Arranging a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland? Explore the top activities to do and sights to see in Reykjavik, Iceland, to make the most of your time there. Get the most out of your vacation by exploring the best things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland, and the best places to visit in Reykjavik, Iceland, below. We at Wondrous Drifter, a Web 3.0 travel startup, have big plans to shake things up in the travel business.
Table of Contents
- Einar Jónsson Museum
- Golden Circle
- Hallgrímskirkja Church
- Harpa Concert Hall
- Icelandic Nightlife
- Mount Esjan
- National Museum of Iceland
- Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach
- Nordic House
- Northern Lights
- Reykjavík Maritime Museum
- Sage Museum
- Street Art Hunting
- The Sun Voyager
- Tjörnin Pond
- Volcano House
Suppose it didn’t have an open-air museum in the form of Skansen. In that case, Reykjavik couldn’t call itself the capital of any Nordic country.
The museum was established in 1957 in response to growing fears among residents that “Old Reykjavik” was beginning to disappear due to new development. Such a museum would shed light on the traditions, work, and home life.
Despite the favorable response to the plan, previous attempts to create the museum as far back as 1942 proved fruitless.
In 1957, a farm that had been abandoned was selected as the location for the establishment of Arbaejarsafn to preserve a piece of old Reykjavk despite the numerous building that was going on in the city at the time.
Most of the museum’s buildings were constructed during the 19th century, making them virtually completely genuine.
There is a general store, a drill that was used for a gold mine, a blacksmith’s house, a stable, and a laborer’s cottage with an exhibition depicting living during the Great Depression.
It is intended to provide visitors with an understanding of the working and leisure activities that residents of Reykjavik enjoyed in times past.
Address: 4, 110, Kistuhylur, Reykjavík, Iceland
Einar Jónsson Museum
Einar Jónsson, an Icelandic sculptor who worked in the 20th century, is widely considered to be among the most accomplished Icelandic artists of all time.
Jónsson did most of his work in plaster because modeling clay is difficult to come by in Iceland.
Plaster’s malleability allowed him to spend up to a decade working on a single piece.
His artwork has a sense of drama and represents modern characters and historical and legendary heroes from Iceland and the Nordic countries.
At an early stage in his career, in 1909, he accomplished something truly remarkable by donating all of his works to the government of Iceland on the condition that a museum is explicitly constructed to hold them.
Jónsson decided where the eye-catching Eclecticist edifice would go, on top of Skólavörðuhaeð, and how it would look; construction on the building was finished in 1923.
Jónsson’s residence and studio were both located in this building; the area that he utilized as a garden has since been adorned with bronze casts of some of his most well-known works.
Address: Hallgrímstorg 3, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Excursions to Iceland excursions are often discussed in terms of the Golden Circle, so if you want to know more, ask around. It’s on practically every list of things to do in the country.
The Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park are the three parts of southwest Iceland that make up the Golden Circle. All three of these places are breathtaking in their own right.
The Golden Circle is open all year round. Warmer weather and a bare landscape can be seen in the early spring, late summer, and late fall.
People who like to avoid crowds might even choose to travel during the summer’s evening hours and see the views illuminated by the midnight sun before setting up their tents in Þingvellir National Park.
It’s hard to beat the Golden Circle’s appeal with Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon in terms of popularity, and the reasons for this are several.
Address: Southwest Iceland
Exhibitions by local and international contemporary artists are shown at Hafnarhs, a historic harbor warehouse.
The works of seminal personalities and those of well-known and up-and-coming contemporary artists are exhibited in six different galleries.
Hafnarhs was a fisheries office and warehouse on the harbor before it was converted into a gallery in the year 2000.
It is the largest of the three buildings for the Reykjavik Art Museum.
In addition, the works of Erró, a notable figure in the field of pop art on a global scale, may be found shown at Hafnarhs.
In the 1930s, construction began on the building, which ranked among the largest structures in the country at the time of its completion.
In order to turn it into the Reykjavik Art Museum, architects from Studio Grandi remodeled it from 1998 to 2000.
Visit this location to view temporary exhibitions of avant-garde and experimental art by some of the most prominent figures in the contemporary art scene.
Address: Tryggvagata 17, 101 Reykjavík, IcelandI
Hallgrmskirkja, located in Reykjavik and serves as both a parish church and Iceland’s national sanctuary, is constantly on the city’s skyline.
At the height of 245 feet, the Hallgrimskirkja church is not only the most recognizable landmark in Reykjavik but also the sixth highest building in all of Iceland (74.5 meters).
Gujón Samelsson conceived the idea for the church in the early 1940s, and it was not until 1986 that the church was ultimately dedicated after a construction period of 41 years.
The church was named after Hallgrimur Pétursson, a cleric who lived in the 17th century and was the composer of Hymns of the Passion.
One of the places in Iceland that receives the greatest number of visitors is the Hallgrimskirkja. The church is frequented by thousands of people on a daily basis.
Since Hallgrmskirkja is a busy church, it is sometimes necessary for it to abruptly close both the church and the tower to make room for activities or performances.
Address: Skolavoroustigur 101, Reykjavik, Iceland
Harpa Concert Hall
The new Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center, situated between the city center of Reykjavik and the North Atlantic, stands out as a distinctive landmark in constant interaction with its surroundings.
Iceland’s unique and breathtaking landscape inspired this design. Built by the sea, this glittering artwork captures the sky and harbor while reflecting a pulsating urban life.
This incredible glass structure, which Olafur Eliason designed, is a work of architectural art.
The new home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera, Harpa Concert Hall, and Conference Center contains four halls, the largest of which can accommodate up to 1,800 people sitting.
The facility features several more intimate conference rooms spread out throughout its interior and a sizable exhibition area located adjacent.
In addition to providing culinary services and parking spots, the Concert Hall and Conference Centre also offer corporate event attendees cutting-edge technology for use during their gatherings.
Address: Austurbakki 2
Even in the dead of winter, Reykjavik’s bar culture is welcoming and accessible to newcomers, which may surprise given the city’s reputation as a cool place to hang out.
Participating in the nightlife of Reykjavik is notoriously expensive.
It does not cost anything, even though it is undoubtedly one of the most well-liked things to do in Reykjavik after dark.
The nightlife is concentrated in the 101 districts in the city center, and the venues are almost entirely small bars decorated with unique patterns and concepts.
There is also a bar named after the film “The Big Lebowski,” directed by the Coen Brothers.
You’ll only need to pay a cover charge when there’s a band playing on the stage at many of them, as this is the only time they have a stage for live music.
After a few drinks in one of Reykjavik’s bars on Friday and Saturday evenings, you can move on to the next, the preferred way of going out in Iceland.
Address: Reykjavík, Iceland
Enjoy your time in Kjarvalsstair while tasting the Icelandic art scene.
Kjarvalsstadir is an additional location of the Reykjavik Art Museum that first opened its doors in 1973. Its design is in the style of Nordic Modernism.
In the year following the passing of Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval, one of the most well-known painters in Iceland, the building that now bears his name and is home to a permanent exhibition of the artist’s work was inaugurated.
The paintings and sculptures of well-known modern art masters are the primary subjects of the exhibitions held at Kjarvalsstadir.
It hosts up to 20 shows a year by recognized artists in international modern and contemporary art worldwide.
Visitors to the Museum’s Café can take in the scenery while sipping a beverage or nibbling on a snack.
In addition, there is a Museum Store located in the foyer and a charming activity room designed specifically for families called the Idea Lab.
Address: Flókagata 24, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
Suppose you’ve just got a few hours to see Iceland’s breathtaking landscape. In that case, this 914-meter basalt and tuff peak is 10 kilometers away from Reykjavik.
A view of the city as seen from the water, Esjan can be reached by using the public transportation system.
People claim that the mountain cannot be circled and that it never truly ends.
Jon Gnarr, a comedian and a former mayor of Reykjavik, used to make a joke about how when he attempted to accomplish this, he found himself in Akureyri.
You’ll begin your ascent in verdant meadows dotted with purple wildflowers during the summer.
Nevertheless, suppose you’re aiming for the summit. In that case, the final 200 meters are extremely challenging and should only be attempted by experienced climbers.
Views of Reykjavik from Thverfellshorn and Kerholakambur are some of the best in the city.
Be sure to sign the guestbook if you’re one of the fortunate few who actually makes it to the top of the page.
Address: Kjalarnes, east of Reykjavík.
National Museum of Iceland
Learn about Iceland’s thousand years of human history in just one place!
Since its founding in 1863, the National Museum of Iceland has been amassing its collection, which was relocated to its current, fairly unremarkable building in 1950.
The National Museum of Iceland is an excellent institution that houses historical relics that date from the time of settlement up to the present day.
The exhibits provide a comprehensive summary of Iceland’s historical and cultural development, and the free smartphone audio guide offers an abundance of additional information.
During the Settlement Era, the chieftains ruled, and Christianity was introduced. Swords, drinking horns, silver hoards, and a powerful bronze Thor sculpture may all be found in this region.
The valuable Valjófsstair church door was constructed in the 13th century and featured intricate carvings depicting the narrative of a knight, his loyal lion, and a passel of dragons.
The upper floors of the museum house items that date back to 1600 and provide a vivid picture of the struggles Icelanders endured under foreign rule before achieving freedom.
Address: Suðurgata, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
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Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach
Have you ever daydreamed about basking in the sun on an island in the middle of the Atlantic at midnight?
The Nauthólsvk Geothermal Beach is a dream destination for those who adore lazing in the sun’s warm rays on the beach or playing in the ocean’s waves.
In 2001, to the satisfaction of both locals and visitors, Nauthólsvk opened its doors to the public. Since then, the town has welcomed an estimated 530.000 visitors annually.
The beach features changing rooms and showers, hot tubs, and steam rooms for guests’ convenience.
A relaxing swimming area with temperatures averaging between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius is created by pumping hot water into a man-made lagoon during the summer.
Building a lagoon with high sea walls to combine cold seawater with hot geothermal water and raise the temperature was a challenging but ultimately rewarding endeavor.
Address: Nauthólsvík, Reykjavik, Iceland
The Nordic House, a cultural organization, founded in 1968 to enhance Iceland’s links with other Nordic nations, can be found in Vatsmrin, a 10-minute walk from downtown Reykjavik.
Alvar Aalto designed the Nordic House, making it one of the most notable examples of modernist architecture.
Its purpose is to encourage and facilitate the development of cultural ties between Iceland and other Nordic nations.
In order to accomplish this goal, the Nordic House hosts a wide range of cultural gatherings and displays throughout the year.
Reykjavik International Film and Literary Festivals, Iceland Airwaves, and The Nordic Fashion Biennale—which the Nordic House created—all take place at the house, which serves as the location for front-row activities in the Icelandic cultural calendar.
The exhibition room known as Hvelfing is located in the building’s basement and features modern works of art created by artists from all across the Nordic countries.
Address: Sæmundargata 11, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Illuminations that seem to come from another world are a trademark of Iceland.
Every night in Reykjavik, there is the possibility for the sky to put on a stunning spectacle that is completely free.
Iceland’s skies are the perfect treat, whether it’s the spectacular hues created by the midnight sun or the ethereal dancing of the aurora borealis overhead.
The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, can be seen throughout the winter months in Reykjavik’s area.
This natural phenomenon is generated when electrically charged particles from the sun collide with the upper atmosphere.
Especially on those evenings when the air is cool and clear, when they emerge in a wide range of hues and intensities, sometimes twirling softly in shades of milky green and other times flaming in a wild and multicolored dance over the night sky.
They are known as “auroral belts,” and they form around the geomagnetic poles. They can be found high above the surface of the Earth, at altitudes between 100 and 250 kilometers, when the atmosphere is exceedingly thin.
Moonlight, cloud cover, and city light pollution can all interfere with seeing the Northern Lights.
Check local weather and aurora forecasts before heading to a viewing site to increase your chances of catching an aurora.
Address: Reykjavik, Iceland
The pearl in the crown of Reykjavik
With a 360-degree view of the capital region, Öskjuhlíð hill is a wonderful place to relax.
The most magnificent and cutting-edge wildlife exhibition in all of Iceland can now be found inside of this glass dome that sits atop six water tanks.
When it was once a world-class restaurant and a famous ice cream shop, the pearl has been changed into an ideal natural exhibition where cutting-edge technology welcomes you to delve deep into nature only a few minutes from the city center.
The Perlan Museum is a great spot to get a taste of Iceland’s natural beauty without having to leave the city itself.
It has been shown over the years to be appropriate for all family members, and children particularly enjoy it.
Discover ice caverns, the underworld, and everything in between within a short distance from the heart of the city!
Address: Reykjavík, Iceland
Reykjavík Maritime Museum
An excellent museum about the history of sailing in Iceland may be found in the former fish-processing hall.
The show features a specially constructed wooden pier with seawater running beneath it.
This fish-freezing facility in Reykjavik’s Old Harbour was constructed in 1947, and in 2005 it was turned into the Reykjavik Maritime Museum.
The deck of the MV Gullfoss, a ferry that operated between Iceland, Denmark, and Scotland in the middle of the 20th century, has been recreated and will serve as the access point to the pier.
A new exhibition, “From Poverty to Abundance,” examines how technical improvements transformed Iceland’s fishing sector in the twentieth century.
Iceland is a country in which the fishing sector plays a significant role in its identity as its primary economic activity.
Hence, the existence of the Reykjavik Maritime Museum is appropriate for narrating the story because it displays the various components that are associated with maritime life.
Address: Grandagarður 8, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
History is brought to life in a new and interesting way from the earliest settlers.
Recreating significant periods in Icelandic history, the Saga Museum provides an insightful look into how Icelanders have lived for more than a millennium through the eyes of their descendants.
You’ll find a waxwork attraction next door to the Maritime Museum in the Grandi neighborhood, which brings historical individuals from Iceland’s past back to life.
The museum recounts more than a thousand years of Icelandic history with the assistance of an audio guide that is available in multiple languages.
It describes the challenges that the island’s inhabitants would have endured during its establishment in the 9th century AD, like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and sickness.
The level of craftsmanship and attention to detail in each tableau sets the Saga Museum apart from other waxwork exhibits.
A costume studio is available for visitors to dress up, so strike a pose and unleash your inner Viking!
Address: Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík, IcelandI
Street Art Hunting
As the city grows and changes, so does the street art scene, and you’ll never run out of things to see.
Since at least the 1990s, Reykjavk has had a thriving street art community, but it’s taken on a new level of sophistication in the last few years.
Cooperation between the Iceland Airwaves music festival and the Berlin-based Urban Nation art movement has resulted in stunning murals covering the façade of Old Harbour and Grandi buildings.
Famous Icelandic and international painters have been hired to create graffiti murals in various locations.
A new series of street artists and musicians murals called “Wall Poetry” has been unveiled in New York City. It features works inspired by specific songs by artists such as Mercury Rev, Gus Gus, and John Grant.
UglyBrothers, Bar Ananas, and Freddi Arcade are good spots to begin your street art “hunt.”
Address: Reykjavík, Iceland
The Sun Voyager
A visit to Reykjavik to view the artwork named “The Sun Voyager.”
Reykjavik’s stunning shoreline is home to the gleaming steel sculpture known as the “Solfar,” which is meant to evoke a Viking longship. Artist Jon Gunnar Arnason built the impressive landmark.
Locals love taking leisurely strolls along the beach and taking in the stunning views of the bay and Mount Esja in the distance.
Since it was created in 1990 to mark the city’s 200th anniversary, this stainless steel sculpture of a ship has been a popular photo spot.
The Sun Voyager is frequently mistaken for a Viking ship. When visiting Iceland, the country of the Sagas, it’s easy to understand why visitors might think so.
However, it should be noted that this was not the intended goal—a homage to the sun and a boat of one’s dreams.
It symbolizes hope, progress, independence, and the promise of unexplored territory.
Against the twilight sky, the scorpion-like creature appears to be on the verge of soaring into a new realm of beauty and grace.
Address: Sæbraut, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Reykjavik’s central Tjornin Pond is an excellent area to stroll and enjoy the city’s scenery.
Many families come to feed the birds that can be seen in the little lake, which is bordered on the western side by a stone walkway and brightly painted buildings.
The natural pond freezes over throughout the winter months, becoming a favorite destination for ice skating and ice hockey games.
The Idno Theatre, which is also home to a café, and the Reykjavik City Hall are both well-known landmarks that can be found on Tjornin Pond.
The area commonly referred to as Tjornin Pond is a small lagoon located close to a barrier beach.
The reef that once covered the area where Hafnarstraeti Street is now located was once home to the lagoon that sits there today.
If you aren’t too tired after the tour, you can continue your journey to the pond’s south end, where you’ll discover the Hljomskalagardur garden. This is the perfect spot to unwind and take it easy.
Address: Reykjavík, Iceland
Films at Volcano House depict the reality of living in Iceland, where the threat of volcanic and earthquake activity is ever-present.
The geological stone exhibition provides a concise summary of Iceland’s geological history and volcanic system.
In addition, a boutique sells Icelandic designs, artwork, pumice, lava rocks, bottles of ash, and lava jewelry.
Since Eyjafjallajokull erupted in 2010 and released ash into the atmosphere, the volcanic activity and seismic activity of Iceland have garnered the attention of people all over the world.
The display provides a concise summary of Iceland’s geological history and the volcanic systems that exist there.
The island’s landscape is constantly shifting, and on average, there is a volcanic eruption once every four to five years. These eruptions can occasionally even threaten human regions.
The Heimaey volcano erupted off the south shore of the island in 1973, which is the year that the interior design was styled after. If the decor seems vintage to you, that’s because it is.
Address: Tryggvagata 11, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland