the nylon guide to reykjavik

summer or winter, meet your new go-to getaway.

by liza darwin

There's an addictive excitement that comes from booking last-minute travel. I should know-- I've spent hours trolling the internet late at night searching for spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment trips. The kind that come in random Expedia sales, where you buy the plane ticket at 2AM out of pure adrenaline rush, before actually thinking of the real-life consequences. Like, who am I going with? What if I don't even speak the language? And lastly (most perhaps most importantly) what the hell am I going to do when I get there? 

For everyone who's been there, done that, I've found your new must-see destination: Reykjavik, Iceland. At just under five hours flying time from New York City, getting there is faster than a trip to the West Coast. And once you've landed in the capital bright and early, you're not even going to want to sleep--it might be sunrise, but there's so much to do. Just trust me on this one!

I recently spent a whirlwind four days exploring the city for Reykjavik's annual fashion festival, where I split my time between shows going shopping at vintage meccas, chowing down on local faves, and hitting all the late-night bars. What's the point of sleeping?! As one of my new Icelandic friends told me when I asked how everyone stayed out so late, "Just drink a lot of coffee--you'll never want to miss out!" Noted.

Although you should most definitely add an extra day for all of the "nature" aspects of the country (like hunting the Northern Lights, visiting geysers, and duh, soaking in the world-famous Blue Lagoon), for those who want to hang in Reykjavik proper, see our guide below. Then, grab your laptop and start plotting your next long-weekend adventure. (And when you do...let me know! I'm already counting down until when I can go back.)

See our favorite spots and the best Icelandic designers in the gallery! 


If you want to be in the center of everything....Center Hotels Plaza 

If you don't want to spend a lot of money....Reykjavik Downtown Hostel

If you want to meet people... KEX Hostel 


If you want to relax and bliss out in a geothermal spa...Blue Lagoon 

If you want to get your Icelandic art fix on... Einar Jonsson Museum

If you want Scandinavian design inspiration...Spark Design Space

If you want to cruise along the waterfront, check out... HARPA

If you want to make your friends jealous... document all the street art.


If you love Opening Ceremony, then you'll love...Kronkron

If you want the coolest vintage....Spuutnik 

If you want to get schooled on the coolest Icelandic bands, visit.....Tonar 12

If you want to see art/music/and visual awesomness all rolled into one....Dead Skeletons 


If you want to eat raw/vegan/totally healthy...Glo 

If you're hungover from the night before...Prikio

If you want a true Icelandic hot dog (yes, they exist!), go to... Bæjarins beztu pylsur

If you want the best seafood...The Sea Baron

If you want really great coffee...Mokka Kaffi 


If you want to hang with the hipsters try... Boston 

If you want a dance party...Paloma 

If you can't decide between coffee or a cocktail...Kaffibarinn (which has both, and they're both amazing)

photo by birta ran

Knitwear with a twist (and radical styling) at Magnea.

photo by birta ran

Cool-girl separates (and tons of eye-popping prints) at Sigga Maija.

photo by birta ran

Hitchock heroine for the 21st century at Rey.

photo by birta ran

Out-of-this-world patterns at Ziska.

Harpa Concert Hall

Hot dogs at Bæjarins beztu pylsur by the waterfront (next to HARPA)

Vintage heaven at Spuutnik

Inspiration from Design Spark

Blue Lagoon

Dead Skeletons

Shop the best new vintage at Spuutnik, located right on the Laugavegur main drag.

Explore the Reykjavik street art scene because A.) it's free! and B.) it's awesome