48 Hours in Reykjavik: The Perfect Itinerary

What to eat, the museums to see, and the sights to see.

Reykjavik, Iceland skyline at sunset

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Reykjavik is the perfect city to visit for a long weekend. Like any other capital around the world, you'll find incredible food, shopping, culture, and some pretty unique museums. While you can't visit many of the geological wonders Iceland is known for if you're only around for 48 hours (that includes hot springs), you can still get a trip of a lifetime. Ahead, inspiration for how to spend two wonderful days in Reykjavik like a local.

Day One Morning: Tour Downtown Reykjavik

9 a.m.: Start off your day at Reykjavik Roasters, near the iconic Hallgrimskirkja church. The café is constantly roasting new blends in-house. You'll spot lots of locals and travelers chatting and sipping on coffee. Grab a warm drink before heading out for your tours of Reykjavik.

10 a.m.: Plan ahead and book a private walking tour with I Heart Reykjavik. Run by a local couple, they'll take you all around the capital city and share insights on the architecture, stunning murals, and history. The tour runs between two and two-and-a-half hours and can be booked any time throughout the day.

12:30 p.m.: After your tour, head to Kaffibarrin. This spot sells sandwiches and other lunch fare, but head to the second floor to enjoy your meal. It's cozier and there's great people watching if you're lucky enough to grab the window overlooking the street. If you're looking for a bar to check out later on, head back this way. After dinner is cleared up, Kaffibarrin turns into a lively spot to grab a drink.

Day One Afternoon: Window Shopping Along Laugavegur

2 p.m.: One of the best things to do in Reykjavik is spend some time strolling down the main downtown area. There are all kinds of shops to pop into full of local designer goods and lots of wool blankets. Some stores you definitely won't want to miss like: Lucky Records, Akkurat, Brynja, Hrim, Geysir, Spuutnik, 66 North, and Aftur.

4 p.m.: Give yourself a break — Reykjavik is huge on happy hour. Find a spot nearby to try out a local beer or a glass of wine.

Day One Evening: Dinner at Rok and Live Music

7 p.m.: Head back toward the church and you'll find Rok on Frakkastígur. This spot is loved by locals for its great cocktails and flair for incorporating traditional ingredients in modern ways. Don't miss the plokkfiskur, a fish pie you won't soon forget.

8 p.m.: Hurrá is the perfect place to camp out if you're looking for live music. They have acts most weekends and you never really know what you're going to get. Once you're here, you're in a great neighborhood for bar-hopping. Head to Pablo Discobar, Skúli Craft Bar, MicroBar, Snaps Bistro, Prikid, or Mikkeller & Friends for a solid drink and a friendly crowd.

Day Two Morning: Brunch and the Geothermal Footbath

9 a.m.: Finding a hot spring in Reykjavik isn't going to happen, but you can visit the city's geothermal foot bath. Located at a group of rocks called Kisuklappir about a 45-minute walk from the city center, the foot bath is actually a piece of artwork by local artist Ólöf Nordal. The tiny pool has incredible views of Mount Esja across the water and is best experienced with a cup of coffee in hand. Get here early — we're talking before breakfast so bring a snack — to beat the crowds.

10 a.m.: Breakfast at Bergsson Mathus is actually the perfect way to start a day in Reykjavik — leave it for your second day so you don't feel as rushed to get out and start exploring. After the Bergsson Brunch (a dish with a little bit of everything), spend a few minutes taking in the cozy atmosphere.

12 noon: Head to one of the city's unique museums: the Phallological Museum, the Icelandic Punk Museum, the Árbæjarsafn Open-Air Museum, the Saga Museum — each one offers a peek into the country, and its people's, history in its own way. (You can find more museum suggestions right this way.)

Day Two Afternoon: Ferry to Puffin Island

2 p.m.: If you find yourself in Reykjavik between April and September, consider spending an afternoon getting to know some puffins on a quick boat ride from the Old Harbour in Reykjavik. The islands of Lundey and Akurey are a quick boat ride from Reykajvik; within a few minutes, you can be exploring — from the boat, no one is allowed on the shores — one of the most popular bird communities in the country. There are all kinds of tour companies that offer trips to and from the islands, like the appropriately-named Mr. Puffin.

If you're visiting during the wintertime, head into the Reykjavik Art Museum and meet some local icons.

4 p.m.: Once you're back from your journey, check out the nearby Volcano House, an exhibit covering Iceland's unique geology. The exhibits also highlight the 200 volcanoes you can find on Iceland — it's the next best thing to actually getting to walk on one (which you can do, if you have more time in the country).

Day Two Evening: Seafood Dinner and Drinks

6 p.m.: Some of those local happy hours extend past 5 p.m. — find one and take full advantage. If you're not tied to the idea of a happy hour, head to Kex. This hostel is actually a favorite of locals to go and grab a drink. It's the perfect place to make some friends before dinner. And if you're looking for an accommodation recommendation consider Kex.

8 p.m.: Head to dinner at Grillmarkaðurinn, the perfect spot for some of the city's best seafood and more traditional dishes, if you're adventurous. Here, you can try grilled puffin, whale steak, or Arctic char.