I spent two days in Iceland on my way home from working in Europe this summer and it was totally worth it, even if the stay was short!
If you have more time, I'd suggest doing a road trip or seeing more of the country, but if you have a short stay like I did, I'd recommend basing yourself in Reykjavik and taking day trips.
Here are a few travel tips I have for going to Iceland in the summer, as well as a few recommendations on where to eat in Reykjavik!
These tips can apply to anyone traveling to Reykjavik, too - not just for those doing short stays!
Iceland Summer Travel Tips
Weather during the Summer
Bring your jacket, hat, and scarf
I visited Iceland in mid-July, the warmest time of the year. While there wasn't any snow, it was still quite chilly at times. The highs each day ranged between 50-55 degrees farenheit during my time there and the weather seemed to change from sunny to cloudy every few minutes!
Walking over by the waterfront, just like anywhere near an ocean, was very windy. Of course the first thing I did after checking into my Airbnb was stroll along the water on my way downtown, and immediately went to go look for a warm hat to buy.
Since I had just come from warm and humid Central Europe, I wore my "warm outfit uniform" of skinny jeans, converse, leather jacket, scarf, and the hat I ended up buying.
If you're used to chilly climates in the summer, it might not feel that cold. Though it's always smart to bring layers in case that cold arctic breeze hits!
Getting to Reykjavik from Keflavik International Airport
The Flybus shuttle from the airport into Reykjavik is extremely easy to find when you leave the airport. Once you arrive and get your bags, head out of the arrivals area and you'll see all the buses. The attendants will help you load your luggage underneath.
The ride is about 45-60 minutes into the city, depending on if you choose to be dropped off at the BSI bus terminal (Flybus) or at a hotel (Flybus plus). Flybus Plus is a few dollars more, but it is completely worth it in my opinion.
Before I left airport arrivals, I asked the service desk which station was closest to the address of my Airbnb, and she said I could do the Flybus plus since it would drop me off at the nearest hotel.
When we got to the BSI terminal, those of us on Flybus Plus then got on a mini bus for the hotel drop-offs. The hotel they suggested I get off at was just down the street from my Airbnb so this was super easy!
If you're going straight from the airport to a day trip, you might want to get the regular Flybus ticket to the BSI terminal, since most day trip buses leave from there.
The Golden Circle Tour
With so many day trips to choose from, you'll want to stay in Iceland for more than a few days if possible!
Since I only had two days I went on the most popular day trip, The Golden Circle Tour, with Reykjavik Excursions. Rejkyavik Excursions is the same company that does Flybus so I was able to select my pickup from the same hotel I was dropped off the airport from the day before.
Other tour companies seem to have similar pickups at hotels, just at different times, so choose a tour operator that sounds good to you.
Day Trips from Reykjavik, or stay in different parts of the Country?
Reykjavik is a very small and walkable city. I probably walked through the entire downtown area including going in and out of shops and stopping for food in about three hours.
It's definitely worth the time to walk around, it's so colorful and cool!
I wrote in a recent Instagram post about how it reminded me of Seattle in some ways, yet was also one of the most unique cities I have been to.
There are a number of day trips to choose from, and Reykjavik is the standard base. Many people will find a place to stay in Reykjavik for the duration of their trip and do day trips to different parts of the country.
However, if you have more time, I would definitely suggest getting out to farther parts of the country, or even driving the Ring Road and stopping at cool places along the way, as I've heard it's worth it to venture farther out.
The nature in Iceland very diverse so you're bound to see everything from volcanoes, to caves, ice, and waterfalls...the list goes on.
4 Places to Eat in Reykjavik
Where to Eat, Drink, and have Coffee
This is based on where I personally ate in Reykjavik. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops around the city!
Icelandic Fish and Chips
This was a recommendation from my Airbnb host. It. Was. SO GOOD. This is not to be confused with Reykjavik Fish and Chips, which is on the other corner of the street and has larger signage. Icelandic Fish and Chips has the turquoise and white sign and there is also a museum inside if you want to look around while you wait.
The food is a la carte. You choose your fish based on the menu board on the wall (there were I think five different types) and then you choose how you want the fish cooked. I ordered fried cod and a side of potatoes, and tried an Icelandic beer. There were wines on the menu too, but they're all imported. (Iceland is known for its beer as well!)
The fish and potatoes were very good. I would definitely return on a trip to Reykjavik.
The cost wasn't bad either. I think my entire meal came out to the equivalent of $20-25. You'll hear how expensive everything in Iceland is, so I guess I just was expecting meals to be much higher.
Hot dog stand
After rave reviews from literally everyone I know who has been to Iceland (my Airbnb host recommended this too), I had to try the Icelandic hot dog.
After two and half weeks of traveling around Central Europe, I was going to forego the hot dog after eating Viennese and German sausages quite often, but I gave in.
It was pretty good! They say "get one with everything," which I did, except I got it without mayonnaise. I literally just copied what the guy in front of me said - get "one with everything, no mayonnaise." (I personally don't like mayo, but if you do, go for it).
It has crispy onion pieces which made it taste good. Otherwise, it's just a hot dog...in my opinion!
There are a couple benches and picnic tables next to the stand, so make sure you've bundled up since it's pretty cold outside, even in the summer. It is also closer to the ocean than other parts of the city.
Fish & More
On a Saturday morning I made my way over to Hallgrimiska church to see the famous, beautiful view of the city. I had woken early due to jet lag/24-hour sun and went to the church at 9 am.
By the time I left I was ravenous for breakfast, but very few restaurants and stores opened until 10 am. I stopped into Fish & More at 9 am and happened to be the only one there!
I got avocado toast with tomato on thick bread, and it wasn't bad. I was just happy that they were open!
Meal was around $10.
This place is across the way from Fish & More and you'll know when you find it due to its bright colors.
I stopped in to see if they would be able to make an iced coffee (I don't like warm drinks, I know, weird).
They didn't have ice cubes for my coffee, so I got a chocolate crepe instead. The filling tasted like brownie batter and was really good, until after a few bites I had to stop since it was almost too sweet.
A few observations...
Icelandic people are SO nice
Every local I talked was kind, helpful, and didn't look down on me if I asked if we could speak in English, like some people in other countries do... (and their English is very good).
THERE WERE A LOT OF NORTH AMERICAN TRAVELERS WHEN I WAS THERE
I could tell by the accents. Since flights between the east coast of North America and Iceland are relatively short, this makes sense!
Since I was in Europe for 3 weeks prior it felt weird to consistently hear American accents not in America.
Debit/Credit cards are king
Cash is accepted but everywhere you go will accept cards. I never went to an ATM to get out cash, in fact, I don't even know what Icelandic money looks like. Even the hot dog stand on the street had a credit card machine.
Unlike the rest of Europe, where some places of business don't accept credit cards, you won't have any issue using your card in Iceland.
Before you go, get a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees!