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A Summer Guide to Reykjavik, Iceland

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Sara shares her favorite spots with us!

Despite cold, harsh winters and a remote island location, it is no surprise to me that Reykjavik, Iceland, is consistently rated one of the top cities for mental wellbeing. Even just a few days in the city made me feel calm, relaxed, and at peace. The locals are friendly, the food and shopping are great, and the ocean views are beautiful. The people are so kind that after parking on the street one night, we came back the next morning to find that someone had washed our rental car! Summer is the perfect time to go, so here are some things I recommend to do during your visit.

Sandholt is an absolute must on a visit to Reykjavik. This café serves the best hot chocolate I have ever had! It also has a vast menu of incredible lunch options. While the café updates the food menu seasonally, the highlight during my time there was the Croque Monsieur.

If you’re missing international wine options on your vacation, look no further than this quaint wine bar. It’s a very small spot located below a store on the main street of Laugavegur so it is easy to miss. But their impressive wine list highlights the best selections from around the globe. As a longtime fan of California wine, I was surprised to fall in love with their German Pinot Noir accompanied by delicious small plates.

Even if you’re visiting in the summer, be sure to pop into Icewear to stock up on amazing winter attire. Their products are designed for Iceland’s freezing winters and difficult climate so they are well-designed and aesthetically pleasing. While I was there, I purchased a parka and the country’s signature wool gloves. They both served me very well in the following winter.

This darling bookstore is not only a great place to shop for a new read but is also home to a great bar that showcases local musicians and artists with regular shows inside. We wandered in for a drink and a fabulous performance by Icelandic jazz singers.

This stunning church is a jewel in the Reykjavik skyline. Whether you make a trip inside or just walk by to marvel at the architecture, no trip is complete without a visit.

If you’re looking for some local jewelry for yourself or as a souvenir for someone at home, check out Fríða. The owner takes her inspiration from the sites and residents around Reykjavik, including the popular stray cats. I bought a beautiful ring from her that she kindly specified to my needs and sizing.

For a more elegant dinner and a change from the typical Icelandic food, head toward the pier for dinner at La Primavera. All the food we got was phenomenal but I particularly loved the gnocchi and their truffle vinaigrette. Plus – don’t miss a drink from their amazing bar featuring an iconic sign showing off the typical Scandanavian dry sense of humor!

Lastly, our visit to sky lagoon was one of the highlights of our entire trip. Unlike some of the other local hot springs, Sky Lagoon caters much more to the locals so it is less crowded with tourists. The lagoon overlooks the ocean with stunning views and a great bar so I enjoyed a glass of champagne while relaxing. I definitely recommend purchasing a package that includes the Ritual (we got the Pure Pass), which is a seven-step healing and rejuvenation process. It includes time in their beautiful sauna, a fresh glacial pool, the Sky Lagoon’s special cleansing scrub, and more. I have truly never felt more relaxed.



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