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Things to do in  Reykjavik

Welcome to Reykjavik

Iceland's colorful capital mixes Viking and maritime history with a hip arts scene, sleek design, and wild nightlife, while also serving as a jumping-off point for outdoor adventures into the country's rugged landscapes. With modern restaurants serving Icelandic cuisine in medieval buildings, must-see sights such as the waterfront Harpa Concert Hall, and opportunities for puffin and whale watching, it's easy to spend all your time in the city—but you'd be remiss to skip what lies beyond. Head out to the country and you’ll be rewarded with pristine waterfalls, volcanic black-sand beaches, and warm geothermal pools set in lava fields.

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Top 10 attractions in Reykjavik

Blue Lagoon
#1

Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is a unique wonder of Iceland, a result of all that volcanic activity the small island is so famous for. In the middle of the weird and wonderful, flat black lava fields of the Svartsengi National Park, the huge, outdoor lagoon is filled by naturally heated geothermal water which comes from 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) below the surface of the earth. It is full of minerals, silica and algae and is especially good for the skin and relaxation. In fact, part of the Blue Lagoon development is a health clinic specializing in cures for psoriasis. The water is almost startlingly blue in color, and the white of the silica on the black lava rocks around the edges makes an amazing contrast. As well as soaking and swimming in the pool, the Blue Lagoon offers in-water massage treatments, saunas and steam rooms, and a cafe. On any visit to Iceland a few hours soaking in The Blue Lagoon is essential, and its location between Reykjavik and the airport makes it easy to do....
Harpa (Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre)
#2

Harpa (Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre)

The striking steel and glass Harpa Concert Hall, opened in 2011, houses both the Icelandic Opera and Symphony Orchestra. The building, designed by Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, features honeycombed glass panels that reflect the sky and the ocean. As the hub of the Reykjavik cultural scene, there’s something going on within Harpa Concert Hall nearly every night of the week; the venue also hosts most of the city’s most popular events. Besides performance spaces, the building also houses a couple of restaurants and several shops selling Nordic music, books, design items and gifts. Guided tours take visitors behind the scenes to areas of the theater typically only accessible to performers, including the stage itself....
Hallgrim's Church (Hallgrímskirkja)
#3

Hallgrim's Church (Hallgrímskirkja)

Reykjavík's most attention-seeking building is the immense concrete church Hallgrímskirkja, or Hallgrimur's Church, star of a thousand postcards and visible from 12 miles (20 kilometers) away. For an unmissable view of the city, make sure you take an elevator trip up the 250 ft (75 m) high tower. In contrast to the high drama outside, the church's interior is puritanically plain. The most startling feature is the vast 5,275-pipe organ, which has a strangely weapon-like appearance. Between mid-June and mid-August you can hear this mighty beast in action three times per week at lunchtime/evening concerts. The church's radical design caused huge controversy, and its architect, Guðjón Samúelsson, never lived to see its completion - it took a painstaking 34 years (1940-74) to build. Those sweeping columns on either side of the tower represent volcanic basalt - a favorite motif of Icelandic nationalists....
The Pearl (Perlan)
#4

The Pearl (Perlan)

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....
Hofdi House
#5

Hofdi House

The Hofdi House in Iceland is considered to be one of the most historically significant buildings in the Reykjavik area. This beautiful building was built in 1909 and sits near the waterfront. Originally it served as the location for the French consul and there are still signs of this on the building such as R.F., which is the abbreviation for the Republic of France, the name of the consul, and the year of its construction above a door on the inside. The house has hosted several celebrities and heads of state, such as the Queen of England, Winston Churchill, and Marlene Dietrich. In front of the house is a sculpture that depicts pillars from the chieftain's seat of the first Norwegian settler in Reykjavik. The Hofdi House is best known as being the location where US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbatsjov met in 1986, marking the end of the Cold War. Images of this house were broadcast throughout the world....
Bessastadir
#6

Bessastadir

One of Iceland’s most impressive buildings, located in Alftanes, just outside Reykjavik, the Bessastadir is the official residence of the Icelandic president. Dating back to 1761, the striking edifice once housed one of Iceland’s first educational institutions, before being donated to the state in 1940. After the Independence of Iceland in 1944, the Bessastadir became the official residence of the President and First Lady of Iceland and remains so today. The Bessastadir is also renowned for its church, one of the oldest stone-made structures in Iceland, dating back to 1796 and featuring exquisite stained glass windows, painted in 1956 in honor of Asgeir Asgeirsson’s (Iceland’s 2nd president) 60th birthday....
Laugardalur
#7

Laugardalur

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly alternative to sightseeing or want to experience one of Iceland’s famous geothermally heated pools, Laugardalur, or Hot Spring Valley, has everything you would expect from the capital’s largest recreational area. The centerpiece of the park is its huge swimming pool, the largest outdoor thermal pool in Reykjavík, but there’s also the Laugardalsholl Arena (a soccer stadium and music venue), a sports hall, running tracks and an indoor ice rink on-site, as well as the city’s only campsite and an abundance of playgrounds, picnic and barbecue areas.M. Laugardalur is also known for its botanical gardens, home to variety of Arctic plant and flower varieties, and its zoo, where visitors can view Icelandic wildlife like reindeer, foxes and seals....
Sun Voyager (Solfar)
#8

Sun Voyager (Solfar)

Sitting on Reykjavik’s waterfront, facing the impressive figure of Mt. Esja across the bay, the gleaming sculpture of Sun Voyager (Solfar) makes for an excellent photo opportunity. The 60-foot-long stainless steel artwork resembles the skeletal frame of a boat and sits on a circle of granite slabs jutting into the sea....
Videy Island
#9

Videy Island

Across the water from Reykjavik lies Videy Island. Once the main harbor until Reykjavik took over in 1943, the first settlement on the island dates from the 10th century. These days birds are the main inhabitants of the island with around 30 species coming to breed there. For humans, there is a restaurant, located in Videyjarstofa house, the first stone and cement building in Iceland, which dates from 1755. The island was once home to Augustine monks until 1539 when the reformation began in Iceland. There are also walking tracks and horse-riding....
Aurora Reykjavik (Northern Lights Center)
#10

Aurora Reykjavik (Northern Lights Center)

Intrepid travelers visiting Iceland during the winter months can take their chances on viewing the elusive Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, but for summer visitors or those short on time, the Aurora Reykjavik (Northern Lights Center) offers the next best thing. A fully interactive exhibition devoted to the otherworldly phenomenon, the center features a 23-foot-wide (7 m) time-lapse video of the majestic lights, which allows visitors to experience nature’s most impressive light show alongside innovative exhibits chronicling the discovery of the lights around the Arctic and the many myths and legends formed around the mysterious spectacle. Additional highlights include a Northern Lights photo simulator, where budding photographers can master the art of capturing the lights, an awe-inspiring array of Northern Lights photographs and multimedia demonstrations of the science behind the lights....

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Ways to Beat the Crowds in Reykjavik

Ways to Beat the Crowds in Reykjavik

Top Spots for Culture Lovers in Reykjavik

Top Spots for Culture Lovers in Reykjavik

Frequently Asked Questions

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Check out things to do near Reykjavik:
  • Vik
  • Skaftafell
  • Akureyri
  • South Iceland
  • East Iceland