Or Visit One Of Reykjaviks Swimming Pools
Reykjavik is home to a number of excellent public swimming pools, which offer the perfect way to relax after a day of sightseeing. Unlike some of the lagoons listed above, theyre relatively affordable and at the top of any list of cheap things to do in Reykjavik.
My favourites are Laugardalslaug and Vesturbæjarlaug, both of which have heated pools, hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms.
Laugardalslaug is also home to the worlds largest geothermal pool, while Vesturbæjarlaug has a heated pool and waterfall that are perfect for swimming under.
More Iceland Trip Planning Resources
- Dont be afraid to travel to Iceland solo. I did it and it was safe and friends.
- Dive deep and check out all of the cool murals in Reykjavik.
- Reasons why it worth it to visit Iceland in the winter.
There is a lot on this list and you may not have time to do it all. But I do hope that you take time to explore some of these more offbeat activities. If you do, I promise that you will find yourself as surprised and delighted by the city as I am. Happy Trails!
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Where To Stay: Icelandair Marina Hotel
If youre looking for a centrally located hotel in Reykjavik, the Icelandair Marina Hotel is a great choice.
The hotel is right on the harbour, next to a still-functioning dry dock and has a range of amenities including a restaurant, bar and cosy decor.
Rooms are on the understated and relatively cosy side, but there are plenty of social spaces within the hotel for when you want to relax.
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Discover The Northern Lights In Reykjavik
Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights, but only if you come at the right time of year. Summer visitors dont have to miss out completely though, thanks to Aurora Reykjavik. Real northern lights displays captured on film are shown in the centers theater. Its not the same as being there, but its the next best thing for summer tourists.
Explore The Grandi Harbor District
The Grandi Harbor District is located on the northwest edge of central Reykjavík, a short walk from the city center. This neighborhood has been up and coming for the last several years by now I think its officially here! This is an industrial area that has been made over to include shops, restaurants, museums, and galleries.
Dont miss Omnom Chocolate, whose delicious chocolate bars you can find all over Iceland. But at their flagship shop in Grandi, you can enjoy an inventive collection of chocolate-covered ice cream treats.
Farmers Market carries high-end Icelandic fashion, accessories, and home decor, while Soley Organics has a wonderful collection of skincare products. Bókabúð Forlagsins is a must for any bookstore lover.
And dont miss lunch at Grandi Mathöll, where food stalls dish up cuisine from Iceland and around the world. Its the perfect lunch stop when exploring the area.
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Visit The Harpa Concert Hall
The Harpa Concert Hall is located right by the sea and first opened its doors in 2011. Designed by Olafur Eliasson, this glass building is an architectural wonder.
It is home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera. Entry to the premises is free. Harpa Concert Hall usually hosts art exhibitions . However, if you want to attend a concert, ticket prices vary.
There are also gift shops and a restaurant where you can just sit and enjoy the views while having a coffee or bite to eat.
Sample Reykjavik Craft Beer
If youre a craft beer fan , you wont find a ton of options on tap throughout the far reaches of Iceland. However, Reykjavik has a pretty decent craft brewing scene that is worth checking out while in the city.
Small breweries are still a relatively new thing as beer was actually outlawed until 1989.
Here are a few craft breweries to try in Reykjavik:
- Skúli: This dimly-lit haunt has a pretty good selection of beers , and a dart board for a low key night out.
- BrewDog: Upscale pub atmosphere that seems popular with young locals, this place had a good variety of beer types and a pub food menu. We really enjoyed the lambstrami sandwich.
- Kaldi Bar/Café: We havent personally been here but it looks like a cool hole-in-the-wall pub with a good craft beer selection. They also supposedly do a great gin and tonic!
Good to know: Alcohol in general is expensive in Iceland, and craft beer is no exception. Expect to pay somewhere around 1,000 1,400 ISK per pint of craft beer.
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Feel The Heat At The Raufarholshellir Lava Tunnel
Raufarholshellir might only be the fourth largest lava tube in Iceland, but thanks to its proximity to Reykjavik, its an easy and essential addition to the itinerary.
First, youll pop on a headlamp and follow your tour guide through the naturally formed walkway, part of the massive tunnel that measures some 1360 meters long. Along the way youll notice an array of peculiar rock formations and learn about the different colors too!
Take In The View From Hallgrmskirkja
You know Hallgrímskirkja before you see it its the pointy church on top of a hill in Reykjavík, a monument that dominates everything. This Evangelical-Lutheran churchs unusual design is based on Svartifoss, a waterfall that pours over black basalt columns in Skaftafell, and a statue of Leif Eriksson looms before it.
Inside, youll see an enormous organ measuring 15 meters high and weighing 25 tons! The church is free to visit, but you can get some of the best photos in town by climbing to the bell tower. It costs 1000 ISK for adults for adults and 100 ISK for children.
The church hosts several concerts throughout the year. Come here to enjoy the fabulous acoustics and the best musicians Reykjavík has to offer.
Dont miss photographing Hallgrímskirkja from the base of the rainbow street leading up to it!
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Einar Jnsson Art Museum And Sculpture Garden
If you plan on visiting Hallgrímskirkja Church, consider making another stop at the Einar Jónsson Art Museum and Sculpture Garden, situated nearby on Skolavorduhaed Hill.
The museum commemorates the works of Einar Jónsson, a prominent Icelandic sculptor. His works were born out of private and government commissions and personal projects. Several years later, he and his wife set up the sculpture garden behind the building. The museum was opened in 1923, while the sculpture garden in 1984.
Address: Eiríksgata 3, 101 Reykjavík, IcelandNearest Bus Stop: Egilsgata / Barónsstígur Stop Opening Hours: 10:00 AM 5:00 PM CLOSED Admission Fee: Museum ISK 1,000 , FREE Sculpture Garden FREE
How To Get To Reykjavik
As Iceland is an island, there are limited ways to reach it – the primary method being by air. There are many small airports in Reykjavik. However, international flights from North America and Europe arrive at Keflavik International Airport. The airport is 31 miles from Reykjavik, but travelers can reach the capital easily by taxi or bus.
Ferry service to Iceland is also available. Once a week between April and October, you can sail from Hirtshals in Denmark and Torshavn in the Faroe Islands to Seydisfjordur in Iceland. You’ll then need to take a bus, taxi, or drive to reach Reykjavik on the other side of the island.
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Cheap Things To Do In Reykjavik
14. Take in the View from HallgrímskirkjaThis church is one of the most memorable that Ive seen. The stark concrete façade was designed to mimic the Icelandic landscape . It was named after the 17th-century clergyman and Icelandic poet Hallgrímur Pétursson, who wrote the Hymns of the Passion. Its the tallest building in Reykjavík, and, for a small fee, you can go up to the top to get incredible shots of the city and its multicolored rooftops.
Hallgrímstorg 1, +354 510 1000, hallgrimskirkja.is. Open daily from 9am-9pm in the summer and 9am-5pm in the winter. Entrance into the church is free but entry to the tower is 1,000 ISK for adults and 100 ISK for kids. The tower is closed on Sundays during mass.
15. Visit the Reykjavík Punk MuseumThis museum is housed in an old underground public bathroom and is dedicated to the punk and new wave scene that started took root here in the late 70s. The museum highlights how many of Icelandics famous musical performers can be traced back to their punk roots. Its definitely worth a visit.
Bankastræti 2, 101 Reykjavík, +354 568 2003, thepunkmuseum.is. Open Monday to Friday from 10am-10pm and weekends from 12pm-10p. Admission is 1,000 ISK for adults and free for kids 15 and under.
Laugavegur 116, 105 Reykjavík, +354 561 6663, phallus.is. Open daily from 10am-6pm. Admission is 1,500 ISK for adults, 1,000 ISK for seniors and persons with disabilities, and free for kids 13 and under.
Iceland Travel Restrictions 2022
Iceland is open to most travelers again, including American tourists. However you do need proof of your COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result before being allowed entry.
Many hotels, attractions, and private tours are open with new health & safety protocols in place, and you still have to follow certain guidelines.
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Relax In An Outdoor Hot Pool
Despite Reykjaviks oft-freezing temperatures, swimming outside is actually possible year-round. How? Thanks to pools fed and heated by the natural geothermal waters!
Sit back and relax in Laugardalslaug thermal pool or, for something a little more family appropriate, bring the kids to the Arbaejarlaug swimming pool and let the youngsters run amok on their many slides.
Getting Around Reykjavk With Kids
We had a hire car and we found it reasonably easy to find parking spots in the city. Parking is not especially pricey .
The city is quite compact and you can walk around between the main sites. However, if little legs are tired, one of the best ways to get around Reykjavík is on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
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Enjoy A Quiet Walk At The Grotta Lighthouse
At the tip of the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula sits the Grotta Lighthouse and nature preserve, one of the countrys most visited and photographed landmarks and when you see it first-hand, youll quickly understand why.
Besides the obvious main attraction of the historic lighthouse itself, tourists are also drawn to the views of black sands and dramatic cliffs, with rare birds often making a fleeting appearance.
Hot tip : If you visit in the winter, this is a beautiful spot to see the Northern Lights while you dangle your feet in a geothermal pool!
Visit The Sun Voyager
Located along Reykjavíks waterfront near Harpa, the Sun Voyager is the most famous piece of art in the city. This steel sculpture created by Jón Gunnar Árnason resembles a Viking longboat looking toward the sun, conveying a promise of exploration, hope, progress and freedom.
Then again, like all art, its open for interpretation. It reminds me of a herd of reindeer.
This is a popular place to photograph at sunset or sunrise, if youre visiting during the winter months and able to get up early enough for it.
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Best Time To Visit Reykjavk
In Iceland, most tourism organizations refer to summerand winter as the two seasons. Summer is roughly from mid-May to mid-August , but anything between October and April is definitively the winter season.
Most visitors tend to recommend visiting Reykjavík during the summer months, when you have the warmest temperatures and longest days of the year .
Summer in Reykjavík is the busiest and most expensive time of year. Lots of events and festivals take place and it feels like the city is buzzing. And Icelanders are overjoyed when they can be outside without a winter jacket!
Winter in Reykjavík can be tough if youre not used to days of darkness, but this is when you can experience the Northern Lights. While Iceland is not a cheap country, you often find lower rates on winter accommodation.
If youre planning a winter trip to Iceland, you might prefer staying in Reykjavík and doing organized day trips so you dont have to deal with winter driving.
Dress Up Like A Viking
Im sure youre already aware that parts of Iceland were used as a filming location for the wildly successful Game Of Thrones TV series. Well why not get your photo taken dressed up in the same style as the characters?
On my first trip to Reykjavik with my friend Kiersten, we stopped into MINK Studio for a professional viking photo shoot. It was super fun! Photographer Guðmann Þór Bjargmundsson gave us life-like viking clothing & weapons for amazing shots.
A single photo session takes about 45 minutes for one person, or 1-2 hours for a group. The photo props are super realistic, including their weight! Putting on chain-mail and lifting a broadsword was quite an experience
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Hike Around The Kerid Volcanic Crater
Looking like something straight out of a fairytale, it should come as no surprise that this stunning landscape has been dubbed the eye of the world.
Located in the Golden Circle in the Grímsnes area in south Iceland , the 3,000-year-old crater-turned-lake that is Kerid boasts striking shades of blue, a trekkable trail down to the lake, and a formidable photo backdrop.
Grab An Icelandic Hot Dog At Bjarins Beztu Pylsur
This hot dog stand is known to sell the best hot dogs in Iceland . CN Traveler says its the one dish you must eat in Iceland. If you eat here, they will probably also mention that this is Bill Clintons spot! Although you can get one the way you like it, their classic Icelandic dog comes with remoulade .
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Taste The Most Famous Hot Dog In Iceland
You cant leave Reykjavik without trying the citys most famous hot dog!
Okay, well, if youre a vegetarian, then you get a pass. And I should admit that I visited Reykjavik three times before trying this world-renowned street food.
Dont be like me and miss out, because even as someone who generally just isnt a huge fan of hot dogs, I have to admit, this one is pretty damn good.
Situated smack dab in downtown Reykjavik, youll find a small street stand that would be unassuming if it werent for the near-constant line of locals and tourists waiting for their pylsa .
The stand is called Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which translates to the best in town. And theyve been serving up one dish, and one dish only, since 1937.
So whats unique about an Icelandic hot dog?
Heres what your pylsa will come with:
- The hot dog is made with 80% lamb and 20% pork/beef
- Sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep
- Fried, crispy onions
- Raw onions
- Icelandic ketchup
Do you love trying local foods on your travels? Make sure you check out our list of Icelandic foods to sample on your trip .
National Museum And National Gallery Of Iceland In Reykjavk
The National Museum of Iceland and the National Gallery of Iceland are two very important museums in Reykjavik. And if you have the City Card, you can access both for free.
6. National Museum and National Gallery of Iceland in Reykjavík
The National Museum of Iceland has three floors where more than 2,000 pieces and works of art are exhibited that cover all of Icelandic history from the 9th century A.D. to the most recent decades. You can see everything from Viking objects and utensils to photographs that were taken throughout the 20th century.
The National Gallery of Iceland, meanwhile, exhibits works of art that mostly belong to Icelandic artists. For this reason, I recommend it, especially to people who are very fond of art.
Personally, if you only have time to visit one museum, I recommend you prioritize the National Museum of Iceland since its more general. However, the National Gallery is better located, on the banks of Lake Tjörnin, which I will tell you about next, where you have beautiful views of the gallery with the Hallgrímskirkja in the background.
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Thrihnukagigur Volcano Tour An Awesome Thing To Do Near Reykjavk
If you would like to experience volcanoes for yourself, then I recommend visiting the dormant volcano Thrihnukagigur, one of the most impressive things to do near Reykjavik.
The Thrihnukagigur crater was opened to tourists in 2012, and since then, its interior can be visited. It is 35,000 square feet and has a depth of 700 feet, although visitors can only descend about 400 feet, which is still quite a lot. Of course, to live out this experience, you will need to book this tour since you need a harness and a helmet to enter the volcano.
18. Thrihnukagigur Volcano Tour, an awesome thing to do near Reykjavík
The first part of the excursion was impressive to me because you hike through lava fields for about 40 minutes until you reach the crater. Once there, you descend into the earth in groups of 4 or 5, always accompanied by your guide and following their safety recommendations. You will have approximately 1 hour to explore the interior before returning to the surface.
This is definitely the best activity to do near Reykjavik, although I dont recommend it if you suffer from vertigo or have mobility impairments. The volcano is located half an hour from the city center, but the tour also includes the transfer from your hotel.