Top 12 Things to Do in Reykjavik

Top 12 Things to Do in Reykjavik

Verified expert

Discover the best things to do in Reykjavik. Iceland's capital city has endless opportunities for adventure, from a vibrant art scene to world-renowned cultural attractions. Read on to learn about Reykjavik's top things to do and must-see places.

Reykjavik, which directly translates to "Smokey Bay," is the northernmost national capital city in the world. It also has one of the smallest populations of any capital city. Home to just under 137,000 inhabitants, Reykjavik has a wealth of sights and activities that will appeal to culture, nature, and nightlife enthusiasts alike.

When visiting Iceland's capital, be sure to book your Reykjavik accommodation on Iceland's largest marketplace for the best prices. You can also find the largest selection of day trips from Reykjavik or rent a car and start your own adventure.

Although Reykjavik is a great place to do some incredible day trips, like going inside a volcano or visiting the Golden Circle, this article will focus on the top things you can do within Reykjavik city itself. Continue reading to learn more.

What Is There To Do in Reykjavik?

Welcome to Reykjavik, Iceland

For a small city, there are many reasons to visit Reykjavik. One of the best reasons to visit is that the city is easy to explore on foot, and its small size means you don't have to worry about getting around. You should look into booking a Reykjavik walking tour to learn about the city from a local guide, especially as they're themed around the city's history, culture, and other fun topics.

There are plenty of Reykjavik attractions to occupy your time, from Icelandic wildlife experiences to admiring unique architecture to dining on world-class cuisine to hunting for street art across the city. For English speakers, Reykjavik is easy to navigate as almost everything is accessible in English, and most people also speak English.

How to Get to Reykjavik

Exploring the best things to do in Reykjavik, IcelandAs Iceland is an island, there are limited ways to reach it - the primary method being flights to Reykjavik. There is a small domestic airport in Reykjavik, and international flights arrive at Keflavik International Airport.

The international airport is 31 miles (50 kilometers) from Reykjavik, but you can easily travel between locations by booking an airport transfer, renting an affordable car, or ordering a taxi.

The Top 12 Best Things To Do in Reykjavik

Reykjavik skyline view

There are lots of fun things to do in Reykjavik. It wasn't easy to narrow it down, but we've put together this list of the best things to do, places to visit, and must-see tourist attractions in Reykjavik for you to enjoy during your stay.

12. Visit Reykjavik's Geothermal Swimming Pools

Laugardalslaug is the largest pool in Reykjavik and popular

From the mighty glaciers to the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean to the steaming geothermal pots, Iceland is a land that, in many ways, is defined by water. So, it makes sense that one of the top things to do in Reykjavik involves water.

What better way to connect to Icelandic culture than emulating the locals and visiting some of the best swimming pools in Reykjavik?

Thanks to Iceland's renewable energy policies, the use of water in large capacities (i.e., for swimming pools and saunas) is very affordable, making it a favorite pastime among Icelanders. It's also one of the best things to do in Reykjavik in winter, as many have heated water, making them accessible year-round.

There are 18 swimming pools located in the greater Reykjavik area alone. Check out the map below to find your nearest swimming pool.

Some of these locations have indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna, and at least one hot tub (some even have as many as seven or eight). Think of Icelandic swimming pools as more like a luxury spa than your everyday communal pool at home.

For the entry price of only around 9-10 USD, this might be the cheapest spa you've ever come across.

If you're looking for something even more natural, there's the geothermally-heated water by Reykjavik's beach, Nautholsvik, and a small foot bath by the Grotta nature reserve called Kvika. These small pools are great examples of free things to do in Reykjavik.

If your Iceland accommodation is centrally located, the obvious choice would be to attend Sundholl Reykjavikur, Iceland's oldest public bath, situated only a few hundred meters behind the mighty Hallgrimskirkja church.

Sundholl Reykjavikur is the popular popular pool in Iceland's capital.Photo from 24-Hour Reykjavik City Card with Entry to Museums, Galleries & Geothermal Pools. The renovated Sundholl Reykjavikur pool.

This swimming pool is housed in a building that dates to 1937 and was renovated in 2017. Previously, it only had an indoor pool and two outdoor hot tubs, but now it has an indoor and outdoor pool, two saunas, three hot tubs, one children's pool, and a cold tub.

Another popular pool in central Reykjavik is Vesturbaejarlaug, a swimming pool in the city's western area. Vesturbaejarlaug is an outdoor pool with a few hot tubs and a couple of saunas and is a popular hangout spot for locals and travelers alike.

The largest pool in Reykjavik is the Laugardalslaug pool. This pool sits within Reykjavik's recreational center, Laugardalur, where you can also find all of the following:

Given the range of attractions offered here, Laugardalslaug is the perfect place to bring the whole family.

The Reykjavik Botanical Garden is lovely in the summertime

The Reykjavik Botanical Garden is close to the Laugardalslaug swimming pool.

Something to be aware of is that you'll be required to get naked before entering the pools. This is not some peculiar ritual but is strictly hygiene-related. Showers are separated by sex, but as the chlorine levels in the swimming pools are very low, everyone must wash thoroughly before taking a dip. If you try to avoid it, you'll likely be reprimanded by a local or one of the bathing guards. 

Perhaps the best thing about Reykjavik's swimming pools is that you can enjoy them year-round and in every type of weather. You can easily relax with a soak in an outdoor hot tub, even if it's 23 F (-5 C) outside and snowing. This is one of the fun things to do in Reykjavik for visitors of all ages.

11. See Stunning Landscapes at FlyOver Iceland

FlyOver Iceland is a fascinating experience that combines cinema, storytelling and technology.Photo from FlyOver Iceland Experience in Reykjavik

One of the newer attractions in Reykjavik that should be on your list of Reykjavik things to do, especially during bad weather, is booking a ticket to FlyOver Iceland. In this immersive experience, visitors get a chance to take a flight over Iceland without needing to hop on a plane.

Located in the Grandi area in central Reykjavik, FlyOver Iceland combines storytelling, technology, and cinema to give visitors an exhilarating experience. When you arrive, you'll see two pre-shows before taking the flight.

The viking longhouse at FlyOver IcelandPhoto from FlyOver Iceland Experience in Reykjavik

The first is called the Longhouse, where you'll see a house reminiscent of the early settler's dwellings here in Iceland. This settlement exhibition is a truly unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of Iceland.

You'll then move into a multi-projection experience that transports you from the formation of this island right through to today.

Then, it's time to take flight. You sit in front of a 65-foot (20-meter) spherical screen in a comfortable seat. The high-definition film visuals, mixed with the movements of your seat, will give you the sensation of soaring above the land of fire and ice. It's a beautiful way to see Icelandic nature and perfect for those who don't have much time to explore the countryside.

10. Enjoy a Soak at the Sky Lagoon

Sky lagoon view of the Atlantic oceanAlthough technically not in Reykjavik, but in Kopavogur, the Sky Lagoon is a man-made geothermal spa with views over the Atlantic Ocean. It is only a 15-minute drive from downtown Reykjavik, and along with the Blue Lagoon, it has become one of the most popular things to do when visiting Iceland.

You can either choose to visit the spa with the cheapest Sky Lagoon admission ticket. The most popular admission ticket to the Sky Lagoon includes their ritual where you can visit the glass sauna, cold mist area, steam bath, and take a cold bath after to rejuvenate. If you want a private shower, you can also book the Premium admission ticket to the Sky Lagoon.

Sky lagoon sauna has a glass window towards the oceanThe whole lagoon is very picturesque and is sure to get great photos that you can bring with you back home. You can also grab a drink at the bar without leaving the water. The Sky Lagoon opened in 2021 and has received great reviews from travelers who love to experience its modern amenities in a traditional atmosphere.

The Sky Lagoon mixes traditional architecture with modern comfort

The Sky Lagoon is especially beautiful for watching the sunset or for enjoying the midnight sun. If you're lucky during a winter visit, you may even spot the northern lights as they make sure to keep lighting dim during the darker months.

9. Visit Hallgrimskirkja Church

Towering over the center of Reykjavik is Hallgrimskirkja church, which is visible from almost every angle of the city, making it very easy to find. Of the many places to visit, this is one of the most famous landmarks in Iceland.

At the top of this 244-foot (75-meter) tall expressionist-style building is a viewing platform boasting 360-degree views of the entire city. Along with the view from Perlan on Oskjuhlid hill, this is probably the best view you'll get of the city.

The tower is open daily, except when there are mass services and events. Entry to the top is approximately 10 USD for adults but less than 2 USD for children aged 7-16. Traveling to the top is free for younger children.

Visiting Hallgrimskirkja church is one of the top things to do in Reykjavik

The largest in Iceland, this church is named after minister and poet Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614-1674), the author of the famed Passion Hymns or "Passíusálmarnir," as they're known in Icelandic.

The building was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, one of Iceland's most well-known architects. Work on the projects started in 1945, and the church wasn't fully ready until 1986 when it was opened to the public.

Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík

The beautiful basalt columns at Svartifoss waterfall on the South Coast of Iceland inspired the church's architecture. It also houses the largest concert organ in Iceland at 50 feet (15 meters) tall with 5,275 pipes and a weight of 25 tons.

Also, take note of the beautiful entrance door and glass art designed by artist Leifur Breiðfjörð. 

In front of the church is a statue of Icelandic voyager Leifur Eiríksson, the first European to set foot in North America, more than 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

8. Explore Reykjavik by Foot

Hallgrimskirkja church is near many Reykjavik attractionsMany of the best places to see in Reykjavik can be found simply by walking, which is one of the advantages of having a small capital city. From Hallgrimskirkja church, you'll want to explore the nearby streets of Reykjavik's city center. These are best explored on foot or by bike.

To truly soak up the culture, you'll want to make sure to visit the main shopping streets, Laugavegur, Bankastraeti, Austurstraeti, Laekjargata, and Skolavordustigur. These are all easily accessible in the central area of the city and are home to some great Iceland hotels.

We heartily recommend the many outdoor clothing chains selling extreme wear and outdoor gear if shopping is your thing. You can find iconic companies such as 66° North in this area. You'll also find many small boutiques selling goods with fashionable Icelandic designs.

Laugavegur is the main shopping street in ReykjavikAside from the shopping, there are numerous other neighborhoods in Reykjavik that are worth exploring. The neighborhood Thingholtin is a good example. These are the residential streets between Hallgrimskirkja church and the Tjornin lake.

There, you can find the "Neighborhood of the Gods," where the names of the streets derive from the Old Norse religion. You can find Odin's Street (Odinsgata), Thor's Street (Thorsgata), Loki's Path (Lokastigur), Freya's Street (Freyjugata), and several others.

You'll also find colorful houses, beautiful gardens, and plenty of street art, and you will most likely bump into one of the resident cats, as they're very common pets in central Reykjavik. You can even do a special cat walking tour in Reykjavik to spot some of the city's most famous feline residents!

Cats are very common in Reykjavik

The lovely cat Ófelía is a common sight in Reykjavik stores.

Reykjavik's city lake (Reykjavikurtjorn, or Tjornin for short) is popular with travelers, especially bird enthusiasts. The area is home to a bevy of swans and a raft of ducks.

In winter, the lake sometimes freezes, allowing people to cross on foot, ice skate, or even make a slippery football field. The lake is framed by beautiful old houses, behind which lies Holavallakirkjugardur, the oldest cemetery in Reykjavik.

Make sure to visit Tjornin in ReykjavikNext to the lake is Reykjavik City Hall, which has a large and informative 3D map of Iceland. South of Tjornin, one will find the Nordic House and the University of Iceland.

The Nordic House was designed by an internationally famous architect, Finnish-born Alvar Aalto. You'll often find exhibitions and live music at The Nordic House, as well as a cozy restaurant with views of the nearby lake.

Further south, you'll reach the sea, where you can walk along Aegissida street and enjoy the stunning views of the ocean with Bessastadir, the presidential residence, seen from across the bay. Sunsets are particularly spectacular from here.

Traveling east, you'll pass the Reykjavik Domestic Airport, the starting point of most helicopter tours. Continuing this way, you'll head towards Nautholsvik beach and the forested Oskjuhlid hill. From here, there's an excellent vantage point of the city from the top of the Perlan Museum viewing platform. You can access it when visiting the Wonders of Iceland exhibition, one of the best places to visit in Reykjavik.

Alternatively, you could head further west towards the Grotta nature reserve. This area boasts a lighthouse, beach, and scenic foot bath called Kvika.

The Perlan Museum houses an interesting nature exhibition, an ice cave, and aurora show!Austurvollur square is just north of Lake Tjornin and is an excellent spot to gather with friends and family. It's a popular spot if you're looking for things to do in Reykjavik in the summer. People come here to drink beer and sunbathe when the midnight sun is out in force. The city holds concerts and public gatherings in this square during national celebrations.

When people are upset about political events, they also come to Austurvollur Square to protest the Icelandic parliament, located just by the square.

Cafes and shops line one side of the square, and just behind the parliament building is Reykjavik's oldest church, Domkirkjan.

The Althingi building stands at Austurvollur squareWhile strolling the city streets, why not head towards the picturesque Old Harbor? Here, you can learn about Iceland's marine life and even book a whale-watching trip.

If you're staying in Reykjavik over a weekend, you could also visit the city's flea market, Kolaportid. This is an eclectic marketplace where you can buy an authentic Icelandic lopapeysa, a hand-knitted wool sweater that makes for a great souvenir.

The flea market is located by Reykjavik harbor and has many interesting items for sale, including several local delicacies. The atmosphere is lively, and you can find good bargains between 11 AM and 5 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

A little further along in the Old Harbor, you can find Grandi, Reykjavik's fish-packing district. Old fishing factories and boat repair shacks have been turned into trendy shops, cafes, start-up companies, museums, restaurants, and breweries.

Grandi is an example of the city's ever-changing face. While here, stop at Valdis for one of the best ice creams in town or have a locally brewed beer at Bryggjan Brewery.

The Whales of Iceland Museum is an interesting place to visit in ReykjavikYou could also check out the Marshall House, the Aurora Reykjavik Northern Lights Center or book a ticket to the Whales of Iceland Museum. Look out for the stunning street art on Vesturgata and visit the grassy hill, Thufa, an outdoor art piece by Ólöf Nordal.

If you'd rather have a little help exploring Reykjavik, go on a 3-hour guided walking tour to explore this colorful and quirky city.

7. Book Local Reykjavik Activities To Fill Your Day

A whale breaches before a whale-watcher's camera.

Reykjavik is a city of pleasant surprises. You can discover many of its hidden treasures on your own, or you can take advantage of it as the starting point for several guided tours.

In addition to everything in the city, there are many things to do near the capital on fun Reykjavik day trips, which can take half-day or full-day.

If exploring by foot isn't for you, take a scenic helicopter ride over the city where you make a sightseeing stop on top of one of its surrounding mountains, Mt. Esjan, for unparalleled views.

Other popular tours in and around the city include whale watching and puffin tours or horseback riding tours. The most commonly sighted whales in the Faxafloi Bay next to Reykjavik are minke whales, humpbacks, porpoises, and dolphins.

Another option is to visit Videy, the most famous island off the Reykjavik shore. Videy is home to the Yoko Ono Imagine Peace Tower, a memorial to John Lennon.

Various seabirds also frequent the shore and the islands, such as gannets, gulls, cormorants, the arctic tern, and of course, the puffins (though only in summertime).​​​​​​ There's no shortage of things to do around Reykjavik!

6. Experience Reykjavik's Nightlife

The nightlife in Reykjavík is inviting and lively.

When looking for what to do in Reykjavik, don't forget to add activities after nightfall. Depending on who you ask, Reykjavik's nightlife is either famous or infamous.

People party into the early hours, and after the bars and clubs close, the streets will still be full of party people, either trying to find their way home, have a quick bite, or look for an after-party.

When looking for things to do in Reykjavik at night, keep in mind several bars and cafes offer live music at night. The city bustles with all sorts of other live entertainment, be it stand-up comedy, theatre, opera, jazz, drag shows, cabaret performances, or musicals.

From Sunday to Thursday, many venues are open until 1 AM, but on Friday and Saturday nights, many stay open until 5 AM. The craft beer scene in Iceland is also pretty big, so make sure to visit some of the best craft beer bars in Reykjavik.

Enjoy great drinks in Reykjavik

Photo from Guided 2.5 Hour Reykjavik Beer & Schnapps Walking Tour.

Tjarnarbio, located next to City Hall, is an excellent venue for theatre, music, and dance performances.

Bio Paradis is the city's art cinema, often screening new Icelandic and European films with English subtitles and weekly party screenings of international classics.

There is one film festival held in Reykjavik every year, the Reykjavik International Film Festival (September/October). It's one of the top festivals in Iceland! Besides these regular events, there are endless amounts of one-off nights out.

5. Try the Local Cuisine in Reykjavik

Try fresh seafood in Iceland

Reykjavik has some genuinely outstanding local and international cuisine. Why not make one of your activities in Reykjavik exploring some of the best restaurants in Reykjavik?

Icelandic food culture focuses heavily on seafood and lamb. You can never go wrong by ordering the fish of the day in one of Reykjavik's restaurants.

You can find some fantastic seafood restaurants or steakhouses that celebrate using local ingredients. Besides Icelandic cuisine, there are also plenty of excellent Italian restaurants, along with Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Japanese places to be found within the city.

To taste the best of Icelandic cuisine, go on a Reykjavik food walk and savor some of the country's most delicious delicacies.

Icelandic food is unusual but creative.Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Tom Bennett

If you're into trying unusual foods, why not check out some traditional Icelandic cuisines such as sour ram's testicles or sheep's head?

The most notorious food in Iceland is probably the fermented shark. You'll want to wash the shark down with a shot of Brennivin, Iceland's "black death" schnapps. This combination is often seen as a rite of passage or proof of strength and is a popular dare for Icelanders with foreign visitors.

You can find some fermented shark meat in the flea market Kolaportid, which is open every weekend.

Traditional Icelandic food can be quite off-putting to foreigners, but you still have to try it!Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by the Blanz

Most people you'll meet on your travels in Reykjavik will recommend having an Icelandic hot dog.

The hot dog stand Baejarins Beztu ("The Town's Best"), near Reykjavik harbor, has a reputation for selling the most delicious hot dogs in Iceland.

There's usually a long line there, particularly in the afternoon and on weekends, but most foreign visitors claim these sausages to be the best in the world. Just ask President Bill Clinton or Kim Kardashian, two of the stand's best-known guests.

The classic option is to get "eina med ollu" or "one with everything." This order includes a remoulade (a mayonnaise-based sauce), sweet mustard, ketchup, and a mix of crunchy and raw onions.

Whatever your preferences, this is the place to go if you like a good hot dog, and it won't break the bank.

Enjoy a visit to the Braud & Co bakery in Iceland

The famous buns from Braud & Co are a must-try.

As for the best cafes in Iceland, it's truly difficult to list them all. A few to check out include Cafe Loki for traditional Icelandic food, Grái Kötturinn for a cozy atmosphere, Kaffibrennslan for people-watching, and Babalú for a drink on the balcony.

For some of the best brunch in Reykjavik, enjoy a feast at the Bastard Brew & Food or relax in the diner-like atmosphere of the Laundromat Café

Your trip wouldn't be complete without trying fresh cinnamon buns from Braud & Co. bakery, which is one of the best bakeries in Reykjavik.

4. Visit the Harpa Concert Hall and Old Harbor

Harpa Concert Hall in the city center is one of the must-visit places in Reykjavik

Harpa Concert and Conference Hall is an impressive glass building near the old harbor of Reykjavik.

It's worth visiting this iconic building for its architecture alone, as you'll be able to admire it both from the outside and inside and get some great pictures.

By the harbor is the Harpa Concert Hall, another of the great things to do in Reykjavik, IcelandBe sure to check out what's happening in the Harpa Concert Hall during your stay in Reykjavik. You might be able to see the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra during a rehearsal or attend a concert with some of Iceland's most famous bands.

Several multicultural celebrations occur in the building, and at night, it's lit up with moving LED artwork by Ólafur Elíasson.

The lights on the facade of the building are sometimes used interactively. At different times, people have been able to control the lights by playing a light organ, splashing the color of their choice on the hall through their phone, or playing the computer game Pong using the building as a monitor.

3. Immerse Yourself in Icelandic Art and Culture

Sólfarið, or the Sun Voyager, is a sculpture by Reykjavík's coastline

It's not just in Harpa and the local live performances that you can find Reykjavik's art scene. Take your pick of museums, galleries, outdoor sculptures, and street art, which are all widely available.

The sculpture, Sun Voyager (pictured above), is a popular attraction nestled along the seaside. It's close to Harpa Concert Hall and has a fantastic view of Mt Esja.

If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll likely be able to spot several other sculptures around town.

The two largest sculpture museums are the Einar Jonsson Museum, next to Hallgrimskirkja Church, and the Asmundarsafn Museum in the Laugardalur recreational area.

A sculpture of Tómas Gudmundsson poet by Reykjavík's City Pond

You can find a few smaller sculpture museums around town as well.

You could also take a stroll down Grandi and visit the outdoor sculpture Thufa. This is a green circular hill that you can walk to the top of and get great views facing Harpa Concert Hall.

There are dozens of art museums and smaller art galleries. The largest ones are the Reykjavik Art Museum, the Kjarvalsstadir Museum, and the National Gallery of Iceland.

The newest member of this institutional family is the Marshall House. Smaller venues include Mengi, Berg Contemporary, i8, Art Gallery 101, ART67 Gallery, Gallery Fold, and Gallery List, just to name a few.

Fantastic street art has been blossoming in recent years, with mesmerizing artwork adorning buildings all over town.

Whether it's the history and culture you're looking for or simply knowledge about Iceland's rich nature and wildlife, you can choose between several historical museums. The Saga Museum, the National Museum of Iceland, and the Arbaer Open Air Museum are popular.

2. Explore the Public Gardens and Parks

The park around Tjornin in Reykjavik is lovely in summer

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Szilas.

There are some green areas and parks in Reykjavik that are worth a visit. While most people know of the natural sites outside the city, these parks are an excellent example of lesser-known Reykjavik tourist attractions.

Public gardens in the city include Hallargardur and Hljomskalagardur, by lake Tjornin, and Klambratun, which surrounds the Kjarvalsstadir Art Museum. These are popular areas for outdoor games throughout the summertime, and in winter, they can even be good locations for northern lights spotting in Reykjavik.

In front of Hallgrímskirkja church in summerAnother popular destination all year round is Grotta, with its iconic lighthouse and views over Faxafloi bay, Reykjavik's towering mountain Esjan, and Snaefellsjokull glacier on clear days. 

You can even find an artificial thermal foot bath, Kvika, among the rocks by the seashore, making this the perfect spot to keep your feet warm while watching the northern lights.

If you want to submerge yourself in water inside the city limits but still maintain a view of the ocean, head towards Nautholsvik beach.

There's a warm wading pool by the sand and a warm tub by the sea. If you're brave enough, you can go for a swim in the ocean. The heat at Nautholsvik beach comes from Iceland's hot springs, the most famous of which is at the Geyser geothermal area on the Golden Circle route. Changing facilities and a cafe serving light snacks and drinks are on-site.

Next to Nautholsvik is Oskjuhlid hill, where you can walk among the remains of old World War Two bunkers found between two forest trails.

Then there's Ellidaardalur, in the middle of the city, where you can fish or have a picnic by a small waterfall. Ellidaardalur is popular with locals who go jogging or cycling through this inner-city paradise.

Ellidaardalur is a lovely place for outdoor activities

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by TommyBee.

Venture a little further out of town into Reykjavik's outskirts, and you'll find Raudholar or "the Red Hills" which are a part of the Heidmork nature reserve. The red and black hills of Raudholar have beautiful color contrasts, and you can go on a volcanic landscape horse riding tour through this beautiful area all year round.

Heidmork is a nature reserve filled with greenery, caves, and secluded picnic areas, complete with public grilling facilities.

Reaching Heidmork or Raudholar is most convenient if you have a Reykjavik rental car, but you can also explore the area with this excellent 2.5-hour Raudholar horse-riding tour. It's a fantastic way to discover the nature reserve, as you'll get to ride Icelandic horses, and it includes a transfer from Reykjavik!

1. A Reykjavik Must-See: The Northern Lights

Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights, and they're certainly one of the things to see in Iceland that everyone wants to experience. Take a northern lights tour to hunt this natural phenomenon with the help of an experienced guide, or embark on your own adventure with an affordable rental car.

You may be able to spot them from downtown Reykjavik, but the best place to see them within the city limits is by the seaside at Seltjarnarnes, a township just outside Reykjavik.

There, you'll be away from the street lights and be able to take in the full majesty of the experience.

Witnessing the Northern Lights over Grotta Lighthouse is one of those priceless Reykjavik moments

For the best chance to see the northern lights in Iceland, get as far away as possible from the city's light pollution and look to the north.

You can only see the northern lights between late August and early May, so if you are here in the summertime, enjoy a midnight sun experience in Iceland instead.

FAQs About Things to Do in Reykjavik

The Reykjavik harbor can be a charming place for a walkFollowing are the most frequently asked questions we get about what to do in Reykjavik. Read to the end for the best bonus activities you can do in Reykjavik.

What are the best tourist attractions in Reykjavik?

The five most popular tourist attractions in Reykjavik are Hallgrimskirkja church, Harpa Concert Hall, the Sun Voyager, the National Museum of Iceland, and the Perlan Museum.

What are some outdoor activities to do in Reykjavik?

Reykjavik offers several outdoor activities, such as whale watching and puffin tours, glacier hiking, horseback riding, and hiking day trips.

Is it possible to see the northern lights in Reykjavik?

Yes, it is possible to see the northern lights in Reykjavik, but it's best to get away from the city lights and find a dark spot with clear skies.

What are some family-friendly activities to do in Reykjavik?

Some family-friendly activities in Reykjavik include visiting the Reykjavik Zoo and Family Park, going to the Laugardalslaug swimming pool, and taking a whale-watching tour.

Is it possible to visit Reykjavik on a budget?

Yes, it is possible to visit Reykjavik on a budget. There are several free or low-cost activities, such as walking tours, visiting museums on specific days, and enjoying the city's public parks and outdoor spaces.

Enjoy a walk around the Tjornin lake in Reykjavik

What is the best time to visit Reykjavik?

The best time to visit Reykjavik largely depends on what you want to do while you are there. Summer is a popular time to visit, with mild temperatures and long days. Winter is great for experiencing the northern lights and winter sports. Spring and fall offer fewer crowds and lower prices.

What is the nightlife like in Reykjavik?

Reykjavik is known for its vibrant nightlife, with several bars, clubs, and music venues. The city also offers several cultural events and festivals throughout the year.

What are some popular cultural attractions in Reykjavik?

Some popular cultural attractions in Reykjavik include the Reykjavik Art Museum, the National Gallery of Iceland, the Saga Museum, and the Settlement Exhibition.

What are some unique experiences to have in Reykjavik?

Some unique experiences to have in Reykjavik include soaking in the geothermal swimming pools, visiting the Icelandic Phallogical Museum, and doing a helicopter tour to see Reykjavik's stunning natural beauty from above.

Are there any day trips from Reykjavik worth taking?

Yes, there are several day trips from Reykjavik worth taking, such as visiting the Golden Circle to see the Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park, exploring the South Coast to see Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, and taking a tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Explore the South Coast and Golden Circle with a tour from Reykjavik

What are some must-try foods in Reykjavik?

Some must-try foods in Reykjavik include Icelandic lamb, seafood, skyr (a type of yogurt), and the famous Icelandic hot dog. If you're an adventurer you can also try whale and puffin, as well as sheep's head.

What are some activities to do in Reykjavik in the winter?

Some activity day trips to do from Reykjavik in the winter include taking a snowmobiling tour, enjoying the festive decorations around the city, and experiencing the northern lights.

What are some popular shopping destinations in Reykjavik?

Popular shopping destinations in downtown Reykjavik include the Laugavegur shopping street, the Skolavordustigur shopping street, and Kolaportid Flea Market, which is open on weekends. Kringlan, Reykjavik's largest shopping mall, is a 9-minute drive from the downtown area.

Is it possible to take a tour of Reykjavik on foot?

Yes, there are several walking tours of Reykjavik available, which offer visitors a chance to see the city's historic landmarks, cultural attractions, and hidden gems on foot.

Learn About More Reykjavik Attractions

Take the time to explore downtown ReykjavikThere are so many things to do in Reykjavik that you'll want to come back again and again. We have lots of content about Reykjavik and these links might also be of interest to you. Here you can find the largest selection of Reykjavik tours. See this article to find cheap things to do in Reykjavik. Here are some secret spots in Reykjavik. Or see this to find the most iconic sightseeing spots in the Icelandic capital. The only challenge you'll have is how long you can stay!

We hope you enjoyed this list of the best things to do in Reykjavik. Let us know in the comments what you're hoping to do in Reykjavik, and if you've already been, what do you recommend travelers check out?

Link to appstore phone
Install Iceland’s biggest travel app

Download Iceland’s biggest travel marketplace to your phone to manage your entire trip in one place

Scan this QR code with your phone camera and press the link that appears to add Iceland’s biggest travel marketplace into your pocket. Enter your phone number or email address to receive an SMS or email with the download link.