Reykjavik. The capital city of Iceland known for its breathtaking landscapes, local cuisine, and colorful buildings. This small country out to sea has so much to offer its residents and visitors. While many tourists opt to road-trip the Ring Road route of Iceland, there’s a lot to be seen in Reykjavik too. Making the charming capital your base during your trip will allow you to experience the Icelandic culture through its vibrant street art, locally-sourced dishes, and home-made crafts. If the van-life isn’t for you, most tours depart from Reykjavik making it easy to get around.
Popular Areas to Stay in Reykjavik
If it’s your first time visiting, you’ll want to stay in the central part of the city. While Reykjavik is relatively small, Midborg spans from the coastal walk to Reykjavik International Airport. Here you’ll find the famous Hallgrimskirkja church, Braud bakery, and the National Museum of Iceland.
Locals frequent this area often, especially during the city’s happy hour times. Icelandic restaurants and quaint bars line the streets of the city center. Stroll along rainbow road or enjoy the views from Hljómskála Park. (Tip; download the “Appy Hour” app if you want to browse the daily happenings and save yourself a lot of money in Reykjavik!)
On the very edge of Reykjavik’s shopping street of Laugavegur sits the Hlíðar neighborhood. Steps from the city center without the business, this area is home to few hotels, rentals, and hostels. Tree-lined streets provide a hideaway from the evening liveliness of Reykjavik. The indoor food hall, Hlemmur Mathöll, can be found here next to the main bus station. Visit any time of the day to experience an array of cuisines from around the world, and a local favorite amongst both tourists and locals.
Hlíðar is also home to the Icelandic Art Museum, a few casual eateries, and the atmospheric Klambratún park.
Both trendy and historic, Vesturbær encompasses the Old West Side and Harbor area. With its seafood shacks, traditional architecture, and boat tours, there’s no shortage of things to do in this area. Whale Watching tours allow guests to experience nature’s beauty by day, while Northern Light tours provide a magical experience to witness a true wonder of the world.
Start your day with a coastal walk to the city center. About 10 minutes away, you’ll pass fishing boats, food shacks, and the distant view of snow-capped mountains along your way. This area is also home to the Whale Museum, Saga Museum, Maritime Museum, and OmNom Chocolate Factory.
Best Boutique Hotels in Reykjavik
Center Hotels Laugavegur
Located at 95-99 Laugavegur 95 – 99, 101, Reykjavik Iceland, this hotel is a favorite place to stay when visiting Reykjavik. With a casual eatery and elegant restaurant inside, Laugavegur is the ideal hotel if you want to be close to everything with the bonus of enjoying quieter evenings. The hotel is located on the quieter side of the main shopping street, within a 5-10 minute walk of the popular bars and restaurants.
Rooms have balcony spaces with stunning views of the city center and snow-capped mountains in the distance. (I actually saw the northern lights for the first time on the rooftop of Center Hotels Laugavegur!) Read the full re-cap of my stay here.
Center Hotels Midgardur
Center Hotel Midgardur is located at Laugavegur 120, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. I know, if you’ve never been to Iceland, this means NOTHING to you! Below, I’ve posted a map to make it a little easier for you to see exactly where it is and what’s close by to suit your travel needs!
Almost everything is within walking distance from Midgardur. Whatever cuisine you want, you will definitely find close to this location. But, if you don’t feel like walking more than 5 minutes, here’s my list of nearby foodie places and points of interest.
- Hlemmur Matholl — Think classic, European food hall. Hlemmur offers small plates from various cuisines and cultures. The bar areas are always lively and filled with both tourists and locals. SOLO TRAVEL TIP; This is a great place to meet fellow travelers, as well as talk to the locals. Since it’s such a small space, the bartenders are always willing to chat and share their Icelandic knowledge!
- Jorgensen Kitchen and Bar— Located downstairs in the hotel, Jorgensen has a buzzing atmosphere and delicious food! Its a great way to meet fellow travelers staying at the hotel.
Center Hotels Plaza
Center Hotel Plaza is located at Aðalstræti 4- 6, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. It is located right in Ingólfur Square, which is conveniently home to numerous restaurants, bars, and shops. If you walk through the square and follow the street straight down, it’ll lead you to the Rainbow road, authentic street-lined shopping stalls, and many more attractions nearby!
Center Hotel Plaza is probably one of the best destinations to stay in Iceland. It is in the heart of the downtown area and surrounded by everything you need. It is directly across from the main shopping strip, which you can follow straight down to lead you to the rainbow road. Another huge perk of staying here is that it’s around the corner from the infamous hot dog stand; with the best dog’s in Iceland!
- The Laundromat Cafe — A 3 minute walk from Plaza, this unique cafe is definitely an instagrammable must-see! The food is delicious (try the halloumi burger), and you’ll soon find why it’s named the laundromat cafe when you stroll downstairs to find that you can actually do your laundry!
- Fjallkonan — If you walk outside of the hotel, you’re sure to see this restaurant situated in Ingolfur Square. I went here for both brunch and dinner, and both are fantastic options! You’ll typically have no problem finding this popular spot, as it’s usually decorated outside with Aperol umbrellas, blankets, and filled seats with happy customers!
Center Hotels Thingholt
The hotel is conveniently located right near the famous, rainbow road at Þingholtsstræti 5, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. It’s the ideal location if you want to be right in the middle of everything that’s going on- restaurants, bars, shops, etc!
- Hallgrímskirkja Church — A few minutes walk by the rainbow road, you can visit this iconic, Icelandic monument and climb the top for as little as $8! It’s a great way to capture panoramic views of Reykjavik from a different viewpoint.
Íslenski Barinn — One of my FAVORITE, Icelandic eateries! Here, you can try delicacies such as reindeer, fermented shark, and traditional beers!
Center Hotels Grandi
Grandi is located steps from the old harbor, and a few minutes walk from the center of the downtown area, at Seljavegur 2, 101 Reykjavík. It’s the perfect location if you don’t want to be right in the middle of the hustle and bustle, and is its own perfect oasis across from the sea.
Grandi Mathöll — The sister of Hlemmur Matholl (close to Center Hotel Midgardur), Grandi Matholl is the perfect example of a European food hall, featuring numerous cuisines around the world, cocktail options, and it’s the ideal spot if you’re traveling solo!
- The Old Harbor area — This spot is lined with quaint restaurants, cute cafe’s, and tour companies. Take your pick! You can do a whale watching cruise, a puffin tour, or visit the abandoned island of Videy.
Best Hostels in Reykjavik
Kex Hostel for Solo Travel
Steps to the main shopping street of Laugavegur and places to eat, Kex is in a prime location for solo travelers. Stroll through the city or walk across from the hostel to the coastal walk. Kex Hostel bar is a favorite for both travelers and Icelandic locals, making it a great spot to meet new friends. They host lively events during the week and will always show sports games. Their open social spaces and friendly atmosphere make it a top hostel choice.
Loft Hostel for City Vibes
In the heart of everything, Loft is ideal for groups and solo travelers. The rainbow road is across the street, as well as many famous eateries. The rooftop bar is a popular spot for socializing and taking amazing pictures from above Reykjavik. While it can get a little loud in the evenings (as its in the hustle and bustle of it all), everything is at your doorstep. For more tips on saving money in Iceland, see my blog post.
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