wandering the colorful streets of reykjavik

2 days in Reykjavik Iceland: The Perfect Weekend Itinerary

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Without a shadow of a doubt, Iceland is incredibly popular and beloved for its other worldly natural splendors. I feel like I’m on an entirely different planet whenever I go to Iceland’s majestic countryside.

For example, the black sandy beaches in South Iceland, as well as the waterfalls and geysers of the Golden Circle literally took my breath away.

Furthermore, Iceland is a very accessible place to visit from both Europe and North America. Why? Many affordable flights (thanks to Icelandair’s free layover) stop in the country’s capital city: Reykjavik. 

south coast is a great day trip from reykjavik

Iceland’s landscapes feel like the worlds in fantasy novel. I mean. Just look at Vik in the above photo. Fantasy novel vibes, am I right?

So, while you don’t want to miss the nature (no way), as a city, Reykjavik is a perfect place to spend a weekend (or longer!). You can even use Reykjavik as a “home base” for a longer trip if you still want to be experience Iceland’s wildness and enjoy the convenience of a small city at the same time. No shame in that.

Not to mention, you won’t run out of things to see and do with 2 days in Reykjavik. This city is small and mighty. Let’s talk about them.

2 days in reykjavik iceland is fun for exploration

2 Days in Reykjavik Iceland: My Top Travel Tips

As always, before getting into the details of how to spend 2 days in Reykjavik Iceland, I wanted to share some of my best travel tips for Reykjavik.

Like I said, flight prices are reasonable. You won’t break the bank flying to Iceland if you live on the East Coast, for example. Prices are usual half of what a ticket directly to Paris or Munich would cost.

At the same time, though, Iceland is one of the most expensive countries in the world, so you want to be mindful of how you spend your time and energy on a trip here. Your bank account will thank you.

2 days in reykjavik inside the church

Is 2 Days in Reykjavik Enough Time?

Honestly, I think 2 days in Reykjavik is enough time to get a decent taste of the city.

Iceland’s draw is really its natural beauty, not the capital. For example, you can see in my more extensive 6 Days in Iceland Itinerary just how much time I dedicate to outdoor activities, such as hiking, soaking in hot springs, walking to waterfalls, and more. 

At the same time, 2 days in Reykjavik is plentiful for shopping, eating, and sightseeing. This city is very walkable, and if you’re in a central location, you don’t need to bother with cabs or buses (with the exception of the Sky Lagoon).

Welcome to KEF Airport.

How to Get to Reykjavik

International travelers will arrive at Keflavik International Airport (KEF), which is located outside of Reykjavik. You have tons of options for getting into Reykjavik from the airport. 

Of course, you’re welcome to arrange your own rental car and drive to your accommodation, but you’re also able to book a shuttle or bus to take you into the city. The shuttles are very extensive and have plenty of stops, so depending on your hotel, you might even be dropped right outside your door!

It’s always wise to book bus tickets in advance, so you’re not stressing about transportation when you’re jetlagged and sleepy. Ask me how I know, haha.

6 days in iceland will definitely bring you to reykjavik

Reykjavik Packing Essentials

  • Athletic Clothing: You don’t need to wear a ballgown in Iceland. In fact, you’re going for the exact opposite. Leggings, quick drying shirts, and other athleisure pieces are perfect for the outdoors. 
  • Bathing Suit: Don’t leave your bathing suit at home even in winter. Iceland’s wonderful thermal hot springs are open year round. You don’t want to miss them even if you don’t normally go to the spa at home. 
  • High Quality Backpack: Ready to go on some hikes? Make sure to invest in a high quality backpack, such as this Oak Creek premium waterproof backpack, so you can keep all of your items (especially electronics) safe from the weather. 
  • Hiking Shoes: Your footwear is incredibly important in Iceland. In summer, opt for sturdy hiking shoes with a good grip, and in winter, invest in decent snow boots
  • Lonely Planet Iceland Guide: Despite online resources, I’m still a sucker for classic guidebooks, such as Lonely Planet’s Guide to Iceland. They provide great information. Plus, if you buy a physical copy, it looks good on a bookshelf, haha.
  • Merino Wool Socks: Since you’ll be hiking, buy a couple pairs of merino wool socks to prevent blisters. 
  • Sturdy Travel Umbrella: You will want an umbrella in Iceland, but the winds are wild, so get a high quality windproof umbrella even if it costs a bit more. 
  • Waterproof Clothing & Jacket: Don’t skimp on a rain jacket in Iceland. You’ll have rain even in summer. This waterproof hooded rain jacket is perfect for milder temperatures, where as a heavier parka is great for the winter months.
  • World Nomads Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is an absolute necessity for visiting Iceland. The nature is beautiful, but you also need to protect yourself. I personally use World Nomads Travel Insurance whenever I go overseas. 

reykjavik has a lot of hotel options

Where to Stay in Reykjavik

Iceland has a lot of great accommodation. However, it’s always wise to book in advance for the best places to stay. You’ll also feel a little shocked at prices during high season, but at the same time, you need to accept that prices are higher in Iceland in order to truly enjoy your stay. 

Reykjavik, in particular, has a ton of great options for your visit. For more budget-minded travelers, I highly recommend Kex Hostel, which is located close to the waterfront. You’ll be able to connect with other people, locals and visitors alike, and get some top-notch travel advice. If you have a little more money to spend, then you ought to check out Hotel Holt, which is a boutique hotel packed with incredible and original art. 

No matter what, thoroughly read reviews ahead of time. 

hotel holt is a lovely hotel for solo travel in reykjavik

Accommodation Ideas

  • Eric the Red Guesthouse: This small family-run guesthouse is the perfect compromise between a hotel and hostel. You are located right next to Hallgrímskirkja Church, in the middle of all the action. See prices on Booking.com and Expedia.com.
  • Hotel Holt: For an upscale option, check out this unique boutique hotel that is adorned with original paintings, prints, and more. Located in a quiet and beautiful area. See prices on Booking.com and Expedia.com.
  • Kex Hostel Reykjavik: A trendy and super fun hostel that is located right on the waterfront. The perfect option for social travelers who want to connect with other people. See prices on Booking.com and Expedia.com.

2 Days in Reykjavik Iceland: An Overview

Day Sights
1 Hallgrímskirkja, The Sun Voyager, Harpa, Shopping, Good Eats
2 Tjörnin, Walking Tours, Cat Cafes, Museums, Sky Lagoon

iceland's cool public art

 2 Days in Reykjavik Iceland: Detailed Itinerary

Are you ready for all the specific details for a weekend in Reykjavik? Awesome!

For this 2 Days in Reykjavik Itinerary, I tried my hardest to include a fair amount of arts and culture, urban nature, food, and much! I also strived to have a bit of “flex time” in this itinerary, so you can add different stops that appeal to your personal interests. 

Now matter what, you’ll enjoy a wonderful weekend in Reykjavik and will plan a return trip to the moment you return to the airport to head home.

exploring rainbow street with 2 days in reykjavik iceonad
Welcome to Colorful Reykjavik!

Day 1 in Reykjavik

Welcome to Iceland! On your first day, I wanted to include some of Reykjavik’s most famous sites, the sites that you see in guidebooks and on social media, as well as plenty of time to spend your money — I mean, put your money to good use to create fantastic memories!

Onward.

Hallgrimskirkja is a must see in this 2 days in reykjavik itinerary
Posing Outside of Hallgrímskirkja.

Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja is Reykjavik’s famous Lutheran church. This is the largest church in Iceland, and one of Reykjavik’s most visited sites, so you definitely don’t want to miss it when spending 2 days in Reykjavik. 

This gorgeous church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson, and is a true representation of Icelandic spirituality.

However, don’t expect an ornate golden interior with dramatic art works hanging on every wall. Instead you’ll be welcomed inside a simple white church. This elegance reflects the Lutheran tradition. Don’t miss the large pipe organ, though; it’s a stunning instrument! 

Lastly, the observation tower of Hallgrímskirkja offers panoramic views of Reykjavik and its surroundings. You take an elevator to the observation deck, so don’t worry about climbing hundreds and hundreds of steps for the gorgeous views. My favorite part of going to the top of the tower was seeing the majestic mountains off in the distance, reminders of Iceland’s mystical natural beauty. 

solo travel reykjavik: seeing the sun voyager

Sun Voyager 

Reykjavik has a fair amount of interesting public art. Sun Voyager is one of the most famous and striking sculptures in the city, and you ought to check it out on your first day exploring Reykjavik. Sun Voyager is an iconic symbol of Reykjavik (and Iceland as a whole!).

Honestly, I think the location of Sun Voyager makes it even more worth the visit. Sun Voyager sits beautifully on Reykjavik’s waterfront promenade, which is a joy to stroll on a sunny or cloudy day, and is a wonderful place to pause and admire the water, as well as the city skyline.

Take a stroll and a few cute photos. 

you can see a lot of cool architecture in reykjavik

Harpa 

Not far from Sun Voyager is Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre. 

This unique musical venue is another icon of Reykjavik, but was actually quite controversial when it was initially constructed. The construction of Harpa began in 2007, just before the global financial crisis hit Iceland hard. Unemployment and austerity measures were rampant, so naturally, Icelanders questioned if constructing this hall was a good use of money. 

Today you can visit Harpa Concert Hall to see exhibition spaces showcasing Icelandic art and culture. If time allows, you can also book a concert or other event to make your 2 days in Reykjavik even more memorable. 

you will definitely spend your money at the shops in iceland
A Beautiful Shop in Reykjavik.

Shopping, Shopping, Shopping

Reykjavik’s compact downtown area is perfect for leisurely shopping strolls, especially Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur streets. Is shopping in Reykjavik cheap? No. No, not in the slightest. However, you can either purchase one very special souvenir or go “window shopping” on your weekend in Reykjavik. 

What I love about shopping in Reykjavik is that you’re able to buy cool products that aren’t produced anywhere else in the world.

In downtown Reykjavik’s boutiques, you’re able to purchase wool sweaters (lopapeysa), handmade ceramics, traditional handicrafts, and more! I actually bought a gorgeous pair of earrings made out of black volcanic rocks on my most recent trip!

eating delicious pastries with 2 days in reykjavik
I Loved Pastries in the Morning.

Dine on Local Cuisine 

You don’t want to miss Icelandic cuisine in Reykjavik. 

Even though you’ve probably hear of shark and puffin, Iceland has a lot more options available, and I found myself loving the fresh and unique food options. For example, I had some of the absolute best Arctic char in Reykjavik, so if you love fresh fish, Arctic char and vegetables would be a healthy (and yummy) dinner option for you. 

reykjavik is home to a fantastic hot dog
Some of the GREATEST hot dogs ever.

And if you want an affordable and delicious option? Then you need to try a hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur! I loved these hot dogs so much that I actually went here twice! The sauce is … divine. There is no other way to describe the taste.

One more tasty tip! The pastries? Yeah. Eat all the pastries. Especially at Brauð & Co. I cannot say enough good things about Brauð & Co, and would fly to Reykjavik and back just for those delicious, perfect pastries. 

2 days in reykjavik and exploring the streets to see art

Day 2 in Reykjavik 

For your second day in Iceland, I want to include a combination of nature and culture stops, as well as the spa day of your dreams. Sure, it might seem like a lot, but I think the attractions in this second day are doable if you’re smart about reservations and timing.

exploring the surrounding area in reykjavik

Stroll Around Tjörnin

Tjörnin is a gorgeous lake right in the middle of Reykjavik. It’s also the perfect place to take a morning stroll after a coffee and pastry.

I thought a walk around Tjörnin was equally enjoyable in the winter or summer, although I was partially to the flowers in the summer. I also loved seeing the swans, and thought they were perfect for photography. Like any wildlife, keep a respectful distance from the swans while admiring their sleek beauty.

Not fair from Tjörnin, you can find the Icelandic Parliament as well as Fríkirkjan church, which is one of the most photographed views of Reykjavik. 

don't miss all the amazing street art in reykjavik

Walking Tour

Reykjavik has a wide variety of excellent walking tours that you can take advantage of. I highly recommend going on one! I especially recommend walking tours if you are a solo traveler in Reykjavik, because the small group dynamic makes it easier to connect with other people. 

In particular, I love this Reykjavik Small Group Walking Tour all about Viking history. It is capped at 12 people, so you’ll have a chance to talk to the guide and come away with a deeper appreciation of Reykjavik’s history. 

Furthermore, if you want even more delicious food, then you ought to book yourself on this highly rated Reykjavik Food Walk, which gives you plenty of options for local food favorites, as well as a chance to each some of Reykjavik’s best street food.

So set aside a few hours of your day to learn about Reykjavik from a talented guide. You won’t regret it.

falling in love with cat street art with 2 days in Reykjavik

Pet a Cat!

Reykjavik is home to many friendly outdoor cats. Seriously, I had so many lovely cats come over to say “hello” to me! Just mind your cat manners and don’t pet a strange cat who clearly wants to be left alone (obviously).

You can also visit a delightful cat cafe, called Kattakaffihusid, which is the first and only cat cafe in all of Iceland. Grab a pastry or a coffee, and walk away with the knowledge that you’re supporting a good cause!!

public art is everywhere in reykjavik

Reykjavik’s Museums

Like any other capital city, Reykjavik has a lot of fantastic museums. A lot.

You’ll learn a lot about Iceland, and even if you’re not typically a “museum person,” Reykjavik’s museums are quite unique and offer something cool for everyone to experience and enjoy. I’ve included quite a few suggestions below to give you ideas! 

the city hall offers tours in reykjavik

Museums for 2 Days in Reykjavik 
  • The Icelandic Phallological Museum: I’m sure you’re easily able to guess what this museum is all about, haha. You’ll learn a lot, though!
  • The Settlement Exhibition: A local history museum that is based on the archaeological excavation of the ruin of one of the first houses in Iceland. Pretty awesome, huh?
  • National Museum of Iceland: History fans will love the National Museum of Iceland, which covers a wide variety of aspects of Iceland’s culture, including the country’s Viking heritage. I absolutely loved this museum, and felt like viewing all the artifacts took me back in time. 
  • Perlan (The Pearl): If you’re more interested in Iceland’s nature, then you ought to check out Perlan located atop Öskjuhlíð Hill. The Perlan is a fantastic option, because you will get to experience interactive exhibits on Iceland’s natural environment, including glaciers, geology, and the Northern Lights. And if you want a panoramic view of the city? Perlan has that too! 
loving in the sky lagoon near reykjavik
Reykjavik Solo Travel Tip: Don’t Miss a Spa

Relax at the Sky Lagoon

Do you want to experience a lovely spa, but not keen on driving out to the Blue Lagoon (which is a much further drive)? Then you ought to check out the Sky Lagoon. 

In order to avoid disappointment, you need to purchase your Sky Lagoon tickets well in advance, especially during High Season. The Sky Lagoon does sell out quickly. You will also need to reserve a cab to take you out to the Sky Lagoon, as it isn’t exactly walkable from downtown Reykjavik. However, it’s worth any hassle.

I absolutely loved relaxing in the infinity pool and gazing over at the skyline of Reykjavik. It was so beautiful to soak in hot thermal springs while admiring this awesome capital from afar. You’ll also indulge in other spa treatments at Sky Lagoon. Don’t miss out!

enjoying a drink with 2 days in reykjavik iceland
Cheers to 2 Days in Reykjavik Iceland!

Try a Brewery

Time to wrap up your 2 day trip to Reykjavik! What better way to do that than to drink a delicious beer at a local brewery? I absolutely loved Bastard Brew and Food (certainly an eye-catching name, huh?). 

The home brews were delicious. They also serve food and have really cool merchandise if you want a unique souvenir from your Reykjavik weekend. What could be better?

checking out a lovely little house in Reykjavik

I sincerely hope that my itinerary helped you plan 2 days in Reykjavik Iceland. This capital city is very charming and will steal your heart. If you can spend even more time exploring Iceland’s countryside, then even better! You will truly love it!