A WOW stopover: 24 hours in Reykjavik
When traveling by WOW air between North America and continental Europe, a WOW stopover is the ultimate once in a lifetime opportunity (ok a bit of exaggeration here) to make a swift stopover in one of the most picturesque and quirky places on earth—Reykjavik. It would be senseless to do anything else, right?
Under normal circumstances, 24 hours in any other European city would be considered madness, however, Reykjavik’s compact yet diverse layout allows you to explore its essential attractions effortlessly in that time frame, while still giving you an hour or so to regain your bearings.
Small city, big heart
From signature haute-cuisine meals and romantic oceanfront walking paths to eccentric bars and diverse music scenes, Reykjavik has it all. What makes Reykjavik the world’s best stopover city, weekend getaway or holiday destination is a combination of its ease of access, miniature size yet vast assortment of activities. No need to drive and forget having to wait in long queues to get from A to B, everything is pretty much on your doorstep. This small city encompasses the best of the best with a warm and cozy atmosphere, where everyone can find their cup of tea, so to speak.
Time well spent
In all fairness, spending a day in this incredible city doesn’t do it justice. However, it is completely enough to grasp its vibe, see its major sites, feel its atmosphere and take in its whole being, that is if you know where to go:
9 am – The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is an ideal stop where you can maximize on time and convenience while indulging in a full-blown once in a lifetime, Icelandic, geothermal spa experience. Its location allows you to access it easily on the way to or from the airport. The water in the Blue Lagoon is between 37-39 degrees all year round. Therefore, it is a must-visit in any season. Pair it up with a glass of bubbly and you’ll get the perfect romantic champagne breakfast.
2 pm – Laugavegur
Laugavegur is the street where it all happens. From trendy cafes, unique shops and cozy bars to world-class street-art murals and smaller, intimate art galleries, Laugavegur encapsulates the Icelandic spirit: calm, quirky, artsy and simply spectacular; you can find anything and everything here. Take a stroll and admire Reykjavik’s beautiful picturesque downtown, do some Nordic shopping and have a beer (or two).
3 pm – Hallgrimskirkja Church
One of Reykjavik’s main tourist landmarks can be found only a couple of minutes from Laugavegur. Designed by Gudjon Samuelsson and inspired by the country’s lava rock formations, Hallgrimskirkja stands tall watching over Reykjavik’s downtown district. A statue of the Icelandic explorer Leif Eriksson can also be found directly in front of the church’s main entrance. What enhances this church as a favorite tourist and local attraction, is the breathtaking view overlooking Reykjavik that can be seen from the church’s steeple—accessible for a small fee.
4 pm – Museum time
If you’d prefer a quieter slow-paced stress-free experience, why not go to some of Reykjavik’s many museums. Depending on your interest, you may pop-in to a pop-up photo exhibition down one of Laugavegur’s side streets, visit the Viking display or drop by the National Museum.
6 pm – Perlan, The Pearl
If you have a couple of hours to spare we recommend visiting The Pearl. Apart from its bistro-style restaurant and intergalactic appearance, the Pearl has an outstanding viewing platform compassing a 360-degree view of the city of Reykjavik. Best, of course is to pair it up with a cocktail or two in a romantic scene of a setting sun.
7 pm – Baejarins Beztu aka Reykjavik’s no. 1 hot dog stand
Let us present to you the WORLD’S BEST HOT DOG STAND (according to popular opinion). Whether it is 2 am or 2 pm, this is the only place in Iceland where you can expect to be queuing for a little more than 5 minutes.
9 pm – Harpa and the old harbor
It’s very hard to miss this building, especially since it’s one of the largest ones in downtown Reykjavik. Harpa is Reykjavik’s main concert and conference hall and it’s not hard to see why its unique architectural design attracts interest from around the globe. Whether you want to catch a play or simply immerse yourself in its peacefulness, Harpa is a place not to be missed. Not to mention the incredible views you can witness when the sun is reflected in its exterior mirror design. End your Icelandic mini-getaway on a good note and walk from Harpa along the charismatic old harbor and grab an ice-cream, a quintessential Icelandic activity.