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    A First-Timer's Guide To Reykjavík, Iceland

    Click here for natural hot springs, northern lights, waterfalls adorned by rainbows, and more.

    Ryan Pattie

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    If Reykjavík, Iceland, isn't already on your travel bucket list, it should be. From the natural hot springs and waterfalls to the awesome nightlife and *gulp* fresh seafood, it's a place that SHOULD NOT BE MISSED.


    Reykjavík's manageable size and relatively inexpensive flights also makes it provides the perfect quick getaway — which is why we've outlined all the best places to eat, sleep, dance, and soak in some stunning Icelandic nature.

    Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed

    Enter a world of luxury via Canopy by Hilton Reykjavík City Centre, where comfy beds, HUGE showers, and continental breakfasts would make even a noble jealous. Who's never leaving their hotel room? You.

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed, Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre

    Sure, the hotel is beautiful and comfortable and you'll want steal the decor. But it also offers the below perks:

    Geiri Smart: This restaurant, packed with impressive retro wall art and blue velvet couches, looks like something plucked from a Pinterest board dream...and the food is as delicious as the aesthetic is gorgeous. The chefs constantly change the menu depending on what ingredients have been sourced by local farmers and fishermen. In other words, everything you consume here uses only the freshest produce available.

    This is also where you'll be eating your complimentary continental breakfast, so get ready to GORGE on a huge spread that includes everything from pastries and smoothies to bacon and eggs. Wash it all down with fresh coffee or wellness shots — because yes, they have literal wellness shots available for you at breakfast.

    Canopy Central Bistro & Bar: If you're trying to sample local drinks and bites, this in-house bar offers complimentary tastings every 👏 single 👏 day 👏. I'm not saying this is enough reason alone to stay here, but...

    Canopy Central Café: Grab coffee, a pastry, or some ready-to-go sandwiches at the lobby cafe before departing on your "I'm seeing yet another natural wonder today" adventure.

    Address: Smidjustigur 4, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

    Rooms starting at $256+.

    KEX Hostel = a dream come true for a) frequent vintage shoppers and b) anyone on a budget. Every corner of this affordable spot is packed with unique touches, from wall art to overstuffed couches that look like they were transported from the Roaring '20s.

    Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed

    Blue Lagoon is the first image that comes to mind when you think of Iceland — and for good reason. This geothermal spa contains salt- and algae-rich water, is nestled into a lava field that looks like it fell from Mars, and is basically the kind of place I want to wake up to every morning.

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    If your flight into Iceland arrives super early in the AM, here’s a friendly piece of “this is what I did” advice: Book a bus straight from the airport to the Blue Lagoon.

    Blue Lagoon has its own airport shuttle that lets you arrange service from the airport to the lagoon...and then provides hotel drop-off into Reykjavik. This is the most budget-friendly option (Uber in Reykjavík is nonexistent and cabs are HELLA expensive), plus it’s the perfect way to de-stress from your flight. You have to shower before and after you’ve gone into said lagoon anyway.

    You can stay at the Blue Lagoon for as long as you want, and your ticket includes a free mud mask and a drink of your choice at the swim-up bar.

    Tickets starting at $56 (pre-booking is required).

    Visit Hallgrímskirkja, a Lutheran church completed in 1986 that serves as the tallest structure in all of Iceland. It's also an observation tower, allowing you to soak in the entirety of Reykjavík (just imagine all 👏 that 👏 colorful 👏 roofing 👏) when you get to the very top.

    Flickr; Filip Kiss / Via Flickr: filipkiss

    Address: Hallgrímstorg 101, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

    In general, Iceland is the kind of spot in which I STRONGLY recommend you book tours. A lot of the ~natural wonders~ aren’t located close to one another, so booking tours that guarantee you’ll see everything is pretty darn crucial.

    Browse sites like Expedia and Viator to find tours that best suit your style. OR! Opt for online services like Intrepid Travel or Groupon (the latter of which provides budget-friendly stays) that plan your entire itinerary for you, accommodations included. Groupon even includes your flight!

    Marvel at the Sólheimajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers, gasp at the Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, and stroll along the black sand beaches of Vik on this Southern Iceland tour.

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    This tour offers hotel pickup and drop-off (thank the gods) and lasts about 10 hours.

    Tours starting at $69.

    Chasing waterfalls = great. Chasing northern lights = better. This three-hour tour is held from September to mid-April (you need maximum darkness to be able to see the aurora borealis) and takes you to remote spots where they’re the most visible. Warning: If the concept of space terrifies you, then the northern lights are...eerie. But worth it!

    The Golden Circle tour is a classic tour to take in Iceland: It covers the Geysir and Strokkur hot springs, the double-tiered Gullfoss waterfall, *and* a tectonic rift at Thingvellir National Park that looks like something out of The Lord of the Rings.

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    This tour lasts approximately seven hours and includes hotel pickup and drop-off.

    Tours starting at $43.20.

    Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed

    **Just a very important that Iceland does NOT have Yelp, so major foodie research is required before you take your trip!**

    Devour your most important meal of the day at Grai Kotturinn (The Grey Cat), a hidden little nook that prides itself on breakfast food staples: toast, pancakes, bagels, and more. Wash it all down with a cup of joe, and prepare to leave with a happy belly.

    AnaMaria Glavan / Buzzfeed, AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Trip Advisor review: "Oddly enough, it was actually very difficult to find breakfast places in Reykjavík (maybe because they are known for their late night scene and therefore aren’t up in time for breakfast — lol). What’s cool about this place is that it looks like a little hipster library, as there are books on shelves throughout the dining area. The dish they are famous for is called 'The Truck' and includes pancakes, eggs, bacon, potatoes, tomatoes, and toast. The bacon was some of the best I have ever had." —HonestJJF

    Address: Hverfisgata 16a, Reykjavík 101, Iceland

    Visit Iceland’s oldest restaurant/a spot straight out of a Nicholas Sparks book turned movie: Kaffivagninn. This tiny waterfront property is a great place to grab some fish and chips (or soup!) while watching the boats bob by.

    Please trust me when I say this: I have tried many a chocolate cake, and I had probably *the best* chocolate cake of my life at Café Babalú. This is the perfect little spot to fill up on crepes, caffeine, and (surprise) cake.

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    They also offer more filling bites, meaning prepare to nibble on soups and sandwiches galore! (A lot of vegan options are available, including a vegan carrot cake that is apparently one of their bestsellers.)

    And the bathroom? It's Star Wars-themed.

    Trip Advisor review: "While the soup and sandwiches were delicious, I will definitely be heading back for their amazing cakes with cream on the side! I've been there twice in three days already...tomorrow will be a third trip!" —Joseph M.

    Address: Skolavoerdustigur 22a | 101 Reykjavík, Reykjavík 101, Iceland

    Bottomless brunch = music to my ears. Get it at Public House Gastropub, an edgy spot that favors fresh ingredients, cocktails, and draft beers. (Psst: This is also a great dinner choice if you love seafood and your favorite five-letter word is S-U-S-H-I.)

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Trip Advisor review: "What a find! The bottomless brunch at Public House is not to be missed. The food is outrageous and the staff is amazing. Rebecca was the best waitress ever, attending to our every wish with a warm and generous heart." —Drjjacob

    Address: Laugavegur 24 | Main Shopping Street, Reykjavík 101, Iceland

    Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed

    If you want to hang with the locals, go to Den Danske Kro. Prepare your ears for constant live music and covers to songs like, say, "Always" by Bon Jovi. The kicker is said song may be translated into Icelandic, resulting in the entire bar singing along. (Now who's ready for a game of "spot the tourist"?)

    If the thought of yelling along to "Come On Eileen" makes your heart skip a beat, then Miami belongs on your bucket list. Because it's an '80s-themed bar, it's pretty damn cheesy — and that's exactly what makes it so perfect.

    Exposed brick and dim lighting make Kaffibarinn the ideal spot for a cozy wine night. It's even got late-night DJs (for background #moodmusic) and a huge selection of local Icelandic brews you can't leave Reykjavík without trying.

    And with that, I bid you adieu — time to plan your trip to Reykjavík and use this post as a reference!


    The reviews in this post have been edited for length and clarity.

    Don't forget to check out Bring Me! for all of BuzzFeed's best travel tips and hacks, vacation inspiration, and more!

    Jay Fleckenstein / BuzzFeed