24 hours in Reykjavik | What to do & Where to Stay

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If you read my previous post about my experience with Wow Airlines you should know that they are a cheap airline to fly into Europe with. It includes a layover in Keflavik and for me, it ended up that I had a little under 24 hours before my next flight the following morning.

In my search of finding the cheapest flights and accommodation, I was upset to see no one was really giving information for those of us that are just wanting to the see Reykjavik over a short period of time. It took me a while to figure out how to get to the city center, what hostel to stay at, and where I could go that was affordable for my backpacker budget. So today I want to share all of that with you so your trip to Iceland, even if it is longer than mine can be planned with more information.

Reykjavik has Two Airports

If you’re flying into Iceland beware that they have two airports KEF, Keflavik International Airport, and RVK, Reykjavik Domestic Airport. I flew in and out of KEF so the advice I’m about to give is about getting into the city center because KEF is 45 minutes from Reykjavik city center.

With the distance you have three options to get into the city:

  1. Rent a Car
    1. I did not rent a car, but I went through the airport site and they show that a car can easily be rented for 20 EUR a day. Being that I was only there for a day I didn’t look into this option, but it is an option for getting into Reykjavik!
  2. Get a Taxi
    1. When researching how much a taxi would cost multiple travelers said that a taxi to the city center costs around 100 EUR (one-way). Not the budget friendly option that I was looking for as I took this layover to save money, not spend more.
  3. Take the Airport shuttle
    1. Reykjavik has many shuttle services. I know a popular option is the FlyBus but I went with the Gray Line as it was 10 EUR cheaper, and looked exactly the same.

Gray Line | Iceland Shuttle Cost

The Gray Line shuttle is located right outside the airport and drops you off right at your hotel. The shuttle also has Wi-Fi for the 45 minute journey into town. The bus runs 24 hours a day, so you don’t need to worry about getting to and from at odd hours. Once on the bus, you just need to wait for them to stop at your hotel and it’s the easiest airport shuttle I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. It costs about 40 EUR roundtrip, making it the cheapest of all options to the city center.

Where to Stay | Hostel & Hotel

Iceland is one of the more expensive vacation spots so when searching for accommodation in Reykjavik I looked for Hostels. Hostels are great for budget travels and they usually include free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and most have great locations as well. For my night in Reykjavik, I chose to stay at Hlemmur Square. Hlemmur Square is a luxury hostel and hotel with a shuttle stop right outside the front door. So if you’re waking up at 5AM to get to the airport, like I was, this is the place for you.

They have a bar and restaurant in the lobby so if you’re looking for a relaxing atmosphere this is it.

What to do in Reykjavik on a Budget

Staying to a budget in an expensive city can be hard. I got in later than I expected at first so all of the museums and main attractions like the Icelandic Phallological Museum were closed.

My first stop was a happy hour drink to get me onto the adventuring mood. Just a few minutes’ walk from the hostel I found Kaffibrennslan. I went in because they were having happy hour, drinks cost around 650ISK. After a little walking around, taking in the sites I stopped at the amazing Icelandic Punk Museum. It’s a former public lavatory filled with punk nostalgia. It’s a newer part of Reykjavik but well worth the money. If you’ve ever been curious about Icelandic Punk, or what a public lavatory would look like as a museum – check it out. Plus, you can play the bass and drum set.

The one place I didn’t want to miss was the Harpa concert hall. It’s on the water and a nice walk outside of town. Take in the view and relax here for a while.

By this point in my time in Reykjavik, I was hungry, so I kept wandering until I found one of the many hot dog stands. For 770ISK you can have a famous Icelandic hot dog and soda. It’s one of the cheaper meal options in the city and I’m glad I picked one up!

After eating I went back to my hostel, but wandering is one of the best ways to see the city!

Make sure to like, follow, and share with your travel buddies! Thank you for reading and if you want to learn more about travel and minimalism, make sure to check out a few of my other posts!


Until next time,


Colleen Rose


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