Iceland has been a popular holiday destination for some time now. Its breath-taking natural landscapes paired with an infinite amount of activities to do and sights to see make it the go-to spot year in year out. The current Fagradasfjall eruption only adds to its popularity with thousands of tourists flocking the country in hopes to witness the magnetic active volcano with their very own eyes. If you’ve just landed or perhaps have some time to kill, here’s a list of things to do in Reykjavík to get you going.
Climb up Hallgrímskirkja tower
By far Reykjavík’s biggest landmark, Hallgrímskirkja church sits right in the middle of the city and can be seen from pretty much any point of the capital. Its iconic façade inspired by the country’s many naturally found volcanic basalt columns paired with a dreamy interior and rich history make it a definite place to visit. The church also offers visitors a 360-degree panoramic view of the city from its 75-meter tower. On a very clear and sunny day, you might even get a chance to spot the Snæfellsnes peninsula in the far distance. It’s the perfect place to people watch, and just to get a hang of the city and its vibe, be it from above. The elevator trip up the tower costs 1.000 ISK but is well worth it!
Explore Reykjavík’s Graffiti Scene
It might come as a surprise, but Iceland’s capital hosts some of the best Street Art representations out there. With local and foreign artists joining forces, some of Laugavegur’s side streets come to life with vivid colors and contrasting shapes.
Take a ferry to Viðey Island
Found only a stone’s throw away from Reykjavík, more precisely a 20-minute boat ride is the island of Viðey. Combining history, art, and culture, this little gem can be explored by foot or bike. Multiple walking paths allow visitors to comfortably roam around Viðey and discover its many faces. You’ll be able to see from up-close Yoko Ono’s famous ‘Peace Tower’ in memory of John Lennon as well as Richard Serra’s Milestone’s art installation. Magnificent views overlooking Reykjavík’s oceanfront can also be observed from the island. During summer, ferries depart daily from Ægisgarður and Skarfabakki harbor, whereas this service is only offered on weekends during wintertime (and departs only from Skarfabakki).
Visit the Penis Museum
© The Phallus Museum
If you should need to choose to visit one museum during your trip to Iceland, the Penis museum is the one! Set in the heart of the city, this museum is undoubtedly one of a kind! With just a little over 300 sexual organs tastefully displayed both from human and animal origin, the penis museum attracts worldwide popularity year in year out. It’s worth mentioning that multiple donors from different parts of the world have expressed their desire to donate their organs when the time comes. A gift shop is also present on its premises, allowing you to take home some unusual, to say the least memories that’ll make you the talk of the town!
Try the famous Bæjarins Beztu hotdogs
Ever since opening its doors in 1937, the Bæjarins Beztu hot dog stand has been one of the best go-to spots for a quick yet tasty bite to eat. Once a local favorite, Bæjarins Beztu has quickly become a tourist hotspot as well. You’ll often recognize it by its ridiculously long lines, but pleasure takes patience! You might ask just what exactly makes it so popular? Well, apart from being open during all kinds of crazy Icelandic weather, the hot dog itself is made with a certain twist to it. Instead of pork or beef, it’s made with lamb meat and its ketchup is made from apples instead of glucose. If you made to taste the world’s best hot dog, you can do so by heading to Tryggvagata 1, 101 Reykjavík.
Hike up to Perlan
Perlan Museum can be found on top of Öskjuhlíð hill. Originally used as a hot water tank reservoir, it has since 1991 been open to the public. Home to a plethora of exciting exhibitions, a planetarium, a café, and multiple gift shops you can easily spend half a day in this wonderful yet diverse museum. Its rotating glass dome allows visitors to get a panoramic view of the capital, be it from afar. Öskjuhlíð woodland is also a pleasant area with many walking paths that allow you to explore the region in comfort. Here you’ll also find interesting relics from WWII.
Enjoy a cup of coffee at the Cat Café
After roaming the streets of downtown Reykjavík, you’ll quickly discover that cats, quite literally, run the country’s capital. These furry creatures are on every corner you turn, the street you walk on, and they’re simply everywhere. If you’re in need of some downtime to kick back, relax and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee or hot chocolate, why not head to Reykjavík’s Cat café ‘Kattakaffihusid’. It’s worth mentioning that all cats that you’ll find over there are for adoption. You might just go in for a drink and end up going out with a furry friend.
Splash in a geothermally heated pool
Swimming plays a large role in the daily life of Icelanders, hence why there are just so many pools dotted all around the country. With so much geothermal energy around, it comes as no surprise that they’re also geothermally heated! One of the best ways to relax after a tiring day exploring the country’s landscapes is to soak in the warm waters of Vesturbæjarlaug. If you’re lucky enough, you might even see Björk over there!
Take a stroll on Laugavegur
By far Iceland’s most famous street, Laugavegur is filled with shops, bars, and restaurants to suit every taste! Explore the lively vibe of this small capital, enjoy a cup of coffee outside whilst you people-watch, or perhaps do some last-minute shopping. Whatever you choose to do, you won’t regret it!
Harpa concert hall is one of these landmarks that just demand your attention. Its exterior is particularly striking as it’s entirely constructed with mirrored glass particles that beautifully reflect the ocean’s waters. Home to the Icelandic Opera and Iceland’s Symphony orchestra, it is a perfect place to enjoy some peace and quiet.
Wondering what to explore next? Why not take a look at our many Guided Tours and you might just find the tour for you!