10 Great Things To Do In Reykjavik
Reykjavik is the beginning of any Icelandic adventure. Even if you are travelling throughout the countryside, it is worth to stay a couple of days in the capital city and start to discover what Iceland is about. Here we look at some of the great things to do in Reykjavik. It is in the northernmost capital of the world where you get closer to the culture, food and environment of this intriguing country.
It will be there your first contact with Iceland and you should be open to what this place can bring you, it is true the city offers more things to do but in this list, we have selected 10 great things to do in Reykjavik focusing on what local culture can offer you. Those activities were picked to immerse you into Iceland way of living and we hope you enjoy it.
1 – Check out the Hallgrimskirkja Church
This Evangelical-Lutheran church is must attraction to see in Reykjavik. Its architecture was inspired by Svartifoss waterfall, located in South Iceland and, you will notice it is so different from any idea of church you have in mind.
An elevator brings you up to 74.5 meters above, into its tower where it is possible to have 360 degrees view from the city. If you thing you that is not much, take into consideration the church is visible 20 kilometers away, so you will get a great view from Reykjavik.
While the white-concrete from outside is a surprise, once inside the 5276-piper organ is the highlight of the visit. The church has a nationalist style, showcasing Nordic details and was designed by Guojon Samúelsson, who dedicated it to Hallgrímir Pétursson, an Icelander poet.
From conception to completion it took 49 years (1937-1986), and unfortunately Guojon never saw his masterpiece. Admission to church is free, but there is a fee to get in the tower. During summer (May-September) tower is open from 9h to 20h30, and in winter time (October – April) closes at 16h30. Definitely one of the great things to do in Reykjavik.
2 – Swim in a public pool
Icelanders are serious about pools. When visiting the country, you will notice all kind of pools in most unexpected places: outdoors with a view, indoors with waterslides or even natural shaped, you are sure to find one for you.
In Reykjavik, Laugardalslaug is the largest and most popular pool in the city where you can enjoy outdoor pool, hot tubs, steam bath and gym.
Vesturbaejarlaug is closer to the city center and offers the same structure in a smaller scale, but still a pool, steam and three hot-spots will be available for you. If you are travelling with kids, a visit to Árbaejarlaug can be a good option as they offer inside and outdoor pool and amusements for every age with options of waterslides and waterfalls.
Most pools offer the basic structure for your entertainment with lockers and towel rental.
If travelling outside Reykjavik, include in your tour a stop at Sundlaugin á Hofsósi and Seljavallalaug pools, trust us you will not regret enjoying a pool with a view.
3 – Go on a tour
Tours are great ways to discover a new destination as you have a local point of view in a place you have never been. In Reykjavik case, it is possible to go on a tour in the city or some places around.
While in the city you can taste some Icelandic food by doing “Reykjavik by Food Walking Tour”; discover some of 23 whales species that live around Iceland in a Whale Watching Tour or even go higher seeing the city from above in a helicopter tour.
From the city it is still possible to book tours for destinations around it, as the case of Golden Circle Tour, which includes a visit to Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and a geyser, additionally depending on the weather some additional stops can be made.
One of the top touristic attraction in Iceland can also be visited in a day tour from the capital city, the Blue Lagoon is often promoted in photos as a must-do thing while in the country.
A bus ride takes approximately 40 minutes one-way to get you to this Icelandic experience for an affordable price. You will be surprised by different tours types you will find amongst all the great things to do in Reykjavik, ready to show you the best of Iceland.
4 – See the Northern Lights
Northern Lights are a live entertainment rarely seen, but usually on most traveler’s bucket list. The conditions to see it are basically: cold weather in dark and clear night, even though it seems simple it is still not 100% certain you will see one.
In Iceland, it is possible to see them from October to March, but has been seen during August in the past. Some apps can keep you updated on the phenomenon, as the case of “My Aurora Forecast” and “Aurora Alerts Northern Lights”.
If the conditions apply during your stay, don’t be shy and just go out. Basically, you just need to walk around the city keeping away from lamps or drive a car until you see one, which usually is not so far from the city center.
If you will feel more comfortable, a tour takes you to see them from a boat. Keep in mind it will be extremely cold and you need to wear comfortable and adequate clothes for winter, including accessories like gloves, winter hats and scarf.
This is another special moment Iceland will present to you and one of the great things to do in Reykjavik, as Northern Lights are hard to see, by the time you are able to do so it becomes an experience of a lifetime.
5 – Visit the Harpa Concert Hall
If you are into architecture, Harpa Concert Hall is stop to be added in your visit to Reykjavik. Home of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, this is a new concept building made to impress.
Its outside imposing structure has 714 moving LED lights artwork which turn on during night, a show worth watching.
Due to its location in Old Harbour neighborhood, the building reflects in water shaping a beautiful landscape. Don’t stay only outside, check out the inside as the concept continues. If you want to go deeper into the architecture, they offer a guided tour running three times a day on weekdays (except Tuesdays) and weekends at 11h, 13h and 15h30.
It is highly recommended to check out events in the building while your visit, especially if symphonics concerts are something you enjoy.
You can check the schedule on their website. This is definitely an Icelandic masterpiece and that is reason it is part of our 10 great things to do in Reykjavik.
6 – Discover the museums
More than art, the museums from Reykjavik will show history from this remote place on earth and some curiosities too. You can start with the National Museum as it will present an exhibition from settlement to modern times in Iceland, afterwards if you are an art lover a good idea is to visit any one (or all) of the three art museums available in the city:
Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstadir and Ásmundarsafn are the buildings of Reykjavik Art Museum. The city itself also has arts spread throughout its area, as example, the Sun Voyager sculpture located near Harpa Concert Hall.
Reykjavik Museum of Photography, will show art in photos and it is great opportunity to get to know different photographers.
For curious travelers, this could be an unusual museum to visit. The options continue with museums and art galleries can also be easily found while sightseeing in Reykjavik.
7 – Stop at Tjornin
Located in downtown area, this pond is a postcard from Reykjavik. More than just a place to take photos, it is also where you will find Icelanders having fun year-round. During summer, families gather around it to feed the geese and ducks, while in winter it becomes an ice skating rink.
Additionally, students are often seen playing soccer on the ice. The pond is also an important place for more than 40 species of birds and that is one of the reasons that during winter time the city leaves part of the corner ice-free by heating the water, leaving a space for the birdlife to have a water source.
A fun fact about this attraction in Reykjavik is that in the past Tjornin was an ice source for families in the city, prior to refrigerator it was there where families would go to get ice.
This is a spot you have to check when in the city, part because of its beauty and part because of the importance for Icelanders.
Additionally, note the landscape formed in the pond with the reflect of the buildings around it.
8 – Spend an afternoon at Old Harbour
This neighborhood in Reykjavik deserves a highlight in our list. Not only because is home of the Harpa Concert Hall, but also because provides beautiful views to Mount Esja with a combination of a cool neighborhood.
Old Harbour was built from 1913 to 1917 and now it is in blooming again as new restaurants, art galleries and hotels are popping up in the area. For hotel, as example, you can check the Reykjavik Marina Icelandair Hotels providing accommodation in modern style while located in a historical building.
In case you want to try Icelandic food in a high-quality way, you will be happy to try Matur og Drykkur, which literally means food and drink. Locals are crazy about the ice cream shop Valdi’s and Coocoo’s Nest is a great coffee shop also available in the area.
Despite all the tips, there is one thing left to do while in Old Harbour: get lost, walk around appreciating the view, historical buildings and little gems only you will find out.
9 – Food lovers: stop at Frú Lauga
If city markets are an attraction for you when travelling, you should visit Frú Larga. This mini market provides the best local ingredients from Icelandic farmers, proposing a great way to discover new flavors while engaging with local communities.
The owners have studied abroad and when back in Iceland decided to bring the farm to consumer idea into Reykjavik, opening the market in 2009.
Since then it has become a success and now the owners brought the market into a kitchen, Frú Lauga operates the cafe at Reykjavik Art Museum, in the Hafnrhus building.
In case of a road trip through Iceland, this is a good stop to gather the products for a picnic around the country.
Nothing is better for a trip than experiencing the full package of local food and beautiful landscape and, Iceland offers it for you.
This is a very unique shop and one of the great things to do in Reykjavik.
10 – Go shopping
Nordic design is a new trend in the world, being often featured in most luxury websites and magazines. Yet simple, it has a classy finesse.
In Reykjavik, you will be able to see some local brands showcasing the best of Icelandic style. Starting by a stop at Kraum will not only be a visit to a traditional Icelandic architecture, but also show the best of its design as the house is dedicated only to local designers.
In case you want to shop for outdoors, which in Iceland’s case you will need appropriate clothes, add a stop at 66° North and check out what this brand has been doing since 1926. It is sure to surprise you by its quality.
While its building features the Finnish design of Alvar Aalto, inside you will be able to see a library, a restaurant, a Nordic boutique, exhibitions and concerts.
Are you ready to discover Reykjavik? Don’t forget to book your flight at After finishing this list, don’t forget to check your flights on www.flyusanywhere.com and tag your pictures with #flyustoreykjavik so everybody can discover this amazing place and all the great things to do in Reykjavik.