You are currently viewing Visiting Reykjavík: 10 things to do in the Icelandic capital

Visitors to Iceland are often quick to pass by Reykjavík, as the nature and open spaces first attracted them to this place. They’re right: Iceland is a natural treasure! And yet, even though Reykjavík is small, it’s a really nice place with a great atmosphere, especially in the evenings.

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If you’re going to Iceland, you’ll land near Reykjavík anyway. So take the opportunity to spend at least a day seeing the best the city has to offer. To make things easier for you, I’ve put together the top 10 things to do in the capital!


1. Visit Harpa

Harpa is the Icelandic capital’s concert hall. You can enter simply to contemplate this architectural masterpiece. Better yet, you can attend one of the available shows (comedies, ballets, plays, etc.)!

Harpa, Reykjavík (photo credit: Michael Held)


2. Visit the Kolaportid Flea Market

The Kolaportid Flea Market is an outdoor market open only on weekends, from 11 AM to 5 PM. You can find just about anything here. Whether you want to try some of the local culinary specialties or buy souvenirs and everything from books to wool sweaters, this is the place for you. It’s an authentic experience that will give you a taste of Icelandic culture.


3. Spend your evenings in the bars

Reykjavík has lots of great bars. You can enjoy beers from Icelandic craft breweries while chatting with the locals or listening to a live band. Warm atmosphere guaranteed! I recommend Micro Bar and its tasting tray, and Sæmundur í Sparifötunum (aka the Kex-Bar because it’s located in the Kex Hostel), which are 2 of my favorites.

Drinks in a bar in Reykjavík, Iceland (photo credit: Lance Anderson)


4. Visit the National Museum of Iceland

The National Museum of Iceland is the one to choose if you want to visit a museum. It’s quite comprehensive, covering many aspects of Icelandic history. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the land of the Vikings. There’s even a section for dressing up. Fun guaranteed!

National Museum of Iceland (photo credit: National Museum of Iceland)


5. Walking along Lake Tjörnin

The stroll around Lake Tjörnin is a beautiful walk. You can take lovely photos of the colorful houses around the lake and feed the ducks. You can also visit the Town Hall and see a huge relief map of Iceland.

Around Lake Tjörnin, Reykjavík (photo credit: Evelyn Paris)


6. Going to a public pool

It’s a pretty typical activity if you want to mingle with the locals. Icelanders love going to the pool to chat with friends in the warm water. It’s a very pleasant activity, especially in cold weather. Know that you’ll need to take a shower completely naked first!

I suggest the Laugardalslaug pool. In addition to the inexpensive entry fee, there are several baths at different temperatures. Relaxation is guaranteed!

Laugardalslaug pool, Reykjavík (photo credit: Reykjaví


7. Visit Hallgrímskirkja church

The Hallgrímskirkja church is the town’s symbol. The church has a distinctive, minimalist style. The panoramic view of the city from the top of its bell tower is the best it has to offer. You’ll be able to take some great photos from the top, as you look out over the colorful houses and mountains in the distance.

Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík (photo credit: Ferdinand Stöhr)


8. Strolling on Laugavegur

Laugavegur is a lovely street for strolling and shopping. You’ll find many stores with souvenirs and local products. There are also cafés and good restaurants. You can also see a lot of street art here. So it’s worth wandering around to find the frescoes hidden in a few places and contemplate them.


9. Seeing The Sun Voyager

The sculpture of the Sun Traveller (or Sólfarið in Icelandic) is not far from Harpa. It’s another of the city’s landmarks. Be sure to take a photo with this large metal sculpture. Take the opportunity to walk along the water’s edge, where there’s a path for pedestrians.

The Sun Voyager, Reykjavík (photo credit: Michael Held)


10. Exploring Viðey Island

Viðey Island is a 20-minute ferry ride from the old port. It’s an uninhabited coastal island where you can enjoy walking and contemplating nature. You can observe numerous populations of seabirds and some historic buildings.

These include a very old church and a large white house recognized as the oldest stone-built dwelling in the country. There are many trails around the island, allowing you to explore the surrounding area with breathtaking views. In my opinion, an absolute must!

Island of Viðey (photo credit: Yves Cedric Schulze)


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Reykjavík is a laid-back and charming city! You should really start or end your trip to Iceland by spending at least 1 day or 2 in the capital. You won’t regret it!


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Featured image: Reykjavík (photo credit: Unsplash+)

Original publication date: June 17, 2018

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Laurence Montreuil

I believe that to travel is to grow and to change... for the better. It's discovering new cultures, other perspectives, discovering yourself and discovering others at the same time and most importantly, learning every day! I have no favorite spots, everything is on my bucket list! You can follow me on Instagram.

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