24 Hours in Reykjavik: How to Spend Your Afternoon

People Walking In Downtown Reykjavik During A 24-Hour Layover

Let’s continue our adventure-packed 24 hours in Reykjavik. In part one, we started off the morning with breakfast at one of Reykjavik’s best bakeries and continued on with some sightseeing and outdoor activities. Now it’s lunchtime, and you’re hungry. Let’s grab a quick bite to eat in one of Iceland’s most iconic hot dog stands and then either head to Laugavegur street for some serious shopping, strolling, and people watching or go to an unusual museum. Let’s look at how to spend your afternoon during a 24-hour stopover in Reykjavik.

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People Exploring Reykjavik On A 24-Hour Stop In Iceland'S Capital

First Stop: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur Hot Dog Stand

Those who may not be familiar with Icelandic cuisine are most likely thinking “What? Hot dogs for lunch in Iceland? I can get that at home!”. But hear me out. Anyone who has spent a little bit of time here knows that hot dogs are Iceland’s unofficial food. Bill Clinton even had one when he visited the country in 2004. You’ll find these tasty frankfurters everywhere, from food carts late at night in Reykjavik to gas stations that dot the countryside. And they’re really, really good. The meat is extremely high quality, as it comes from our beloved, free-roaming sheep. Additionally, the ketchup is sweetened with apples rather than sugar. This new twist on a favorite condiment along with crispy onions, remoulade sauce, and sweet brown mustard give it a distinctly different flavor than its American counterpart.

If you’ve only got one day in Reykjavik, be sure to come to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog stand. The name means “best dogs in town”, so make like a local and order “Ein með öllu” (one with everything). 70% of Icelanders have stopped here at least once, and you should too!

An Afternoon in Reykjavik Option 1: Shop ‘Til You Drop on Laugavegur Street

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, Laugavegur street is Reykjavik’s mecca of cool. It’s considered the city’s main street for both daytime activities and Icelandic nightlife. You can find everything here from vintage shops to Scandinavian design to upscale boutiques to stores filled with all kinds of knick-knacks. This highly-frequented thoroughfare is a favorite destination among tourists and Icelanders alike.

Couple Shopping On Laugavegur Street During 24 Hours In Reykjavik

And you don’t have to be a shopaholic to enjoy Laugavegur street. The plethora of bars, cafes, restaurants, and bakeries in and around this area means that you can grab something to eat or drink, people watch or just stroll. Nearby Austurstræti and Bankastraeti (which actually turns into Laugavegur street shortly after Ingólfsstraeti) are also popular destinations in downtown Reykjavik during a day out. Check out our article about Laugavegur street to learn more about the different shops and types of things that you can buy.

An Afternoon in Reykjavik Option 2: Visit an Unusual Museum

If spending an afternoon shopping, dining or bar crawling on Laugavegur Street isn’t really your thing, there are still plenty of things that you can do in Reykjavik to have fun. There are some museums here that you’ll find in very few parts of the world, so why not check them out during your quick stay.

The Viking Saga Museum and the Settlement Exhibition

History buffs will love these ones. If you weren’t already aware, Iceland was founded by the Vikings and the people you see walking around the island today are their direct descendants. There’s even an Icelandic genealogy website where people can trace their lineage and discover their Viking family tree (or find out if they are dating a relative; you can’t be too careful on such a small island). At the Viking Saga Museum, wax figures bring the stories of heroic characters to life and show us what it was like to experience the voyages and battles during this exciting epoch. You even get to dress up like a Viking! This museum is a favorite among kids (both big and small) and history lovers alike. If you’re still craving more history after visiting the Saga Museum, head over to the Settlement Exhibition for even more.  You see how Iceland’s first inhabitants lived during the time of the Viking settlements.

Viking Life Reenacted At The Viking Saga Museum And The Settlement Exhibition In Reykjavik

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

People are always saying that Icelanders have a peculiar sense of humor. While I can’t definitively say whether or not this is true, I do know that there is a particularly quirky museum in Reykjavik that is unlike anything you will see in many places: the Penis Museum. You’ll find the world’s largest collection of phalluses on display, and the specimens are not limited to humans. You’ll find everything from tiny hamsters to massive whales and everything in between at this educational museum. If you’re in Reykjavik for a short period of time, this museum could be worth your while.

The Icelandic Punk Museum

This is Reykjavik’s newest museum and probably one of its coolest. Purple mohawks and studded leather collars were once the rule of the day for punk rockers in Iceland. Even Björk got her start as a punk musician with the all-girl punk band Spit and Snot. This unique museum seeks to recreate the experience and zeitgeist of that era with paraphernalia and informative exhibitions. In true punk rock style, the museum is housed in a space that used to be an underground restroom. Get in touch with your punk side during your day in Reykjavik. 

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The National Museum of Iceland and the Reykjavik Art Museum

If you’re more of a traditionalist and punk, penises or pillagers aren’t really your style, don’t worry. You can make an afternoon stop at the more conventional National Museum of Iceland. This establishment traces the island’s history and culture, giving you a real feel for how the country was built. Another option is the Reykjavik Art Museum, which features works from modern and contemporary artists both from Iceland and abroad.

24 Hours in Reykjavik: How to Spend Your Afternoon

Now that you’ve seen a little bit more of what the city has to offer, it’s time to get ready for a night on the town. In our next post, will explore what to do in the evening during your 24-hour layover in Reykjavik.

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