Many individuals have a tendency to gloss over Reykjavik utilizing it solely as a jumping-off level for the well-known Ring Road or Golden Circle. But Iceland’s capital metropolis deserves not less than a few days to discover its many historic, cultural, and energetic issues to do. From avenue artwork to lagoons and the style of the perfect scorching canines, there are many issues to do in Reykjavik. Plus, the town middle is so tiny that Reykjavik is extraordinarily walkable – maximizing how a lot time you get to take pleasure in sights.
Top issues to do in Reykjavik
You can go to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, style conventional Icelandic meals, or admire Icelandic tradition at Reykjavik museums. We did all of this after we visited Reykjavik for the primary time. Reykjavik has sufficient to preserve you entertained. This information will cowl all one of the best issues to do in Reykjavik.
1. Perlan Museum
For some purpose, the Perlan Museum will not be one of the vital common issues to do in Reykjavik. Don’t let 2023 be the 12 months that you just miss out too. This spectacular glass constructing is an enormous dome and sits hilltop in a park setting simply outdoors the town middle. The museum is a nature Exploratorium. You can study extra about Icelandic nature and science by expertise and interactive displays. Iceland has many distinctive pure sights and phenomena, so this can be a prime attraction on your checklist. Guests can take pleasure in an commentary deck, an indoor ice cave, and a planetarium present.
When you’ve completed studying, there’s additionally hospitality to calm down. The Perlan Museum can also be residence to a revolving restaurant and fancy cocktail bar. The futuristic dome has everything- what’s not to love? Grab your entrance ticket right here!
2. Icelandic Phallological Museum
The Icelandic Phallological Museum is without doubt one of the most weird issues to do in Reykjavik. Yes, you learn the identify appropriately. This is a whole museum devoted to ‘penises and penile parts’. The Phallological Museum is surprisingly academic, although; the specimen comes from varied Icelandic land and sea mammals, together with whales. The museum is a organic exhibit and stands out due to its distinctive focus.
Allow not less than an hour or two to go to the Icelandic Phallological Museum. There are over 200 penises and penile elements on show, offered in glass columns, wall platforms, and tiny specimen jars. There’s even a legendary creatures part as a bit of additional enjoyable. Located in central Reykjavik, the Phallological Museum is without doubt one of the most enjoyable issues to do in Reykjavik. It is an ideal attraction when you fancy some light-hearted leisure.
3. Flyover Iceland
Flyover Iceland is comparatively new to the Reykjavik sights scene. The 4D expertise is an thrilling means to nearly fly over Iceland and whisks friends away on a thirty-minute tour of Iceland’s most iconic sights. For these with restricted time in Iceland, Flyover Iceland is a incredible means to expertise sights that you could solely entry on prolonged highway journeys. The 4D expertise elements in all of your senses, with wind, mist, scents, and seat movement – with 3D visuals all through. The spherical display screen is 20 meters, so you possibly can put together for final views.
Located in Downtown Reykjavik, Flyover Iceland is extraordinarily simple to entry and issue into your itinerary. And, if you’d like an indoor attraction, an immersive, 4D ‘flight’ is an effective way to heat up. Grab Your ticket now.
Shopping in Reykjavik is without doubt one of the most enjoyable issues for Icelandic guests to do, but additionally extraordinarily sensible. Even the best-laid plans can go improper, and the identical goes for packing heat garments. Picking up a helpful woolly layer is a superb factor to do in Reykjavik, and also you’ll thank your self later. Icelandic wool comprises two varieties of hair, giving it a delicate inside layer and a coarser water resistant outer layer. Read extra: 5 Winter Layering Tips to Dress for Extreme Cold Weather
So, the place can you discover one of the best retailers? Downtown and central Reykjavik is residence to most of the metropolis’s primary buying streets, the place you’ll uncover woolen garments retailers galore. The Wool Shop, Icewear Magasin Austurstraeti, Thorvaldsen Bazar, and the Nordic Store are one of the best retailers to buy woolly layers. Souvenir retailers have a tendency to promote smaller gadgets like gloves and hats too. Keep your eye out for additional insulating merino layers in addition to conventional wool as properly.
5. Catch a reside gig on the bookshop bar none
Rublan Bokakaffi would possibly appear to be an unassuming bookshop by day. Still, at evening it transforms right into a raging reside music venue. The bar switches from coffee-making to pint-pulling and cocktail mixing. Guests line up in entrance of bookshelves alongside the mezzanine ground to peer over the railings on the performing band and the decrease ground turns into a dance ground. Rublan Bokakaffi is the proper place to expertise Reykjavik’s quirky nightlife. Where additionally may you belt out ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Wonder Wall’ subsequent to copies of encyclopedias and world historical past books?
If you bar hop alongside the well-known Laugavegur avenue, Dillon’s Whiskey Bar, Bravo, and Rublan Bokakaffi are three incredible stops. We advocate combining a go to to Rublan Bokakaffi with these different two bars for one of the best expertise of Icelandic nightlife.
6. Sky Lagoon
Sky Lagoon is without doubt one of the latest sights in Iceland, opening in the beginning of 2022. Sky Lagoon is a ten-minute drive out of the town middle, however it’s shut sufficient that we’re together with it in this information. The pure thermal baths are heated by underground scorching springs. They characteristic a dramatic infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean 75 meters beneath. The Sky Lagoon is way nearer to Reykjavik and extra pure than the Blue Lagoon (we’ll get to that later). The lagoon is lower into coastal cliffs, and the water is crystal clear aside from the steam. You should purchase a drink from the bar and spend hours stress-free in the warmth.
Aside from the lagoon itself, you possibly can e book your self in for a seven-step spa ritual. This includes time in the lagoon, a dip in a chilly remedy pool, a sauna overlooking the ocean, a chilly fog expertise, a cleaning scrub, a heat steam expertise, and a closing bathe. For these wanting a extra prolonged expertise, the seven-step ritual turns the Sky Lagoon right into a full-day attraction.
Reaching the Sky Lagoon is a chunk of cake when you drive, and there’s loads of parking onsite. If not, you should purchase a shuttle experience straight from Reykjavik metropolis middle.
7. Go on a whale-watching tour
Going whale watching is without doubt one of the finest wild animal encounters and wildlife-related issues to do in Reykjavik. Whale-watching excursions can simply be booked from the outdated harbor. They vary from dearer experiences on smaller RIB boats and extra budget-friendly choices on bigger vacationer boats. Depending on the season, you possibly can see humpback, blue, high quality sperm, and minke whales. If you might be fortunate, you would possibly spot orcas as properly.
June to August are one of the best months for recognizing whales in Iceland, however March to June are nice for recognizing orcas, particularly from Reykjavik. If you might be visiting outdoors the whale watching season, not less than go to the Whales of Iceland museum. The museum showcases the area’s whales utilizing life-sized displays, informative shows, and interactive experiences. Reykjavik is without doubt one of the world’s finest places for recognizing cetaceans, so profit from your go to whatever the season. This is a superb tour for Whale Watching.
8. Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon could be very doubtless a well-recognized attraction for you. The lagoon is Iceland’s darling and attracts thousands and thousands of vacationers a 12 months. The milky white thermal waters are heated by run-off from the close by geothermal plant. They have grow to be immortalized by glamorous social media photos. Like the Sky Lagoon, the Blue Lagoon isn’t precisely in Reykjavik. However, it’s so close by and well-known that we’re together with it in this information. It is well added to your Reykjavik itinerary at simply 45 minutes from the town middle by automotive or shuttle bus.
Check out our full information on visiting the Blue Lagoon which incorporates suggestions, what to count on, and ticket costs.
The lagoon is filled with bridges, hidden seating areas, and scenic viewpoints. You can spend hours exploring the lagoon, particularly when it will get foggy and additional steamy on chilly days. You can check out completely different pure facemasks or seize a drink on the lagoon bar once you aren’t exploring the lagoon structure. It is straightforward to see why the Blue Lagoon is so well-known; simply image your self soaking in thermal waters with a face masks and white wine.
9. Parliament House
Reykjavik is perhaps finest recognized for its pure sights, however additionally it is residence to loads of political historical past. You can go to the house of the Icelandic parliament throughout your keep, taking a 45-60 minute guided tour of the constructing freed from cost. Guests study concerning the historical past of Iceland, the parliament, and the work and performance of the federal government.
The Icelandic Parliament as soon as sat close to Silfra, the fissure that marks the divide between the European and North American tectonic plates. However now, the parliament sits in the middle of Reykjavik in a ‘modest’, in all probability a lot hotter, Nineteenth-century home. You can simply attain it on foot from Reykjavik metropolis middle in minutes. Plus, it is without doubt one of the most budget-friendly issues to do in Reykjavik.
10. The National Gallery of Iceland
The National Gallery of Iceland is a lofty title, and when you love artwork museums, the Reykjavik National Gallery is price a spot in your to-do checklist. The gallery displays high quality artwork from Icelandic and worldwide artists throughout the Nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As properly as useful everlasting collections, the gallery has momentary exhibitions that show topical artworks and themes. It is a beneficiant measurement and positively retains you entertained for an hour or extra.
The National Gallery is in downtown Reykjavik, not removed from Reykjavik City Hall and the Parliament House. It is properly suited to artwork lovers and extra common guests simply curious concerning the gallery. And with such a central location, it’s a sensible indoor attraction on your itinerary.
11. Take a Downtown Reykjavik strolling tour
Reykjavik is a really walkable metropolis, and also you don’t have to stroll it alone. In truth, guided strolling excursions are among the many finest issues to do in Reykjavik. Most strolling excursions final round two hours and take you round all the key central and downtown Reykjavik websites. The tour pauses to give details about every attraction, Icelandic tradition, and Reykjavik’s historical past. Prices are low, and a few guided excursions are completely free. Walking excursions are additionally an effective way to familiarize your self with a brand new metropolis.
You will more than likely cease by Hallgrimskirkja, Rainbow Street, Reykjavik avenue artwork, and the Sun Voyager sculpture. Each tour varies, so discover one which most closely fits you and your pursuits. This is the strolling tour we advocate.
12. Spot the Northern Lights
Who doesn’t need to spot the northern lights? The lights are one of the vital famed pure wonders in the world and one of the vital sought-after issues to do in Reykjavik. You would possibly spot the lights simply strolling round downtown Reykjavik after darkish. Alternatively, you possibly can obtain an app that tells you about aurora borealis predictions for that evening. You can then head out of the town middle to wait and take a look at to spot the lights with much less mild air pollution. Grotta Island Lighthouse is without doubt one of the finest spots outdoors the town middle if you’d like to watch for the lights.
If you favor to put your expertise in skilled arms, e book one of many extraordinarily common northern lights chasing excursions that embark from Reykjavik metropolis middle. These excursions whisk you away on a cross-country chase, serving you scorching chocolate as you wait. Many of those excursions provide a free second tour when you fail to see the lights in your first tour.
13. Visit Harpa Concert Hall
Harpa Concert Hall is one other spectacular glass constructing situated alongside the harbor entrance. It is the center of classical music tradition in Reykjavik and is residence to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Icelandic Opera, and Reykjavik Big Band. You’ll discover an infinite schedule of concert events, performances, and even the occasional music pageant, so it’s price checking to see if something pursuits you whereas visiting. And even when there isn’t, Harpa Concert Hall is gorgeous to go to simply to admire the outside structure.
Harpa Concert Hall is lower than a fifteen-minute stroll from the town middle and is situated close by the Phallological Museum and Ingolfsgardur Lighthouse. It is without doubt one of the finest issues to do in Reykjavik if you’d like to e book an occasion or admire the attention-grabbing structure.
14. Reykjavik Maritime Museum
Speaking of harborside sights, Reykjavik Maritime Museum is a incredible Reykjavik attraction to study extra about Iceland’s relationship with the ocean. The museum itself is about in a former fish manufacturing unit. It displays the native fishing business and the historical past and growth of fishing in Iceland. As such an remoted nation with such hostile circumstances, fishing was a harmful endeavor with excessive stakes – primarily feeding a nation by just a few courageous people.
The Reykjavik Maritime Museum is without doubt one of the most fascinating maritime museums in the world, partly due to the traditional necessity of fishing for Icelandic survival. Its displays are equally spectacular and embody a 900-ton coast guard ship referred to as Odinn.
15. National Museum of Iceland
The National Museum of Iceland is without doubt one of the finest historic issues to do in Iceland. It displays artifacts from the Settlement Age to the twentieth century utilizing a variety of everlasting and momentary exhibitions. You can see all types of historic objects, from jewellery to outdated structure and art work. Guests are guided by Icelandic historical past from the earliest dated interval of civilization to the trendy day.
The museum prices round $17 to enter, however the quantity of data and high quality of displays justifies the value. It is a incredible indoor attraction too – so preserve it in thoughts in case the climate turns significantly horrible. The National Museum of Iceland is situated in downtown Reykjavik and is a simple stroll from the town middle.
16. Arbaer Open Air Museum
Arbaer Open Air Museum is one of the best things to do in Reykjavik to discover Icelandic history. The museum is most famed for its settlement exhibition, which includes old houses and farms. Some buildings feature traditional grass roofs and are beautiful examples of early Icelandic architecture. Guests are guided around the museum by guides in traditional costumes and can spot grazing animals along the way. Once, Reykjavik looked much like the settlement exhibition, so it feels like a step back in time.
The museum is on the city’s outskirts, a twelve-minute drive or twenty-minute bus ride from Reykjavik city center. It is near the urban waterfall Kermoafoss and a WWII Artillery Bunker which are well worth combining with a visit.
17. Sun Voyager
The Sun Voyager is a vast steel sculpture set along Saebraut overlooking the sea. The 1990-built artwork represents a boat and is a beautiful artistic ode to Reykjavik’s relationship with the sea and fishing. You’ll find it on plenty of postcards and will likely stop by the Sun Voyager sculpture on a guided walking tour.
The Sun Voyager is free to visit and is best combined with a walk along the Sculpture & Shore Walk. The coastal path overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and dramatic mountains on the other side of the bay. In the morning, it is busy with joggers and dog walkers and is a great place to embrace the urban Icelandic lifestyle. At just a twenty-minute walk from the city center, visiting the Sun Voyager is a quick and easy thing to do in Reykjavik.
18. Try an Icelandic hot dog
Icelandic food can be weird and wonderful, but hot dogs are definitely a familiar dish. Why are hot dogs so popular in Iceland, you might wonder. Well, primarily because of the massive sheep population in Iceland. Lamb hot dogs are excellent street food and have a much sweeter and richer taste. If you want the best hot dog in Reykjavik, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – a hot dog stand that has been running since 1937.
Are you feeling inspired to try more Icelandic food? Then book a food tour or just let your taste buds guide you around Reykjavik’s most traditional cafes and restaurants. Reykjavik has plenty of options for those with luxury taste and is home to multiple Michelin-starred eateries.
19. Saga Museum
The Saga Museum is immersive history at its finest. Guests get to join in the action and dress in Viking clothes before embarking through realistic replica scenes depicting early Icelandic history. For families looking for an engaging way to learn about Icelandic history, the Saga Museum is an excellent choice. It is informative enough to suit fun-loving adults, which is a win-win.
The museum is located approximately a ten-minute walk from the city center. It is near the Bakkastigur street art, Aurora Reykjavik museum, Reykjavik Maritime Museum, Lava Show, Whales of Iceland, and Flyover Iceland.
20. Visit the Magic Ice Bar
The Magic Ice Bar is part bar, art gallery, and icy wonderland. It is a magical spot to enjoy a freezing cold cocktail and embrace the adventurous soul of Reykjavik. Guests head downstairs from a general souvenir shop to the bar’s reception. Here, you pay an entrance fee, receive a welcome drink voucher, and get dressed up in massive thermal ponchos – it is a sub-zero bar, after all.
The bar is one of the most fun and unusual things to do in Reykjavik. You’ll find ice art across its walls, dramatic ice sculptures that include a big Viking boat, and ice tables and benches. Even the glasses are made of ice. Collecting your bright blue welcome drink from the bar, you can admire the art around the bar with a cocktail in hand.
The Magic Ice Bar is straightforward to reach. It is located just off the famous Rainbow Street in central Reykjavik. It is wise to book in advance, but there is usually space for walk-ins.
Best day trips from Reykjavik
Now that we’ve covered all the best things to do in Reykjavik let’s look at the best day trips from Reykjavik. Being based in the city center is not only fantastic for attractions on your doorstep; Reykjavik is a brilliant place for day trips.
You can rent a car and drive to some of these destinations or book guided tours from Reykjavik city center – the choice is yours.
Complete the Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is considered the ultimate road trip in Iceland and is a feasible day trip from Reykjavik. The route is approximately 190 miles and takes around three hours to drive. You can rent a car and drive it or book an organized tour. The route includes Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir geothermal park, Kerid Crater, and Langgacier glacier. This tour leaves right from Reykjavik and is one of the most popular.
Go horseback riding on an Icelandic horse
Icelandic horses are exceptional. They are one of the only breeds in the world with five gaits and the ability to tölt, which to non-equestrians looks a lot like a speed walk. You can book a horseback riding trek in many scenic places in Iceland, including on black sand beaches and volcanic landscapes.
Snorkel between the tectonic plates at Silfra
Feeling brave? Book a day trip to snorkel between the tectonic plates at Silfra. It has some of the most transparent waters in the world and dramatic views of the crack between the plates. You don a thermal underlayer and a (slightly ridiculous) dry suit to survive the cold.
Relax at hot springs and lagoons
The Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon aren’t the only lagoons and hot springs to enjoy around Reykjavik. You can also take a day trip to places like Hvammsvik Hot Springs, Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal Baths, and Laugarvatn Fontana.
Drive the South Coast
The Golden Circle is a great day trip from Reykjavik, and the South Coast is a close runner-up. Again, you can drive the route with a hire car or take a full-day guided tour. You’ll pass Selfoss waterfall, the Caves of Hella, LAVA Centre, Skogar Museum, Solheimasandur Plane Wreck, Halsanefshellir Cave, and a black sand beach at Vik. Vik is a great place to end your trip, and Reykjavik to Vik is five hour return drive.
Visit the Imagine Peace Monument
The Imagine Peace Monument was created by Yoko Ono as a memorial to John Lennon. The monument is located on an island just off Reykjavik’s coast, and you’ll need to catch the Videy ferry to get there. It is an adventurous day trip from Iceland if you are interested in John Lennon and architecture and want to get off the beaten track. This is a great tour to take.
Best foods to try in Reykjavik
This section is dedicated to the best foods you can try in Reykjavik. What more enjoyable way to appreciate a culture than through its cuisine? From stews to hot dogs, these are all the dishes for your must-taste list. We recommend jumping on a Food Tour to get the most out of the Icelandic cuisine experience.
Plokkfiskur – Fish stew
Fish stew is one of those all-year-round dishes that become favorites in winter. This hearty dish is made with freshly caught fish, mashed potatoes, and onions. It is a staple dish in Icelandic households.
Pylsur – Icelandic hot dogs
Hot dogs are popular Icelandic street food and, as we mentioned earlier, are mostly made up of lamb. Occasionally, meat is mixed with pork and beef. It is served in a bap with your sauce of choice.
Svið – Sheep’s head
As you may have guessed, this dish is not for the faint-hearted. You’ll have to be an adventurous eater to manage this one. The sheep’s head is typically boiled or smoked and is served whole – usually at banquets and special occasions.
Skyr – Yoghurt
Skyr yogurt is an excellent option if you want a more entry-level option. Skyr is technically a soft cheese, but it has the exact taste and consistency of yogurt and is consumed as such. It is similar to Greek yogurt and often comes in flavored pots or is served with berries.
Got some burning practical questions? These are the top FAQs for visiting Reykjavik, providing you with the essential information.
How to get to Reykjavik Iceland
International visitors fly to Reykjavik and land at the primary international airport Keflavik Airport. You can then rent a car, book a slot on a shuttle bus (Flybus is the most popular), and reach Reykjavik city center in around one hour.
If you are already in Iceland, you can take a road trip to Reykjavik or catch a domestic flight to Reykjavik Airport. Fancy something more adventurous? Take the ferry to Iceland from Denmark, which stops over at the Faroe Islands on the way. This is ideal if you have more time and want to combine Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Denmark into one holiday.
Getting around Reykjavik
Getting around Reykjavik is a dream. Just pack a good pair of walking shoes – Reykjavik is a very walkable city. Even if you are heading to the opposite side of the city, you can rent bikes or jump on one of the straeto buses. The bus system is well-connected, and services are very regular.
Best time to visit Reykjavik Iceland
Generally, the best time to visit Reykjavik Iceland is September or March – both are off-season, have slightly warmer temperatures, and are great for spotting the northern lights. However, when you should visit Reykjavik massively depends on what you want to do.
Much like the rest of Iceland, Reykjavik operates in seasons – so do you want the humpback whale season, the northern lights season, or the hiking season? Hopefully, now that you’ve figured out the best things to do in Reykjavik, you should have your list of must-do attractions. Keep those in mind for this section.
June to August is when Reykjavik experiences the midnight sun. Temperatures are at their warmest, hiking trails are open, and road-tripping the country is at its easiest with excellent ice-free roads. You’ll spot the whales of Iceland during this time and can take riding tours on Icelandic horses. September and October are when Reykjavik starts to get a little colder and darker, and these shoulder months are good for spotting the northern lights.
November to February are Reykjavik’s coldest and darkest months, and you’ll experience 24 hours of total darkness during this period. These months are prime northern lights-watching periods. March to May is another shoulder season, and apart from the Easter holidays, it tends to be a bit quieter, and daylight hours return to being fairly typical.
Accommodations in Reykjavik Iceland
So, now that you are inspired and informed about your trip to Reykjavik, where should you stay? These are our top recommendations.
Budget: Eric the Red Guesthouse
Eric the Red Guesthouse is a brilliant budget-friendly accommodation choice located right in Reykjavik’s center. The property is family-run and friendly. You can choose between rooms with shared bathrooms or ensuites; each room has its own kettle and tea-making facilities. The property’s complimentary breakfast buffet is a great way to save money – especially considering Iceland’s expensive food prices. There’s also a communal terrace, perfect for watching the night sky for any signs of the northern lights.
Mid-range: Kvosin Downtown
Kvosin Downtown is a contemporary four-star hotel next to Tjornin Lake and Reykjavik City Hall. The hotel offers a range of apartments, each featuring kitchenettes, espresso machines, a tv, and a wine bar. The decor is comfortable but tasteful and has an upscale but homely appeal.
Sold? You should be. Kvosin Downtown is a luxurious place to stay on a mid-range budget. Plus, the kitchen facilities mean you save on eating out, which quickly adds up in Iceland.
Luxury: The Reykjavik EDITION
The Reykjavik EDITION is a beautiful, luxurious place to stay in Reykjavik. The property is on the harbor front in central Reykjavik. Select rooms and suites feature views over the Atlantic Ocean. The range of rooms and suites caters to most tastes, whether you want floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean or a terrace to privately watch out for the northern lights.
The Reykjavik EDITION’s interior is dotted with flashy artwork and faux fur rugs. The hotel facilities include a 24-hour gym, spa with hot tubs, onsite bakery and cafe, restaurant, and two bars. It is an ideal luxury base to explore Iceland’s capital city.
Reykjavik is a brilliant place to visit and has thousands of things to do in and around the city center. You are guaranteed a packed itinerary, from the northern lights to fascinating Icelandic history, whale-watching tours, and endless foods to try. And, if by some miracle you find an extra day, there are plenty of brilliant day trip destinations accessible by rental car or shuttle. The capital city is an exciting city break, and we hope you have a wonderful time.
For more inspiration, you can check out this photo essay on experiencing fire and ice in Iceland and our guides on the best places to visit and things to do in Iceland.