Iceland’s hip capital spreads a lot of opportunity over a vast area. Though it boasts a population of only around 120,000 (200,000 over the Capital Region), the growing tourism industry means plenty of visitors and lots to do. Making the most of your time in Iceland is the priority, and selecting from so many options can be a bit confusing. With that in mind, here are a few ideas for your first day.
Your first day in Reykjavík
A 6:30 am arrival time means the excitement of having a full day to explore your surroundings. However, the lack of sleep is a slight inconvenience. If you’re into having a drink here and there, run into the arrivals store at the airport and pick up some duty-free liquor. Just make sure your pin number is four digits (mine has 5, really need to change that).
Buy a bus ticket for around $20 USD or grab your rental car and head into the city. Or, you might luck out and find a ride on samferda.
If you’re arriving in the high season, you’ll be lucky to find your bed ready and waiting. So, store your gear and head to the nearest geothermal pool. Taking the time to relax and clean yourself up can work wonders. Prices vary, but you should be able to take a dip for less than $5 USD.
As nice as it is to go for a soak, you probably won’t want to stay there all morning. Head to the tourist information centre to scope out some activities, or to exchange your money (if you completely forgot to at the airport, like me). If it’s the weekend, head to the flea market by the waterfront. If not, the waterfront itself is worth a visit.
At 1 pm, you’ll want to take advantage of a free walking tour (Saturdays in winter, every day in summer). Doing this on the first day will help you orient yourself in the city and give you some of the history. The tour will take a little more than an hour. You’ll pass by a Bónus supermarket on the tour (that’s the cheapest supermarket chain in the country). Remember where is it and head back there to grab a few supplies. Now you should be able to check into your accommodations and make some food.
Your first night in Reykjavík
At this point, feel free to nap for an hour or so. Really, you deserve it for being so active this morning on no sleep. After freshening up (again), head out to wander the city streets and take some photos of the artwork you see painted on the sides of houses. As supper approaches, you may want to make your own food again, or you might opt for something like a kebab, which will run you around $10 USD.
Make sure you grab the appy hour app if you are looking to go out for some drinks. This way you can find the closest happy hour at any time. Some run late into the evening, though the locals don’t really get moving until after midnight. You might want to do some priming before you go out (that’s why you bought the liquor at the duty free). Icelandic people go all out on the weekends, though you might be seen as an alcoholic if you drink during the week. Of course, you’re on vacation, so who cares?
By this point, drinking and partying might be the last thing on your mind (the first thing being sleep). If that’s the case, don’t feel guilty about it. So, maybe spend some time figuring out the plan for tomorrow, or just pass out and worry about it in the morning. You’ve had a very productive first day in Iceland, and you deserve to address that sleep deprivation.
How do you spend your first day in a new city? Any go-to plans?