Sights in Reykjavík: the top 10 destinations for your city trip

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Although Reykjavík is a rather small capital city with around 140,000 inhabitants, it is the cultural centre of Iceland. Music, art and the country’s typical food culture meet the breathtaking nature that surrounds the city. It is also the starting point of many people’s trip to Iceland and is therefore explored by most tourists. Find out what there is to see here.

Capital of Iceland

Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and also by far the largest city on the island. 37.3% of all Icelanders live here. The city is located in the south-west of the island on the Atlantic coast, which is why the cityscape is characterised by small islands, peninsulas and straits.

Area277,1 km²
Time ZoneGreenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Hallgrímskirkja: breathtaking view over Reykjavík

Completed in 1986, Hallgrímskirkja is one of Reykjavík’s most famous buildings. The 74.5 metre high Lutheran church impresses with its imposing exterior and can be visited from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission for adults costs the equivalent of around 9 euros.

Hallgrímskirkja Reykjavik
Hallgrímskirkja impresses with its atypical design.

Harpa: architecture, concerts and culture

Harpa is the concert and event hall of the Icelandic capital with a particularly special façade. If you like unusual architecture and the play of shapes and light, you shouldn’t miss the Harpa.

Does Reykjavík have an old town centre?

Reykjavík may be a fairly new city by European standards, but there are still some 19th century buildings to discover. Garðastræti, which is just a two-minute walk from Ingólfstorg (Ingolf Square), is one of them. The square is generally a good place to go if you want to see the oldest houses in Reykjavík. It is close to the place where Iceland’s first settlers are said to have settled.

Sun Voyager & Sculpture and Shore Walk

The Sun Voyager (Sólfar in Icelandic) is a famous sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason, reminiscent of a Viking ship.

Sun Voyager Reykjavik
The Sun Voyager is a popular photo motif.

It is located on the northern coast of Reykjavík on the Sculpture and Shore Walk. As the name suggests, it runs along the coast and features over 5 kilometres of different statues with a breathtaking view of the North Atlantic.

Museums in Reykjavík

Reykjavík has a whole range of interesting museums. So if you are in Reykjavík and the weather is particularly bad, you will always find something to do: from the National Museum to the Saga Museum and the Whale Museum. However, we would like to recommend two in particular.

Perla Museum: experience Iceland’s forces of nature

The Perla Museum, or Perlan, is not only architecturally special. Inside you will find impressive exhibitions on the forces of nature in Iceland, including a very popular glacier and cave exhibition where you can enter a 100 metre long artificial ice cave. Adults pay around 36 euros entrance fee, children around 22 euros, but you can get a family ticket as well.

Arbaer Open Air Museum: history in Reykjavík’s open-air museum

The Arbaer Open Air Museum is particularly a highlight for children. However, a visit to the open-air museum is also highly recommended for adults. In over 30 houses, you can learn how Icelanders lived in past centuries. Despite the rural surroundings, it is easily and quickly accessible from the city centre by public transport.

Sights in winter

Travellers who come to Iceland in winter often refrain from a road trip because of the weather and prefer to stay in the Reykjavík region. In addition to museums, concerts, shopping and cosy cafés, there are some sights in winter that are out of the question in summer.

Want to see the Northern Lights in Reykjavík?

Most winter tourists would like to see the Northern Lights on their trip to Iceland. Under the right conditions, you can see them in the capital’s neighbourhood. Further, Perlan offers an observatory with a unique exhibition.

Ice skating on the Tjörnin

Reykjavík Ice skating
If you like ice skating, Reykjavík is the ideal winter destination for you.

Of course, ice skating should not be missing from this list. If you are travelling to Reykjavík in winter, you can not only skate on rinks such as those found on Ingólfstorg, but also on Reykjavík’s city lake, Tjörnin.

Not only is the lake used by the locals for skating, but also for playing football or going for a walk.

The ice cover of the Tjörnin is quite safe, not only because of the low temperatures, but also because the water is only around 60cm deep on average.

Sights around Reykjavík

Not all the sights are located directly in Reykjavík. But thanks to the capital’s public transport connections, guided day tours and the option of hiring a car, that is not a problem. Find out what sights there are to marvel at around Reykjavík here.

Blue Lagoon

Almost every tourist wants to travel there once: the blue lagoon. It is one of the most famous hot baths in Iceland.

Blue Lagoon Iceland
In Iceland you can swim in a number of hot springs, even in winter.

However, that’s precisely why we don’t recommend it. Of course, the blue lagoon is impressive, but there are other hot baths in the vicinity of the capital that are at least as impressive, less crowded and cheaper.

Tip: Visit other swimming pools and hotspots in the region, such as the baths at the geothermal beach Nauthólsvík or the steaming valley Reykjadalur, which is about 45 minutes away by car.

Golden Circle Route

The Golden Circle Route is an approximately 300 kilometre route around Reykjavík that takes in some spectacular natural sights. If you are in the city for more than a weekend, you should definitely consider doing the tour.

Alternatively, there are guided day tours to certain highlights of the Golden Circle route. If you want to know more about what to expect and why it’s worth a visit, take a look at our article on road trips in Iceland.

Finding the sights of Reykjavík: do you need a map?

For more detailed information, we recommend packing a travel guide with a map.

However, apps can also help you find the best attractions, as well as spontaneous discoveries in the city are always worthwhile.

We recommend buying tickets for popular attractions in advance, especially during the peak summer season.

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