The mirrored glass dome of Perlan shines from its position on Öskjuhlíð hill, just outside Reykjavik. Comprising a glass hemisphere sitting atop six massive hot water tanks, the building houses a restaurant, viewing deck, and the Perlan Museum, which focuses on Iceland’s natural wonders.
Visitors can purchase a ticket for the observation deck only, or for the Glaciers and Ice Cave exhibition at the Perlan Museum, which includes access to the observation deck. The Glaciers and Ice Cave exhibition features a 328-foot (100-meter) man-made ice cave that replicates those found in nature as well as an interactive exhibit on glaciers. Other exhibitions include a planetarium and the Land, Coast, and Ocean exhibit, which features a cliff replica, virtual fish tank, and simulated earthquake.
For an extra special experience, opt for an after-hours tour of the museum, during which you’ll be guided through the ice cave and glacier exhibition after the daytime crowds have gone. Visitors can also dine at Perlan’s glass-dome Út í bláinn restaurant, offering excellent views over Reykjavik and beyond—and if you’re lucky, perhaps even the Northern Lights.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Spot sites including the Snæfellsjökull glacier, Keilir volcano, and Mount Esja from the telescopes on the observation deck.
- The temperature is kept at 14°F (-10°C) in Perlan’s ice cave. Vests are provided to keep guests warm.
- The entire museum, including the ice cave, is wheelchair accessible.
- In addition to the Út í bláinn restaurant, Perlan also houses a café and gift shop.
How to Get There
Perlan is about a 10-minute drive from downtown Reykjavik. Free shuttle buses run between Perlan and the Harpa Music Hall downtown every 30 minutes during open hours. Walking paths also lead up Öskjuhlíð hill from Reykjavik Natura Hotel, Reykjavik University, the Vodafone stadium, and the gas station at Bústaðavegur.
When to Get There
Perlan is one of Reykjavik’s top attractions and can be busy at times. The best time to come is during summer, when you have longer sunlight hours and higher odds of enjoying clear views from the observation deck.
The Ice Cave at Perlan
The first of its kind in the world, this indoor ice tunnel is designed to replicate natural ice caves found amid Iceland’s glaciers. The level of light, the temperature, and even the sounds of the man-made cave echo those present in natural ice caves. Walking through the ice cave at the Perlan Museum should take roughly 10–15 minutes.