12 Things to do in Reykjavik

12 Things to do in Reykjavik

Overzicht Reykjavik

Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and is a beautiful city with a lot to offer. The city, where Vikings once lived, has a rich history and culture and there are many attractions and activities to experience. Reykjavik is a great place to discover how the Vikings lived in the past and how it has developed into a major city. So visit the many museums and go on a day trip to the Golden Circle. Or relax in one of the many thermal baths that the city and the surrounding area have to offer. You can also visit the Blue Lagoon from Reykjavik or snorkel in crystal-clear glacier water with a visibility of up to 100 meters underwater. There is always something to do here!

Reykjavik City Card

With the Reykjavik City Card you can visit the zoo, thermal baths in Reykjavik and many museums for a lower price than if you pay separately. You can also take the local buses without having to pay. With this card, you can visit lots of places and get an idea of what there is to do in the capital of Iceland. You can check out our article about the Reykjavik City Card here.

Tip: If you pick up the card at one of the pick-up points, take the printed card. This is the easiest way to scan at all locations.

1:  Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja is one of the most iconic buildings in Reykjavik and is an important symbol of the city. It is a popular tourist attraction and is a must-see for anyone visiting Reykjavik. The church is named after Hallgrímur Pétursson, an Icelandic poet and religious leader who is known for his “Passion Songs”. It was built in the period 1945-1986 and is still relatively new. Hallgrímskirkja is the tallest building in Iceland with a height of 74.5 meters.

Hallgrimmskirkja Hallgrimmskirkja

2:  Perlan museum

In the Perlan museum you will discover how Iceland was formed in an interactive environment. You can visit the ice cave that they have built themselves, take a thick jacket with you just in case, because we were cold. Watching beautiful films about the Northern Lights and the latest eruption of a volcano in Iceland is also very interesting. And afterwards, you can have a drink and enjoy a 360-degree view of Reykjavik.

Perlan

3:  Take the ferry to Videy Island

From Reykjavik, you can take a lovely walk on the nearby Videy Island. You get here by ferry from Skarfabakki harbor. The ferry is not very big, so make sure you get tickets in time at the ticket office at the departure point. On Videy Island, you can see many bird species, including the famous puffins. In addition, the oldest stone house in Iceland is located here and they have found a settlement dating back to the 10th century. The famous artwork, Imagine Peace Tower, is also located here. This was placed in memory of John Lennon and is lit from October 9th to December 8th, respectively his birthday and death day.

Tip: Take the brochure that is on the ferry with you for information and sailing times, so you are always back in time.

Videy Island

4:  Árbaer Open Air Museum

This 1,000-year-old farm has been transformed into an open-air museum to show how Icelanders lived in the past. Primarily in the 19th and 20th centuries. It started in 1957 as a farm, but in the meantime, buildings from the old town have been moved to Árbaer and you can see a small village with the town square and the old farm. You can not only walk around, but also get a tour from one of the great guides.

Arbaer

5:  Day trips from Reykjavik

If you are staying only in Reykjavik, but want to see more of the surrounding area and of Iceland, here are a few day trips that we recommend.

Golden Circle day trip

A route around the Golden Circle is of course something you don’t want to miss in Iceland. On this route, you will see the Kerid crater, the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir and the beautiful Thingvellir park. It will take you about 8.5 hours. You can book the tour here. You can always check out our article about the Golden Circle.

Blue Lagoon day trip

Everyone has heard of the Blue Lagoon and for good reason. This beautiful wellness resort gives you 3 hours to float in the geothermal baths, enjoy a drink and even take a Silica mud mask. You can book the tour with transfer here.

Snorkeling day trip

Swim over the divide between the European and American tectonic plates in the Silfra Lava Fissure. This is a top ten dive spot in the world, thanks to the clear water. You will snorkel for 45 minutes with a certified guide and enjoy views up to 100 meters underwater. Book this trip now here.

There are many day trips available from Reykjavik, primarily to the south and west of the country. You can easily view and book all of these here.

Snorkelen

6:  Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur

Laugavegur is a shopping street and nightlife street in the heart of Reykjavik. You will find all the top brand stores, small local stores and many bars and pubs here. There is always something to do here. On Skólavörðustígur, you will find more creative and artistic shops and can enjoy street art. There are many artisan coffee bars here and halfway up, you get a beautiful view of the Hallgrímskirkja.

Laugavegur Reykjavik

7:  Sun Voyager (Solfarid)

This replica of a ship stands on the coast of Reykjavik and you can admire it freely. It looks like a Viking ship, but that was not the intention of the artist. It is a dream boat that pays tribute to the sun. But we also saw a Viking ship in it, to be honest.

Sun Voyager

8:  Saga Museum Reykjavik

The Saga Museum tells the stories of the people of Iceland over the years. How they lived and coped with it and what the customs were. How the plague swept away a third of the inhabitants and how natural disasters affected life. Many different stories about interactions between the Vikings and how politics was formed.

9:  Try local dishes in Reykjavik

Hangikjöt is literally translated as “the meat that has hung”. This is usually smoked lamb and is often eaten during Christmas. However, better restaurants also have this meat on the menu and it is definitely a recommendation if you like smoked meat.

Kleinur are fried breads that are also known as Icelandic donuts. However, they are less sweet and slightly less airy because they are twisted, but therefore more unique and at least just as delicious. (see picture)

Flatkaka sounds a bit silly, but freely translated, this is flat bread. You can spread some cheese on it, but also put a slice of hangikjöt on it so it’s delicious for in between.

10:  National Museum of Iceland

Discover the start of life in Iceland from the first Vikings and find out how they lived. You can see many different materials and tools here that they used in the past and how it has developed from then to now. There is also an audio guide available in English that gives you even more information about the objects. This museum mainly shows the real artifacts that were used in the past.

11:  Swimming pools and thermal baths

Do you want to enjoy a day in a hot tub or sauna, or do you want to swim a few laps in a place that is less touristy? Reykjavik has wonderful swimming pools where you can do all of this!

Laugardalslaug

An old but large swimming complex where you can relax in the warm pools, go down slides and swim laps.

Sundhöllin

You can swim laps here, but also relax in a steam room or sauna after a long day of walking around Reykjavik.

Vesturbaejarlaug

A swimming pool with different hot tubs and pools, where mainly locals come, who are happy to chat with you. Perfect to warm up when it’s cold outside.

Zwembad

12:  Kolaportid flea market Reykjavik

In the harbor on the old west side, near the Sun Voyager, this flea market is ready to browse on the weekends. Here you can find all sorts of fun Icelandic items, from books to clothes and from LPs to fermented shark. They sell everything second-hand and every visit you can find other unique items. Taking a look at this hidden gem is definitely worth it.

Flea Market

If you are looking for a manner to discover Reykjavik in the best way possible, we recommend these attractions. Enjoy the phenomenal history of Iceland in one of the museums or feast your eyes in the center of Reykjavik at Laugavegur. There is always something to do in Reykjavik. Iceland is an island with many hidden beauties, there is enough to discover. If you want to see more of the country, be sure to check out our 9-day (coming soon) or 16-day Iceland itinerary. Or one of the many other articles!

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