28 Sep Flatlanders In Iceland – Day 8 – A Day In Reykjavik Exploring The Food, Culture, And Shopping
Welcome to the day 8 travel details for our recent nine-day trip to Iceland. We’re hopeful that this series of posts will assist you in the creation of your own unique Icelandic travel itinerary. This is the tenth article in our Iceland travel guide series, detailing the route we chose for our eighth day, the activities we enjoyed, the lodging we selected, and a some of the food we sampled along the way.
Below are the links to the individual articles in the series.
Flatlanders Guide To Iceland Blog Post Index
- The Family Guide To Planning A Trip To Iceland
- Our Iceland Itinerary As A Starting Point For Your Trip
- Day 1 – Reykjavik and the Golden Circle
- Day 2 – Hella to Höfn – Holy Cow!!
- Day 3 – Hofn to Neskaupstadur – Scenic cliff drives along Eastern Iceland
- Day 4 – Neskaupstadur to Akureryi via Husavik – Hikes, Hot Pots, and Harbors
- Day 5 – A day in Akureyri watching whales
- Day 6 – Akureyri to Stykkishólmur – Gravel roads, remote waterfalls, and an amazing hamburger
- Day 7 – Stykkishólmur to Reykjavik – Seal Beach, A stop in Bifrost, and exploring Reykjavik
- Day 8 – A day in Reykjavik exploring the food, culture, and shopping
- Day 9 – Spend the morning in Reykjavik and then head home to Kansas City
- Packing and Preparing For Your Iceland Trip
NOTE: To “watch” the visual story of our trip, you can review all 100 photos in our Iceland 2019 Instagram highlight. The story progresses in the order of the nine-day itinerary as listed above.
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The Day 8 Route – Wandering, Shopping, Bike Riding, and Eating in Reykjavik
The day eight itinerary sounded like a pretty relaxed day, but we wanted to make the most of our last full day in Iceland, so we packed it full of activities in the shopping district of Reykjavik. We had a good nights rest and were ready to enjoy the last full day.
The planned activities for day eight looked like this:
- Grab breakfast at the Center Hotel in Reykjavik
- Walk the Reykjavik shopping district and find lots of coffee and pastry shops
- Engage in touristy shopping in all the shops
- Rent local bikes and take a bike ride along the harbor
- Relax back at the Center Hotel before we head back to the United States on day 9
There wouldn’t be any driving on day 8 because the Reykjavik downtown district is so walkable. Because of this, we just left our trusty Volkswagen Polo parked on the side street outside the Center Hotel.
TIP: Sometimes, the internet isn’t right about things and no matter how well you plan and how much research you do things can take a bit of a turn. While nearly everything on our Iceland trip had gone according to plan, we experienced a little hiccup on day 8. The good news is we just adjusted and moved on. We’ll share a little bit about it below.
If your day doesn’t go according to plan, just shake it off and make a new plan.
Day 8, Stop # 1 – Breakfast At The Center Hotel In Reykjavik
The Center Hotel has a restaurant on the top floor of their hotel called Sky Restaurant and Bar, which is where they host their breakfast buffet each morning. The buffet was definitely a more “American” buffet, consisting of eggs, bacon, fruits, cheeses, pastries, and even waffles. The coffee was hot and the food was delicious.
The view from the Sky restaurant is outstanding, allowing you to see the harbor and the music hall.
My only recommendation is to check with the hotel staff to see how full the hotel is If it is full, the restaurant will fill up quickly and there might not be many seats. There are a few seats outside if the weather permits.
NOTE: I cannot say enough good things about the staff at the Center Hotel. We decided to upgrade one of our rooms and they accommodated us. We asked a million questions about things to do and places to see and they helped us with directions, and answer. I even asked if they would help me call our Firefly car rental to discuss our rock chip in the windshield and they helped with that.
The hotel facilities were outstanding, and the breakfast buffet was very good. The staff, however, is what made the Center Hotel really shine. We will definitely return to the Center Hotel when visiting Reykjavik in our future trips.
Day 8, Stop #2 – Shopping and Coffee In Reykjavik
We are coffee nuts.
We love getting coffee at all of our destinations and trying everything from small family-owned coffee shops to big chains. So, to give us the quick boost of energy we were going to need for all the walking, we kicked off our morning with a Machiatto from a downtown coffee shop.
For Americans who aren’t used to “small coffees”, the Macchiato is an espresso with a “drop” of milk in it. So the kick you get from one of these will keep you going for a while. Give it a try, while the coffee goes away quickly, the caffeine high lasts for quite a while!
The majority of the rest of the morning was spent in-and-out of tons of different shops ranging from the big touristy shops to small artisan jewelry stores.
TIP: If you are going to shop in Iceland, educate yourself on the tax refund process. For tourists to the island, Iceland will refund the sales tax you pay on certain items if you are going to take them away from the island. So everything from t-shirts to wool sweaters to art or jewelry could be eligible for a tax refund.
It’s important that you understand this process because you need to ask for a tax free form from the business when you shop with them. With that form, you can then apply for the refund at the airport as you are leaving the country. Just be sure to keep your receipts and tax free forms.
Here’s a link to the process:
We spent the majority of the morning and part of the afternoon not only shopping, but also touring the local sites and enjoying the beautiful street murals that were sprinkled throughout the downtown.
Rather than trying to describe what it’s like to shop, eat, and walk in downtown Reykjavik, it’s probably best to just let the photos do the talking. Here’s a gallery of photos that we felt really represented our experience in the downtown shopping district.
NOTE: There are a few “main streets” to the downtown shopping district in Reykjavik. These streets are bustling with the main tourist shops, but don’t be afraid to walk down the side streets and check them out, as well. There are plenty of small art galleries, jewelry shops, and even bakeries (more on that in the day 9 post) that you won’t want to miss.
Crime in Iceland is very rare, so walking down a “back street” isn’t like walking down back streets in New York City or Chicago. You aren’t going to get mugged or assaulted. So enjoy the walk off the beaten path.
Day 8, Stop #3 – Rental Bikes And A Bike Tour Of The Reykjavik Harbor
When traveling, our son loves to ride bikes and see our destinations on two wheels. Whether it’s biking down Vail Pass in Colorado or pedaling around Hilton Head…he loves to see places via a bike.
So, one of the things he asked to do was to rent bikes in Reykjavik and pedal round. Luckily, Deb and done some research and found a public bike rental terminal that was only about 1/2 mile from the Center Hotel. So, for the afternoon, we figured we would walk down to the bike rental, checkout some bikes, and pedal around for a couple of hours.
Remember earlier when I mentioned the “hiccup”? This was it.
After walking to the area where the rental bikes were supposed to be, we discovered that they rental terminal had been removed. After asking around a couple of different businesses, no one seemed to know anything about the rental terminal or when it was removed.
We called around to a couple of different bicycle tour shops, but they weren’t really set up to rent bikes by the hour and we didn’t have enough time to catch a half day tour, so we just had to scrap the idea. Our son was a bit disappointed, but we adjusted and moved on.
The point in sharing this is to emphasize that things change and a big part of traveling abroad is just being willing to change your plans, if necessary.
We reported the bike rental terminal as “Closed” on Google Maps, so hopefully no one else runs into this issue in the future and toured the harbor district on foot, instead of on two wheels.
Day 8, Stop #4 – The Center Hotel Spa For One Final Relaxation Experience
After eight days on the road and a big day of shopping in Reykjavik, we decided to treat ourselves to access to the Spa in the Center Hotel to relax for a while before heading home the next day.
The Spa is located in the lower level of the Center Hotel and offers relaxation seating, a hot mineral bath, and saunas. Totally worth the extra ~$35 each to spend some time unwinding.
The evening spent relaxing in a hot mineral bath and sauna was just what we needed to relax our sore muscles. After a trip filled with walking and hiking, our feet and legs were grateful for the warm baths and hot steam.
After the spa treatment, we were ready to pack up, head to bed, and get a good night sleep before the trip home.
Reflections On Day 8 Of Our Nine-Day Icelandic Trip
So, that’s the summary of day eight of our amazing nine-day family trip to Iceland. With regards to the day 8, the things we saw, and the accommodations we chose, here are what Deb and I think:
From Deb – Downtown Reykjavik is an amazing shopping and eating experience. It’s definitely the hustle and bustle of the city, when compared to a lot of the more rural places we stayed around Iceland. We ate great food, had wonderful coffee, and shopped…a lot! I really appreciate the cultural diversity that Reykjavik offers and it was a great way to end the trip. I can’t say enough good things about the staff at the Center Hotel. They were so nice and helpful and went above and beyond to make our stay a great one.
From Sean – I’m not sure I understood how tired my legs were until I dropped them into the hot mineral bath at the Center Hotel. The spa treatment was definitely a great way to end the trip. At the end of day 8, I should have been stuffed from all the food we ate and the snacks we got…but I think we walked off all the calories we consumed for the day. A great trade-off. Reykjavik is a beautiful city and I encourage anyone visiting Iceland to spend a couple of days exploring. I agree on the Center Hotel. Great place to stay. The accommodations were great, but the staff truly made the experience.
There you have it…day 8 of our nine-day itinerary in Iceland. We hope this helps you in the planning of your trip and gives you some ideas as to what to explore.
See you on the road!