(Most Of) A Day in Reykjavik

Sulfur. Did you know that hot water in Iceland often smells like sulfur (or, as you might better know the smell, rotten eggs)? Yes, it’s true! Don’t panic though – it’s perfectly normal. Hot and cold water in Iceland come from different sources and the hot water is heated by a geothermal process which leaves the water smelling somewhat sulfuric. Learn all about it here! Thankfully, our hosts told us about this, but it’s still a bit of a shock to turn on the hot water for a shower only to get pummeled by the smell of rotten eggs. Thankfully, the smell doesn’t stick to your skin. It’s all part of the travel experience, right??

Now that you’ve learned a fun fact about Icelandic water, how about learning about our first day Reykjavik? It was a good one! As you learned in yesterday’s post, we arrived safely and were able to easily bus from the airport to the city. Reykjavik’s international airport is a little ways out of the city, so don’t be surprised when the journey takes you 40-50 minutes – be sure to build that into your transit time when you’re flying to/from here!

By the time we got settled and took much-needed showers (with bonus sulfur smell!), we wanted to get out and start exploring (hence the “most of” title of this post – we didn’t have a full day yesterday!). Although our apartment felt like it might be a little removed from the sights of the city, we realized the Airbnb reviews were right when they said we only needed to walk about 15 minutes to be in the middle of things. That’s why I always read the reviews before booking any homes on Airbnb – they generally give you the true picture of what to expect!

As we wandered through the city, we made HallgrĆ­mskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, our first stop. It’s definitely a must-see when you’re in Reykjavik! Not only is it a beautiful building, but you also get some great views of the city from the top. We were prepared to have to walk up hundreds of steps to get to the top (since we’ve had to do that in many other churches/old buildings in the past), but, surprise – there’s an elevator! Yesterday wasn’t particularly sunny, but we still got some great views. Worth the ~$8 USD entrance ticket!

We found Reykjavik to be very walkable, so it was onwards to a drive-by (okay, walk-by) of the Iceland Phallological Museum, though we didn’t actually go in as it didn’t sound like it was worth the $10 entrance fee. Your mileage may vary though, so feel free to check it out! Our actual destination on this walk was the National Museum of Iceland, which proved to be pretty interesting. As we were walking through the city, Scott and I actually wondered how long ago Reykjavik (and Iceland overall) had been settled and the museum has a permanent exhibition that answers that very question. Really interesting stuff! Add this place to your must-visit list when you’re in Reykjavik.

Post-museum, we knew we were starting to drag, so we caught an early dinner at an Indian/Pakistani restaurant called Shalimar, which I actually really enjoyed, despite the fact that’s not my favorite kind of food. Scott was less impressed, but because he really enjoys Indian food, he had more to compare it to. It was definitely on the pricey side for a small place (about $55 for two meals and some bread), but it looked like they had some good lunch deals, so try them for that first and then go back for more if you like it.

Quick picture tour time!

The living room of our apartment. Not big, but comfortable.


The bathroom is decent-sized, but the shower is a bit cramped.

The first of two bedrooms.

We debated using the other bedroom because this one is pretty small, but it worked out well.

Quick glimpse at the sea from just down the street our apartment is on.

I always love to see cool street art when I’m out and about in different cities.

We think this is a museum, but didn’t go in as we were just walking past it on our way to HallgrĆ­mskirkja.

If you’ll remember, I always love a good directional sign!

These guys just looked interesting enough to snap a picture of.

This rainbow street was done as part of Reykjavik Pride as a way to show joy and support for diversity. Cool!

I shared this photo in yesterday’s preview post, but I just love the way it’s framed, so I’m sharing again!

This is the backside of the statue in front of the church.

Impressive set of pipes in the church!

Looking over Reykjavik from the top of HallgrĆ­mskirkja.

Another shot from the top.

Aaaaaand, the obligatory selfie.

I missed another deadline and I’m publishing this on Thursday evening instead of Thursday morning – oops! We had a good night’s sleep, but had to get going so we could make it to the pickup point for today’s excursion, a day trip through the Golden Circle. We only booked it yesterday, but it was so worth it! More on that in the next post though…

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!