Best of Reykjavik: Your 48-Hour Guide – Day One

View from Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik Iceland

Welcome to your 48 hour guide to Reykjavik! Having just finished my tour of the Golden Circle, it was time for me to explore Reykjavik. With so much on offer I wanted to make the most of my time here. We had arrived back in the city the night before. And with some good company, we stayed up into the late hours with our Gull beers planning our time.

Unfortunately the weather had over plans, with a snowstorm gripping the city. And now a little hungover, we started our morning by moving our bags to our next hotel. We would be staying at the Center Hotels Arnarhvoll for the remainder of our stay. Which worked out perfectly as we were within walking distance to the majority of our plans. We even had a view of the Harpa Concert Hall whilst we had our breakfast. We wouldn’t let the weather stop us though I layered up, made my way outside and faced the storm.  

Morning at the Phallological Museum:

Icelandic Phallological Museum exhibit

I kicked off my 48 hours in Reykjavik at the Phallological Museum. From whale to human, the museum’s unique collection of penises provided a fascinating (and at times hilarious) glimpse into the diversity of nature. It’s an odd start to the day but it is one of Reykjavik’s most popular attractions. In retrospect it may have been a little early in the morning for that sort of content. But by the time we had finished it was nearly lunch. The cafeteria was full. So once again we readied ourselves for the weather and made our way outside.

Steaks and beer in the FoodCellar:

Deciding it would be a good opportunity to have lunch whilst we sheltered from the storm, we set off to find a restaurant. The smart thing to do would have been to do a quick Google whilst we were protected from the elements in the museum. Instead we walked in a direction we thought we had seen restaurants earlier. 

After aimlessly heading in circles we were lucky enough to find the FoodCellar. And what a gem we had stumbled on. We had visited at a time when the restaurant was nearly empty. Whilst we warmed our bones underground, enjoying beautifully cooked steaks with our Icelandic Gull beers. Moments like this are what Reykjavik is about. Getting comfortable somewhere warm, with fantastic food, reminiscing and swapping stories with both new and old friends.

Afternoon Tunes at Harpa Concert Hall:

Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik Iceland

It was now time to say goodbye to one of my friends, as they had to catch the bus to the airport for their flight home. The storm was still raging, but luckily their meeting point was just outside the Harpa Concert Hall. I would like to say we stood with him in the storm out of solidarity, but instead we toasted to him from the bar inside with a glass of wine whilst we kept an eye on him through the window. 

To me concert halls are some of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Each one has their own air around them. When I was in Sydney I could often be found around the Opera House when I wanted food or drink. But the Harpa Concert Hall’s futuristic architecture was just inspiring to be around. To see adverts of the upcoming performances and drinking in the hall’s bar gives a sense of occasion you don’t get in regular bars. It was nice to walk around and admire, then enjoy a glass of wine in the bar before braving the snow for our next destination. 

Punk Spirit at the Punk Rock Museum:

Now this destination was harder to find than I thought. It’s hidden below ground in a renovated public toilet. Iceland has a vibrant history of Icelandic punk. Raw energy, DIY ethos, and a rebellious spirit echoed through the exhibits, encapsulating the evolution of a genre that’s deeply woven into the city’s identity. But I relished the opportunity to channel my inner rebel. Trying on the jackets and playing the drums is highly encouraged here. 

Posing on Rainbow Street:

Rainbow street in Reykjavik

By the time we had emerged from the Punk Museum the weather had started to calm. As it was around the corner, we used the opportunity to get some photos on Rainbow Street. This street was painted for pride, but has become such a popular attraction it’s remained ever since and become a photo opportunity for tourists. Especially with Hallgrimskirkja in its background. We caught it at a quiet time as well. However I did return again before my flight to get it completely empty. If you want to grab some dinner then you are spoilt for choice, as Rainbow Street sits parallel to the strip. Giving you ample choice to find some food, however Mama Reykjavik is a very popular choice. Quite literally its a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Evening Elegance at a Cocktail Bar:

a Cocktail in Einstock Bar, Reykjavik

I love a good bar in the evenings, and Reykjavik is home to my favourite. We went to the Einstök Bar, which had a cosy warm cosy vibe perfect to shield yourself from the Icelandic weather in. The staff were incredibly welcoming, often encouraging us to order our cocktails off the menu. Each round we were asked what spirits we enjoyed, and do we prefer sweet or sour flavours. And each time they surprised us with new and exciting cocktails. But if cocktails aren’t your thing and you just want a cocktail, Einstök are the #1 brewer of craft beers in Iceland. 

And that is Day One in Reykjavik! Everything in the city is relatively close so you can easily mix the order up. Check out Day Two here to find out how to spend your second day in Reykjavik Or click on the links below to read more in-depth articles about what to do in Reykjavik or the Golden Circle!

Link to Reykjavik travel guide in Iceland
Link to Iceland's Golden Circle travel guide

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