things to do in reykjavik

Last Updated on: 6th May 2024, 07:33 am

Welcome to Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city and a destination that offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors to explore and enjoy. Whether you’re interested in nature, culture, adventure, or nightlife, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. From iconic landmarks to outdoor adventures to immersive cultural experiences, Reykjavik is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.

Reykjavik is nestled in the heart of Iceland and offers a unique blend of breathtaking natural beauty and modern city living. With its close proximity to untouched landscapes, Reykjavik provides the perfect base for exploring the wonders of this extraordinary country.

So, what are some of the best things to do in Reykjavik? Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an art aficionado, or an adventure seeker, you won’t be disappointed. From exploring iconic landmarks to immersing yourself in Icelandic art and culture, this bustling city has it all. Let’s dive into the top activities and experiences that await you in Reykjavik.

Explore Things To Do in Reykjavik

Reykjavik offers a variety of popular experiences that are highly recommended by other travelers. From Northern Lights tours to exploring the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon, there is no shortage of exciting activities near Reykjavik. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures or cultural immersion, the city has something for everyone.

One of the must-try experiences in Reykjavik is a Northern Lights tour. Witness the enchanting dance of the Aurora Borealis in the dark skies of Iceland. Join a guided tour with experienced local guides who will take you to the best viewing spots away from city lights. It’s a truly magical experience that you won’t want to miss.

The Golden Circle is another popular attraction near Reykjavik. This route includes three iconic stops: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. Explore the stunning landscapes, walk between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, and marvel at the geysers and powerful waterfalls.

No visit to Reykjavik is complete without a visit to the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is famous for its milky-blue waters and rich minerals. Take a dip in the warm, rejuvenating waters while surrounded by volcanic landscapes. It’s a truly relaxing and unique experience.

For those interested in culture and history, Reykjavik has a wealth of museums and galleries to explore. The National Museum of Iceland offers a fascinating journey through the country’s history, from settlement to modern times. The Reykjavik Art Museum showcases contemporary Icelandic art, while the Icelandic Phallological Museum is a quirky and intriguing collection of penises from various mammals.

Food lovers will delight in Reykjavik’s vibrant culinary scene. Try traditional Icelandic dishes such as fresh seafood, Icelandic lamb, and skyr, a delicious local yogurt. Visit local restaurants and cafes to immerse yourself in the flavors of Icelandic cuisine.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Reykjavik offers plenty of opportunities for adventure. Take a hike up Mount Esjan for panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscapes. Or, embark on a whale watching tour to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

Cultural events and festivals also abound in Reykjavik. From the Reykjavik International Film Festival to the Reykjavik Jazz Festival, there is always something happening in the city. Immerse yourself in the vibrant art and music scene and enjoy the creative energy that Reykjavik has to offer.

Plan your visit to Reykjavik and make the most of your time in this dynamic city. Whether you’re seeking natural wonders, cultural experiences, or culinary delights, Reykjavik has it all.

Visit iconic landmarks in Reykjavik

Reykjavik, the charming capital city of Iceland, is home to several iconic landmarks that are not to be missed. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or an architecture admirer, these landmarks offer a glimpse into the rich culture and beauty of Reykjavik.

1. Hallgrimskirkja

hallgrimskirkja

One of the most recognizable landmarks in Reykjavik is Hallgrimskirkja, the largest church in Iceland. This magnificent church is an impressive example of modern Icelandic architecture and is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson. Take an elevator ride to the top of the tower for breathtaking panoramic views of the city.

2. Perlan

Another must-visit landmark in Reykjavik is Perlan, an extraordinary nature exploratorium. Perlan’s unique glass dome houses a revolving restaurant, providing visitors with stunning views of the city. Explore the exhibition halls to learn about Iceland’s natural wonders, and don’t miss the opportunity to walk through a real ice cave.

3. Sun Voyager

Located along Reykjavik’s waterfront, the Sun Voyager sculpture is a symbol of adventure, progress, and the unceasing desire to explore new horizons. This striking stainless steel sculpture resembles a Viking ship and offers a perfect spot to capture memorable photos or simply admire the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

4. Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall

Showcasing impressive modern architecture, the Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall is a cultural hub in the city. The building’s intricate glass facade reflects the surrounding landscape, creating a captivating visual experience. Check their schedule to catch a performance by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra or enjoy one of the many cultural events hosted in this renowned venue.

These iconic landmarks in Reykjavik offer a captivating blend of history, nature, and culture. Make sure to include them on your itinerary to fully immerse yourself in the wonders of this vibrant city.

Immerse yourself in Icelandic art and culture

Reykjavik offers opportunities to immerse yourself in Icelandic art and culture. The Settlement Exhibition and the Arbaer Open Air Museum are two cultural attractions that allow you to delve into the rich history and traditions of Reykjavik.

The Settlement Exhibition is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and curious visitors alike. Step into the Viking Age as you explore the city’s early history. Uncover fascinating artifacts and gain insights into how Reykjavik evolved over time. This immersive experience offers a glimpse into the past and provides a deeper understanding of the city’s roots.

The Arbaer Open Air Museum is another cultural gem that should not be missed. Step back in time as you wander through the museum’s recreated village, complete with costumed guides and traditional crafts. Experience firsthand how Reykjavik came to life, learn about Icelandic traditions, and immerse yourself in the daily lives of the past. It’s a unique opportunity to witness the traditions and customs that shaped the city we see today.

Enjoy outdoor activities in Reykjavik

Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is renowned for its abundance of outdoor activities that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the country. Two popular outdoor attractions in Reykjavik are the city’s swimming pools and Laugavegur Street.

1. Relax in Reykjavik Swimming Pools

Reykjavik boasts a remarkable collection of 18 swimming pools scattered throughout the city. These pools are a prominent part of Icelandic culture and offer a perfect opportunity to unwind and experience a local favorite. The swimming pools in Reykjavik are not ordinary; they are geothermally heated, making them warm and inviting even in the coldest months. Relax and rejuvenate in the soothing hot waters, just like the locals do.

2. Explore Laugavegur Street

Laugavegur Street is the heart and soul of Reykjavik’s bustling city center. This vibrant and colorful street is lined with an array of shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars, attracting both locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re seeking trendy fashion, unique Icelandic souvenirs, or delicious local cuisine, Laugavegur Street has it all. Take a leisurely stroll along this lively street, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, and discover the hidden gems of Reykjavik.

“Reykjavik’s swimming pools and Laugavegur Street offer diverse outdoor experiences that cater to different interests. Whether you prefer relaxation or exploration, these attractions promise something unforgettable for everyone.”

Complete your visit to Reykjavik by indulging in the city’s outdoor offerings. Take a dip in the geothermally heated swimming pools, embrace the local culture, and wander along the iconic Laugavegur Street, soaking in the vibrant atmosphere of the city. With its unique blend of natural beauty and urban charm, Reykjavik truly is a destination that caters to outdoor enthusiasts and city dwellers alike.

Reykjavik Swimming Pools

Experience the vibrant nightlife in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is renowned for its vibrant nightlife, with a wide array of bars, clubs, and live music venues to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back pub atmosphere or a high-energy dance floor, Reykjavik has something for everyone. Experience the local nightlife scene and enjoy the lively atmosphere of this dynamic city.

1. A Variety of Nightlife Options

In Reykjavik, you’ll find a diverse range of nightlife options to suit every taste and preference. From trendy cocktail bars to traditional pubs, there’s a venue to cater to all music and atmosphere preferences. Enjoy live performances by local and international artists, showcasing a mix of genres from rock and pop to jazz and electronic music.

2. Bustling Nightclubs

When the sun goes down, Reykjavik’s nightclubs come alive. Dance the night away to the beat of international DJs or immerse yourself in the local music scene. The city offers a vibrant clubbing scene with a wide range of venues catering to different styles and subcultures. Whether you’re into techno, hip-hop, or house music, you’ll find a club that suits your taste.

“Reykjavik’s nightlife is a mix of hip and happening venues and hidden gems. You can find everything from intimate bars with live music to energetic dance floors that go on until the early hours of the morning. It’s a city that truly knows how to have a good time!” – Local enthusiast

3. Charming Bars and Pubs

If you prefer a more relaxed setting, Reykjavik has an abundance of charming bars and cozy pubs. Unwind with a locally crafted beer, sip on a delicious cocktail, or try a traditional Icelandic schnapps. With their welcoming atmosphere and friendly locals, these establishments provide the perfect opportunity to mingle and immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant social scene.

4. Live Music Venues

Reykjavik is a haven for live music lovers. Check out the city’s live music venues, where you can catch performances by both renowned and up-and-coming artists. From small jazz clubs to larger concert halls, the city’s music scene caters to a variety of tastes. Experience the energy and passion of live music in Reykjavik.

Plan Your Night Out

When exploring Reykjavik’s nightlife, it’s a good idea to plan your night out in advance. Research the venues you want to visit, check out the event calendars, and make reservations if necessary. Consider joining a pub crawl or booking a guided nightlife tour to get a taste of the best the city has to offer. Many venues have strict door policies, so be sure to dress appropriately and carry a valid ID.

Venue Location Specialty
Prikid Bankastræti 12, 101 Reykjavik Oldest bar in Reykjavik, live music
Harlem Hverfisgata 78, 101 Reykjavik Underground hip-hop and R&B
Skúli Craft Bar Aðalstræti 9, 101 Reykjavik Wide selection of craft beers

So, get ready to dive into the exciting nightlife scene of Reykjavik and dance the night away. Whether you’re a party-goer or prefer a chill evening out, Reykjavik has something to offer everyone. Experience the electric energy and vibrant atmosphere of this city that never sleeps.

Indulge in Icelandic cuisine

Reykjavik boasts a culinary scene like no other, brimming with a delightful array of dishes that showcase the best of local Icelandic ingredients. From timeless classics to modern interpretations of Nordic cuisine, here are some must-try foods that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.

1. Fermented Shark (Hákarl)

One of Iceland’s most infamous delicacies, fermented shark is an acquired taste that is not to be missed. Made from Greenland shark that has been buried underground for several months and dried to reduce toxicity, this traditional dish is a true culinary adventure. Known for its pungent aroma and unique flavor, it’s a true test of gastronomic bravery.

2. Icelandic Lamb

Icelandic lamb is renowned for its exceptional quality and flavor, thanks to the country’s free-roaming, grass-fed sheep. The meat is succulent and tender, with a distinctive taste that reflects the pristine natural environment of Iceland. Whether enjoyed in a traditional lamb stew or a juicy grilled chop, Icelandic lamb is sure to satisfy your carnivorous cravings.

Must-Try Foods in Reykjavik Description
Fermented Shark (Hákarl) A traditional Icelandic delicacy made from fermented Greenland shark. Known for its strong aroma and unique taste.
Icelandic Lamb Succulent and tender, Icelandic lamb is known for its exceptional flavor. Enjoy it in various traditional dishes or grilled to perfection.

3. Skyr

Skyr is a thick, creamy dairy product that has been a staple of the Icelandic diet for centuries. Similar to Greek yogurt, Skyr is packed with protein and low in fat. It can be enjoyed on its own, topped with fresh berries and honey, or used as an ingredient in desserts and smoothies.

4. Icelandic Fish

With its abundance of pristine waters, Iceland is a seafood lover’s paradise. From flaky cod to tender Arctic char, the country offers a wide variety of fresh fish that are sustainably sourced. Sample Icelandic fish prepared in different ways, such as baked, grilled, or as part of traditional fish stews, for a true taste of the sea.

Icelandic cuisine is a melting pot of ancient traditions and modern innovation. From the peculiar fermented shark to the exquisite Icelandic lamb, every bite tells a story of the country’s rich culinary heritage.

Embrace the opportunity to indulge in Icelandic cuisine during your visit to Reykjavik. Embark on a foodie adventure and savor the flavors of this unique and captivating destination.

Get ready to tantalize your taste buds and experience the best of Reykjavik’s local cuisine.

Explore Reykjavik’s public gardens and parks

Reykjavik, Iceland’s charming capital city, is known for its stunning natural landscapes, and it’s no surprise that the city is home to several beautiful public gardens and parks. These green spaces provide a tranquil retreat where you can relax, unwind, and immerse yourself in nature while exploring the city. Whether you’re a local looking for a peaceful spot or a visitor seeking a break from the bustling city streets, Reykjavik’s public gardens and parks offer something for everyone.

One of the must-visit locations is the tranquil Japanese garden in Laugardalur. This serene oasis features traditional Japanese landscaping elements, including a soothing koi pond, elegant bridges, and lush vegetation. Take a leisurely stroll through the garden and experience a sense of serenity amid the bustling city.

Another picturesque green space to explore is Austurvollur Square. Located in the heart of Reykjavik, this charming square is surrounded by historical buildings and offers a perfect spot for a picnic or a peaceful break. Lush green lawns provide a space to sit and relax, while the nearby cafes and restaurants allow you to enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee amidst the tranquil surroundings.

Moreover, Tjornin, the city’s central pond, is a popular recreational spot for both locals and visitors. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, including colorful houses and stunning birdlife, Tjornin offers a serene environment where you can feed the ducks, take a leisurely walk, or simply sit and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.

Reykjavik’s public gardens and parks not only provide a natural escape but also serve as vibrant community spaces for various events and activities throughout the year. From outdoor concerts to art installations, these green spaces are dynamic hubs that bring people together and celebrate the beauty of Reykjavik. So, don’t forget to check the local event calendar to see if there are any exciting happenings during your visit.

Whether you’re looking to unwind, have a picnic, or simply reconnect with nature, Reykjavik’s public gardens and parks offer a peaceful respite from the bustling city life. Take your time to explore these green spaces, appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, and recharge your senses in the heart of Iceland’s capital city.

Discover the vibrant art and music scene in Reykjavik

Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is known for its vibrant art and music scene that attracts visitors from all over the world. With a multitude of galleries, museums, and music festivals, there is something to suit every artistic taste and cultural interest.

If you have a passion for visual arts, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Reykjavik’s art galleries and museums. Here, you can discover a mix of works by local and international artists, showcasing a wide range of styles and mediums. From contemporary installations to traditional Icelandic art, you’ll find a diverse collection that celebrates creativity.

For music enthusiasts, Reykjavik offers a feast for the ears with its numerous music festivals held throughout the year. These festivals showcase a variety of genres, ranging from indie rock to experimental electronic music. Immerse yourself in the sounds of the city and experience the dynamic atmosphere of live performances.

Festival Genre Date
Sónar Reykjavik Electronic February
Iceland Airwaves Indie/Alternative November
Secret Solstice Various genres June

These music festivals not only provide a platform for established musicians but also serve as a launchpad for emerging talent. You’ll have the opportunity to discover new artists and immerse yourself in the creative energy that permeates Reykjavik’s music scene.

With its thriving art and music scene, Reykjavik is a cultural hub that offers a unique and enriching experience for visitors. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a music lover, or simply someone who appreciates creative expression, Reykjavik’s vibrant cultural landscape will captivate your senses.

Experience the convergence of art and music in Reykjavik and let your creativity soar in this culturally rich city.

Art and Music Scene in Reykjavik


Take day trips from Reykjavik

Reykjavik, Iceland’s vibrant capital city, is not only a destination in itself but also a gateway to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders that the country has to offer. With an abundance of day trips options available, you can embark on exciting adventures to explore Iceland’s unique landscapes and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

One of the most popular day trips from Reykjavik is the renowned Golden Circle tour. This iconic route takes you to three stunning sites: the historic Þingvellir National Park, the impressive Gullfoss waterfall, and the geothermal wonders of the Geysir geothermal area. Marvel at the raw power of nature as you witness the geysers erupt and stand in awe of the picturesque beauty of the cascading waterfall.

If you’re seeking even more natural wonders, a trip along the South Coast from Reykjavik is a must-do. Explore the vast black sand beaches, walk behind the mesmerizing Seljalandsfoss waterfall, and marvel at the mighty Skógafoss waterfall. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the breathtaking glacier tongue of Sólheimajökull and witness the awe-inspiring Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, where giant icebergs float serenely.

Reykjavik serves as an excellent starting point for day trips to explore the natural wonders of Iceland. From the famous Golden Circle tour to the stunning South Coast, there are many options for day trips from Reykjavik. Embark on guided tours or rent a car to discover the breathtaking landscapes and natural phenomena that Iceland has to offer.

Guided tours are a convenient option if you prefer a hassle-free experience and want to learn more about the history, geology, and culture of the places you visit. Experienced guides will provide insightful commentary and take care of all the logistics, allowing you to focus solely on enjoying the sights.

Alternatively, if you prefer more flexibility and independence, renting a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace. The well-maintained roads in Iceland make self-driving a comfortable and enjoyable experience, allowing you to stop whenever and wherever you please to soak in the breathtaking landscapes.

Remember to pack your camera, comfortable walking shoes, and appropriate clothing to fully enjoy your day trips from Reykjavik. Be prepared for the ever-changing weather and the possibility of encountering Iceland’s renowned “four seasons in a day” phenomenon.

Day Trips from Reykjavik

Trip Highlights
Golden Circle
  • Þingvellir National Park
  • Gullfoss waterfall
  • Geysir geothermal area
South Coast
  • Black sand beaches
  • Seljalandsfoss waterfall
  • Skógafoss waterfall
  • Sólheimajökull glacier
  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Snaefellsnes Peninsula
  • Snaefellsjokull National Park
  • Kirkjufell iconic mountain
  • Arnarstapi coastal cliffs

Whichever day trip you choose, you can be sure that the natural beauty and awe-inspiring landscapes of Iceland will leave you with unforgettable memories. So, make the most of your visit to Reykjavik and embark on exhilarating day trips to explore the wonders that lie beyond the city.

Enjoy the winter activities in Reykjavik

Reykjavik transforms into a winter wonderland during the colder months, offering unique activities and experiences. Embrace the enchanting winter season in this magical city by partaking in a variety of winter activities. Whether you’re seeking awe-inspiring natural phenomena or thrilling adventure sports, Reykjavik has something for everyone.

1. Witness the Magical Northern Lights

One of the most captivating experiences in Reykjavik during winter is witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, these dancing lights in the night sky create a breathtaking spectacle that should not be missed. Head out of the city to escape light pollution and increase your chances of catching this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.

2. Enjoy Winter Sports

Reykjavik offers an array of thrilling winter sports activities to get your adrenaline pumping. Strap on your ice skates and glide across the frozen lake Tjörnin, perfect for visitors of all ages. For a more exhilarating adventure, try snowmobiling on the nearby glaciers and experience the thrill of speeding across the icy landscapes. These activities provide a unique and unforgettable way to enjoy the winter season in Reykjavik.

3. Explore Charming Christmas Markets

Visiting Reykjavik in December means you’ll have the opportunity to experience the festive Christmas markets that pop up throughout the city. Browse through stalls selling handmade crafts, local delicacies, and warm winter beverages as you immerse yourself in the holiday spirit. The markets provide an excellent opportunity to pick up unique gifts for loved ones and soak up the joyful atmosphere.

Reykjavik in winter is an absolute delight, offering a range of activities that highlight the city’s natural beauty and festive charm. From chasing the Northern Lights to engaging in exciting winter sports, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during this magical season. Don’t miss the chance to experience Reykjavik in all its wintry splendor.

Conclusion

Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors to explore and enjoy. Whether you’re interested in nature, culture, adventure, or nightlife, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. From iconic landmarks to outdoor adventures to immersive cultural experiences, Reykjavik is a destination that offers endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment.

When visiting Reykjavik, be sure to explore the city’s iconic landmarks, such as the impressive Hallgrimskirkja and the unique architecture of the Harpa Concert Hall. Immerse yourself in Icelandic art and culture by visiting the Settlement Exhibition and the Arbaer Open Air Museum. Enjoy outdoor activities like relaxing in one of Reykjavik’s geothermally-heated swimming pools or strolling along the bustling Laugavegur Street.

Don’t miss out on experiencing Reykjavik’s vibrant nightlife, with its wide array of bars, clubs, and live music venues. Indulge in the unique cuisine of the city, from traditional Icelandic dishes to modern interpretations of Nordic cuisine. Take time to explore Reykjavik’s public gardens and parks, and appreciate the vibrant art and music scene that the city has to offer.

Reykjavik is not only a great destination in itself but also serves as a starting point for day trips to explore the natural wonders of Iceland. And if you visit during the winter months, you can enjoy special activities like witnessing the enchanting Northern Lights or taking part in winter sports. Plan your trip to Reykjavik and make the most of your time in this captivating city that truly has something for everyone.

FAQ

What are some popular experiences in Reykjavik?

Popular experiences in Reykjavik include Northern Lights tours, exploring the Golden Circle, and visiting the Blue Lagoon.

What are some iconic landmarks to visit in Reykjavik?

Iconic landmarks in Reykjavik include Hallgrimskirkja, Perlan, the Sun Voyager sculpture, and Harpa Concert Hall.

Where can I immerse myself in Icelandic art and culture in Reykjavik?

You can immerse yourself in Icelandic art and culture at the Settlement Exhibition and the Arbaer Open Air Museum.

What outdoor activities can I enjoy in Reykjavik?

You can enjoy swimming in Reykjavik’s geothermally-heated swimming pools or exploring Laugavegur, the city’s main shopping street.

What is the nightlife like in Reykjavik?

Reykjavik has a vibrant nightlife with a variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues to choose from.

What kind of cuisine can I try in Reykjavik?

In Reykjavik, you can try traditional Icelandic dishes like fermented shark as well as modern interpretations of Nordic cuisine.

Are there any public gardens and parks in Reykjavik?

Yes, Reykjavik has beautiful public gardens and parks where you can relax and enjoy nature, such as the Japanese garden in Laugardalur and Austurvollur Square.

Is there a thriving art and music scene in Reykjavik?

Yes, Reykjavik is known for its thriving art and music scene, with numerous galleries, museums, and music festivals throughout the year.

Can I take day trips from Reykjavik?

Yes, Reykjavik serves as an excellent starting point for day trips to explore the natural wonders of Iceland, including the famous Golden Circle and the stunning South Coast.

What winter activities can I enjoy in Reykjavik?

In winter, you can witness the magical Northern Lights, enjoy winter sports like ice skating and snowmobiling, and experience the enchanting atmosphere of Reykjavik in December.