We kicked off our 8-day trip to Iceland with about 24 hours in the capital city, Reykjavik! After arriving at the Keflavik International Airport in the morning, we had to take a ~45 minute bus ride to downtown Reykjavik. We dropped our bags off at Loft Hostel then headed out to start our day! We first headed towards Harpa Concert Hall situated by the Atlantic Ocean and were able to wander around inside and explore the beautiful architecture at no cost. The concert hall opened in May of 2011 and is not only used for concerts but also international conferences, festivals and even the Reykjavik Chess Tournament!
Next we strolled along the banks until we made it to the Sun Voyager sculpture. Designed by Jon Gunnar Arnason, the steel sculpture resembles a Viking long ship. We wandered the banks enjoying the views of Mount Esja across the water.
From the water we headed up the hill into town towards where we could see the tower of Halligrimskirkja Church in the distance. The church was built in 1937 with inspiration from how lava cools forming basalt rock. In front of the church was the statue of Leifur Eiriksson, it had been there since 15 years before the church was built. Eiriksson was the first European to discover America around 1,000AD, 500 years before Christopher Columbus!
Though you can explore the interior of the church for free, you have to pay a 900 isk (~$9) fee to go up into the tower but it’s definitely worth it. From the top you have views of the entire city in all directions.
After a quick lunch break we made our way to Tjornin Pond. Surrounded by colorful houses, a church and Reykjavik City Hall, Tjornin is a beautiful area to walk around and take in the views. You can even see Halligrimskirkja Church from the waterside!
After some window/ souvenir shopping we headed back to Loft Hostel to get into our dorm room. Putting our bags away we met two roommates from Canada and Scotland who invited us to join them at the hostel’s happy hour. We spent the evening hanging out with our new friends both on the terrace and inside the hostel. For dinner we ran out to a small hot dog stand for some of Iceland’s famous hotdogs, they were delicious!
The next morning, we got up bright and early for a light breakfast at the hostel before picking up our rental car to begin our trek around the ring road!