We don’t have to tell you that there’s nothing more intriguing than a good old schlep around an unfamiliar city. And, by and large, stumbling across hidden gems is one of travelling’s great joys. And then there’s walking tours. Sure, you could navigate by yourself, but you’ll not get those insider snippets and local tales that often come bundled with a guided tour. Add in a theme – we’re thinking, food, craft beer, art – and you’re really starting to rack up moments you may never have found by yourself in Reykjavik. Can’t quite spare the cash in this pricey city? There’s an (almost) free walking tour to join so you don’t miss out.
Reykjavik walking tour
If you’re in the market for a solid walking tour that ticks off some Reykjavik essentials, take a look at the tour by Reykjavik Sightseeing. They’ll start you off at the Sun Voyager sculpture near the coast and lead you on a 3-5km trot around the city. Landmarks, colourful neighbourhoods and even a chance to feed the ducks on the city’s lake are part of the charm here. Your local English speaking guide will drop some intel on Reykjavik’s history but mix in some current affairs too. This tour’s a decent length of time – coming in at around 3 hours, but does include a break for a hearty meal. You’ll be able to choose from a traditional lamb or shellfish soup – though a vegetarian option is available.
Cost: From £25 (kr 4500)
Feast your way around the city
If you arrive here hungry, Your Friend in Rekyjavik delivers a more than generous walking tour. They recommend the entry level tour for your first day in the city. Which, if nothing else, will help you quickly get your bearings, notch up some notes on places to dig a little deeper into – and get some dining tips. We think you might be better off having a roam yourself, and using this group for their more specialist tours. The food lovers tour clocks up tastings of 10 different Icelandic traditional foods. Not bad. But as well as a good feast, you’ll also learn the various ways food is intrinsically woven into the culture and visit some historic foodie spots. You can choose from a small group tour – or private tour if you’d like to keep the guide all to yourselves.
Cost: £83.40 (kr 14990)
Reykjavik beer tour
How does a three hour stint tasting some of Iceland’s top craft beers sound? Wake up Reykjavik whisk you around 3 or 4 of their hand-picked beer spots in the city. At each stop you’ll get to sup a selection of the 7 Icelandic beers featured on the tour. They also like to mix their drinks – so brace your liver for a cheeky shot or two of traditional schnapps as well. But, happily, it’s not all about knocking back the beverages. Your guide will serve up a batch of local beer history, delve into the craft brewing scene and look back at the lengthy – and no doubt bleak – 74 year long beer prohibition period. To balance out the alcohol, they’ll also plate up some snacks too.
Cost: £77.25 (kr 13,900)
Hop on, hop off
If you’ve clocked up a couple of capital cities over the years, you’ll be familiar with bold red Hop On, Hop Off buses. Yes, they are a tourist cliche, but then they do come in quite handy. The hop on, hop off system is ideal for getting you around the must–sees without having to put in quite so much leg work – and there’s a handy audio guide for some clunky, but ultimately informative, city knowledge. It’s not something we’d advocate in every city – but at £22.64 for a 24 hour pass it’s one of the cheaper ways to enjoy a semi-guided tour of Reykjavik. The time you’ll definitely want to consider this option? When the wind chill is clocking up numbers in the -15 region. Winter in Reykjavik is an ice filled adventure. But a little warm bus ride will be a welcome break from the biting winds.
Cost: £22.64 (24hrs) / £27.86 (48hrs)
Christmas, with a twist
In Iceland, the festive season takes a delightfully dark turn. Yes, there are twinkly lights, plump Santas and gifts. But there’s also a decidedly dark Christmas cat, monsters in the mountains and cheeky scamps that leave potatoes in shoes instead of presents. A lovely antidote for those that feel Christmas really is far too festive. To learn more about both sides of Reykjavik’s Christmas, join the Funky Iceland walking tour that takes you on a journey through Christmas folklore and traditions as you explore the city. This is a year-round affair, so no need to worry about flying in during the yuletide.
Cost: £25 (kr 4500)
Free walking tour
Wise types tend to muse that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. In Iceland? There’s no such thing as a free walking tour. City Walk does proudly advertise a free walking tour of Reykjavik. But, they do ask that you pay what you think it was worth at the end of the tour. A dilemma if you’re not easily able to slip off without paying. Though, if you’re looking for free stuff to do in Reykjavik, this comes pretty close. Join your City Walk guide to see 2km of Reykjavik. Highlights include the Parliament building, Tjörnin Lake, Harpa concert hall, Hallgrímskirkja and the City Hall. All of which will be accompanied with tales of the city’s history and evolution. As you can see from our list, Reykjavik walking tours can cost between £25 – £85 so if you hand the guide a tenner you’ll still be doing well.
Orbzii tip: For a truly free walking tour of Reykjavik, you’re going to have to go it alone – with a little help. The GPS My City app has four walks to download and comes with maps and snippets about each location along the routes. The South Reykjavik tour includes stops you’ll not find on most guided tours.