The Top 15 Activities to do in Reykjavík



The Top 15 Activities to do in Reykjavík

28.12.2022 | Lella Erludóttir

If Reykjavik’s on your Icelandic itinerary – and it should be – then you won’t be short of things to do. Here are our picks for the top fifteen activities to do in Reykjavik.

1. Take in the view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja Church

Hallgrímskirkja Church
Hallgrímskirkja Church towering over Reykjavík

Get your bearings by riding to the top of Reykjavik's most famous church. The viewing platform at the top of Hallgrimskirkja gives visitors unrivalled views across the city. When you come down, make sure you spend time admiring the church itself, whose architecture was inspired by Iceland’s famous basalt columns.

2. Head out on a whale watching tour

Whale watching from Reykjavik
Whale watching from Reykjavík

Whale watching tours depart regularly from Reykjavik’s harbour. On calm days, they head out into Faxaflói Bay where if you’re lucky, you might spot humpbacks, minke whales, porpoises and dolphins as well as plenty of sea birds.

3. Snap a selfie in front of the Sun Voyager

Sun Voyager
The Sun Voyager

The Sun Voyager sculpture glitters in the sunshine on Reykjavik’s northern shore. It was designed by Jón Gunnar Árnason, who described his work as a dreamboat, or an ode to the sun. This iconic piece is one of the city’s most famous landmarks and a popular selfie spot.

4. Tour the whole of Iceland without leaving Reykjavik

Flyover Iceland
Soar over Iceland with Flyover

At FlyOver Iceland, buckle up and let your feet dangle, as you “fly” across Iceland on this fun tour. Special effects on this motion ride give the illusion of wind, mist and even some of the smells you’d encounter if you toured the country for real.

5. Grab a hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

Hot dog in Reykjavík
A delicious hot dog

You haven’t dined out in Iceland until you’ve munched one of Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur’s hot dogs on a Reykjavik street corner. This is the city’s most famous hot dog stand. Past customers have included Bill Clinton and Kim Kardashian. Expect a line, but it’s worth the wait.

6. Admire the turf houses at the Árbær open-air museum

Árbær open air museum
Traditional houses and history at Árbær museum

Iceland’s turf houses were once a necessity, built to keep residents warm and dry during the cold winter months. Though you can see them all over the country, from Glaumbær in the north to Selið in the south, Árbær is the most convenient place to see one if you’re based in Reykjavik.

7. Watch a performance at Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa concert hall
Enjoy Harpa concert hall for a performance or the arcitechture

Reykjavik’s impressive auditorium is an architectural beauty. Located on the waterfront, Harpa’s glass façade makes this one of the most striking landmarks in the city. If you can, book tickets and see a show while you’re here.

8. Watch out for the Northern Lights

Reykjavik Northern Lights
Northern Lights dancing over Reykjavík

You don’t have to travel far from Reykjavik city centre to find a spot dark enough to see the Northern Lights. If you’re not lucky enough to see them for real, make your way to Perlan instead, where the Áróra show gives you the chance to witness them virtually year-round.

9. Discover the stories of the Saga Museum

Iceland’s sagas tell the stories of its sometimes turbulent past. At the Saga Museum, lifelike figures recreate the most important moments from the country’s history. It’s as fun as it is educational.

10. Head over to Tjörnin Pond

Tjörnin pond
Take a stroll around Tjörnin pond

This city centre lake is overlooked by Reykjavik City Hall. The paths surrounding it are frequented by joggers and cyclists; in winter, if it freezes over, ice skating’s possible. Many birds call the pond home, including Eider ducks, Greylag geese and Arctic terns.

11. Pamper yourself at Sky Lagoon

Sky lagoon Reykjavík
The views from the Sky Lagoon are spectacular

Reykjavik’s answer to the Blue Lagoon opened in 2021. This cinematic, nature-inspired luxury retreat boasts an infinity-edge pool overlooking the ocean and a sauna fitted with Iceland’s largest window. Guests follow a seven-step process to relaxation and well-being.

12. Catch the boat to Viðey Island

Viðey island
The Imagine Peace Tower is located on Viðey Island

One of the most popular boat trips in summer is to take a boat over to Viðey Island, home to Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace monument. Explore on foot or by bike to soak in the nature, history and of course those magnificent views back to the Icelandic capital.

13. Learn about the past in the Settlement Exhibition

The Viking era is brought to life by the Settlement Exhibition. It showcases the findings of an archaeological excavation which uncovered an early house from the period. You’ll also be able to see finds from other local sites.

14. Relax at Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach

Nauthólsvík geothermal beach
Nauthólsvík is frequented by local families

Opened in 2001, this artificially created geothermal beach has proved a huge hit with visitors and locals alike. Hot geothermal water mixes with colder water from the ocean to create a warm water bath that’s the perfect escape when you need a break from history and culture.

15. Shop on Laugavegur Street

Laugavegur Street
Stroll up and down Laugavegur street

Iceland’s most famous shopping street is lined with art galleries, clothing stores and souvenir shops. As well, there are plenty of cafés for when you need to drop your bags for a while and refuel on coffee and cake.

Reykjavík is a cute and quirky city filled with interesting museums and world-class restaurants. If you are a food lover, you must read our foodie guide to Reykjavík and you might also want to immerse yourself in our article about Reykjavík for the art lovers.  

If you want to discover Iceland beyond the capital city, Hey Iceland is here to help you plan your dream trip. Self-drive tour packages, accommodation and activities are our expertise. 

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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.

Lella Erludóttir

Lella Erludóttir

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