Reykjavik Attractions: Unique Things to Do & See

Annie Spratt, Unsplash
September 30
Written by Elena Kostas

Discover the best places to visit and the most amazing activities to do in Reykjavik. Plan your vacation with this comprehensive travel guide.

Welcome to Reykjavik, Iceland's charismatic capital that's full of life, quirky charm, and bursting with must-see spots. It's the sort of place that combines fascinating history, stunning natural beauty, and an infectious energy.

There's an abundance of things to do in Reykjavik, from exploring Viking history to relaxing in geothermal pools. This isn't a typical travel destination; it's a place where you'll see some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes while experiencing a vibrant culture unlike any other.

Whether you're a keen explorer or a chill-out aficionado, the options for what to see in Reykjavik are as rich as the Icelandic sagas. Its unique geographical location is a paradise for nature lovers, culture enthusiasts, and food explorers alike.

Our comprehensive Reykjavik guide aims to showcase the must-visit spots, the underrated gems, and everything in between. It's time to pack your bags and create your own Icelandic saga!

1. Reykjavik's Top Attractions

Historical Monuments and Architecture
low angle photography of gray concrete building
Reykjavik's Top Attractions / Martin Sanchez, Unsplash

Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and offers a wide variety of tourist attractions that you will love. From stunning natural landscapes to an interesting cultural history, there is much to see and do in the city.

One of the main tourist attractions in Reykjavik is the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral, which stands out as the tallest building in Iceland. Its unique architectural design and panoramic view from the tower are a must-see.

Another must-visit is the famous Tjörnin Lake, where you can stroll along its shores while admiring the beauty of the swans and ducks that inhabit it. You can also enjoy a relaxing boat ride on its calm waters.

2. The Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik

Natural Spaces and Parks
a person standing in front of a very tall building
The Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik / F D, Unsplash

The Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. Located just a few kilometers from the capital, it is known for its warm, blue geothermal waters. It's a perfect place to relax and enjoy a natural spa in the middle of a stunning environment.

The Blue Lagoon features several geothermal pools filled with mineral-rich waters such as silica and sulfur. These minerals have healing and therapeutic properties for the skin, making a bath in these waters truly beneficial. Moreover, the natural surroundings surrounding the lagoon are simply breathtaking, with lava fields and mountains on the horizon.

If you're looking for a unique and relaxing experience on your visit to Reykjavik, you can't miss The Blue Lagoon. Immerse yourself in its warm waters, enjoy a silica facial treatment, and relax in a dreamy natural setting. You won't regret it!

3. Golden Circle Tour in Reykjavik

History and Cultural Heritage
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Golden Circle Tour in Reykjavik / Anastasiia Chepinska, Unsplash

The Golden Circle Tour in Reykjavik is one of Iceland's most popular excursions. This tour takes you to explore the country's stunning landscapes, visiting three iconic locations: Thingvellir National Park, the geothermal area of Geysir, and the impressive Gullfoss waterfall.

In Thingvellir National Park, you can walk through the cracks and fissures caused by the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. You can also visit the Althing, the ancient Icelandic parliament founded in the year 930.

In Geysir, you will witness the eruption of geysers, including the famous Strokkur that shoots hot water into the air every few minutes. You can also enjoy the impressive geothermal landscapes.

4. Whale Watching Excursion in Reykjavik

Outdoor Activities and Sports
a large boat full of people on the water
Whale Watching Excursion in Reykjavik / Bernd ūüď∑ Dittrich, Unsplash

Whale Watching in Reykjavik: One of the most popular activities for visitors to Iceland is whale watching in Reykjavik. This thrilling tour will take you to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, where you can get up close to the magnificent whales in their natural habitat. Get ready for an unforgettable experience in contact with nature.

The beauty of marine life: During the excursion, you will have the opportunity to admire not only whales, but also other fascinating marine animals. You may see dolphins, porpoises, and maybe even some seabirds. The marine landscape will take your breath away.

A unique adventure: Whether you're a nature lover or just looking for an exciting experience, whale watching excursion in Reykjavik is perfect for you. Learn about marine wildlife from expert guides and enjoy a unique moment on your visit to Iceland.

5. Northern Lights Tour

Entertainment and Pop Culture
white and black bus running near the mountain
Northern Lights Tour / Juan Encalada, Unsplash

The Northern Lights Tour in Reykjavik is a unique experience that you can't miss. There are few things as awe-inspiring as witnessing the northern lights dancing in the night sky.

During the tour, you will be taken to the best spots to observe this natural phenomenon and have the opportunity to learn about its origin and how these beautiful lights form. You'll be able to share this experience with fellow travel and nature enthusiasts, making the adventure even more exciting.

There's nothing quite like seeing the northern lights in person. This experience will leave you speechless and give you memories for a lifetime. Don't miss out!

6. National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik

Museums and Art Galleries

The National Museum of Iceland is a must-visit for anyone interested in exploring the rich history and culture of Iceland. Located in the charming city of Reykjavik, the museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the events and traditions that have shaped the Icelandic nation over the centuries.

In its spacious galleries, visitors can admire an impressive collection of historical artifacts, from Viking art and ancient jewelry to tools and weapons used by the early inhabitants of the island. Each object tells a story, revealing the experiences and lifestyle of the ancient Icelanders.

In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the National Museum of Iceland also showcases exciting temporary exhibits that delve into specific themes of Icelandic history and culture. Whether you're interested in the Viking era, medieval culture, or modern times, you're sure to find something that captivates you in this unmissable museum.

7. Hallgrímskirkja

Historical Monuments and Architecture
grey and white concrete building in low angle photography
Hallgrímskirkja / Yves Alarie, Unsplash

Hallgrímskirkja, also known as Hallgríms Church, is an architectural gem located in the center of Reykjavik. Built between 1945 and 1986, its design was inspired by the basalt columns that are so emblematic of Icelandic geology.

Standing at 74.5 meters tall, the church offers a panoramic view of the city from its tower. From the top, you can appreciate the beauty of Reykjavik and the surrounding mountains, creating a stunning and unique backdrop.

When visiting Hallgrímskirkja, tourists have the opportunity to explore its interior, which is designed in a minimalist yet striking manner. Architectural details such as stained glass windows and religious sculptures make this church a special place for those interested in the history and spirituality of Iceland.

8. Harpa Concert Hall

Entertainment and Pop Culture
white and black glass building
Harpa Concert Hall / Bernd ūüď∑ Dittrich, Unsplash

Harpa Concert Hall is the main concert and conference center in Reykjavik, Iceland. Designed by renowned architects Henning Larsen in collaboration with Icelandic artist √ďlafur El√≠asson, this glass building is a true architectural gem.

Located in Reykjavik's harbor, Harpa is known for its stunning design and outstanding cultural programming. The venue regularly hosts classical music concerts, opera performances, rock concerts, and many other renowned artistic presentations.

With its prime location, impressive architecture, and diverse events, visiting Harpa Concert Hall is a must-do experience for anyone visiting Reykjavik.

9. Perlan Museum and Observatory

Museums and Art Galleries
person taking picture of man wearing brown hat painting
Perlan Museum and Observatory / Vidar Nordli-Mathisen, Unsplash

The Perlan Museum and Observatory is a landmark attraction in Reykjavik, located on the hill of √Ėskjuhl√≠√į. It offers a unique experience to learn about the nature, geology, and history of Iceland.

In Perlan's Natural History Museum, you can explore a vast collection of specimens from local flora and fauna. Discover the diversity of marine life in the aquarium and marvel at the beauty of Icelandic birds in the bird exhibition.

The Perlan Observatory offers 360-degree panoramic views of Reykjavik and its surroundings. From the observation deck, you can enjoy the stunning mountains, glaciers, and unique landscapes that Iceland has to offer.

10. Laugavegur Street

Shopping and Commerce
a street sign is posted on a pole
Laugavegur Street / Frugal Flyer, Unsplash

Laugavegur Street is one of Reykjavik's top tourist attractions, known for its vibrant shopping scene and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Here, you'll find a wide range of stores, from designer boutiques to souvenir shops. You can also enjoy a diverse selection of cafes and restaurants, where you can taste delicious Icelandic cuisine.

Laugavegur Street is perfect for a relaxing walk as you explore the city streets. As you wander, you'll admire its traditional architecture and bohemian charm. It's also a great spot for shopping and discovering unique products and local crafts.

Don't miss the opportunity to experience Laugavegur Street during your visit to Reykjavik. You'll be amazed by its energy and diversity!

11. Tjörnin Lake

Natural Spaces and Parks

Tjörnin Lake, also known as the People's Pond, is one of Reykjavik's most iconic sites. Its central location makes it a perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

With a surface area of approximately 0.6 km², Tjörnin Lake is home to various bird species, such as ducks and swans, making it an ideal place for birdwatching enthusiasts. It also offers beautiful panoramic views of the city and the nearby Hallgrímskirkja church.

If you visit Tjörnin Lake, don't miss the opportunity to take a walk along its beautiful paths and go boating on its tranquil waters. You can also visit Grótta Island, famous for its lighthouse and as a perfect spot for viewing the Northern Lights in winter.

12. Reykjavik Botanical Gardens

Natural Spaces and Parks

Things to do in Reykjavik: Reykjavik Botanical Gardens are a must-visit for nature and botany lovers. Located in a beautiful natural setting, these gardens house a wide variety of plant species from different parts of the world.

Explore the flora: Take a walk along paths surrounded by colorful flowers and lush vegetation. The Botanical Gardens offer the opportunity to learn about the flora of Iceland and other regions, including exotic plants and native species.

Events and activities: In addition to enjoying the natural beauty, the Botanical Gardens also offer events and activities throughout the year. From outdoor concerts to gardening workshops, there is always something interesting to do in this beautiful place.

13. Reykjavik City Museum

Museums and Art Galleries

The Reykjavik City Museum is a must-visit for those looking to explore and understand the rich history and culture of Iceland's capital. With its exciting exhibits and wide variety of artifacts, the museum offers an educational and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages.

From the early Viking settlements to modern urbanity, the museum takes you on a journey through time, revealing how Reykjavik transformed into the vibrant city it is today. Through interactive displays and engaging narratives, you'll learn about the city's highlights throughout history.

Discover the everyday life of the early inhabitants and how local institutions developed over the years. Immerse yourself in the past and enjoy an authentic cultural immersion as you explore exhibits dedicated to Reykjavik's music, art, literature, and politics.

14. Viking World Museum

Museums and Art Galleries

The Viking World Museum is one of the top tourist attractions in Reykjavik. Located on the coast of Reykjavik, this fascinating museum immerses you in Viking culture through well-documented and authentic exhibits.

Discover the fascinating history of the Vikings, from their incredible seafaring expeditions to their cultural legacy in Iceland. The museum features a wide collection of artifacts, including weapons, tools, jewelry, and Viking ships.

Immerse yourself in the Viking experience with interactive exhibits that allow you to learn about the Vikings' daily life, their navigation skills, and their influence on Icelandic history. Don't miss the opportunity to dress up in traditional Viking costumes and participate in exciting activities.

15. √Ārb√¶jarsafn Open Air Museum

History and Cultural Heritage

Explore √Ārb√¶jarsafn Open Air Museum in Reykjavik

√Ārb√¶jarsafn Open Air Museum is a must-visit for history and culture enthusiasts. Located in beautiful natural surroundings, this outdoor museum will transport you back in time to show you what life was like in Reykjavik in centuries past.

The museum features authentic period houses and historical artifacts that will give you a unique insight into the city's history. You can explore traditional houses and buildings such as farms, churches, and workshops, and immerse yourself in the ambiance of the past.

At √Ārb√¶jarsafn Open Air Museum, you'll also find interactive activities and demonstrations of traditional crafts, making your visit even more memorable. Learn about local craftsmanship, sample traditional food, and discover how people lived in Reykjavik in times gone by.

16. Reykjavik Maritime Museum

Museums and Art Galleries

The Reykjavik Maritime Museum is a must-visit for history and maritime culture enthusiasts. Located in a former warehouse at the city's harbor, this museum offers a fascinating insight into the importance of fishing in Icelandic culture.

From ancient Viking ships to modern fishing vessels, you can explore the history of navigation in Iceland's cold waters. Learn about traditional fishing techniques and discover how the fishing industry has shaped Reykjavik's economy and identity.

The Maritime Museum also houses a large collection of maritime artifacts, including navigation tools, ship models, and historical photographs. Dive into Iceland's maritime past and admire the skill of the ancient Icelandic sailors.

17. Saga Museum Reykjavik

Museums and Art Galleries$$$

The Saga Museum in Reykjavik is one of the main tourist attractions in the Icelandic capital. Located in the city center, the museum offers a comprehensive insight into Iceland's Viking and medieval history.

As you explore the museum, you will embark on a journey through time, discovering the experiences and achievements of the island's ancient inhabitants. Through interactive exhibits and audiovisual presentations, you will learn in detail what life was like in the Viking era and how Icelandic identity was shaped.

One of the highlights of the Saga Museum Reykjavik is the exhibition of the famous Sagas, the ancient Icelandic stories that recount the feats of legendary Viking heroes. These epic tales are a fundamental part of the country's culture and identity.

18. Gullfoss Waterfall

Natural Spaces and Parks$$$

Gullfoss Waterfall is one of the most popular and visited destinations in Reykjavik. Located just a short distance from the capital of Iceland, this impressive waterfall is part of the Golden Circle Route and offers a breathtaking visual experience.

Also known as 'The Golden Waterfall', Gullfoss plunges in two stages, forming an impressive gorge. The deafening sound of the water rushing down and the misty curtain that rises in the air will leave you speechless.

In addition to its natural beauty, Gullfoss also has an interesting history. It is said that an Icelandic woman named Sigridur Tomasdottir fought tirelessly to prevent the construction of a hydroelectric power plant that threatened to destroy the waterfall, and thanks to her brave efforts, we can now enjoy this magnificent natural treasure.

19. Geysir Geothermal Area

Natural Spaces and Parks

The Geysir Geothermal Area is one of the most fascinating things to do in Reykjavik. Located in the Atlantic Rift Zone, this area is home to a large number of geysers and hot springs that create a breathtaking natural spectacle.

When visiting the Geysir Geothermal Area, you can witness geysers shooting columns of hot water into the air, reaching impressive heights. The geothermal energy beneath the Earth's surface creates this unique natural phenomenon.

In addition to the geysers, you can also enjoy relaxing hot baths in the nearby hot springs. Immerse yourself in their warm and revitalizing waters while taking in the surrounding natural beauty.

20. √ěingvellir National Park

Natural Spaces and Parks$$$

√ěingvellir National Park is one of the most impressive things to do in Reykjavik. Located in a stunning natural landscape, this national park combines unique beauty with significant historical value. Known as the place where the Icelandic Parliament was founded in 930, √ěingvellir National Park offers a unique experience for those looking to delve into Icelandic history and nature.

The park offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and biking. Visitors can also enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Lake √ěingvallavatn and the impressive cracks and cliffs formed by the continental drift.

Visiting √ěingvellir National Park is immersing oneself in a dream-like place where you can experience the natural beauty of Iceland while learning more about its fascinating history.