Last Updated on July 7, 2023
Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is a city of juxtapositions, featuring modern Nordic architecture alongside the more traditional Icelandic style. Tourists have flocked to the city in recent years, as it has become more and more popular to those looking for a city break with a difference.
Sitting on the breathtaking Icelandic coastline, Reykjavik is a city which has a lot to offer. From outstanding dining and nightlife for those looking for that added fun, right the way through to the more cultural experiences, Reykjavik truly has it all.
Of course, as with any travel destination, those heading to the city are going to want to be well prepared and have an itinerary set up so that they can make the most of their trip to this wondrous city. In this article, we are going to be looking at some of the best things to do in Reykjavik to ensure that this will be a trip that will stay with you forever.
1. Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center
This stunning building opened its door in 2011 and featured architecture inspired by the natural landscape within which it sits. Known as one of the favourite social and cultural centres in Reykjavik, the Harpa hall is a must visit for any tourist. Tours are available every day and of course, there is the option to catch a show here too.
2. The Sun Voyager
For all the art lovers out there, the sun voyager is a truly magnificent sculpture which just has to be seen to be believed. Created by Jon Gunnar Anarson, the piece is a representation of hope and new discoveries. Whilst this is not something that you can spend hours doing, it is certainly a sight that you will want to behold whilst in the city.
3. The Icelandic Phallus Museum
This is exactly what the title suggests it might be, a museum of phallus’s, from various different species.
The museum was founded in 1997 and houses the largest collection of penis samples in the world, with everything from humans to whales, this is definitely going to be of interest to anyone with a passion for biology, or let’s face it anyone who fancies a bit of a giggle.
With stunning scenery, Videy is an island located just off the coast to Reykjavik and boasts natural beauty as well as modern art collections, many of which are displayed in the beautiful outdoor surroundings to really add to the effect and emotion that art can bring.
A ferry can be used to access the island and is a great day out for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the main city. Whilst here, why not check out some of the many historical ruins which lie on the island.
5. The National Museum of Iceland
No city break would be complete without a tour of the national museum, and Iceland has an amazing one, which has stood the test of time since the 1800s. The museum features many exhibits and visitors can take a guided audio tour to enable them to gain all the information on the pieces housed here.
One of the permanent exhibitions which can be seen here is the ‘making of a nation’ which showcases information dating right back to Iceland’s beginnings as a settlement all the way through to the country it has become today. You are also able to find temporary exhibitions here, so that every visit will be filled with something new.
6. Reykjavik Swimming Pools
Reykjavik is the proud location of 18 outdoor pools, sounds crazy in s country which has the word ice in its name, right? But these heated pools, which feature hot tubs, saunas and many water slides, are a favourite of locals and tourists alike. If you are travelling with a young family, this is an ideal day out for the kids.
Staying with the sporting theme, laugardalur is a huge area of the city which features swimming pools, ice skating, mountain biking, hiking and a glorious geothermal spa. Visitors can indulge in as many of these activities and when they are finished can dine in one of many top eateries in the local.
Historically the area was used as a laundry facility, right up until the 1930s, the geothermal baths were ideal for this and so a true feel for Icelandic history can be felt in this active area of Reykjavik.
8. Hallgrimskirkja Church
One of the most eye catching buildings in the city of Reykjavik is the Hallgrimskirkja church which towers above the city, showing off its outstanding architecture, built in an expressionist style. Whether you want to attend for spiritual purposes or simply to admire this amazing building, the church will certainly not disappoint.
Visitors are able to stand on a viewing platform at the top of the building in order to get one of the most famed and impressive views over the whole city. The church is open every day apart from Sundays when religious services are being held.
9. Kolaportid Flea Market
If you are an avid shopper, then the Kolaportid flea market, located near the harbor in Reykjavik is the ideal way to wile away an afternoon. This is the only market of its kind in the whole of the country and people have been known to find some amazing items here.
The market is set indoors so is a great activity for those rainy days and features a huge range of stalls selling everything from shark meat to furniture.
One of the most recognisable places in the city of Reykjavik, Perlan is a renovated water tank, transformed in the early 1990s and is now home to various entertainment element such as a restaurant and planetarium.
Perlan is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and something that must been seen on any trip. Here you will also find a museum and various exhibitions which will differ depending on when you visit.
This beautiful lake set in Reykjavik is one of the most tranquil and relaxed places in the city and is hugely popular with tourists as well as the locals. It is little wonder, since the lake is truly breath taking and makes for the perfect afternoon walk or picnic.
Many people take pleasure in feeding bread to the ducks and birds on the lake, which has been aptly nick-named ‘the largest bread soup on the planet.’
12. The Settlement Exhibition
For all the history lovers out there, the settlement exhibition is an ideal day trip to take whilst in the city of Reykjavik. The site is owned by the city museum and is a display of all things found since the discovery of the first house ruins in Iceland.
Any excavation that has taken place in the city can be seen here and is a wonderful way to really get into Icelandic history. The ruins here can be dated back as far as 870BC!
13. Imagine Peace Tower
This tribute to one of the worlds most notorious and loved song writers and musicians, John Lennon was erected by his wife, Yoko Ono and still exists today as one of Iceland’s most famed tourist attractions.
The ‘tower’ which is located on Videy is in fact a light tower which projects from a monument made from white stone into which the words ‘imagine peace’ have been engraved in over 20 languages.
It is thought that on a cloud free night the light from the tower can reach a staggering height of 4000 meters! The tower is designed to serve as a reminder of the campaign for peace which the late Lennon was so passionate about.
Whether you like to indulge in the traditional food of a country or whether you prefer to experience some culture, Reykjavik can offer it all and everything in between.
This truly astounding city is well loved by those who live there and those who are just stopping by, and it is not surprising given the amount of exciting things to do here. A trip to this city will be one which will stay in the hearts of visitors for many years to come and will no doubt be a destination which is revisited time and time again.