Our trip to Iceland started with one day in Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland.
We landed at the KEF airport around 7am. We picked up our rental car from Sixt and headed towards Reykjavik. The rental car process was smooth, and we got a good rate.
The drive from the airport into the city was pretty barren. Interesting landscape (almost volcanic). We checked into a bed and breakfast in Reykjavik and took a 2 hour nap to catch up on some jet lag (overnight from from the states). We finally woke up, and headed into Reykjavik. We initially wanted to do a free tour, which started at 1pm. But driving into Reykjavik and figuring out parking, like any city, was a hassle. And we eventually missed the tour because we couldn’t find parking in time. After we found a parking spot, we decided to follow our own self-guided tour for one day in Reykjavik.
Our first stop was a cafe on Karastigur – Reykjavik Roasters. It was highly recommended by Lonely planet, and is vegetarian friendly. We got a cappuccino and a croissant to get started, and both were good.
We then walked over to the famous church, Hallgrímskirkja. The church is built to look like basalt columns, which you see naturally in Iceland due to volcanic activity. The inside of the church was pretty as well. It had a nice large organ which was playing as we walked in.
There is an extra fee to go up to the top of the church, but we chose not to. The church itself is worth spending around 15-20 minutes in. After the church, we got a snack, and then headed over to downtown Reykjavik, which is essentially one long avenue. There are some cute and interesting shops, cafes and restaurants in downtown. Unfortunately, everything is so expensive, that we did not really buy anything. I did find a nice (fake) polar bear to pose with 🙂
Next stop was the Kolaportið flea market. This is a large indoor market where vendors sell “cheap” goods and foods. I personally found that this was not cheap enough. The quality did not seem great (naturally), but I would be paying twice as much. The adjacent food market was interesting as they had a lot of local Icelandic meats (like whole shark, different fish, puffin, etc.). Being vegetarian, I did not eat anything, but it was interesting to see nonetheless. If you are short on time, I would skip this as it is nothing special.
We then headed over the harbor. There is a nice walk along the harbor starting from the Harpa (the new building housing the Concert hall). You can see some islands in the distance on a nice day, and water itself is nice.
The lake has some benches that you can relax on. There is even a park on one end of it, and people were relaxing in it. There are many ducks and geese in the lake, and many people can be seen feeding it. It is very close to downtown as well, and a good place to relax in at sunset.
On our way back from the lake, we found this cute Indian restaurant – Hraðlestin. We were really intrigued that there was an Indian place in Iceland, so of course we had to try it. And it was amazing! Since food was expensive, we got one dish and shared it. But it was filling, and tasted great. They even served south indian coffee! The best part…it was not even run by Indians! Some Icelandic guy visited India, picked up the spices, and started this restaurant here.
After dinner, we visited the Lagafellslaug Swimming Pool. This was $3 a person, and you could stay in their heated pools and jacuzzis until they closed, which was a pretty good deal. The water was just the right temperature, and they had various heated pools. Post relaxation, we were ready to explore the well-famed Reykjavik night life. You see, in the summer time, it never gets dark in Iceland. And the Icelanders use that as an excuse to party all night. Everything is open until 4am or 5am. Thankfully, our nap (and pool relaxation) earlier meant I was able to stay awake until at least 3am.
We eventually stumbled back to our guesthouse. After a good night’s sleep, we were ready to start exploring Iceland!
We stayed at the BB44 Homestay in Iceland. The accommodation was decently priced, and had a shared bathroom and kitchen. I wouldn’t call it luxurious.
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