Top-Rated Things to Do in Reykjavik


By Felicity Long

Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is a vibrant and unique destination that offers a wide range of top-rated activities for visitors to enjoy. From breathtaking natural wonders to cultural experiences, there is something for everyone in this charming city.

One of the must-see attractions in Reykjavik is the iconic Hallgrimskirkja, a towering church that dominates the city skyline. Visitors can take an elevator to the top of the church and enjoy panoramic views of Reykjavik and its surrounding mountains and sea.

For those interested in Icelandic history and culture, a visit to the National Museum of Iceland is highly recommended. The museum houses a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of Iceland’s past, from its Viking roots to its modern-day achievements.

No visit to Reykjavik would be complete without exploring the city’s natural wonders. The Golden Circle tour is a popular choice, taking visitors to some of Iceland’s most stunning sights, including the geothermal area of Geysir, the majestic Gullfoss waterfall, and the beautiful Thingvellir National Park.

For a unique experience, visitors can also take a dip in one of Reykjavik’s famous geothermal pools, such as the Blue Lagoon. These naturally heated pools provide a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, surrounded by Iceland’s breathtaking landscapes.

Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or simply soaking in the local culture, Reykjavik offers a wide range of top-rated things to do. Plan your visit today and discover the magic of this enchanting city.

Explore the Vibrant Art Scene

Reykjavik is known for its thriving art scene, with a wide range of galleries, museums, and street art to explore. Here are some top-rated things to do to immerse yourself in the vibrant art scene of Reykjavik:

  • Visit the Reykjavik Art Museum: This museum is the largest art museum in Iceland and houses a comprehensive collection of Icelandic and international art. Explore the various exhibitions and learn about the rich artistic history of the country.
  • Check out the street art in the city: Reykjavik is filled with colorful and unique street art. Take a walk through the city streets and discover the incredible murals and graffiti that adorn the walls. You can even join a street art tour to learn more about the artists and their work.
  • Explore the galleries in the city center: Reykjavik’s city center is home to numerous art galleries showcasing the work of both established and emerging artists. Wander through the galleries and indulge in the diverse and innovative artwork on display.
  • Attend a live performance or concert: Reykjavik has a vibrant performing arts scene, with numerous theaters and music venues hosting regular performances. Catch a play, dance performance, or live concert to experience the artistic talent that Reykjavik has to offer.
  • Take a visit to the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center: This iconic building is not only renowned for its impressive architecture but also for its art exhibitions. Check out the current exhibitions and enjoy the stunning views of the city from the building’s unique glass facade.

With its diverse range of art forms and venues, Reykjavik offers something for every art lover. Explore the city’s vibrant art scene to discover the creativity and talent that thrives in this Icelandic capital.

Discover the Iconic Landmarks

Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is home to a plethora of iconic landmarks that showcase the unique beauty and heritage of the country. From stunning natural wonders to architectural marvels, there is something for everyone to discover in this vibrant city.

One of the most famous landmarks in Reykjavik is Hallgrimskirkja, a towering church that dominates the city skyline. Designed by Guðjón Samúelsson in the 20th century, this stunning piece of architecture is a must-visit for its unique design and panoramic views from its observation tower.

Another not-to-be-missed landmark is the Perlan, a mesmerizing glass dome perched on top of hot water storage tanks. Besides offering breathtaking views of the city, the Perlan also houses a museum, a restaurant, and an ice cave where visitors can explore the wonders of Iceland’s glaciers.

The Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre is another architectural gem in Reykjavik. With its distinctive glass facade inspired by the country’s basalt landscape, this modern building is not only a venue for concerts and conferences but also a popular tourist attraction.

No visit to Reykjavik is complete without a visit to the Old Harbour. As one of the city’s oldest and most historic areas, it offers a charming atmosphere with its colorful buildings, quaint shops, and bustling seafood restaurants. It is also the departure point for many boat tours to explore the nearby islands and whale watching excursions.

The Sun Voyager sculpture is another iconic landmark that symbolizes the adventurous spirit of the Icelandic people. Created by Jón Gunnar Árnason, this striking masterpiece represents a dream boat and is a perfect spot for a memorable photo opportunity.

These are just a few of the many iconic landmarks waiting to be discovered in Reykjavik. Whether you are a nature lover or an architecture enthusiast, this city has something to offer every visitor. So make sure to add these landmarks to your itinerary and experience the charm and beauty of Reykjavik for yourself.

Immerse Yourself in Nature

If you’re a nature lover, Reykjavik is the perfect destination for you. Here are some top-rated activities that will allow you to fully experience the magnificent natural beauty of Iceland.

  • Visit the iconic Golden Circle and witness the stunning Gullfoss waterfall, the geothermal area of Geysir, and the tectonic plates at Þingvellir National Park.
  • Embark on a whale watching tour and marvel at the majestic creatures that inhabit the waters around Reykjavik.
  • Explore the otherworldly landscapes of the Reykjanes Peninsula, where you can visit the famous Blue Lagoon and hike through the volcanic terrain.
  • Take a trip to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, often called “Iceland in Miniature,” and enjoy its diverse array of natural wonders, including waterfalls, black sand beaches, and the iconic Snaefellsjokull volcano.
  • Discover the beauty of the Icelandic Highlands by going on a guided tour or embarking on a multi-day hiking adventure.

Whether you prefer exploring the stunning waterfalls, relaxing in geothermal pools, or hiking through breathtaking landscapes, Reykjavik offers endless opportunities to immerse yourself in nature. Don’t miss the chance to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Iceland firsthand.

Relax in the Hot Springs

Reykjavik is known for its geothermal hot springs, which are a popular attraction for both locals and tourists. There are several hot springs located near the city that offer a rejuvenating and relaxing experience.

The Blue Lagoon is one of the most famous hot springs in Iceland and is located just outside of Reykjavik. The milky blue waters are rich in minerals and are heated by geothermal energy. Visitors can enjoy a soak in the warm waters while surrounded by stunning volcanic landscapes.

Another popular hot spring near Reykjavik is the Secret Lagoon, which is located in the small town of Fludir. This geothermal swimming pool is surrounded by natural hot springs, steam vents, and a small geyser. Visitors can relax in the warm water while admiring the beautiful Icelandic countryside.

For those who prefer a more local experience, the Laugardalslaug public pool in Reykjavik is a must-visit. This outdoor swimming pool is heated by natural hot springs and offers various facilities, such as hot tubs, steam rooms, and saunas. It’s a perfect place to unwind and mingle with the locals.

Whether you choose to visit the famous Blue Lagoon or explore the local hot springs, relaxing in the geothermal waters of Reykjavik is a must-do activity. Soothe your muscles, rejuvenate your body, and enjoy the natural wonders of Iceland’s hot springs.

Taste Local Cuisine

One of the best ways to experience Icelandic culture is through its delicious local cuisine. Reykjavik offers a wide range of gastronomic delights that will satisfy even the most discerning palate.

The country’s unique geography and climate have shaped its culinary traditions. Iceland is known for its fresh and high-quality seafood, such as salmon, cod, and langoustines. A must-try dish is the traditional Icelandic seafood soup, a flavorful broth filled with locally sourced ingredients.

Another iconic Icelandic dish is the Icelandic hot dog, known as “pylsa.” Pylsas are made from a mix of lamb, pork, and beef, giving them a distinct flavor. They are usually served with crispy onions, ketchup, mustard, and remoulade sauce, making them a perfect on-the-go snack.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try some of Iceland’s more unique offerings, such as fermented shark, known as “hákarl.” This traditional food has a strong ammonia smell and a unique taste that might not be for everyone, but it’s certainly an experience to remember.

For those with a sweet tooth, Iceland offers a variety of delicious desserts. Don’t miss out on trying “kleina,” a traditional Icelandic twisted doughnut, or “vínarterta,” a multi-layered cake made with prunes and spices.

When visiting Reykjavik, be sure to explore the city’s vibrant food scene. From upscale restaurants offering gourmet Icelandic cuisine to cozy cafes serving traditional treats, there is something for every taste and budget. Don’t forget to wash down your meal with a glass of “brennivín,” a traditional Icelandic schnapps, or try some of the local craft beers.

Local Cuisine Must-Try Recommended Places
Icelandic Seafood Soup Sea Baron, Kolabrautin
Icelandic Hot Dog Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, Kex Hostel
Fermented Shark Fiskfelagid, Kolabrautin
Kleina Braud & Co, Sandholt
Vínarterta Braud & Co, Sandholt
Brennivín Mikkeller & Friends Reykjavik, Skúli Craft Bar

Exploring the local cuisine is an essential part of any visit to Reykjavik. Make sure to try these top-rated dishes and immerse yourself in the flavors of Iceland.

Experience Icelandic Nightlife

Reykjavik is known for its vibrant nightlife scene, offering a variety of experiences that cater to different tastes and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a quiet evening at a cozy pub or a night of dancing and partying, Reykjavik has something for everyone.

One of the top things to do in Reykjavik at night is to visit the city’s bars and clubs. Head to the downtown area, where you’ll find a wide range of establishments offering both local and international drinks. Try some Icelandic craft beer or sample the famous Icelandic schnapps, Brennivín.

If you’re a music lover, be sure to check out some of the live music venues in Reykjavik. From small venues featuring local artists to larger concert halls hosting international acts, there’s always something happening in the city. You might even get a chance to discover the next big Icelandic music sensation.

For those who enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere, cozy pubs and lounges offer a great option. Take a seat and enjoy a conversation with friends over a glass of Icelandic whiskey or a traditional herbal tea. These venues often feature live performances by local musicians, adding to the cozy ambiance.

Another unique experience in Icelandic nightlife is the opportunity to go on a midnight tour. Reykjavik is known for its beautiful landscapes and natural wonders, and exploring them under the midnight sun or the northern lights is an unforgettable experience. Join a guided tour and take in the breathtaking views that Iceland has to offer.

Finally, don’t forget to try out the traditional Icelandic cuisine while experiencing the nightlife. Many bars and clubs offer a variety of tasty dishes, ranging from local seafood specialties to international cuisine with an Icelandic twist. It’s a great way to fuel up and continue your night of fun.

Overall, experiencing Icelandic nightlife is a must-do when visiting Reykjavik. From vibrant bars and clubs to cozy pubs and midnight tours, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So grab your friends and get ready to have an unforgettable night in the lively capital of Iceland.

Visit the Whales of Iceland Exhibition

One of the top-rated things to do in Reykjavik is to visit the Whales of Iceland Exhibition. This unique museum is dedicated to showcasing the incredible diversity of whales found in the waters surrounding Iceland.

The exhibition features life-size models of various species of whales, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. Each model is carefully crafted to provide an accurate representation of the size and appearance of the different whale species.

As you walk through the exhibition, you will learn about the different types of whales that inhabit the Icelandic waters, their behavior, and their importance to the marine ecosystem. Interactive displays and informative panels provide in-depth information about these fascinating marine mammals.

In addition to the models, the Whales of Iceland Exhibition also offers a virtual reality experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the world of whales. Put on a VR headset and embark on a virtual journey to swim alongside these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Whether you are a marine enthusiast or simply curious about these incredible animals, a visit to the Whales of Iceland Exhibition is an unforgettable experience. Plan your visit and discover the wonders of the Icelandic waters and the majestic creatures that call it home.

Learn about Icelandic Culture

When visiting Reykjavik, it’s essential to take the time to learn about Icelandic culture. This small Nordic country has a rich and unique heritage that is deeply rooted in its history, folklore, and traditions.

One of the best ways to explore Icelandic culture is by visiting the various museums in Reykjavik. The National Museum of Iceland is a must-visit, where you can discover artifacts and exhibitions that showcase the country’s history, from settlement to modern times.

For those interested in the famous Icelandic sagas and literature, the Saga Museum offers an immersive experience. Here, you can learn about the captivating stories of heroes, Icelandic mythology, and legends that have shaped the country’s identity.

To fully immerse yourself in Icelandic folklore and traditions, a visit to the Icelandic Phallological Museum might be an unconventional choice. This quirky museum is dedicated to all things phallic and offers a unique insight into Icelandic folklore.

Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to witness the world-renowned Icelandic music scene. Reykjavik is known for its vibrant music culture, with many local bands and artists gaining international recognition. Catching a live performance at one of the city’s music venues is a fantastic way to experience contemporary Icelandic culture.

Lastly, make sure to try some traditional Icelandic cuisine during your time in Reykjavik. Sample dishes like fermented shark, skyr (a creamy dairy product), and lamb soup to get a taste of the country’s culinary heritage.

By exploring museums, enjoying live music, and trying local delicacies, you can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for Icelandic culture during your visit to Reykjavik.

Go on a Reykjavik Walking Tour

Exploring Reykjavik on foot is one of the best ways to experience the city’s charm and beauty. A walking tour allows you to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and history of this fascinating Icelandic capital. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for an adventure, there’s a walking tour that will suit your interests.

One popular walking tour option is the Reykjavik City Walk, which takes you through the heart of the city and introduces you to its main landmarks and hidden gems. Led by experienced local guides, this tour provides a comprehensive overview of Reykjavik’s history, architecture, and culture. You’ll get to see iconic sights like Hallgrimskirkja Church, the Old Harbour, and the Parliament House.

If you’re interested in learning about Iceland’s unique geology and geography, you can join a guided tour that explores Reykjavik’s natural wonders. You’ll walk along the coastline, visit volcanic craters and lava formations, and learn about the country’s volcanic activity and its impact on the landscape. This tour is a great opportunity to connect with nature and witness the incredible geological features that make Iceland so special.

For those who want a taste of Reykjavik’s vibrant food scene, a culinary walking tour is a must. Led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll sample traditional Icelandic dishes, visit local food markets, and learn about the country’s culinary traditions. It’s a delicious way to experience the local culture and try some unique flavors.

Regardless of which walking tour you choose, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Reykjavik’s climate can be unpredictable, so it’s best to wear layers and bring a waterproof jacket. Comfortable walking shoes are also recommended, as you’ll be covering a lot of ground on foot.

Why Go on a Walking Tour What to Expect Tour Duration
Immerse yourself in Reykjavik’s culture and history Explore the city’s main landmarks and hidden gems 2-3 hours
Learn about Iceland’s unique geology and geography Visit volcanic craters and lava formations 4-5 hours
Experience Reykjavik’s vibrant food scene Sample traditional Icelandic dishes 3-4 hours

Going on a walking tour in Reykjavik is a fantastic way to explore the city and gain a deeper understanding of its culture and history. Whether you’re interested in architecture, nature, or food, there’s a tour that will cater to your interests. So put on your walking shoes and get ready to discover all that Reykjavik has to offer.

Shop for Local Design and Souvenirs

Reykjavik is well-known for its thriving arts and design scene, and one of the best ways to bring home a piece of Icelandic culture is by shopping for local design and souvenirs. Whether you’re looking for unique clothing, artwork, or traditional Icelandic crafts, Reykjavik offers a wide range of shops where you can find the perfect keepsake.

Head to Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavik, where you’ll find a plethora of boutique stores. These shops showcase the work of local designers and artisans, offering everything from handmade clothing and accessories to contemporary Icelandic art.

For those interested in fashion, Núðluskápur is a must-visit. This trendy store focuses on sustainable and ethical fashion, featuring clothing and accessories made from organic and recycled materials. You’ll find unique pieces that combine high-quality craftsmanship with innovative design.

If you’re looking for traditional Icelandic crafts, be sure to visit Handknitting Association of Iceland. This shop specializes in handmade woolen products, including sweaters, hats, and scarves. Each item is carefully crafted by local artisans, using techniques that have been passed down through generations.

For a taste of Icelandic art, check out Einar Jónsson Museum. This museum shop offers a selection of prints and reproductions of works by renowned Icelandic artist Einar Jónsson. You can bring home a piece of Icelandic art history and support the museum’s mission to preserve and promote Icelandic art.

Don’t forget to visit the Kolaportið Flea Market, located by the old harbor. Here, you’ll find a diverse range of goods, including vintage clothing, antiques, and traditional Icelandic food products. It’s a great place to hunt for unique souvenirs and experience the vibrant atmosphere of Reykjavik’s local market scene.

When shopping for local design and souvenirs in Reykjavik, keep in mind that many stores accept credit cards, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand, especially when visiting smaller shops or markets. Additionally, remember to look out for the tax-free shopping logo, as you may be eligible for a refund on your purchases.

Exploring Reykjavik’s shops for local design and souvenirs is not only a great way to find unique and meaningful items, but it also allows you to support local artists and artisans, contributing to the vibrant arts community of the city.

Catch a Live Music Performance

Reykjavik is known for its vibrant music scene, and catching a live performance is a must-do when visiting the city. Whether you’re a fan of rock, indie, jazz, or electronic music, Reykjavik has something for everyone.

One popular venue for live music is Harpa, a stunning concert hall located on the waterfront. Harpa hosts a variety of performances, ranging from classical concerts to contemporary music shows. The acoustics in the concert hall are exceptional, and the venue itself is a work of art, with its unique glass façade.

Another great place to catch live music is Kex Hostel, which features a cozy atmosphere and a regular lineup of talented local and international bands. The hostel also has a bar and a restaurant, making it the perfect spot to enjoy some live music while sipping on a drink or grabbing a bite to eat.

For a more intimate and offbeat experience, check out the smaller venues and bars scattered around the city. Places like Gaukurinn and Dillon are known for their energetic atmosphere and live performances by up-and-coming local artists. These venues are a great way to discover new talent and get a taste of the local music scene.

If you’re visiting Reykjavik during the summer, be sure to check out one of the many music festivals that take place in the city. The Secret Solstice Festival, held in June, brings together both international and local acts for a weekend of music and celebration under the midnight sun. Other popular festivals include Iceland Airwaves, which showcases a wide range of musical genres, and Reykjavik Jazz Festival, a must-visit for jazz enthusiasts.

No matter when you visit Reykjavik, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble upon live music performances happening throughout the city. So be sure to keep an eye out for flyers, check the local event listings, and ask locals for recommendations. You never know when you’ll discover your new favorite band or artist while exploring the music scene in Reykjavik.


What are some top-rated things to do in Reykjavik?

Some top-rated things to do in Reykjavik include visiting the Hallgrimskirkja church, exploring the Reykjavik city center, taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon, and going on a whale watching tour.

Is visiting the Hallgrimskirkja church worth it?

Yes, visiting the Hallgrimskirkja church is definitely worth it. It is one of the most iconic landmarks in Reykjavik and offers stunning views of the city from its observation deck. The architecture of the church is also quite unique and impressive.

What can I do in Reykjavik city center?

In Reykjavik city center, you can explore the vibrant streets, visit museums such as the National Museum of Iceland and the Reykjavik Art Museum, shop for Icelandic souvenirs, and dine at local restaurants to try traditional Icelandic cuisine.

Are there any unique experiences to try in Reykjavik?

Yes, there are several unique experiences to try in Reykjavik. You can take a tour to explore the stunning natural landscapes of Iceland, such as the Golden Circle or the South Coast. You can also try traditional Icelandic activities like dog sledding or ice caving.


10 BEST Things To Do In Reykjavik | ULTIMATE Travel Guide

Photo of author

Felicity Long

Felicity Long, a seasoned travel journalist with 15+ years of experience, specializes in exploring Europe, family travel, and skiing, as evident in her book "Great Escapes: New England" (The Countryman Press). She edits the Europe eNewsletter and contributes significantly to TravelAsker's destinations sections. Felicity has received esteemed awards, including the Cacique and Yo Leonardo Awards, in recognition of her outstanding international travel writing accomplishments.

Leave a Comment