Iceland is a photographer’s paradise, but you don‘t have to travel far for some amazing shots. Reykjavík is a unique and colourful city that will make you want to stop at every street corner to take a picture. We’ve rounded up the most picturesque places in Reykjavík to get your photo wish list started. From the smallest and cutest houses you will ever see to big and iconic landmarks, these spots will create a great gallery of your trip to Iceland.
The Sun Voyager (Sólfarið)
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The stunning sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason is located on Sæbraut, not far from Harpa Concert Hall. It is a common misunderstanding that the Sun Voyager is a Viking ship. It really is a dream boat, an ode to the sun. We absolutely love it in the midnight sun and the soft and golden Icelandic winter lighting.
Harpa Concert Hall
Harpa is known for stunning architecture, distinctive glass facade and colourful light displays. The structure consists of a steel framework clad with geometrically shaped glass panels of different colours. Construction started in 2007 and the building opened to the public in 2011. Even though Harpa has only been open for a few years, it has already become a famous landmark and a hub for music and culture.
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Whether it’s frozen to perfection like a frosted mirror or dressed in the dazzling shades of summer, Tjörnin Pond is enchanting in any season and one of Reykjavík’s most photographed attractions. Tjörnin is framed by Reykjavík City Hall and beautifully coloured old houses. It is home to countless ducks, swans and geese that even stay for the winter thanks to some geothermal heating.
Visible from almost any point in the city, Hallgrímskirkja Church sits at the top of Skólavörðustígur Street, which is home to many art and design boutiques. The iconic building is 74,5 metres high and it took over 40 years to build. The modernist architecture by Guðjón Samúelsson, was inspired by the basalt rock columns like the ones you will find surrounding Svartifoss Waterfall in South Iceland.
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Grótta Island and Grótta Lighthouse are claimed to be the best viewing points of the capital area for the Northern Lights in winter and the midnight sun in summer. Plus, the lighthouse itself is very photogenic. The lighthouse is only accessible during low tide and is closed to all traffic during summer due to birds’nesting season.
Perlan (The Pearl)
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This dome-shaped, glass building was designed by Ingimundur Sveinsson and placed on top of six massive hot-water tanks – each with a capacity of 4 million litres. The dome houses an observation platform all around the building where you will get the best panoramic views of Reykjavík and its surroundings.
This is the cathedral of the Catholic Church in Iceland. The building was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, who also designed Hallgrímskirkja ChurchCheck out the gleaming gray-stone façade and its interior illuminated by beautifully coloured windows and candlelight. The Cathedral is a stunning monument and an active place of worship.
Reykjavík Old Harbour
The colourful Old Harbour is fast becoming a new boom area of the city and a lively centre of activities and attractions.
Einar Jónsson Sculpture Garden
The Garden is located behind the Einar Jónsson Art Museum, right next to Hallgrímskirkja Church and is open year round and entrance is free. Here you will find 26 bronze casts of the artist’s work. including The Wave of Ages, Prayer, The King of Atlantis, Spring, Thor Wrestling with Age and Christmas. The entrance to the garden is from Freyjugata, so from Hallgrímskirkja Church (facing the church) you, turn right down Njarðargata and then to the left to Freyjugata.
The View from Hallgrímskirkja Church
For a modest fee, visitors can enter the church tower and enjoy the awe-inspiring panorama view of the city. The area is a hot spot for tourists, with several museums, volcano and Northern Lights exhibitions, and fantastic restaurants. This is the puffin- and whale watching boulevard and home to fishing boats of all sizes.
Reykjavík City Hall
This is an impressive modern building on the northern shore of Tjörnin Pond. The raw and bold architecture connects nature, water and is designed deliberately to attract bird life to the centre of town. The building is also put to use as an art gallery, hosting a steady stream of new and exciting exhibitions.
Höfði House, built in 1909, is considered to be one of the most beautiful and historically significant buildings in the Reykjavík area. The house is located on the seafront and is surrounded by the Reykjavík business district. The building is best known as the location for the 1986 summit meeting of presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, a historical event that effectively marked the end of the Cold War.
This is the primary commercial artery of downtown Reykjavík, and one of the oldest shopping streets. Laugavegur, which means ‘Wash Road’, was once the route to the hot springs where many Icelanders took their clothes to launder. Now, this hip and cool street is a place where you can easily spend your dough on designer clothes, art, souvenirs and everything in between.
A classical 19th-century structure which houses the Icelandic parliament, Alþingi. Iceland’s first Alþingi was created in AD 930 and moved into this current basalt building in 1881. Visitors can even attend sessions when the parliament is sitting. How awesome is that?
Bæjarins Bestu Hot Dog Stand
This unusual landmark has become increasingly popular in recent years. Why? Because this is where you will find the world’s most delicious hot dogs, according to Icelanders (and Forbes, and the Huffington Post, and Business Insider and… many more). Just go there. Order a hot dog and take the picture.
Arnarhóll is a grassy hill in downtown Reykjavík with a statue of Ingólfur Arnarson on the top. The statue was made by the artist Einar Jónsson and was revealed in 1924. Ingólfur Arnarson was the Norse man to settle in Iceland in 874 AD, leaving Norway due to a blood feud he was involved in. Upon seeing land from his ship he asked the gods where he should make his home. He then threw his high seat pillars overboard with the intent to settle wherever they washed ashore. After three years of searching, they were found in what is now known as Reykjavík.
Put Reykjavík on your bucket list, whether it is for a short city break, a stopover or as a part of a longer Iceland trip. You will not be disappointed.
About the author
I am a born and bred Icelander and the matriarch of an above-average sized family. I have a true passion for travel and love to discover new destinations and cultures. I want to introduce you to the real Iceland, the beauty, the history, and the things that will make you fall deeply in love with my homeland.