600 minutes in Reykjavik
June 16, 2010 7:48 PM   Subscribe

10 hours in Reykjavik. Challenge: a big suitcase

In about a month or so I am landing in KEF at 6am and taking a boat at 4pm from one of the docks in downtown Reykjavik.

Tell me what interesting things I could do with my day. I plan to return for a two-week long visit in Iceland two weeks after landing there -- so what do I do during my first 10 hours in the country, where can I store the big suitcase, and how do I occupy my time before stepping on the cruise ship later in the afternoon?

Thank you one and all for your suggestions and recommendations.
posted by seawallrunner to Travel & Transportation around Reykjavik, Iceland (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Does the airport offer luggage storage?

Maybe you should check out the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the most visited tourst attractions in Iceland (it was a pit stop for the first leg of The Amazing Race 6). Seems to be pretty convenient to get to since you can catch a 'Flybus' from the airport you're arriving at that takes you to the Blue Lagoon. The spa has a storage facility so yay- killing two birds with one stone!


(first AskMetafilter post for me... hope I helped a smidgen!)
posted by lovelygirl at 8:41 PM on June 16, 2010

If you take the bus from the airport to the city I'm pretty sure they'll let you store your bag at the bus station. They don't have lockers, but they have a luggage area where they can put it. And from the bus station they will swap you out to a smaller bus to go wherever you like in the city. It's included in the price of the initial ticket. You'll have to get back there on your own, but it's not really out of the way. Alternatively, you could check with the company you are going to be leaving with and drop off your bag there, but they might not be open so early. In any case, Iceland is definitely a country where asking gets you a long way. People expect that if you want or need something you'll ask for it.

If you want to do the tourist thing, you can also get a bus from the airport right to blue lagoon, and they have facilities for your bags there too. Spend the day in the water and then catch the next bus into the city. I never made it to blue lagoon myself, but it is what everyone talks about, and they have the schedules and the baggage issues all worked out for people doing exactly what you are doing.

I'd suggest going into the city, though. You can always stop by one of the city pools for an hour (about $3) to relax from the flight and get a shower, and there are a lot more things to do. Do you like museums? The Settlement Museum is downtown, and really interesting. And from there you are a short walk from several other museums and galleries. Lunch at Icelandic Fish and Chips is nice, or the lobster soup at Saegreifinn (where you can also try puffin and shark if you're into that kind of thing).

Keep an eye on the calendar at The Grapevine (local English-language paper) to see if anything is going on the day you are there.
posted by Nothing at 8:51 PM on June 16, 2010

Honestly, for a ten hour visit I'd focus on relaxing from the flight and getting a good meal. For me it would be pool, lunch, and then wandering around and maybe hitting a museum.
posted by Nothing at 8:55 PM on June 16, 2010

Seconding the Blue Lagoon - there is really nothing like it. They are very well set up for airport-bound and/or arriving travelers. Keep in mind that if you want to buy any of their products, they are vastly cheaper in the BL shop in the duty-free area in the airport than they are at the BL itself.

I'd also suggest getting a hotdog at the famous hotdog stand near the harbor. There's a cool contemporary art museum a couple blocks from there.

On preview, Icelandic Fish & Chips is awesome.
posted by matildaben at 8:57 PM on June 16, 2010

Sorry no links, I'm on a mobile, but it's all googleable.
posted by matildaben at 8:58 PM on June 16, 2010

Oh, and as a photographer, I have to recommend the Reykjanes peninsula. It's where the airport is, and Blue Lagoon, but most of the guidebooks don't really mention it beyond that, and it is an awesome day trip. Dramatic lava fields, steam vents, amazing shorelines - a beautiful place. It's where the mid-Atlantic rift makes landfall. But that's for the longer stay.
posted by Nothing at 9:05 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you don't feel like going to The Blue Lagoon you can always stop by Krýsuvík on the way to Reykjavík. If you take the bus it won't be much of an option, but you can check with car rental firms. I recommend Geysir. They have very reasonable rates and a friend of mine had excellent service from them while in Iceland a month ago (and poor service from other car rentals). In fact, check to see if you can rent a car from them which you pick up at the airport when you land and leave at the dock before embarking onto the cruiseship. That also takes care of your suitcase troubles. Geysir are very accommodating and I wouldn't be surprised at all if they would be fine with that. If you have a car you can drive all over Iceland in 10 hours. You could visit the aforementiond Krýsuvík and then maybe even strike out for the Golden Circle. Iceland's not that big of a place and there's a lot you can see in 10 hours.

Reykjavík also has quite a bit. The downtown is pleasant. Most things won't open until 10, though. I can't remember a good breakfast place off the top of my head, though the cafés that are open will generally have good pastries. Icelandic bakeries are topnotch, incidentally. If its a nice day, strolling around the lake in central Reykjavík is nice. There's tons of birdlife there. If you're an architecture enthusiast, Alvar Aalto's beautiful Nordic House is right near the lake.

Other than that, I can't but endorse the suggestions of everyone else so far.
posted by Kattullus at 7:04 AM on June 17, 2010

I haven't been to the Blue Lagoon, but the city pools are pleasant. In Reykjavik, I've been to Laugardalslaug, and you can easily kill a few hours there. It is quite a walk from the little bus station in Reykjavik (where I think you can store your bag, it'll probably cost). I did do that walk my first day in Reykjavik (with a 20 kilo pack), because I like to walk after a flight.

The Settlement Museum is well worth a visit. There is a tourism office nearby that I found very useful. They were extremely efficient, and will book tours for you and organize everything, if you want to make arrangements for your time in Iceland later.

Alda just posted a blog thread on cheap eats around Reykjavik. She was not impressed by her last trip to the Sea Baron (Saegreifinn). That is unfortunate. I loved their lobster soup, and I don't like lobster.

You can just wander around downtown. There are also a bunch of museums in easy walking distance of the Reykjavik bus station. There is also the park area around Tjorninn between the bus station and downtown.

I think Nothing has pretty much nailed it.
posted by QIbHom at 7:05 AM on June 17, 2010

Thank you ALL for your thoughtful replies. When I land in Reykjavik next month I will spend only 10 hours there before I board a boat that will take me to Greenland, but I will return two weeks later and spend the first half of August driving the Ring Road and environs.

I am keeping your suggestions bookmarked. And if you have more things-not-to-miss while I am in Iceland, please let me know !!

are there many Mefites in Reykjavik, because a meetup would be ultracool sometime between August 11 and 14
posted by seawallrunner at 5:46 PM on June 17, 2010

are there many Mefites in Reykjavik

You could check the Google Earth MetaFilter kml, which I've only just discovered; it shows four.
posted by aqsakal at 1:28 AM on June 18, 2010

When you go back to Iceland, I loved my time in Akureyri so much that I went back for 5 days in the winter. There are some cool museums, Husavik with whale watching and, yes, the Phallogical Museum (and an excellent regional museum) is an hour bus ride away, the hostel is quite good, it is very walkable and quite friendly. And beautiful. Just stunningly gorgeous. There are also day tours to Lake Myvatn and the surrounding attractions (Dimmuborgir was probably my absolutely favourite place in Iceland).

You are going to have an awesome time.
posted by QIbHom at 4:45 PM on June 25, 2010

If you go to Akureyri, the public library has a cafe with a beautiful view over the fjord and an inexpensive and very tasty lunch. The menu is only on the Icelandic website and it changes. It was the best meal I had in Akureyri.
posted by QIbHom at 5:16 PM on June 25, 2010

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