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Things to do in Reykjavik When It Rains

Discover things to do in Reykjavik when it rains. Explore options of what to do in Reykjavik on a rainy day. Make the most of wet weather in Iceland.

The weather in Iceland can be a gamble at any time of year. You've rolled the dice and planned a trip to Reykjavik, only now it's raining. I found myself in exactly this situation last week when I visited Reykjavik on a business trip. 

I've been to Iceland a couple of times before and had the good fortune to enjoy nice weather on my previous trips. When the sun is shining, you can bathe in the Blue Lagoon under the midnight sun, hike along the coast to Seltjarnarnes to enjoy some epic birdwatching, drive the iconic Golden Circle, or take a longer road trip to see puffins from land at the cliffs overlooking the black sand beaches of Vik

While my luck definitely ran out on this trip and I encountered cold temperatures, driving rain, and gale force winds, I decided to stay positive and make the most of my time in Iceland. We can't control the weather, just our reaction to it!

Door to Hallgrimskirkja on a rainy day in Reykjavik Iceland

Read on for my recommendations on things to do on a rainy day in Reykjavik based on my personal experience.

Start the Day With a Warm Cinnamon Roll at Brauð & Co

What better way to start a rainy day in Reykjavik than with a toasty warm cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven at Brauð & Co. Step into the street art covered building just a block from iconic Hallgrimskirkja and the smell of fresh baked bread delights the senses. 

Try a traditional cinnamon roll or one of about 5 different flavors. Alternatively, sample a pretzel croissant if you enjoy a slightly more savory breakfast. 

If you can, nab the window seat and enjoy your treat warm and dry while the weather rages outside. If seating isn't available, pull over to any available corner of the small bakery and eat standing up.
Cinnamon roll at Brauð & Co in ReykjavikExterior of Brauð & Co in Reykjavik

Sip a Bottomless Filter Coffee at Reykjavik Roasters

You could grab a coffee at Brauð & Co., but for a higher end experience, I recommend holding off on the caffeine and then walking up the street to Reykjavik Roasters. 

You aren't allowed to bring in outside pastries, so finish your treats before heading up the hill to the cafe. If you order a filter coffee like I did, you are entitled to free refills. The staff will prompt you to "drink as much as you want" when they hand you a dainty ceramic cup. 

Depending on how bad the weather is, cozy up at one of the eclectic clusters of tables and chairs scattered throughout the cafe for one cup or three before moving on.
Street with Brauð & Co and Reykjavik Roasters

Get the Willies at the Icelandic Phallological Museum

Rainy weather is museum weather in my book. In Reykjavik, I was intrigued to discover a museum that was designed to give you the willies...literally. 

The Icelandic Phallological Museum puts nature's genitalia on display. The museum's founder started collecting penises almost as a joke, but then the collection kept growing and now represents well over 150 specimens from the tiniest dongs (rodents) to the most giant of schlongs (whales). 

The Icelandic Phallological Museum is definitely over the top, but worth checking out in the name of science...or just curiosity.
Specimens in formaldehyde at the Icelandic Phallological Museum

Enjoy Soup for Lunch at Icelandic Street Food

If it's still raining at midday, head to Icelandic Street Food for a warming bowl of soup served in a bread bowl. Choose between lamb, seafood, or tomato soup. 

Come hungry because you get free refills. Note: if you order the lamb soup like I did, you can refill with either lamb or tomato soup. The seafood costs a little extra.
Lamb soup in a bread bowl at Iceland Street Food in Reykjavik

Browse The Old Bookstore in Reykjavík 

Rainy days make me want to head indoors with a good book. The Old Bookstore in Reykjavik is a great destination on a rainy day. The store is rather small, but specializes in translated Icelandic literature. 

Have a browse and get some recommendations from the friendly knowledgeable staff member on hand. If you make a purchase, they can stamp your book as a sort of souvenir. I picked up a couple of books to read while hunkering down and trying to stay warm and dry on my trip.
Facade of the Old Bookstore in Reykjavik on a rainy day

Sample Icelandic Craft Beer During Happy Hour

Iceland's craft beer scene is emergent. You'll find a number of bars selling Reykjavik craft brews. There is even a Reykjavik outlet of BrewDog. 

Go for a flight or a bite at Bastard Brew. Order a 4 beer flight to maximize variety or to get a sense of your favorites. Alternatively, order a happy hour pint (3-6 pm daily) and combine it with a delicious flatbread topped with sliced beef for an early dinner.

Icelandic craft beer flight at Bastard Brews in Reykjavik
NEIPA and a flatbread at Bastard Brews in Reykjavik

Experience Reykjavik Fine Dining

Reykjavik is home to just 122,000 people. Because of this, you might expect the food scene to be lackluster. I found that was far from the case. When it rains, why not treat yourself to a gourmet meal featuring local ingredients? I visited Reykjavik for work and had the excuse to go out twice for business dinners. 

While away the evening at Monkeys while you sample their tasting menu. Start with an Aji Pepper Margarita to prime the pipes and then dip into some Icelandic ceviche served with plantain chips. 

We enjoyed an array of Icelandic seafood expertly prepared followed by a delectable lamb dish. The tasting menu is served family style.
Collage of dishes at Monkeys in Reykjavik
Dessert also presented options and was served with a flourish over dry ice. We tried a mandarin "orange" with cream inside and strawberry cheesecake. Chocolate and caramel desserts satisfied everyone's sweet tooth.
Collage of dishes at Monkeys in Reykjavik
Another great option for fine dining on a raining evening in Reykjavik is OTO, a restaurant specializing in Japanese Italian fusion cuisine made with local Icelandic ingredients. 

We started off with a margarita style cocktail flavored with yuzu. Japanese milk bread dipped in smoked trout, chives, and roe was delightful. 

Delicate slices of Arctic char flavored with a citrus ponzu followed. We finished our meal with aromatic lamb served with mushrooms and chili. For dessert we sampled a "lemon" flavored with mint and almond. 

Collage of dishes at OTO in Reykjavik

Finish the Day with a Wee Dram of Icelandic Whisky

Another great idea for a rainy day in Reykjavik is to head to Dillon Whisky Bar to try some Icelandic whiskys. If you are feeling indulgent, for about 50 EUR, you can sample 7 different varieties of Flóki Whisky from Eimwerk Distillery, Iceland's only distillery. 

My favorite was the Flóki Whisky made in birch barrels. Surprisingly, I also enjoyed the whisky smoked with sheep dung and brought a bottle home with me. Pro-tip: save your alcohol shopping for the duty free at the airport.
Flóki whisky flight at Dillon Whisky Bar in Reykjavik

Buy or Rent Gear and Go Out Anyway

I've been told before: there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices. I brought plenty of layers but did not bring a waterproof raincoat. I was able to purchase a cheap poncho for about 15 EUR at IceMart. The raincoat was slightly heavier duty than the usual "garbage bag" quality that you get in most tourist places.

Storm clouds approaching Reykjavik

If you really want to stay warm and dry, did you know that you can rent outdoor clothing in Reykjavik? IcelandCover Outdoor Clothing Rental charges about 70 EUR for a raincoat and rain pants for 2 days. 

Regardless, don't let rainy weather in Reykjavik ruin your fun. Instead, bundle up and do these things even when it rains.

Explore Reykjavik Street Art

Reykjavik is a compact city and you can walk the core end-to-end in less than 30 minutes. Wander the streets and keep an eye out for some spectacular street art.
Collage of street art in Reykjavik spotted on a rainy day

Go Birdwatching Along the Coast

Don your waterproof gear and walk along the coast. There is both a pedestrian and cycle path to choose from. Keep an eye out for Eider ducks nesting or swimming close to shore.
Eider ducks in the rain near Reykjavik

Explore Colorful Streets and Go Door Hunting

Homes in Reykjavik are often made with corrugated aluminum siding, a somewhat surprising choice given the harsh weather conditions. 

Many of the buildings are painted in bright colors that will brighten up any rainy day. As my regular readers know, I am also very fond of door photography. Keep an eye out for unique doors (some featuring Norse iconography).
Colorful street on a rainy day in Reykjavik

Follow the Rainbow

What better way to fight off the blues on a rainy day in Reykjavik than with a walk up Rainbow Street? Heading up towards Hallgrimskirkja, Rainbow Street is one of the most Instagrammable spots in Reykjavik.
Rainbow Street on a rainy day in Reykjavik

Getting to Reykjavik

Icelandair and Play Airlines have the most flights to Reykjavik. Play is a good budget airline option from destinations in both Europe and the U.S. Icelandair allows you to plan a stopover in Reykjavik at no additional charge. This is a great option if you are planning a bigger Scandinavian or Nordic trip.
Storm clouds approaching near Reykjavik
Keflavik International Airport is about a 45 minute ride to downtown Reykjavik and a taxi ride can set you back well over 200 EUR. FlyBus is a more economical option and costs about 30 EUR each way. Flybus takes everyone to the main bus station and from there you board smaller busses that disperse to stops all around the city.

Where to Stay in Reykjavik

Even though I was visiting Reykjavik for work, I decided to choose a more economical hotel. I paid about 125 EUR per night (not including breakfast) to stay at Fosshotel Lind

View of Hallgrimskirkja from inside a room at Fosshotel Lind

The hotel was conveniently located about a 10 minute walk from Hallgrimskirkja and was close to FlyBus Stop 13. The hotel room was small, but comfortable enough. 

Bring earplugs since the rooms are not well insulated from noise. An eye mask in the summer is also helpful even though the rooms have blackout curtains. 

If you are not budget constrained, I recommend staying at the Fosshotel Reykjavik instead (where some of my colleagues stayed). The hotel is a more modern high rise with a craft beer bar onsite. 

Some of the rooms have sweeping views of the water. Fosshotel Reykjavik is located slightly further away from the center of Reykjavik than Fosshotel Lind so factor that into your planning.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Things to do in Reykjavik When It Rains
Things to do in Reykjavik When It Rains
Discover things to do in Reykjavik when it rains. Explore options of what to do in Reykjavik on a rainy day. Make the most of wet weather in Iceland.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog