Spend a Day in Reykjavik Like a Local

Spend a Day in Reykjavik Like a Local

Have you ever wondered what the people of Reykjavik do on their off days? Here's your plan on how to spend the day in the charming capital of Iceland like a local.

Photo of undefined

Nína Þorkelsdóttir

17. January 2017

09:00 | Get a nice breakfast

As you might have noticed, Icelanders are quite enthusiastic about good bread and pastries. There are many good bakeries in the capital area where you can have fresh bread and delicious pastries.

If you want to pick up something traditional we recommend the Icelandic “snúður”, which is a large chocolate covered cinnamon bun, or the “kleina”, which can be described as a deep fried twisted doughnut. The Icelandic chocolate milk, “kókómjólk” is a fabulous accompaniment to bread and pastries, you should definitely give it a try.

Icelandic pastries at a bakery. Icelandic pastries. Flickr/Mitchel

After picking up your baked goods you can either head back to where you are staying and eat in, or just sit down in a public park or on a bench and enjoy your breakfast outside.

10:30 | Go swimming

Icelelanders truly love their outdoor swimming pools . There are numerous swimming pools in Reykjavik and each and every one has its own charm. Don’t worry if you really don’t like swimming. A large number of those who regularly visit the pools don’t swim at all. Instead they lounge in the hot tubs, chatting to one another.

Vesturbaejarlaug outdoor swimming pool in the west side of Reykjavik city. Vesturbæjarlaug Swimming Pool in the West side of Reykjavik. Flickr/Bex Walton

12:00 | Grab a bite for lunch

Most Icelanders eat their big meal in the evening and having lunch often means grabbing something light and quick. The typical quick lunch for locals with a busy schedule would absolutely be the infamous Icelandic hot dog, “pylsa”. You can get it virtually everywhere but the most popular place to get it is called Bæjarins bestu, a small hot-dog joint that has been visited by celebrities like Bill Clinton and Kim Kardashian.

An icelandic hot dog. An Icelandic classic – the hot dog. Flickr/Sebastian


13:00 | Bike around the old harbour

In recent years, biking has become a lot more popular means of transportation in Reykjavik. As a result, the city council has made an effort in paving more bike paths, making Reykjavik a more bicycle-friendly city. Some hotels offer free city bikes for their patrons to borrow but there are also several bike rentals in the city.

It will take you approximately ten minutes to bike from downtown Reykjavik to the old harbour area.

Small boats at the old harbour of Reykjavik city, Iceland. The view from the Old Harbour. Flickr/Aapo Haapanen

The old harbour used to be the workplace of fishermen and sailors but in the past few years more and more cafés and restaurants have opened up there, attracting gourmets from all over the town.

Biking around the harbour is an extremely nice way to explore this area, breathing in the fresh scent of the sea and perhaps making a stop for an ice cream or a nice cup of coffee.

Bikes can be rented at WOW-bike stands (more info here ). 

17:00 | It’s time for coctails

Now that you have returned your rental bike, it is time for drinks! Many bars and restaurants have a Happy Hour early in the evening, so you can treat yourself to nice coctails for a bit lower price than usually.

18:30 | A dinner and a movie

There are quite a lot of charming restaurants in Reykjavik , most of them popular with tourists and locals alike. After dinner it could be a nice idea to go to the movies (or see one of these Icelandic movies ) and relax a bit after a busy day.

Langoustine with garlic, lemon and toast.
Langoustine is an Icelandic special worth trying out. Flickr/Sarah Ackermann

If you don’t feel like going to the movies, there is always an option to have a couple more drinks and see where the city leads you—the Reykjavik nightlife is always full of surprises!