By Anni Larson
Hello everyone! For all travelers on the way to Europe, having a layover in Iceland is an absolute must. The natural beauty, Scandinavian culture, and vibrant music scene should put Iceland at the top of anyone’s bucket list. Earlier this year, I had a short layover in Iceland on my way back from London and enjoyed every second of my time there. For city slickers like myself, I absolutely recommend spending the day in downtown Reykjavik. Here’s what I did during my stay there.
1. EAT AT (VERY) QUIRKY RESTAURANTS
Now I’m not going to lie to you, food in Iceland is not cheap. Almost everything has to be imported, so do not be surprised that you have to spend a minimum of ten dollars for a small meal. However, the food is worth it. For breakfast, I stopped by a cute little café and enjoyed a hot chocolate, while snacking on some yummy Icelandic yogurt and bread. For lunch, I dined at Loki’s Café, an adorable restaurant loft located right across the street from the famous Hallgrímskirkja Church (more on that later). I recommend trying the mouthwatering Icelandic stew or smoked lamb.
For dinner, I ate at one of the many small bars located in the heart of downtown Reykjavik, called the Big Lebowski Bar. And yes, the bar is totally inspired by the movie, the bar plays the film twenty four seven. If you decide to go, make sure to order a white Russian. Ironically enough, it is located right next to the Chuck Norris Bar & Grill, famous for advertising with their Chuck Norris jokes. No, I’m not joking!
2. TRY TO SHOP FOR AN ICELANDIC SWEATER
If there were one souvenir that is famous from Iceland, it would be the Icelandic wool sweater. They sell them everywhere in downtown Reykjavik, they can be found anywhere from fancy boutiques to thrift shops. However, be prepared to empty your wallet! Despite several hours traveling from store to store, I couldn’t find any sweater less than a hundred dollars.
3. TAKE A WALK ALONG RAINBOW ROAD
If you’re in Reykjavik around August or September, you will definitely have the opportunity to find the “rainbow road”, which is when one of Reykjavik’s central shopping roads are painted in rainbow colors to celebrate Gay Pride. It’s estimated that 1/3 of the population of Iceland shows up on this road during Pride festivities!
4. VISIT THE HALLIGRÍMSKIRKJA CHURCH AT SUNSET
Last but certainly not least, an absolute essential for any tourist is to view the Icelandic sunset from the top of the Hallgrímskirkja Church. As one of the tallest buildings in Iceland, the Hallgrímskirkja provides one of the best views of downtown Reykjavik and the waterfront. But be prepared to dress warm though, since the strong winds at the top can turn any visitor into a human popsicle.
Iceland is full of fun adventures for any tourist, whether they’re interested in city-life or nature. Besides downtown Reykjavik, I highly recommend that travelers stop at the Blue Lagoon and travel the Golden Circle to see all that Iceland has to offer. Iceland is an absolute stop for anyone on their way to Europe!
About the author: Annika Larson is a self-declared nerd who loves to travel the world. She’s currently studying communications and marketing at the University of Washington. See more of her adventures on Instagram @nerdmeetsworld.