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Frequently Asked Questions

About Reykjavik Tours

Reykjavík is the capital city of Iceland and holds two-thirds of the country’s population within its greater metropolitan area. It is the base for most travellers and the departure point for the majority of activities and excursions available in Iceland. Tours in and around the city allow you to explore its culture, cuisine, architecture and history.

1. What are the most popular places to visit in Reykjavik?

The most popular landmarks include lake Tjörnin, Hallgrímskirkja church and Harpa Concert Hall. Walking down the main shopping street, Laugavegur, to the old harbour is a good way of intimately getting to know the spirit of the city centre.

2. When is the best time to visit Reykjavik?

Reykjavík is bustling throughout the year but has its most popular events and festivals going on in July, August and November. It is also very festive throughout December for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The most sought out music festivals in Reykjavík are Secret Solstice, Sonar and Airwaves. Reykjavík Pride, Culture Night, Food and Fun, the Reykjavík Fashion Festival and the Reykjavík International Film Festival are also top-rated events.

3. How much time should I spend in Reykjavik?

We recommend spending at least a whole day in the capital. If you plan to immerse yourself in the bustling city life and to visit the bars, pubs, restaurants and museums, you should at least spend between two and three days in Reykjavík.

4. What are Reykjavik’s main cultural sites?

Reykjavík is a city that dates back to the 9th century and is now home to a thriving cultural scene. There are hundreds of galleries, museums, art displays, architectural sites and historical places in Reykjavík.

5. Can I see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik?

Because of the city's light-pollution, Reykjavík is one of the worst places in Iceland to look out for the northern lights. Sites such as Grótta lighthouse, however, are often dark enough for a good display, and you may be able to see them clearly from dim streets and green spaces. Northern lights tours by boat are much more successful, and many bus and jeep tours depart from the city.

6. Which activities can I partake in if I'm based in Reykjavik?

Numerous tours depart from Reykjavík so there is never a shortage of options; you can choose from a variety of activities, ranging from glacier hikes and whales watching excursions, to horse riding tours and helicopter flightseeing adventures.

7. How close is Reykjavik to major natural attractions?

One can easily take a day tour from Reykjavík exploring the Golden Circle sightseeing route, Iceland's South Coast, or Snæfellsnes peninsula.

8. What is the best way to sightsee in Reykjavik?

Sightseeing tours of Reykjavík can be done by foot, bus, private car, bike, segway, and helicopter.

9. What are the best swimming pools in Reykjavik?

Laugardalslaug is Reykjavík's largest and most popular swimming pool. The city is also a good base from which to depart to the Blue Lagoon on Reykjanes peninsula, Fontana Spa on the Golden Circle, and the Secret Lagoon, near Gullfoss waterfall.

10. Do I need to book accommodation in Reykjavik in advance?

Yes, you do. Although the city is brimming with hotels, hostels and guesthouses, they are often fully booked at peak times.

11. How far is Reykjavik from Keflavik International Airport?

It takes around 45 minutes to drive from Reykjavík to Keflavík International Airport.

12. Can I fly from Reykjavik to other towns?

Yes, flights run regularly to Akureyri, Egilsstaðir and Ísafjörður.

13. How many people live in Reykjavik?

Reykjavík itself is home to approximately 125,000 people, and the greater metropolitan area has a population of around 220,000.

Customer reviews

Read reviews by travellers from across the world

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This tour was kind of demanding but it was amazing!! It was my first time trying on fat bikes and they are soooo cool!!! I got so many cool pictures on this tour and I will never ever forget this day! This is a once in a lifetime experience.

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This tour is so wonderful! I was so lucky with our small group and made some amazing new friends! Our guide Sol was so nice! You could see that he enjoyed being a tourist with us in his beautiful country! I've been on other trips in Iceland but I would say this one is a must see. I was amazed by all the scenery and had a wow moment at every location!

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Reykjavik City Card | 24 Hours

4.9 average rating | 20 reviews

Reykjavik City Card | 24 Hours

great!

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Jewels of the South Coast | Minibus Day Tour to Jökulsárlón

5 average rating | 10 reviews

Jewels of the South Coast | Minibus Day Tour to Jökulsárlón

I did this tour with Siggi who is a 100% Troll but lives amongst humans. The tour was wonderful and every 15 minutes there is something magnificent to see and Siggi told us stories of his TrollTribe and hidden people and kept us energized with music and humour all day. I felt safe and comfortable, was a little scared at somepoints, I am not use to walking in nature but Siggi took great care of me and made sure I did not miss a thing. Thank you Siggi Troll and Troll Expeditions for the best day of 2018 so far.

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This experience was amazin our tour guide was full of information he was proud to share with us! We got to avoid the crowds and experience the beautiful coast! They were so helpful and friendly which made us enjoy the day even more. They even helped us to take all our pictures

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Golden Circle Minibus Tour | Full Day Excursion

4.9 average rating | 277 reviews

Golden Circle Minibus Tour | Full Day Excursion

My husband and I really enjoyed our Golden Circle Tour with Lasma. She was very warm, friendly, spoke very clear and excellent English. Listening to Icelandic music was nice. I was so happy to have such a strong Wi-Fi connection oun board our bus! Would highly recommend this tour.

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Day Tour to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

4.7 average rating | 98 reviews

Day Tour to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

This tour was the best tour that I have done in Iceland. Altough you have to get up early it is worth it to get out of bed early. The pick up near the guesthouse has been on time and everthing was well organised. I am not sure if we had luck with the weather for said our prayers well, but the weather has been very good, the sun came out for the entire day and it was quite warm. Albert who was our tourguide has been friendly and charming all the way. He provided us with loads of information and there hasn't been a dull moment. The tour is very long, but there are several bus stops where you can use the facilities and buy a drink or a snack. A lunchbreak and a stop for dinner was planned as well. My personal hightlight was the glacier lagoon. I have never been so close to a glacier and icebergs. The additional booked boat trip was defenitly worth the money. My second hightlight was walking behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. I have enjoyed the shower :-) Time flew by and the 14 hours were over too soon. I could have stayed on that tour for several more hours. Iceland is such a beautfiful and fascinating country. Booking a tour is a very stressless and good way to get around. Thank you Albert for being such a great tour guide. I can highly recommend booking this tour. I am sure that I will come back to Iceland, maybe next time in winter. This tour operator will be my first choice for another tour.

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The tour was excellent! Our guide (Sölvi) was a gentle guy with rich knowledge of Icelandic history and culture. He carefully picked tons of Icelandic music during our drive. The scenery is great as long as it's not raining, which is something you can't expect in Iceland. Highly recommend this tour if you want to know more about Iceland.

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Wandering Seltjarnarnes | Nature Hike | Eco Tour

5 average rating | 2 reviews

Wandering Seltjarnarnes | Nature Hike | Eco Tour

Fun, informative and scenic tour of a quieter, less touristic side of Reykjavik. The guide, David, was a true professional with a wealth of information about Iceland, the history of Reykjavik and the local bird and sea life. The whole tour felt like you were walking where very few tourists have gone before and I enjoyed the peace and serenity of the landscape. I highly recommend this tour for both locals and tourists! See a side of Reykjavik you haven't seen before.

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I really reccomend this tour. It is not as popular as other tours but defenitely worth it! No crowds, amazing views and great guide!

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The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon | Day Tour of the Famous Sites

4.8 average rating | 92 reviews

The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon | Day Tour of the Famous Sites

Tour was good! Depending on what time of the year you are going, you should have warm and waterproof clothes, unless you prefer to be fashionable, freezing and look ridiculous :) Also make sure you get ticket to blue lagoon. I personally think it was not enough time. We got there at 17:00 and got picked up at 19:00; by the time you queue up, get to the locker and shower you loose quite a bit of time. Standard ticket gives you free towel, one drink and mud mask. It is very expensive and considering you can stay there as long as you want next time I would book transfer to blue lagoon separately so I can spend more time there. Would recommend bringing your own slippers and robe as well (if you have space in the bag).

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Visit the Volcanoes

5 average rating | 1 reviews

Visit the Volcanoes

This was an amazing experience. The tour guides took great care of us as we ventured into a volcanic system. They were very knowledgeable and helped explained how the volcanic system works. Definitely recommend

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2 Day Tour to Jokulsarlon | Glacier Hike, Waterfalls & Black Beach

4.8 average rating | 25 reviews

2 Day Tour to Jokulsarlon | Glacier Hike, Waterfalls & Black Beach

We were so lucky to have Lu and Davide as our guides!! The best trip we have had in Iceland!! The guides are responsible, humorous, considerate, and willing to share so much interesting knowledge with us. The schedule is very good, not too tight and so we have enough time for every spots. Amazing lanscape and amazing tour <3

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Reykjavik City Card | 24 Hours

4.9 average rating | 20 reviews

Reykjavik City Card | 24 Hours

Excellent. The price is fantastic, especially considering it includes the ability to use the city bus. We purchased the three-day pass and it paid for itself within the first 24 hours easily. Between the museums, swimming pools, and bus trips we had a great time in Reykjavik & would highly recommend purchasing the city pass to anyone visiting!

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It was amazing! The tour was informative and covers a lot of places in such a short period amount of time but we didn’t feel rushed at all. Thorstenn was very helpful, funny and informative!

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A brief history of Reykjavik

According to the ancient Landnámabók, otherwise known as the Book of Settlements, the first permanent settlement in Iceland was established in Reykjavík (“Smoky Bay”), located on the island’s south-western corner.

Legend has it that Ingólfur Arnarson, a Norwegian fleeing the tyranny of King Harald, chose his landing spot by flinging his two high seat pillars from his boat, then following them to shore—with the pillars finally taking their rightful place on each side of the chieftain’s high-seat, where he would sit within the household.

Today, there is some scepticism as to whether or not Ingólfur actually landed at the exact spot specified in the Book of Settlements. This is because of the low probability of the pillars landing where they did—given ocean currents and land’s distance from the boat—and the likelihood of Ingólfur having logically chosen to settle in close proximity to natural hot springs, knowing the importance of keeping his people warm during the harsh Icelandic winters.

Regardless, the settlement would begin to grow, with the early Norsemen quickly stripping the area for timber and pastures.

“Smoky Bay” implies an early confusion, at least linguistically, between the rising water vapour that emits from the geothermal hot springs so prevalent in Iceland, and smoke. Regardless, these billowing white clouds were enough to inspire the settlement’s name, with the original spelling using an extra ‘r’ (Reykjarvík) until it was abandoned in 1800.

Until the 18th Century, the area we know today as Reykjavík was little more than farmland, reflective of the rest of Iceland at that time. When the Danish monarchy took an interest in stimulating the region’s wool industry, however, a number of mills were built and Danes became the settlement’s primary employer for a number of decades. During this time, other industries such as fisheries and shipbuilding also began to make more of an economic impact.

Due to this development, the town was granted an official charter in 1786 after the Danish abolished their trade monopoly. This date is thus considered to be the city’s founding.

In the following years, Iceland’s capital would see a wave of independence movements, an invasion force, three ‘Cod Wars’, the 1972 World Chess Championships, and even the Reykjavík Summit in 1986, taking place between the U.S. and Soviet Cold War powers. Aside from all of that, the city has birthed some incredible artists over recent years, namely the experimental songstress, Björk, as well as bands such as Sigur Rós, Kaleo and Of Monsters and Men. 

Those who visit Reykjavík today will discover a modern European capital that balances contemporary Nordic architecture with historic and traditional buildings.

Homing approximately two-thirds of Iceland’s entire population, guests unravel a city rich in artistic culture, community spirit, music, poetry and love, all the while surrounded by the glittering beauty of Faxaflói Bay and the towering mountain, Esja, that has always overlooked the capital. Many travellers choose Reykjavík as a base from which to explore South and West Iceland, for example by going on a day tour of the Golden Circle or Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Since 2010, urban development has been accelerating in line with the ever-growing influx of foreign visitors, meaning new hotels and accommodation, new planning projects, new tour operators. In short, Reykjavík is the beating heart of Icelandic culture.

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