Ok, so you’ve gone and done it. You booked your dream trip to Iceland so you’re arriving at 5 a.m. in the morning. Now you’ve landed in Iceland and you’re eager to nap but OH NO, you can’t check into your hotel until 2 or 3 p.m.! You have several hours to kill and nothing is open yet. What do you do in early morning Reykjavík?
First things first: transport, luggage storage, and where to start
First things first. The FlyBus is certainly operating, so unless you decide to go to the Blue Lagoon (see below), take the bus or drive your rental car (see below) from Keflavík airport to Reykjavík. This takes about 45 minutes.
On the bus, depending on what bus company you go with, you may arrive at BSÍ bus terminal or Holtagarðar. Both are great since both have luggage storage facilities for a moderate price. Store your luggage and get ready to enjoy the day.
PROTIP: STOP BY WHAT’S ON INFORMATION CENTRE
Whether you do it before or after breakfast (see below) use your idle morning time in Reykjavík to come to our cosy Reykjavik tourist office, grab a cup of coffee and get some real, human, expert feedback on your travel plans in Iceland.
We open at 08:30 a.m., before almost everything else, all year round, and we’re happy to receive you with a smile and friendly service.
Early Morning Reykjavík: Cafés and Restaurants
Now, you just got off a plane, so I’m sure you could go for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat. But where can you go that’s open this early? Well, a few places, actually.
“Quick and good” at BSÍ – Fljótt og Gott
The most convenient option is probably FLjótt og Gott at the BSÍ bus terminal, since you’re probably already there. Fljótt og gott, open from 6 am, is one of the oldest eateries in Iceland, a kind of cafeteria/restaurant/café.
Located at what used to be the central coach terminal, it is kind of like a nicer truck stop, with strong, affordable coffee, hearty Icelandic ‘home cooking’ and plenty of seating. (It’s also one of the few places you can actually buy those famous singed sheep heads on a regular day!) With Wi-fi and newspapers handy, you could do much worse for places to hang out.
BSI bus terminal is about a 10-15 minute walk from the main street Laugavegur, where we have our office.
Protip: Fljótt & Gott have a drive-thru, so if you picked up your rental car already, you can take your sheepshead and mash to go!
The Grey Cat – Grái Kötturinn
The Grey cat is an institution in Reykjavík. It’s open from 07:30, they are famous for their American breakfast which comes in different sizes, called “trucks.” Not the cheapest breakfast in town, but your money’s worth in portion sizes and high-quality coffee.
The cosy basement café is easy to miss especially since the name – Grái Kötturinn – is in Icelandic and means nothing to you. But it’s a red door to the basement of the grey building opposite the museum house on Hverfisgata, just around the corner from our office. Look out for the face of the grey cat on the door.
Kaffitár is one of the most successful café chains in Iceland. The name refers to an Icelandic phrase of drinking “a tear” of coffee (usually a massive understatement similar to having “one beer” or “a Pringle”). They were some of the pioneers of the coffee revival starting in the 1990’s complete with home roasting, resulting in operating one of the major Icelandic roasteries today.
They have a branch at high street Bankastræti 8, just down the street from our office. It opens at 07:30, they really care about coffee, and breakfast here is likely to be a nice roll or a muffin and should cost neither an arm nor a leg.
There are other places that are open early, just get in touch with us if you want more options.
Early Morning Reykjavík: Things to do
OK, now you’re well fed and fueled by copious amounts of coffee. What are you going to do with yourself until the afternoon? Get to travelling! You won’t feel tired if you’re running on the pure adrenaline of seeing beautiful sights and exciting experiences! Plus if you’re taking a tour, you can nap while the guide drives!
The Blue Lagoon
You can actually see the famous blue body of water full of skin-healing minerals en route to Reykjavík from the Airport, or take a bus from Reykjavík.
The earliest transport from Keflavik airport to the Blue Lagoon is currently 08:30 in the morning, you can stay as long as you like and storing your luggage is about 2-3 euros a bag. Your journey from the Lagoon to Reykjavík is included in the price and you don’t even have to book it. The buses go about once every hour until the evening.
YOU NEED TO BOOK YOUR BLUE LAGOON ENTRY WELL IN ADVANCE. We are happy to reserve it for you – just contact us.
Picking up your rental car at Keflavik airport in the early morning
Many of the car rentals at the airport are open 24/7, or they open very early in the morning. (Obviously, you should check with your car rental before you arrive). This can be a great way to make use of your morning and means you can hit the road at whatever time suits you best. Check out our self-drive tours to know where to go from here!
The downside to driving yourself in the early morning is driving while sleepy. If you’re feeling tired, maybe just stick with day tours, take a nap before you go or just head out later in the day.
Early Morning Reykjavík: Shorter tours
Assuming you’re just waiting to check into your hotel and take a nap, there are some activities that only take 3-4 hours:
This half-day tour starts at 09:30 and takes you straight to a cave formed by molten lava thousands of years ago. The guide will tell you about the geology and history of Iceland as a fantastic introduction to the country and what you’ll be seeing during your stay here.
- Reykjavík Erupts
Reykjavík, fortunately, does not (usually) erupt on this tour. But it takes you to the active volcanic area of the Reykjanes peninsula, right at the doorstep of Reykjavík. This is a convenient 3-4 hour jeep tour which leaves at 09:30. If you don’t have too much luggage, you can probably keep it in the trunk, even, and get dropped off at your Reykjavík hotel after the tour. Book this tour now.
- Early Morning Horseback Riding from Reykjavík
This horseback riding tour picks you up from Reykjavík at 09:00 am and takes you a short distance out of town to ride among lava fields and forests. You’ll be back to Reykjavík at about 1-2pm. For the experienced, you can choose to make this tour longer by booking the Viking tour.
- Summertime – Early Morning Reykjavík Whale Watching
Starting in about March, there are whale watching tours from the old harbour at 09:00 am. They take about 3-4 hours and have more than a 90% chance of spotting some whales, dolphins and the like. Book a whale watching tour online now! (Whale watching is also available in wintertime, but only at 1pm)
Early Morning Reykjavík: Longer Tours
If you want to really get on the road, you can take longer tours which start in the early morning, so you don’t have to waste time waiting for them to begin. To name just a few, you can take an all-day Golden Circle tour, a South Coast tour or a two-day glacier lagoon tour which includes accommodation for the night which all take off at 09:00 a.m. in the morning (hotel pick-up at 08:30). Contact us for more options, there are many.
Early Morning Reykjavík: Other things to do
Explore Reykjavík in the early morning
There are so many ways to explore Reykjavík. You can do it on your own, on city sightseeing tours, by hop-on/hop-off bus (from 10am), helicopter (by arrangement), segway, bike or any number of ways. Contact us for more information!
Early Morning Reykjavík Museums
There are so many great museums and exhibitions in Reykjavík! Some of the ones that open early are:
the Settlement exhibition (9 am) and Aurora Reykjavík. Others tend to open at 10 – see the Reykjavík museum guide or pick up a physical copy of our museum guide for more museum details!
There are some options for your early morning Reykjavík experience. Of course, this is just a sampler and the best way to prepare is to get in touch with us by email, online chat, phone or in person, and we’ll help you plan your whole day in detail. But even if you just use these tips, I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic early morning in Reykjavík!!