capitals Reykjavík

10 things to do and see in Reykjavík

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Reykjavík in 1, 2 or 3 days

When you think about Reykjavík what is the first thing that pops in your mind? The elves, the singer Bjork, the mischievous volcanoes? Right, but it’s not enough.

Reykjavík, the “smoking bay” founded by the Vikings, is a small, cosmopolitan capital, hot and cold at the same time. On one side you’ll find the energy of theatres, galleries and events, on the other one the calm of warm pools used like cafés : the Icelanders use to meet there  to relax and to gossip  happily soaking in hot water after a  workday.

Reykjavík  is surrounded by white snow-covered plateaus  as a crown, but its spirit is not cold. It offers many things to do and see and  it’s surprisingly crowded along the streets of downtown in the evening.

But it’s true that it’s cold, and therefore houses, shops and hotels are warm and welcoming, with large windows from which you can see the Icelandic design: essential,  natural and irresistibly cool. So here’s our 10 things to do and see in Reykjavík.

If you are looking for a hotel in Reykjavík, we suggest you to choose among those offered by There are about 170 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to

Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík


Oliafus Eliasson designed and  built in 2011, this futuristic glass building overlooking the bay of Reykjavík which is visible from a distance and during the night, thanks to the multi-colored lights reflected on the water and the surrounding landscape.

Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík
Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík

The particular shape of the Harpa remembers basalt columns so common in Iceland and the tribute to the land is also reflected in its function: the Harpa Concert Hall hosts Symphony Orchestra and Icelandic Opera, artistic events and small concerts. You can follow a guided tour or enter for free: inside you will find two restaurants with Icelandic dishes, and three stores in which look for the best music and the Icelandic literature.

Where: Reykjavík harbour
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Guided tours from May 15 to August: daily at 09:00 am ; 11:00 am ; 1:30 pm ; 3:30 pm
From September to May 15: daily at 3:30 pm ; on weekends at 11:00 am and 3:30 pm
Tickets: 1.750 Kr

Blue Lagoon in Reykjavík


The famous Blue Lagoon, or Bláa Lónið in Icelandic, is a must for anyone visiting Reykjavík. Nestled in a unique setting, the lava expanse of Svartseng, the Blue Lagoon is located about 45 minutes from Reykjavík. It’s named after the incredible blue color  of the water, caused by microorganisms that reflect light in this unique ecosystem. Relaxing  in these waters restores the body and spirit: it’s cold outside, but the water temperature is around 38 degrees,  and the you’ll see nothing than smokes and black rocks.

Blue Lagoon in Reykjavík
Blue Lagoon in Reykjavík

The geothermal water in the lagoon is good for your skin and is curative: its virtues depend on the minerals dissolved in the water, in particular silicon, which applied on the body like mud makes the skin smooth and fresh. In addition to the lagoon, the complex includes a spa area with sauna and turkish bath, beauty and spa treatments, a snack bar, locker rooms, a relaxation area with solarium indoor and an Icelandic specialty restaurant

Where:  45-minute from Reykjavík
How to get there: By car or bus from Reykjavík and from Keflavik Airport with Bus Travel companies, Iceland Excursions, Reykjavík Excursions.
When – Hours: Every day from 9 am  to 9 pm , July and August until 11 pm
Tickets: adult ticket 40 Euros, children 13-19 years 50%, children free. The ticket includes the use of the lagoon, sauna and turkish bath, thermal mud, locker room with showers and hairdryers, access to the solarium

The Geysir in Reykjavík


Did you know that the word “geyser”  derived from Icelandic geysir? It’s an experience to do at least once in life, and Reykjavík is the place. Imagine a barren and rocky land, nestled among mountains and volcanoes, covered with icy lichens. At the center, scattered in fairly small area, round puddles of water gurgling rhythmically, like waves on the shoreline.

The Geysir in Reykjavík
The Geysir in Reykjavík

Suddenly in a pool water there’s  a bubble, and a moment later a vapor high column explodes into the sky, and then returns quietly underground. The eruption of a geyser is the power of nature in its primary elements. The geyser area is located about 100 km from Reykjavík, in the valley of Haukadalur, and is part of the “golden circle”, a tourist route that includes waterfalls Gullfoss and Thingvellir Park.

The geyser area is fenced because of the  boiling water that flows from pools before and after eruption: we advise you to walk with caution.

Where: 100 km from Reykjavík
How to get there: by car or bus
When – Hours: Every day from sunrise to sunset

Whales Watching in Reykjavík


Whale watching in Reykjavík is a must – do; first of all because the chances of sighting are very high, especially in the summer with 90% of success, then it’s the best way to protect these animals  from extinction, and finally because it’s a great  experience.

Whales Watching in Reykjavík
Whales Watching in Reykjavík

Among the whales that inhabit the area there are the killer whale, the minke whale, the humpback whale and several species of dolphins.

The boats depart from the old harbor of Reykjavík and stop  in the whale watching points. The tour lasts about 4 hours and we suggest you to  bring binoculars and / or camera and cover you well both in summer and winter: on board you will find waterproof suits to wear to enjoy the view of the bay or (if you are lucky) of the whales, without suffering too much the cold.

But which company to choose? Simple: choose a Icewhale certified operator, which guarantees responsible conduct, the least impact on the natural habitat. Often on board there are one or more marine biologists who take advantage of the “transition” to analyse the human impact on the habitat of the whales. And if you see nothing? The company gives you a tribute ticket valid for two years for another excursion

Where: Reykjavík’s Old Harbour
How to get there: Boats from Reykjavík’s Old Harbour
When – Hours: All the year at least two trips per day, from June 15 to July 31, night excursions too.
Tickets: Adults (12 +) 60 Euros approximately, children:   for free under 12 years.

The valley of Laugardalur in Reykjavík


The Laugardalur Valley is located a few km from the center of Reykjavík and is a true entertainment and sports complex, which also includes public pools and family park with aquarium and zoo, botanical garden, hostel and camping.

The valley of Laugardalur in Reykjavík
The valley of Laugardalur in Reykjavík

The Laugardalur valley is the perfect destination for young people, children and families: you’ll find many geothermal pools, indoor and outdoor saunas, water slides, children’s area and a big zoo with lots of activities for the little ones. And not far away there is a building that houses some of the monumental sculptures of Ásmundur Sveinsson, one of the pioneers of Icelandic sculpture. The center also hosts concerts, events and exhibitions, and includes ice rink and sports arena.

Where: few km far from Reykjavík
How to get there: Bus from Reykjavík station: lines 12 and 14
When – Hours:  public pools: Monday to Friday from 6.30 am to 10 pm ; Saturday and Sunday from 8 am  to 10 pm .
Family park: August 18 to May 30 every day from 10 am to 5 pm ; May 31 to August 18 daily from 10 am  to 6 pm
Tickets public pools: adults (18+) about 4 euro; children under 18 years 1 euro. The ticket includes access to all pools.
Family Park: about 5 € adults, children 5-12 years about 4 €, children under 4 years old, retired and disabled free entrance

Þingvellir Park


The Þingvellir Park is located about 45 km from the Icelandic capital and is a beloved place by Icelanders, as here, around 930 AD, was founded the oldest parliament in the world and always here on  July 17, 1944, Icelanders celebrated independence from Denmark.

Þingvellir Park
Þingvellir Park

The park is on the UNESCO national heritage list and today and is one of the most visited destinations for the beauty of the area, the silence and the total absence of light pollution, which makes it an ideal stop for the famous Northern lights. The park offers various activities, including camping, diving, walking and horse, and a multimedia exhibition. The park can be reached by car or bus and is a perfect destination for a day trip.

Where: In the southwestern part of the island, about 50 km from Reykjavík.
How to get there: On the circular Highway 1, take the road 36 (Þingvallavegur)
When – Hours: June – August
Tickets: free entrance

National Museum in Reykjavík


The  National Museum in Reykjavík preserves the history of Iceland from the so-called Age of Settlement, 800 A.D. approximately, to the present day, through a permanent collection divided into several themes: work and lifestyle, housing, crafts and language and social life.

National Museum in Reykjavík
National Museum in Reykjavík

In addition, the museum houses a photo exhibition, events and festivals throughout the year. The permanent collection includes about 2,000 objects from the late ninth century to the present and about 1,000 photographs of the last century, and it’s structured as a journey through time: starting from Viking ships that sailed the seas and arriving at the airport.

Don’t miss a bronze statue dating back to the year 1000 A.D. and that could depict Thor or Christ : the doubt arises from the object that has in his hands, which seems to be both  the hammer of Thor and  the Christian cross.

Where: The museum is located near the university and is within close to the center of Reykjavík
How to get there: A few minutes by feet  from the center of Reykjavík, or by bus: lines 1,3, 6, 11, 12 and 14.
When – Hours: 1 May to 15 September every day from 10 am to 5 pm.
From September 16 to April 30 every day, except Mondays, from 11 am  to 5 pm.
Tickets: Adults (18 +) about 10 euro; children under 18 years old, adults over 67, students, disabled, and groups from 10 people  about 5 euro.

Things to eat in Reykjavík


The special taste of traditional Icelandic food is influenced by the centuries – old struggle to preserve food as long as possible throughout the winter. Meat and fish were dried, salted, smoked or preserved in serum also for 3 or 4 months. They pretty much used all parts, and that’s why among the Icelandic delikatessen you can find shark meat, liver pudding, smoked lamb and even mutton testicles.

Things to eat in Reykjavík
Things to eat in Reykjavík

But if you want to try something more soft we recommend you the lamb soup, seasoned with vegetables and paprika, the flatkaka, tasty oatmeal pancakes with butter and hangikjot, meat of smoked lamb and served in thin slices, or one snacks based on fish: lax (salmon) and bread. For the rest, like all European capital Reykjavík it offers a wide choice of ethnic cuisine, from sushi to pizza, vegan dishes, in every corner you will find a restaurant which suits your budget and your imagination.

Reykjavík nightlife


Reykjavík is a vibrant and very busy night capital. Along the streets of downtown there are cafés, clubs with live music, and the evening doesn’t start before midnight. After midnight, then, you will see young and old people in the streets. The cost of alcohol is higher than in other cities, but in most clubs there’s free entrance and you can book a table and receive a free bottle. The musical and cultural tradition is vibrant also during the night:  you will find concerts and live music of every kind. Generally the kitchen closes around 23. Reykjavík’s places  are soundproofed, crowded and often on two floors, with windows overlooking the street. Here is the guarantee that the people of elves and Vikings know how to enjoy life.

Where to sleep in Reykjavík


Reykjavík is a very cheap destination: the hotel cost about 80 Euros in the high season, and you can barely get a room with shared bathroom in a 2 star hotel.

Where to sleep in Reykjavík
Where to sleep in Reykjavík

The equivalent of a 3 star Italian will start from 120 euro. There is also a wide range of hostels, apartments and guesthouse but always with high prices. You can save a lot in May and September and by booking in advance for the high season

If you are looking for a hotel in Reykjavík, we suggest you to choose among those offered by There are about 170 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to