per adult and children under 13 are free with an accompanying adult. The museum is typically open daily from 10 AM – 7 PM.
Sculpture & Shore Walk
Across the street from the penis museum is the Sculpture & Shore Walk. This beautiful paved pathway follows the waterfront along the north side of Reykjavik. If you ever have the option to talk the shore walk between two destinations, even if it’s a bit out of the way, you should do it!
The path is popular for pedestrians and bikers and offers primo views of the water and mountains in the distance. This route will take you past the sparkling new Harpa Concert, the famous Sun Voyager statue and the picturesque Höfði lighthouse.
Cross the main street near the lighthouse and you can also see Höfði House, the home of a famed Icelandic poet. This is also the location where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met and essentially ended the Cold War.
Dinner at Blackbox Pizzeria
The walk along the Sculpture & Shore Walk wasn’t just for the pretty views, though it totally could have been. A short 5-minute walk from Höfði House is Blackbox Pizzeria.
Blackbox is a great pick for a delicious meal off the main tourist strip. Their flavor combinations range from traditional to a bit off book (like spicy date or duck confit), or you can build your own from their long list of toppings, cheeses and sauces. There’s vegetarian and vegan options, but plenty of meat options as well.
I would categorize the pizza as Neapolitan-style, with a thick and crispy crust on the edge and thin and somewhat soggy middle. The pizzas here are a little too big for one person, but a little too small for two so plan your order accordingly.
Reykjavik Itinerary Day 3: Puffin Tour, Hljómskála Park, Hallgrimskirkja Church
Your last full day in Reykjavik starts with quintessential Icelandic wildlife and ends at the capital city’s iconic church. Everything in the middle can be a bit flexible and can easily be modified.
Today’s the day to really melt into the city you’ve been exploring the past two days. It’s is also your chance to fit in anything you’ve seen over the past two days that you didn’t have a chance to do yet.
Maybe it was a restaurant you heard about during the walking tour or a bar you walked passed that looked cool. It’s a good time to walk those shopping streets one last time and pick up a shirt you loved or a skein of wool yarn for mom.
Day 3 Summary & Map
- Coffee & Breakfast at Emilie and the Cool Kids
- Puffin Watching Tour (advanced booking required)
- Picnic in Hljómskála Park
- Hallgrimskirkja Church & Tower
- Reykjavik Roasters
- Dinner at Durum Restaurant
Coffee & Breakfast at Emilie and the Cool Kids
I won’t lie, I only picked this place because my name is Emily and I wanted a photo with the sign. I was thrilled (though not surprised) to discover that this coffee shop is a true delight! The cafe is bright and a touch tropical, and their product is just as delicious as their space is cute.
Their pastry case a truly a sight to behold. Grab a coffee and pick at least two sweet treats to try, including one of their famous cookies. The lemon muffin was outstanding.
Puffin Watching Tour
If you have even the slightest interest in puffins or birds at all, we highly recommend this tour. I personally adore birds and could watch them all day. I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I say this puffin tour was probably one of the top five happiest moments of my life, but I’m an extreme case.
Special Tours runs a 1-hour boat tour that sails from the main harbor in town to Akurey Island (aka puffin island). There are thousands of puffins on the island, flying overhead and swimming in the water. It takes about 15 minutes to get there and you’ll have about a half hour watching the birds in the area before you sail back.
You need to book a tour in advance which you can do on their website here. The tour costs about $50 USD per adult (kids are about half that and children under 7 are free). It is offered several times throughout the day, but if you’re following this itinerary we suggest booking the 11 AM tour.
Picnic in Hljómskála Park
Hljómskála Park is a spacious park in downtown Reykjavik. There’s a lake in the middle with gorgeous sight lines, tons of green space, and a fun playground for the little ones.
We love any park time, but we know most people are looking to itineraries for things to do. So to make the park more of an activity, we suggest going for a picnic lunch. There are a few picnic tables on the west side of the lake or bring a packable picnic blanket and sit on the grass.
Pick up something for lunch on your walk from the harbor to the park. You can get takeaway meals from many cafes and restaurants around town, even if they don’t specifically advertise it.
One great option for your picnic is Hlöllabátar, a prominent sandwich shop in the middle of Ingólfur Square. You’ve probably passed it plenty of times by now!
NOTE: Hlöllabátar is the only place listed in this itinerary that we didn’t personally patron. We got wraps from Lamb Street Food for our picnic, but we know most people don’t want to eat at the same twice so we wanted to provide an alternate option.
Hallgrimskirkja Church & Tower
If you’ve seen photos of Reykjavik, you’ve probably seen photos of Hallgrimskirkja. The church’s unique shape and structure was designed to resemble the naturally formed basalt columns which can be found all over Iceland (most famously at Reynisfjara black sand beach).
If the outside of the structure brings people to the church, it’s the giant pipe organ that brings them inside and the epic views that takes them to the top of the tower. The church is actually the tallest building in Reykjavik and second tallest in all of Iceland.
It’s free to enter the church, but you must purchase an elevator ticket to visit the top of the tower. The ticket costs $9 USD (1200 ISK) and can be purchased inside the church (to the left of the entrance).
The church is generally open from 10 AM – 5 PM and the tower from 10 AM – 4:30 PM. However, Hallgrimskirkja is an active Lutheran church. The church and tower close to visitors occasionally during religious services (typically for short periods of time). You can find their schedule for each week here.
If you’re ready for an afternoon pick-me-up, you could not be in a better place. Our favorite coffee shop in Reykjavik is just a stone’s through from Hallgrimskirkja.
Reykjavik Roasters imports their beans from all over the world on a seasonal basis and roasts them in house. You can then enjoy your coffee prepared in a variety of brewing methods, from traditional espresso to aeropress to cold brew.
The space is small but homey and feels like you’re sitting in your grandma’s house. A truly love place with amazing coffee.
Dinner at Durum Restaurant
On your last night in Reykjavik, we recommend getting dinner and/or drinks at a place that has caught your attention over the past couple days.
You likely walked by a ton of restaurants and bars and thought, “This place is so cute!” Oh, that’s just me? Okay, maybe you thought, “This menu looks amazing.” Same, same.
For us, this happened to be a quick service place called Durum Restaurant. We have very fond memories of doner kebab from street vendors in Europe during our meat eating days. Anytime we see a vegetarian kebab on a menu, we have to get it. So we picked some up from Durum and ate outside watching the city pass us by. It was lovely.
Other Things to do Near Reykjavik
Three days in Reykjavik is a great trip on its own, but it will leave many feeling like they want to see more of the Land of Ice and Fire. There is something beautiful to see on every inch of this island, and you don’t have to venture that far to find it.
So much of the country’s wonder can be found within a few hours of Reykjavik, and you can visit in a single day. Others are along the southern coast and may require spending a night or two elsewhere. In that case, we’d suggest spending a night or two in the village of Vik.
Here are a few of the best things to see near Reykjavik. We’ve personally visited all of these locations except one and have linked to our complete guides if you’re interested in learning more.
Best Places to Visit Near Reykjavik.
- Blue Lagoon (30 miles from Reykjavik): Iceland’s most famous hot spring is an easy day trip from Reykjavik. It’s also super close to the airport making it a great stopover activity. You need to purchase tickets for your date and arrival time in advance. We personally did not go here because we were visiting with a child under 2 who are not allowed, but we’d be remiss to leave it out.
- Golden Circle (30 – 72 miles from Reykjavik): Visit three of Iceland’s most famous attractions on this scenic route. You can visit Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Spring Area and Gullfoss waterfall on a self-drive Golden Circle roadtrip or as a guided tour.
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall (80 miles from Reykjavik): Seljalandsfoss is Iceland’s famous “waterfall you can walk behind.” It’s a beautiful and unique waterfall, but there’s more! For even more thrills, you can try to discover a hidden waterfall just a short walk away.
- Skogafoss Waterfall (97 miles from Reykjavik): Skogafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. Feel the sprays from the base of this mighty waterfall and then take the stairs up the cliff for an impeccable view from the top. This one gets bonus points for being the filming location for where Jon and Daenerys kiss in Game of Thrones.
- Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve (112 miles from Reykjavik): At Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve, you’ll find stunning views in every direction, interesting rock formations (including a promontory with a hole in it), a darling lighthouse and even the summer home to a local puffin colony.
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach (117 miles from Reykjavik): Reynisfjara is Iceland’s most famous black sand beach. What makes it even more incredible is the naturally formed basalt columns that tower along the beach.
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (236 miles from Reykjavik): As a nearby glacier melts, giant ice chunks breakaway and get trapped in Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. It’s a breathtaking icy wonderland that you can visit anytime of year.
5 Best Reykjavik Travel Tips
Generally speaking, Reykjavik is a pretty easy city to visit. It’s a nice, albeit expensive, European city with lots of beautiful things to see and do.
It’s a small city that’s easy to get around on foot or public transportation. As long as you’re conversational in English, you’ll have no problems ordering at restaurants or engaging in commerce. For Western travelers, that are no stark cultural differences that are likely to trip you up.
That said, we do still have some tips for you to help make your visit even better.
1. Fight jet lag on your first day.
There’s a Gilmore Girls episode where Lorelai goes to France. She’s jet lagged and falls asleep in the afternoon, missing her fancy dinner. She wakes up at 4 AM and has to bribe the chef to let them eat dinner in the middle of the night. Don’t be Lorelai.
Instead, fight jet lag head on.
For US travelers, book an overnight flight that arrives in Iceland early in the morning. You’ll be tired when you arrive, but push through it by filling your day with lots of outdoor activities.
By the time it’s nighttime local time, you’ll be exhausted and ready for bed. Ideally fall asleep around 8 or 9 and hopefully sleep through the night. This should get you adjusted to the time change by the start of your second day. Or at least pretty close.
This logic won’t work for all travelers, but it’s a good plan for those coming from the west of Iceland with time changes of a 4-8 hours.
2. Dress in layers.
Iceland in the summer teeters right on the edge of jacket weather. With highs usually in the 50s Fahrenheit, a break in the clouds or a light breeze is all it takes to go from needing a jacket to sweating in one. The answer is layers.
Layers are also clutch for when it’s chilly outside, but you have indoor plans too. I found myself getting so sweaty every time we stepped foot inside a museum or store. Easily being able to shed outer layers was key.
An ideal clothing situation in Reykjavik looks something like this:
- Short sleeve shirt or a lightweight wicking long sleeve
- Flannel shirt or fleece jacket (I love my Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip but the full-zip option is on my wishlist)
- Rain Jacket (I love my TNF Apex Bionic jacket but in the summer a lighter packable one would have been better)
Another pro move that goes with layers is to pack a small drawstring or packable tote. That makes it easy to store and hold your outer layers when you’re not wearing them.
3. Plan your trip based on the season.
Iceland in the summer and Iceland in the winter can be two completely different experiences. Research the things you want to do in Iceland before booking your trip.
If you want to see the Northern Lights and love the idea of ice-crusted waterfalls, book a trip in the winter. If you want to walk behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall and see puffins, you’ll need to visit in the summer.
The weather and daylight hours can change drastically over the year. Here’s a quick breakdown of the seasons in Reykjavik.
- Summer in Reykjavik (June, July, August): High temps in the 50s and lows in the 40s. Average ~18 hours of daylight.
- Fall in Reykjavik (September, October, November): High temps in the 40s and lows in the 30s. Average ~8.5 hours of daylight.
- Winter in Reykjavik (December, January, February): High and low temps in the 30s. Average ~7 hours of daylight.
- Spring in Reykjavik (March, April, May): High temps in the 40s and lows in the 30s. Average ~16 hours of daylight.
4. Rent a car for only part of your trip.
You do not need a car in Reykjavik. The city is small and really well connected by both walking paths and public transportation. However, public access to the rest of the country is not nearly as good.
There are busses that run through the countryside, but the times are extremely limited (often only 1x per day). Tours are a good alternative, but they can be expensive and don’t always appeal to every type of traveler.
It definitely makes sense to rent a car if you’re planning to explore beyond the Reykjavik city limits. But like everything in Iceland, renting a car can be expensive. We suggest you budget about $100 USD per day, but that can vary drastically based on the type of car and the season.
Before you immediately book a rental car for your whole trip, take some time to plan your visit by day. Group your Reykjavik days together on either the front or back end of your visit. Then get a rental car just for the days you plan to drive to further attractions. This can cut your rental car cost in half sometimes!
5. Pack light & prioritize comfort.
We visited Iceland in the Summer, and we still spent a majority of our time in jackets. Nearly all of my photos are in the same outerwear. It would not have been worth it to pack a bunch of really cute outfits that no one would have seen.
Same goes for shoes. We spent so much time walking that comfortable shoes were key. I wore a pair of waterproof Nike Pegasus shield shoes everyday. I love these shoes and will keep buying them as long as they keep making them. (I also ran a marathon in them so yeah, they’re pretty comfy.)
We are big fans of minimalist travel and always strive to travel with only a carry on. If you’re packing for Reykjavik in the summer, don’t miss our minimalist Iceland packing list for what to pack and how to fit it into a carry on.
Bonus tip for parents: Wear your baby
Our child was born in 2020 and was almost one when we went to Iceland. We did not bring a stroller for them to Iceland. (In fact, we don’t even own a stroller.) Instead, we wore our baby everywhere.
Baby wearing is a great way to let your baby see the city for themselves. It’s also nice to have one less thing to juggle as you navigate a new city. There’s no need to worry about bumpy sidewalks, navigating through small stores or parking it at different attractions.
We have tried several carriers, but brought the Nuna CUDL carrier to Reykjavik. It’s great for longer carriers and naps and supports front or back carries.
For an older child who will be walking and getting in and out of the carrier more, we suggest the Sakura Bloom Onbuhimo. Its light profile makes it easier to carrier when baby isn’t in it. This one is best for short carriers and is primarily a back carry. If we were to travel with our child now at 18 months, we’d only bring this carrier. For more info and tips on baby wearing, we have a separate post dedicated to baby wearing for travel and our favorite baby carriers.
Reykjavik is a great city on its own and even better as a gateway to the rest of Iceland. We think 3 days in Reykjavik is the perfect way to start an Iceland trip. If you move at a decent clip, you can fit in everything from this itinerary and so much more.
We hope you’ve found this Reykjavik itinerary helpful, but we also hope that you’re able to make it your own. What changes would you make to this itinerary to make it perfect for you?
Whether you’re in Iceland now or planning your dream trip, we hope you have an amazing adventure.
Our Full Iceland Itinerary
Planning a trip to Iceland? Here’s a look at our full itinerary for this trip…
- Minimalist Iceland Summer Packing List (That Fits in One Carry-On!)
- Detailed 3-Day Reykjavik Itinerary with Walking Routes
- Reykjavik City Guide – Everything to Know About Iceland’s Capital City
- Whale Watching in Reykjavík with Special Tours
- Planning Guide: Self-Drive the Golden Circle in Iceland
- Guide to Thingvellir National Park in Iceland
- Guide to Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland
- Guide to Iceland’s Geysir Hot Spring Area
- A Perfect Visit to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall + Bonus Hidden Waterfall
- Planning Guide: Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland
- Guide to Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve on Iceland’s Southern Coast
- Complete Guide to Vik, Iceland
- Guide to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach in Iceland
- Guide to Jökulsárlón, Iceland’s Glacier Lagoon