Swim At Vesturbjarlaug Thermal Pools
In the west side of town, close to the National Museum, you´ll find Vesturbærjarlaug. While not as big as Laugardalslaug its still very popular with the locals due to the cosy atmosphere. It was voted as Iceland´s best pool in 2014 and 2015 and was the runner up last year. Upon payment youll receive a ticket scan the bar code to get through the barrier. You must take your shoes off before entering the changing area and shower naked before entering the pool, as is the rule for all public pools in Iceland.
There is a great steam bath here, along with a few hot pots, ice plunge bath, swimming pool, children´s pool and sauna. It was actually the first pool in Iceland to offer a sauna. It can get really busy here so visit outside of peak times to avoid the crowds.
Tip for Swimming: After youve finished in the pool visit the cafe opposite the pool for delicious treats!
If you have a car and dont mind going a little bit out of town, you can also visit the Reykjadalur hot springs. They are located just a half hour outside of the city and are free.
South Coast Classic: Full
Icelands south coast is where you will find many of the most iconic sights in the country. If you want to see them easily with a knowledgeable guide, book this 10.5-hour tour dedicated to the highlights of the south coast.
You will see the photogenic Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, the black sand Reynisfjara Beach, and the cute town of Vik. On the bus, there is an audio guide in multiple languages so you can learn along the way.
Take A Day Trip To Greenland
Yes, Greenland. One of the most unique things to do in Reykjavik is to get on a small propeller aircraft and fly to another country. Yes, theres plenty to see and explore in Iceland, but for visitors looking for a bit more, go to Greenland.
On our very first trip to Iceland, we discovered you can take a day trip to Greenland from Iceland. And we did it. While Greenland is very difficult to visit from North America or Europe, its actually surprisingly easy to visit from Iceland.
Whats in Greenland? There are glaciersand icebergs. Theres lots and lots of snow and ice. And while youre expectingto be awed by the scenery and the nature, the biggest impact could be thecultural aspects. Whatever you expect from Greenland, you will be surprised andchallenged.
Where to EatSumac Grill + Drinks: Lebanese restaurant on the main drag Austur: Essentially an Indian restaurant with good vegetarian optionsMatarkjallarinn Foodcellar: This is one of the nicest places in town for fine dining with an Icelandic flairFiskmarkadurinn: Japanese/Icelandic hybrid restaurant that focuses on fishWhere to Stay in ReykjavikTownApartment Reykjavík: Close to everything with modern Scandinavian decor Baldursbrá Apartments: Private parking with everything youll need for an enjoyable visit 101 Hotel: One of the most central hotels with a sleek, modern design and on-site parking
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Explore The Public Gardens And Parks
There are numerous green areas and parks you can visit in Reykjavik. While most people know of the natural sites outside the city, these parks are an excellent example of lesser-known Reykjavik tourist attractions.
Public gardens in the city include Hallargardur and Hljomskalagardur, by Lake Tjornin, and Klambratun/Miklatun, which surround the Kjarvalsstadir Art Museum.
These are popular areas for outdoor games throughout the summertime.
Another popular destination all year round is Grotta, with its iconic lighthouse and views over Faxafloi bay and Reykjavik’s signature mountain Esjan and Snaefellsjokull glacier on clear days.
You can even find an artificial, thermal foot bath among the rocks by the seashore, making this the perfect spot to keep your feet warm while sipping on a drink and watching the northern lights.
If you want to submerge yourself in water inside the city limits , head towards Nautholsvik beach.
There’s a warm wading pool by the sand and a warm tub by the sea. If you’re brave enough, you can go for a swim in the ocean. The heat at Nautholsvik beach comes from Iceland’s hot springs. Iceland’s most famous hot spring can be found at the Geyser geothermal area on the Golden Circle.
Changing facilities and a cafe serving light snacks and drinks are on-site.
Next to Nautholsvik is Oskjuhlid hill, where you can walk among the remains of old bunkers, found between two forest trails.
- See also: National Parks in Iceland
Visit The Filming Locations For Game Of Thrones
For those visitors to Iceland who are also fans of the HBO series Game of Thrones, the country has an extra reason for you to visit. Iceland was the filming location for many of the scenes in the epic TV series, especially those which required snow and ice, such as north of the Wall.
Many of these filming locations are easy to access as they lie very close to the Ring Road. These are popular spots that are often visited by tourists for non-Game of Thrones reasons. Some of the other locations, though, are not as easy to access. Some, like those filmed on glaciers or those that can be accessed only by using F-roads, are closed in winter and will require the use of a 4×4 to get close to them.
We have created a handy Google Map with all of the Game of Thrones filming locations to help you locate them. You can find it here:
The Best Time to Do This: To see the greatest number of filming locations, its best to visit in summer as some of the sites are inaccessible in the winter.
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Bathe In Seljavallalaug An Old Swimming Pool In The Mountains
Hidden in a secluded valley in the midst of magnificent mountains is one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland. This hidden gem, called Seljavallalaug, has been a quiet secret known only by locals for a long time.
Even though the pool lies very close to the Ring Road, its location makes it seem as though it were at the end of the world. It was only recently that this pool began to be talked about and visited by travelers, now attracting thousands each year.
Now that the word has spread, the pool can get overcrowded. While this is a problem that occurs mostly in summer, especially on sunny days, you can avoid the problem by visiting early in the morning or late at night. Visiting in winter can also be a good option if you want to bathe on your own.
The Best Time to Do This: The Seljavallalaug swimming pool is open to visitors and available for bathing all year round. If you want to bathe here in winter, keep in mind that, at times, the water can be on the cooler side. But even if you decide not to bathe, its still worth a visit.
Fun & Unusual Things To Do In Reykjavik Iceland
As a shining light of Mother Natures beautiful potential and a collection of some of the planets most pristine and magical natural landscapes, its no wonder that Iceland has found itself atop millions of bucket lists in recent years.
With so many of its main attractions within or in striking distance of Reykjavik, the colorful capital is teeming with excitement, adventure, and learning opportunities.
From the beautiful, idyllic mountains on the South Coast to the dancing Northern Lights, cute cliffside villages, snow-capped volcanoes, and bizarre museums , its fair to say thats theres no shortage of things to do in Reykjavík!
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Bathe In A Hot Geothermal River In Reykjadalur
A large collection of hot springs and natural baths can be found all over Iceland, ranging from hot pools that lie just next to the road to the world-famous spas built to enjoy the stunningly blue hot water. Reykjadalur valley, which lies just 45 km from the countrys capital city, Reykjavík, is filled with hot springs and mud pools. This should not be surprising as the valleys name means steam valley.
The main reason that many travel to Reykjadalur valley is not because of the hot springs or mud pools, but rather because of the steaming hot river which winds through the center of the valley and in which you are allowed to bathe. Keep in mind that theres a one-hour hike to complete before you can refresh yourself in the delightfully warm geothermically-heated water. Good hiking boots are a must in summer as the path can be slippery when wet. In winter, crampons are recommended as the path can be dangerous when its snowy or icy.
The Best Time to Do This: All year
Feel Like A Bird At Flyover Iceland
Imagine flying over Icelandic mountains, lava-spewing volcanoes, and iceberg-filled lagoons. Imagine soaring through canyons and past waterfalls. FlyOver Iceland is an immersive experience where you fly on a ride while watching Iceland on a spherical screen.
This is the kind of experience that will make you fall in love with Iceland, even just after arriving. Yes, youll hopefully be seeing the landscapes yourself, but you will not be able to see anything in the way this movie was filmed. It will make you believe in the magic of this country!
FlyOver Iceland makes a terrific rainy day activity in Reykjavík, and I think it works better at the beginning of your trip, so you get excited for everything thats coming next. And dont forget to explore the surrounding Grandi Harbor District, another of the best things to do in Reykjavík!
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Soak In Luxury Hot Springs
Because of all the geothermal activity in Iceland, there are amazing hot springs all around the country! If youre a soaking fiend , youll be happy to know that two of the best hot springs in Iceland are located not far from Reykjaviks city center, making it possible to enjoy them even if you are on a short stopover.
See The Reykjavik Settlement Exhibition 871 +/
The Settlement Museum 871 +/-2 is an interesting and unusualmuseum with an even more unusual name. This is partly from the unusual namethat highlights thesettlement of Reykjavik as occurring some time between 868 and 872, and partlybecause this museum is in the basement of an ultramodern hotel.
During the construction of an earlier building, the remnantsof an early Viking building were discovered. When the modern hotel was to bebuilt in 2001, measures were taken to carefully excavate the site and preservethe artifacts.
The exhibits at the Settlement Museum Reykjavik are detailedand allow you to see foundations of the earliest houses up close.
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Drink During Happy Hour At Loft Hostel
Loft Hostels happy hour is a favorite thing to do in Reykjavik among both visitors and locals. Beer and cocktails are notoriously expensive in Reykjavik but you can get a happy hour special at Loft for 800kr. The bar itself has a great outdoor deck and a cool indoor library.
Tips for Drinking: Happy hour is 4-7pm everyday.
If you are super thirsty and love craft beer, you can also take a Beer & Booze tour which goes to three bars with ten beer tastings.
Soak Without The Crowds On A Secret Lagoon Tour
If you want to see more of the Golden Circle, book a tour that includes a visit to the Secret Lagoon.
At this hot spring oasis, a geothermal pool remains hot year-round, offering the chance to cleanse yourself and unwind after spending the day frolicking around all the Golden Circle main attractions!.
With pickup and dropoff organized for you, its an easy addition to the itinerary.
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Ride On Horseback Across A Lava Field
The most famous four-legged resident of Iceland is definitely the Icelandic horse. This isolated breed is known for its small size, short legs, and muscular body. Its also famous for its five gaits, its ability to resist the harsh Icelandic climate, and its reliability.
As an animal that was once both an important method of transport and a tool used for working, the Iceland horse holds a significant place in the traditional Icelandic lifestyle. Today, though, these beautiful animals are mostly used for leisure activities and for enjoying nature. Exploring Iceland on horseback will allow visitors to see areas that are otherwise not accessible on foot or by car.
There are farms all around Iceland which offer the possibility of riding on horseback. While you may have ridden other breeds of horses, the Icelandic horse is generally softer and more pleasant to ride. Experience the beauty of Iceland while also feeling as though you are flying over it in a saddle on the back of one of these majestic creatures. This is a true adventure that you should not miss out on.
The Best Time to Do This: All year
Best Things To Do On A First Trip To Iceland
Iceland is a beautiful country to visit and one of the most unique when it comes to the most epic places to see! And, although a first-time visit to Iceland is an exciting prospect, theres a heap of planning, logistics and bookings to be made to ensure a nice smooth trip. This is exactly why I wanted to share some of the best things to do on a first trip to Iceland.
Now, as its your first visit, youll probably be thinking about starting in the southwest of Iceland? This is where nearly all international flights arrive and depart, so its a good starting point for your adventure.
Now, most of these are within a 5-hour drive from Icelands international airport, Keflavik and easily reached by main arterial roads. This all makes it that bit easier when seeing the bigger picture of how much driving is involved.
Take a little look at some of the best things to do on a first trip to Iceland.
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Take A Stroll Down Laugavegur Street
Reykjavik is a city that was made for walking , and one of the best places to take a stroll is Laugavegur Street. This is considered to be one of Reykjaviks most important main roads, and its lined with shops, restaurants, and bars right in the heart of the city.
Laugavegur Street is one of the busiest streets in Iceland and one of the oldest and most historic, too. Laugavegur loosely translates into English as Wash because, for many centuries, this was the main thoroughfare from the city to nearby hot springs, where citizens would bathe themselves and clean their clothes.
Laugavegur Street is just over a mile long, loosely running from east to west across the city center, just a few blocks back from the waterfront. Youll find street art and colorful murals as you stroll from one end to the other. Plus, you can stop off for an Icelandic beer, hot coffee, or some delectable food en route.
Recreate Icelandic History At The Saga Museum
Through animatronics and eerily lifelike displays, the Saga Museum brings a wide Icelanding timeline to life, spanning from the earliest settlers to the Vikings and up to the modern day.
With exhibits diving into themes of natural disasters like earthquakes and volcano eruptions, to the Black Death ravaging its way through the island, theres plenty to be learned about the resilience and history of the Icelandic people.
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Catch Some Culture At Harpa
Other than the Hallgrimskirkja church, the most famous building in Reykjavik is the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center. Occupying prime waterfront real estate at the harbor right downtown, this building is a showpiece for the country.
Designed by the firm of Henning Larsen Architects inpartnership with the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, this building is truly awork of art. Constructed from 2007-2011 , itis now one of the top Reykjavik sties to visit.
Visit A Reykjavk Swimming Pool
If youre looking to join locals in a true Icelandic activity, skip the fancy spas and head to the public baths. Bathing is an important part of Icelandic culture, and while Icelanders go somewhere like the Sky Lagoon for a special occasion, most of the time they hit up the public baths and swimming pools.
Virtually every town in Iceland has a heated outdoor swimming pool and accompanying hot tubs. Locals go here to catch up with their friends, unwind, and enjoy a warm soak. And dont let the weather sway you youll find Icelanders in the pool 365 days a year, even when its freezing, dark, and raining.
I headed to the most central swimming pool, the Reykjavík Sundhöllin, which you can walk to from downtown. For an entry of 1,100 for adults , you can stay as long as you like. Bring a towel or youll have to pay to rent one.
There are rules, of course: everyone is required to shower naked beforehand in communal shower areas, and soap up well before rinsing. Youre not allowed to have your phone by the pool, so dont expect to get content. Keep everything in a locker. Bathing caps are not necessary.
Swim laps, lie down in a shallow warm pool, or head to one of the hidden hot pots on the second floor behind the outdoor pool. Theres also an indoor pool.
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