Reykjavik - Where to Stay for first time travelers

Where to Stay in Reykjavik for a first time visit? An insider’s guide 2024

Reykjavik is the capital and the largest city in Iceland, located in the southern part of the Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean. The city is famous for being a host to some of the best music festivals in Northern Europe. It has a very modern and colourful architecture and vibrant artistic and cultural scene. No wonder, it often makes people search for where to stay in Reykjavik to breathe in the city’s charm.

There are a few landmarks that Reykjavik includes and make it recognizable, such as the Hallgrimskirkja, a church with a unique design and Harpa Concert Hall, a fascinating glass building along the waterfront.

The geothermal hot springs are one more authentic significance of Reykjavik. In fact, the city is a gateway to explore the Icelandic landscapes, waterfalls, glaciers and volcanic terrain.

We know that different types of people require different advice on travel accommodations. In this guide include the best areas for

  • the first time visitor
  • Families
  • Couples
  • Luxury & Design
  • Solo-Traveler
  • on a budget

Question: Where to stay in Reykjavik?

This smallest capital city in the world offers so many things to see and do while visiting. There are 5 charming municipalities within; Kópavogur, Hafnarfjörður, Garðabær, Mosfellsbær, and Seltjarnarnes.

Kópavogur is where you can experience culture and nature together. There are 6 cultural attractions within walking distance here; Kópavogskirkja Church, Natural History Museum, Kópavogur Art Museum, Public Library, Swimming pool and Salurinn Concert Hall.

Hafnarfjordur is a harbour village which you can explore walking. There are free museums, curious little jewellers, cafés, boutiques and galleries. You can enjoy the hangouts in family-run restaurants, visit the City Museum or immerse yourself in the artistic heritage of the Art Museum. Here, you can also play golf at Keilir Course or see the fascinating view of Hamarinn Cliff. Sounds like one of the best places to stay in Reykjavik, Iceland, doesn’t it?

If you are visiting as a family, the Vidistadatun playground is a place to go. One of the three fantastic thermal pools is also located here.

Mosfellsbær is great for outdoor activities. The most thrilling hiking experience through various landscapes is what you can expect here. It’s a great place for wool shopping and visiting an artistic community of Álafosskvos where handmade arts and crafts are sold. There is a family-friendly thermal pool with jacuzzis, a sauna and a steam bath. A fun petting ZOO with Icelandic farm animals is more than an enjoyable attraction.

Seltarnarenes, where you will find Point Panorama, is just a few minutes from downtown Reykjavik. Surrounded by the ocean, this is a peninsula district.

Gardabær is a place with wild nature and outdoor living. It is less than 20 minutes from the city centre and it is the home of the President of Iceland. What you must visit here is the Archeological Park and the Museum of Design and Applied Art.

Are you more of a visual learner/travel planner?

Lucky for you, we’ve included a map with all of our favorite neighborhoods and handpicked hotels for all of your travel needs.

Check it out below to get a better idea of where you should stay for your first or next visit to the Reykjavik.

Read more: We have a detailed guide about 7 days in Iceland.

(This guide is always up to date, the last updated July 2024.)

But, first things first:

Here is the question: Where to stay in Reykjavik?

The answer is simple: Downtown

The downtown is crowded with restaurants and coffee houses. At the city pond, the great sculpture “In Memory of the Anonymous Official” faces The City Hall. To the south of the core centre and the pond are the main buildings of the University of Iceland. The main shopping street, Laugavegur, leads to the hot springs, while Skólavörðuhol Street is the home of fantastic design shops, galleries, cafés, restaurants, small stores and artist shops.

Moreover, there is an excellent view from the tower of Hallgrímskrikja church. In front of the church is a statue of Leif the Lucky, the man whom people claim to be the discoverer of America, by the American sculptor Alexander S. Calder. But, where to stay in Reykjavik, Iceland?

Some of these areas include:

  • Hallgrimskirkja
  • Harpa Concert Hall
  • Laugavegur
  • Sun Voyager

Why do we recommend these areas?

Hallgrimskirkja is the largest church in Reykjavik. The towers are the tallest in the whole country. The organ inside the church is also the biggest in the whole country. This Lutheran church is a mix of the architecture and raw Icelandic style which is why it is a blend of Modernism and Naturalism.

One of the most iconic symbols of Reykjavik and the centre of social and cultural life, located in the city centre is Harpa, a concert hall that has been visited by millions of tourists since its opening in 2011. It has also earned an award for its fascinating structure which makes it appear mighty and breathtaking.

Laugavegur is one of the oldest, but the liveliest streets in Reykjavik. It is also a shopping street where you will find souvenir shops, exclusive boutiques, and many authentic restaurants serving Icelandic specialities. This street offers good content for nightlife since it is a place where bars, pubs and clubs are gathered, making it one of the best answers to where to stay in Reykjavik for fun-seeking individuals.

The gleaming steel sculpture on Reykjavik’s splendid waterfront that resembles a Viking long-ship is the ‘Solfar’ or ‘Sun Voyager’, created by the artist Jon Gunnar Arnason.

Here’s a full map for you to understand the different areas.

Please note: those might not be the exact names of the districts, neither its absolute borders. I just tried to simplify this information.

📍Best Area:Miðborg
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Best for Families:Reykjavikurvegur 42
👩‍❤️‍👨 Best for Couples:Day Dream Soleyjargata Rooms & Apartments
💎 Best Luxury HotelIceland Parliament Hotel
🤩 Best Design Hotel:Black Pearl Apartment Hotel
😎 Best for Groups:SK52 by the Sea
🦸 Best for Solo-Traveller:Alda Hotel Reykjavík
💃 Best Hotel for Nightlife:Reykjavik Natura
🤑 Cheapest Place to stay:A Modern & Homely Apartment
👌 Safest Area: Miðborg

1. Best areas and handpicked hotels for Reykjavik

Below is a list of the best hotels in Iceland, Reykjavik that will meet your needs and expectations whatever traveller you might be.

Continue scrolling or pick your group and travel type on the menu:

1.1 Families
1.2 Couples
1.3 Luxury Traveler
1.4 Design Traveler
1.5 Groups
1.6 Solo-Traveler
1.7 Nightlife-seeking traveler
1.8 Budget Traveler

1.1 Families

This city can be a great destination for families, offering a mix of family-friendly activities and attractions. When it comes to the best places to stay in Reykjavik, here’s what to choose from:

Midborg

Regardless of seasons, the city centre — roughly what Midborg means — is full of music, art and great food. So vibrant and chic, there is so much to be done at this place that you won’t have time to feel bored. Here you can try the traditional meat soup, visit Cafe Babalu or go for a picnic in Hallagardurin.

The time capsule Mokka Kaffi is a nice place to drop by and enjoy coffee with some ongoing art exhibits. You may also like the Einar Jonsson Sculpture Garden. And, why not visit the theatre with your family? Bio Paradis is perfect for that occasion!

Laugardalur

Laugardalur is best known for having the largest swimming pool in Iceland, heated by the hot springs named after Reykjavik. Close to the pool is also a gym. In the area, you’ll also find the capital’s main sporting arena, which is used for concerts, as well. Many activities that can engage a day spent with a family are centred near the park and the ZOO.

Handpicked accommodations for families

Reykjavikurvegur 42, Miðborg

Wondering where to stay in Reykjavik? This spacious apartment with a terrace and garden views has 2 bedrooms, a living room, an equipped kitchen and 1 bathroom with a walk-in shower. The picnic area where you can spend a day with your family is within the property.

Sometimes, being with your kids may leave you little time to take care of everything, so there is a laundry service at your disposal that will make your stay more convenient.

Book Reykjavikurvegur 42 here

Relax and unwind at Reykjavikurvegur 42

Have a great time at Reykjavikurvegur 42

Overlooking the city, bright & cosy, Reykjavík East, Reykjavík

With great garden views, this hotel offers accommodation with a balcony, around 3.6 km from Solfar Sun Voyager. You will enjoy sea and mountain views and a saltwater pool features a water slide and fence.

The apartment consists of 1 bedroom, a living room, a fully equipped kitchen and 1 bathroom. It is a non-smoking accommodation that enjoys a great location. The Hallgrímskirkja Church is 4.4 km from the apartment.

Book Overlooking the city, bright & cozy here

Private room at Overlooking the city, bright & cozy

Have a pleasant stay at Overlooking the city, bright & cozy

 1.2 Couples

The best experiences often come from exploring and discovering things together. The city’s unique blend of natural wonders and vibrant urban life provides a memorable backdrop for a romantic getaway. So, where to stay in Reykjavik, Iceland?

Midborg

There is a variety to do and see while in Reykjavik as a couple. Some are natural attractions and some are significant architectural and modern vibrant symbols of the town. Regardless of what your preferences are, couples truly enjoy this area.

Witness the Northern Lights, visit the Harpa Concert Hall or Perlan Observatory Deck and the Blue Lagoon which is a bit outside the town, but still a must to visit. Or, engage in a romantic walk along the waterfront to the Sun Voyager statue.

Old Harbor (Austurvöllur)

Still haven’t decided where to stay in Reykjavik? The Old Harbor in Reykjavik is a charming and picturesque area located close to the city centre. It is a great place to spend the morning or afternoon, visiting stores, cafés and museums. As a couple, you can enjoy the Northern lights on a yacht cruise or being in this area might look like a retreat compared to other places.

Handpicked accommodations for couples

Day Dream Soleyjargata Rooms & Apartments, Miðborg

Located 300 metres from the centre, the property has mountain and garden views and is 700 metres from Hallgrímskirkja Church. The apartment complex is fitted with a flat-screen TV, while some apartments have a well-equipped kitchen. Solfar Sun Voyager, The Pearl and Harpa Concert Hall are all a short distance from your accommodation and you can enjoy a walk to visit them.

Book Day Dream Soleyjargata Rooms & Apartments here

Make yourself at home at Day Dream Soleyjargata Rooms & Apartments

Enjoy your time at Day Dream Soleyjargata Rooms & Apartments

City Center Hotel, Austurvöllur

The rooms are equipped with a coffee machine, a shower and free toiletries. Each room has a private bathroom, while selected rooms are fitted with a balcony and offer city views, making this one of the best hotels in Iceland, Reykjavik. Popular points of interest near the City Center Hotel include Reykjavik Old Harbour, Harpa Concert Hall and Laugavegur Shopping Street.

Book City Center Hotel here

Have a wonderful stay at City Center Hotel

Experience comfort at City Center Hotel

1.3 Luxury traveler

Reykjavik may be a compact city, but its luxury offerings are diverse and can make for a truly indulgent and memorable experience. Upscale accommodations and fine dining are not hard to find, so don’t waste time and start thinking about where to stay in Reyjavik!

Austurstræti

Austurstræti is one of the main streets in the heart of Reykjavik, and while it may not be known for luxury in the traditional sense, it does offer some high-end and exclusive experiences for discerning travellers. There are fine dining restaurants, cafes and rooftop bars, as well as spa & wellness centres that will meet your needs.

Laugavegur

In one of the main shopping streets in Reykjavik, luxury is not the synonym for its name, but still, there are many designer boutiques, luxurious accommodations, fine dining restaurants and exclusive spa places. Culinary and helicopter tours can spice up your stay in Reykjavik, as well.

Handpicked accommodations for the luxury traveler

Iceland Parliament Hotel, Curio Collection By Hilton, Austurstræti

Looking for where to stay in Reykjavik, Iceland? This hotel offers comfortable rooms offer a flat-screen TV, a minibar, and a coffee machine so you can enjoy relaxing while inside. The private bathroom offers a shower and toiletries for additional cosiness. Guests at the hotel enjoy a continental breakfast. Popular points of interest include Hallgrímskirkja Church, Solfar Sun Voyager and Reykjavik Old Harbour.

Book Iceland Parliament Hotel, Curio Collection By Hilton here

Enjoy your stay at Iceland Parliament Hotel, Curio Collection By Hilton

Have fun at Iceland Parliament Hotel, Curio Collection By Hilton

Tower Suites Reykjavík, Laugavegur

The accommodation is set in a glass tower on its 20th floor, located in central Reykjavik. The penthouse suites offer a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and the sea. Free WiFi is included. Each room has floor-to-ceiling windows, a complimentary minibar and a Nespresso coffee maker. All rooms are fitted with a private bathroom. Additional features include a telescope and an iPad. Restaurants and coffee shops are located on the ground floor.

Book Tower Suites Reykjavík here.

Relax and unwind at Tower Suites Reykjavík

Have a great time at Tower Suites Reykjavík

1.4 Design-lovers

Wondering where to stay in Reykjavik and breathe in the essence of the city’s culture and art? Reykjavik’s design scene is characterised by a blend of tradition and modern innovation. Design travellers will enjoy the fashion district Hverfisgata, in the vibrant coffee culture and coffee shops with unique interiors and many galleries. Hannesarholt, which had once been a historic building, is now transformed into a cultural and design centre and is a great landmark for design travellers.

Centre

Reykjavik is a city with two completely different faces. An interesting street art with a line of colourful houses and a vibrant atmosphere opposes the modern and more sterile buildings, significant from the architectural point of view and always a step forward in design than any other place.

Skólavörðustígur

Skolavordustigur is a scenic pedestrian street in Reykjavik with some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and shops.

Handpicked accommodations for the design lover

Black Pearl Apartment Hotel, Centre

The bright and spacious suites at one of the best hotels in Reykjavik, Iceland have large windows, blackout curtains and heated, marble floors. Each apartment’s seating area has a flat-screen TV. Complimentary tea and Nespresso coffee are provided. In-suite breakfast can be ordered and delivered to you. Several restaurants and bars are in the surroundings, as well as the Reykjavík Art Museum and Volcano House Exhibition Cinema. The location is perfect!

Book Black Pearl Apartment Hotel here

Private room at Black Pearl Apartment Hotel

Have a pleasant stay at Black Pearl Apartment Hotel

The Reykjavik EDITION, Skólavörðustígur

The units at the hotel offer a seating area and a private bathroom. Selected rooms also provide a city view. At the accommodation, all rooms come with bed linen and towels. A fitness centre and a terrace restaurant are great places for relaxation. Guests start the day with a continental breakfast before they set out to explore the area.

Book The Reykjavik EDITION here

Enjoy your time at The Reykjavik EDITION

Make yourself at home at The Reykjavik EDITION

1.5 Groups

Reykjavik offers a diverse range of activities suitable for groups. There are many tours that you can join, such as Golden Circle tours, walking tours, Northern Lights tours, whale watching tours, food tasting tours, horse riding tours and many more depending on the interest of your group.

Midborg

Midborg is a lively area with a mix of attractions, shops and restaurants, making it a great place for groups looking for where to stay in Reykjavik. As I mentioned before, just decide which tour to join and you’ll be promised a thrilling experience.

Laugardalur

This area offers a mix of recreational, cultural, and natural attractions, making it a versatile area for groups with varied interests. Take into consideration visiting the geothermal pool, the sports hall, the park and the ZOO, the Sculpture Museum, Laugar Spa or simply organise a group picnic in the district.

Handpicked accommodations for groups

SK52 by the Sea, Unique spacious luxury, Miðborg

Located in Reykjavík and only 1.7 km from Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach, this spacious apartment offers 1 bedroom, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom. The accommodation is soundproof and has a private entrance for your commodity. Guests can relax in the garden at the property.

Book SK52 by the Sea here

Experience comfort at SK52 by the Sea

Have a wonderful stay at SK52 by the Sea

Reykjavik Lights Hotel by Keahotels, Reykjavík East, Reykjavík

All the rooms at this hotel are individually decorated with artwork and inspiration from the ancient Icelandic calendar. The design easily makes it one of the best hotels in Reykjavik, Iceland. Each room has a private bathroom with a shower and hairdryer. A buffet breakfast is served each morning.

Drinks can be enjoyed in the lounge bar, featuring decór inspired by the changing lights of Iceland which is a relaxing time for a group to close the day. Local buses stop 100 metres from Reykjavik Lights Hotel.

Book Reykjavik Lights Hotel by Keahotels here

Enjoy your stay at Reykjavik Lights Hotel by Keahotels

Have fun at Reykjavik Lights Hotel by Keahotels

1.6 Solo-travelers

Reykjavik is a safe and welcoming city and solo travellers often find it easy to navigate and connect with both locals and fellow travellers. That offers the freedom to explore at your own pace and embrace the unique experiences the city has to offer. Of course, you first need to decide where to stay in Reykjavik!

Midborg

You can start your city tour by visiting the Hallgrimskirkja and Laugavegur shopping streets, so you can feel the vibes of the city. Also, do not miss exploring the few cafes and coffee shops, walking around the City Pond and immersing yourself in the city’s vibe at your own pace.

Grandi

Grandi, with its mix of maritime history, seafood delights, and contemporary art, offers a unique and enriching experience for solo travellers looking to explore a less crowded and more laid-back part of Reykjavik.

Handpicked accommodations for a solo traveler

Alda Hotel Reykjavík, Reykjavík 101, Reykjavík

Located on Laugavegur, this is one of the best places to stay in Reykjavik! The hotel offers modern rooms, where a few have private balconies and nice sea or city views. Hallgrimskirkja Church is a 5-minute walk away.

All the rooms have a private bathroom and free toiletries. You can enjoy free access to the gym, sauna and outdoor hot tub. There is a bar within the hotel, so you can relax with a drink. There is a possibility for a bike rental which is a great possibility to explore the town.

Book Alda Hotel Reykjavík here

Relax and unwind at Alda Hotel Reykjavík

Have a great time at Alda Hotel Reykjavík

Hotel Local 101, Grandi

The hotel is set in a charming historic building. However, the place is newly renovated with an emphasis on quality basics to optimise the comfort of your stay. The small rooms include full blackout curtains, internet access and locally sourced breakfast. It has a perfect location.

Book Hotel Local 101 here

Private room at Hotel Local 101

Have a pleasant stay at Hotel Local 101

1.7 Nightlife Traveler

Reykjavik’s nightlife is diverse, and whether you prefer live music, craft beer, or dancing, you’re sure to find a venue that suits your preferences. So, which of the following will be your answer to where to stay in Reykjavik?

Midborg

Midborg, the city centre of Reykjavik, is the heartbeat of the city’s nightlife, offering a diverse range of bars, pubs, clubs, and late-night venues. A few suggestions for the late starting night out: Lebowski Bar, Prikid, Kex Hostel Bar, Dillon Whiskey Bar and many more.

Austurvöllur

At this public square in the centre, there are still several establishments around Austurvöllur where you can enjoy a night out. Here are some suggestions: American bar, Pablo Discobar, Kaldi Bar Austur and a few more attractive places.

Handpicked accommodations for nightlife

Reykjavik Natura – Berjaya Iceland Hotels, Miðborg

Located next to the quiet woods, this hotel has to offer an in-house Satt Restaurant that serves a buffet breakfast and Icelandic specialities. There is a stylish bar inside the hotel where you can relax and meet people.

Book Reykjavik Natura – Berjaya Iceland Hotels here

Make yourself at home at Reykjavik Natura - Berjaya Iceland Hotels

Enjoy your time at Reykjavik Natura - Berjaya Iceland Hotels

Stay Iceland apartments – P 13, Austurvöllur

The spacious apartment features 2 bedrooms, a flat-screen TV, a fully equipped kitchen and 1 bathroom with a walk-in shower. It is located less than 1 km from Hallgrímskirkja Church and a 12-minute walk from Solfar Sun Voyager.

Book Stay Iceland apartments here

Private room at Stay Iceland apartments

Have a pleasant stay at Stay Iceland apartments

1.8 For the Budget Traveler

This is an expensive city, which does not mean that it can not be visited by a budget traveller. Reasonable planning will help a lot as you’re looking for where to stay in Reykjavik, Iceland. You can consider joining free walking tours, cooking your meals, visiting museums for free or experiencing some outdoor activities.

Midborg

Midborg, Reykjavik’s city centre, is a lively area with numerous attractions and activities for visitors on a budget.

Hlemmur Square

Taking advantage of budget-friendly food options, accommodation choices and free activities, you can make the most of your time in and around Hlemmur Square without breaking the bank.

Handpicked accommodations for budget traveler

A modern & homely apartment, Miðborg

Attractively located in the centre of Reykjavík, this modern & homely apartment offers a terrace. The apartment is composed of 1 bedroom, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom.

Book A modern & homely apartment here

Make yourself at home at A modern & homely apartment

Enjoy your time at A modern & homely apartment

Apartment in Downtown Reykjavík, Hlemmur

This apartment located in Reykjavik East district, offers 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, bed linen, towels, a flat-screen TV with streaming services, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen and a balcony with city views.
This apartment is non-smoking and soundproof.

Book Apartment in Downtown Reykjavík here

Have a wonderful stay at Apartment in Downtown Reykjavík

Experience comfort at Apartment in Downtown Reykjavík

2. Best Neighborhood to Stay in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is considered a safe city and all already mentioned districts are perfect for your stay and are also carefully selected.

  • Miðborg
  • Old Harbor (Austurvöllur)
  • Grandi
  • Laugardalur

FAQs

What is the best neighborhood to stay in Reykjavik?

The best neighborhood to stay in Reykjavik depends on your preferences and interests. For a vibrant city experience with easy access to restaurants, cafes, and landmarks, the downtown area, particularly Midborg, is recommended. If you prefer a more laid-back atmosphere with maritime history, consider Grandi. For nightlife enthusiasts, Midborg and Austurvöllur are popular choices.

Where should you not stay in Reykjavik?

While Reykjavik is generally a safe city, some areas may be less central or tourist-friendly. It's advisable to avoid remote or industrial areas with limited amenities and attractions. Additionally, checking recent reviews and recommendations can help ensure a pleasant stay and avoid any less desirable neighborhoods.

What should I avoid in Reykjavik?

While Reykjavik is a safe and welcoming city, it's essential to be mindful of local customs and regulations. Avoid engaging in disrespectful behavior, be cautious with alcohol consumption in public spaces, and follow any guidelines regarding environmental conservation, such as respecting nature and wildlife. Also, it's advisable to stay updated on local COVID-19 protocols and adhere to any health and safety measures in place.

Where should I stay in Reykjavik for the first time?

For first-time visitors, staying in the downtown area, specifically Midborg, is highly recommended. This central location provides easy access to popular landmarks like Hallgrimskirkja, Harpa Concert Hall, and Laugavegur shopping street. It also offers a vibrant atmosphere with numerous restaurants, cafes, and cultural attractions, making it an ideal starting point for exploring Reykjavik.

Map + All Sights

Reykjavik has many neighborhoods and districts that cater to different types of travelers, from budget backpackers to luxury seekers, from culture vultures to nature lovers. In this map, we have outlined some recommendations just for you!

Summary of where to stay in Reykjavik

Consider your possibilities and what you are searching for and please consider the above-mentioned districts of Reykjavik.

I truly hope that these tips on where to stay in Reykjavik on a budget will be helpful. For more travel inspiration and advice, don’t forget to check out my blog page.

Other European Destinations

Before you run off, here is a few more handwritten articles for you. These will help you to find more unique experiences and enjoy your holidays at fullest.

Any Questions?

There you have it. I hope you have no questions and found your home in my home town.

However, please remember: I am not perfect, and it is likely I missed a few things to point out.

Therefore: Do you have questions? Is anything not clear?

Please please please drop me a comment below with your email! I will reply to you ASAP via email and here in the comments.

In fact, your questions help me to make this article better. So I help you to help me.

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