So you’re on a layover in Reykjavik, and you only have 24 hours in Iceland. What’s the best way to spend your time during your stopover? There’s a lot to cram into your day if you want to see everything. Hopefully, we gave you some ideas and pointed you in the right direction with our two posts on what to do in the morning and afternoon, and now it’s time to enjoy the nightlife that Iceland’s capital is so famous for. But first, you want to grab dinner at one of Reykjavik’ best restaurants. Whether stopping here on your way to another European destination or heading out on a Ring Road adventure throughout Iceland, let’s look at the best way to spend the evening during your 24 hours in Reykjavik.

Reykjavik's Northern Lights in the evening during a 24-hour layover in Iceland

First stop: Dine at One of Reykjavik’s Best Restaurants

Okay, so we may have gone for the more budget option for lunch but admit it, you’re now a convert and love Icelandic hot dogs. We knew you’d come around. For dinner, we’ll be spending a little bit more money and sampling what’s considered more traditional Icelandic fare. Many people are curious about what typical Icelandic cuisine is. While we won’t recommend less appetizing dishes like a hákarl (fermented shark meat) or svið (boiled sheep’s head) unless you want to try them, you’ll definitely be quite pleased if you are a fan of fish soup, lobster soup or seafood in general. Non-fish lovers will want to try Iceland’s famous lamb stew. Here are some of the favorite places to eat dinner in Reykjavik:

  • Dill – Address: 12 Hverfisgata Street | Website
  • Fiskmarkaðurinn – Address: 12 Aðalstræti Street | Website 
  • Sægreifinn – Address: 8 Geirsgata Street | Website 
  • Grillmarkaðurinn – Address:2a Lækjargata Street | Website 
  • Kopar – Address: 3 Geirsgata Street | Website 
  • Kol Restaurant – Address: 40 Skólavörðustígur Street | Website 
  • Fish Company – Address:2a Vesturgata Street | Website

We wrote a detailed blog post about the best restaurants in Reykjavik if you would like to check out dining options in the city. 

Enjoy seafood at one of Iceland's finest restaurants during a 24-hour stopover in Reykjavik

Next stop: Laugavegur Street and Environs for Reykjavik Nightlife

You filled your tummy with some the most delicious seafood that Iceland has to offer and now you’re ready to hit the town. Don’t be too surprised if some of the cafes you visited during the day have magically transformed into bustling, crowded bars. Icelanders are quite practical, and many of the establishments in the downtown area serve double duty. The change from day to night is quite fascinating to see. While you’re out, be sure to try Brennivín. The typical Icelandic schnapps is known as the Black Death, so you can imagine how it tastes.

  • Lebowski Bar – Address: 20 Laugavegur Street | Website
  • Islenski Barinn – Address 1a Ingólfsstræti Street | Website
  • Kaffibarinn – 1 Bergstaðastræti Street | Website
  • Húrra – 22 Tryggvagata Street | Website
  • Micro Bar – Address: 2 Vesturgata Street | Website
  • The English Pub – Address: 12 Austurstræti Street | Website
  • Slippbarinn – Address: 2 Mýrargata Street | Website

We’ve written a couple of posts about the best bars in Reykjavik. Take a look here to get detailed descriptions of each locale here and here.

If the weather is nice and you’re visiting during summer, you can also spend a part of your evening al fresco at Austurvöllur. This grassy plaza in the city makes an excellent spot for people watching. You can get coffee at a nearby cafe or a drink from the liquor store and grab a patch of green to sit on. You’ll be able to see the House of Parliament, the Alþingishúsið, from here.

The Northern Lights illuminate Hallgrímskirkja during 24 hours in Reykjavik

You can also take one last stroll along the water to see Harpa Concert Hall lit up at night. If you’re there at the right time of year, you might also see the Northern Lights.

Optional Last Stop in Reykjavik: One More Hot Dog

Nightlife in Reykjavik starts late (usually around 1 am) and goes even later. Depending on what time you finish your night out, you might be famished. Why not queue up with the other bar crawlers and club hoppers who want to nosh on a late-night snack? This may be your last chance to eat a tasty Icelandic hot dog for a while, so be sure to take full advantage of this fantastic opportunity.

24 Hours in Reykjavik: How to Spend Your Evening

Well, that concludes our three-part series on how to spend 24 hours in Reykjavik. We hope you’ve been able to pack everything in and experience everything you wanted to. With our suggested 24-hour itinerary, we hope you’ve enjoyed some tasty Icelandic food, seen some interesting things like whales breaching or Icelandic Punk paraphernalia, learned about the Vikings, and gotten a real feel for Iceland’s capital.

 

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