Over the last couple of years, more and more travelers are making their way to Iceland. With Reyjavik being the usual first stop, check out my personal recommendations of things to do in Reyjavik. From museums, thermal spas, to discovering the local cuising, Reykjavik has so many things to offer travelers passing by.
- 1 Visit Hallgrímskirkja church
- 2 Eat and Drink local Icelandic specialties
- 3 Venture Out Lava Caving
- 4 Bask in the Blue Lagoon Geo-thermal spa
- 5 Enjoy the Nightlife in Reykjavik
- 6 Go See the Sun Voyager a.k.a Solfarid
- 7 Visit the Harpa Concert Hall
- 8 Experience Snorkel/Dive Between the Tectonic Plates
- 9 Go Whale Watching
- 10 Geothermal Hot Springs and Geysirs
- 11 Chase the Waterfalls in South Iceland
- 12 Hunt for Northern Lights in the Winter
- 13 Visit the Icelandic Phallological Museum
- 14 Adventure in You Recommendations: Where to Stay in Reykjavik
Visit Hallgrímskirkja church
This Lutheran church is unlike any other you will see in all of Europe. Far from being gothic, it is in fact inspired by Iceland’s very own landscape. The unique architecture of this church includes columns that represent the volcanic basalt columns you will commonly find on black sand beaches in Iceland. The interiors of the church are simple and modern just like the Icelandic spirit.
However, what I highly recommend not to miss when you are here is to see the view from the top of the church. Unlike other churches in Europe, you do not have to climb any claustrophobic spiral staircases. They have an elevator that takes you to the top of the tower.
Access to the tower top is a small fee of ISK 900 which is roughly around $8 while admission to the church is free.
Eat and Drink local Icelandic specialties
While you will find all kinds of food cuisines in the capital city of Iceland, we highly recommend giving some local delicacies a try. Icelandic hotdogs at gas stations have become very popular amongst road trippers. However, when in Reykjavik, try out some authentic restaurants.
We tried some local dishes at Old Icelandic Restaurant in Reykjavik upon our BnB owner’s recommendation. Don’t forget to try traditional Icelandic liquor as well – Brennivin, Birkir snapps, Floki whisky and Gull beer to name a few. Another famous Icelandic delicacy is shark meat, although it smells nasty, local swear by its taste. If you are adventurous enough definitely try that out!
Venture Out Lava Caving
Here’s another one for the adventure enthusiast – walking through lava tubes where molten magma once flowed. It is very interesting to see what it looks like under the Earth and learn a little bit more about our planet on a field trip. There are plenty of tours that operate lava caving tours from Reykjavik.
Bask in the Blue Lagoon Geo-thermal spa
A great way to experience geo-thermal hotspring in Iceland would be visiting the Blue Lagoon Geo-thermal spa. Blue Lagoon is only 10 minutes away from Keflavik airport and about 45 minutes away from Reykjavik. You can buy the entrance tickets to Blue Lagoon online to save time or in person which might require standing in long lines. Although a unique experience, some might feel it to be a bit commercialized. For those I recommend, hunting down natural hot-springs, which there are plenty in Iceland and costs nothing at all thanks to this volcanic land. Despite being touristy, the Blue Lagoon is high up on our Iceland Bucket List.
Enjoy the Nightlife in Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a small but happening European city known for its nightlife. Believe it or not as much as Iceland is famous for its natural landscapes, Reykjavik is famous for its party vibes. Laugavegur street boasts a ton of shopping, restaurants and bars – you don’t want to be anywhere else in Reykjavik at night.
Go See the Sun Voyager a.k.a Solfarid
This funky steel structure sitting on the shore in Reykjavik has become a symbol of the city. As the name suggests this boat is an ode to the sun, a perfect spot to photograph a beautiful sunset with a gorgeous backdrop of Mt. Esja.
Visit the Harpa Concert Hall
An architectural landmark in Reykjavik, you can even see Harpa from the Sun Voyager. It hosts some of the famous music festivals and symphonic orchestras in Iceland. Visit Harpa for its architecture as well as the lightings that come up at night.
Experience Snorkel/Dive Between the Tectonic Plates
There is no shortage of adventure activities in Iceland but this particular activity can only be done in one place on this Earth. Yes, only in Iceland can you find fissures with glacier waters to swim between tectonic plates of two different continents. Located in Silfra Fissure Waters in Thingvellir National Park which is about 45 mins from Reykjavik, this is a once in a lifetime experience that I encourage everyone to try.
Go Whale Watching
Being so close to the arctic you cannot miss the experience of watch world’s largest mammals in their natural habitat. Some of these whale watching tours also take you through areas for puffin watching, a local bird in the region.
Geothermal Hot Springs and Geysirs
Only an hour and half away from Reykjavik is the geo-thermal hot spring area where you can see Iceland’s only erupting geyser called Strokkur. There is another one called Geysir (the one from which English word geyser originates) which is mostly dormant these days. This Geo-thermal area is a few minutes’ drive from Thingvellir National Park. So these can be done together on the same day. In fact a very famous route here called the Golden Circle includes a Gullfoss waterfall along with these two.
Chase the Waterfalls in South Iceland
As a day trip from the city you can drive down towards South Iceland where you will find some astonishing waterfalls and black sand beaches. A couple of popular waterfalls here are Seljalandsfoss (where you can go behind the falls) and Skogafoss. Not too far from these waterfalls is the Black Sand Beach also called Reynisfjara. This beach is home to the basalt lava columns that inspired Hallgrímskirkja church. Now if you are really getting adventurous and are ready to drive another 3 hours south, then head to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. The South Iceland tour can be done as a perfect day trip from Reykjavik especially in the summer time when there is more daylight. More details of this can be found in our Iceland Travel Tips Guide.
Hunt for Northern Lights in the Winter
There is nothing more magical like seeing those green lights dancing in the sky at night. If you happen to visit Iceland at the right time, mostly between September to March, you are in luck to see these Northern lights. If the weather conditions are good you might see them in Reykjavik itself otherwise you can go hunting for them in locations just outside the city. There are many tour companies that offer Northern light tours if you are not interested in driving yourself.
Visit the Icelandic Phallological Museum
Who would have thought of all the places Reykjavik will be home to a Phallological museum. This extraordinary museum contains a collection of different phallic specimens from a variety of mammals found in Iceland. Just to be clear, it is a field of science that have been recently revived. If you are looking for an off the beaten thing to do then perhaps check this museum out, maybe it’s not for everyone though. Definitely not something to do while with kids.
Adventure in You Recommendations: Where to Stay in Reykjavik
If you’re looking for suggestions on where to stay in Reykjavik, check out our full article with suitable suggestions for various price ranges. Otherwise, you can also check out our full where to stay in Iceland guide.