The 25 Best Things to Do in Reykjavík


blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Reykjavík is Iceland’s capital city, accounting for two-thirds of the island’s entire population. It’s also most visitors’ first stop after landing at Keflavik Airport. But before darting off your road trip, we recommend you stay a couple of days to take in everything this vibrant and historic city offers.

    If you’re still unsure what to do in Reykjavík or which attractions in Reykjavík should make it onto your trip itinerary – we’ve got you. In this article, we tell you all about what you can expect from a visit to the capital city and which places are considered highlights on any trip to Iceland. So, without further ado, these are the 26 best things to do in Reykjavík:

    1. Go On the Reykjavík Food Walk

    The Reykjavik Food Walk is one of the best activities in Reykjavík if you want to explore the capital city and enjoy local cuisine. During this tour, your guide will give you the lowdown on the city (past to present) and give you a taste of Iceland (quite literally) with little mini-breaks throughout at various eateries and bars.

    Things to do in Reykjavik: food

    2. Marvel at Hallgrimskirkja

    One can’t miss Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavík. It towers over the city skyline as one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. The island-inspired, impressive piece of architecture resembles our black basalt columns (remnants of all the volcanic activity in Iceland). If you take the elevator up to the viewing deck, you will also be spoilt with breathtaking views across the city and Icelandic landscape.


    3. Walk Reykjavík’s Rainbow Street

    Rainbow Street in Reykjavík is an Instagram moment just waiting to happen. This beautiful, colorful sight symbolizes the capital’s support for diversity and equality and leads you all the way from Hallgrimskirkja to Laugavegur Street.

    4. Have a Soak in One of Our Hot Springs

    Iceland is known for its hot springs due to volcanic activity heating the underground water supply on the island. While many of these hot springs can still be enjoyed in their natural form, others can be enjoyed in the form of geothermal public pools that often have all sorts of other amenities and facilities. Two of these geothermal pools can be found in Reykjavík:

    Sky Lagoon

    Sky Lagoon is where you can lounge in a geothermal infinity pool that overlooks the city and the Icelandic coastline. But warm healing waters of 38-40 degrees Celsius and extraordinary views are just the beginning of a Sky Lagoon adventure as you can also do a cold plunge, enjoy the steam room and other spa treatments, and grab something to eat or drink at the café and one of the bars.

    Blue Lagoon

    Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most famous geothermal pools, and you’ve probably seen it in movies such as Hostel and The Fifth Estate without even realizing it. It has a very distinct aesthetic with its incredibly bright blue water among the black rock.

    Although this pool isn’t technically in the capital city, we include it on this list since most stop here on their way to or from Keflavik Airport since it’s roughly mid-way between there and Reykjavík. Enjoy soaking in the warm waters, their signature silica mud mask, and other spa treatments, eating some local cuisine at the restaurant, or grabbing a drink at the bar. You can even sleep over at the Blue Lagoon at the hotel if it takes your fancy.

    Blue Lagoon

    5. Get into the Local Craft Beer Scene

    Icelanders absolutely love their beers, and you will find all sorts of incredible breweries all across the island offering various interesting craft beers (we even have tomato beer at Fridheimar Farm!) If you’re in the capital city and you consider yourself a craft beer fan, the following are a few local favorites:

    Beer in Reykjavik

    6. Check Out the Sun Voyager

    The Sun Voyager is a steel sculpture that can be found on the waterfront and resembles a Viking ship. However, the artist refers to it as a dreamboat symbolizing hope, freedom, progress, and undiscovered territory. What makes this sculpture so impressive (except for its incredible views over the ocean) is the way the light and shadows play on the steel. It is a favorite among photographers.

    Sun voyager

    7. Admire Harpa Concert Hall

    The Icelandic Opera and Symphony Orchestra calls the Harpa Conference Centre and Concert Hall home. Although many go to Harpa to enjoy local culture, others go to admire the incredible architecture. This odd geometric shaped building has a glass façade that almost seems to constantly change colors with the light playing on it throughout the day.

    Harpa Concert Hall

    8. Shop till You Drop in Laugavegur Street

    Laugavegur Street is or famous shopping street that can be found in downtown Reykjavík. Here, you can find anything and everything from clothes and home décor to outdoor gear and tourist souvenirs. And if you need a little pick-me-up in between your shopping adventure, you can pop into one of the many cafés and restaurants lining the street.

    Laugavegur, reykjavik

    9. Go on a Whale Watching Tour

    You will find many whale species calling the Icelandic coastline their home. If you visit the island during our whale season from April to September, you might even catch a glimpse of some of our migratory whale species, too.

    You can spot anything from Minke Whales and Orcas to Sperm Whales and even Blue Whales (the biggest of the whale species). The best way to see these gentle giants up close is to go on a whale watching tour that departs from the Reykjavík harbor.

    whale watching tours

    10. Eat a Hot Dog at One of Iceland’s Most Famous Stands

    Icelanders are hot dog crazy, and we joke by saying it’s our unofficial national food. One of the best places to eat hot dogs is at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in Reykjavík. This hot dog stand has been providing locals with their hot dog fix since 1937, and if you try one, ask for “one with everything” so you don’t miss out on the Icelandic Mustard, Remoladi sauce, and fried onions. 

    Hot dogs Reykjavik

    11. Stroll Along the Old Harbor

    The Reykjavik Old Harbor is an incredible part of the capital city. Seeped in history with beautiful buildings, you can stroll along the water, enjoy something to eat and drink or pop into the many shops and other attractions that can be found there today.

    Reykjavik Harbor

    12. Discover How Fish is Dried at Pufa

    Pufa is a man-made 8-meter mound that resembles a grassy dome. This Reykjavík landmark and art piece has a path that winds all around it to the top, where you will find a wooden frame where fish is dried (an Icelandic traditional staple).

    Dried fish

    13. Visit a Few Museums

    You will find a wide variety of exciting museums all across the capital city. These are a few of our top picks:

    Reykjavik Museums

    14. Go Out Partying

    In a vibrant city such as Reykjavík, it should come as no surprise that its nightlife is absolutely lit. For most party animals, the fun only really kicks off around midnight, and the bars and clubs are packed by two in the morning. Visit places such as Kiki Queer Bar, Auto, and Paloma.

    Reykjavik night out

    15. Have a Swim at Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach

    Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach is where the capital city stepped up its geothermal pool game and created a geothermal beach. Here, you can sunbathe on the golden sand beach, and take a dip in the warm waters of the man-made bay. Just keep in mind that this water is a combo between hot spring and ocean water, so it only reaches mild temperatures of between 15 to 19 degrees Celsius in the summertime.

    Reykjavik beaches

    16. Join the Scavenger Hunt

    Somewhere hidden among the rocks lining the ocean in Reykjavík, you will find a geocache steel box with the inscription “In a crevice among some large rocks by the Atlantic Ocean in Reykjavík”. This box is part of a local scavenger hunt where, if you find it, you need to leave something of yours behind inside. It’s one of the best activities in Reykjavík if you have children in your party.

    17. Admire Our Street Art

    If you’re an art fan, you can walk the Reykjavík streets for hours in admiration. Everywhere you go, you can spot some murals and graffiti pieces. Check out art such as the Coca-Cola bottle on the side of Messinn or the Horses in the Night art piece behind Hverfisgalleri.

    Reykjavik street art

    18. Eat Some Ice-cream

    It might sound completely counterintuitive in a country known for its cold, but Icelanders love their ice cream, regardless of season or weather. You will find a wide variety of interesting flavors and homemade ice cream all across the island.

    And, if you’re Vegan, don’t worry; we’ve got your back. You will find plenty of Vegan-friendly options that’ll take your fancy. In Reykjavík, a few must-visit ice cream spots are Isbud Vesturbæjar, Valdis, and Brynjuis.

    Reykjavik Ice cream

    19. Take a Stroll Around Tjörnin Lake

    Tjörnin is a small lake, even though the name translates to “the pond”. This is a favorite spot in Reykjavík where visitors and locals can take a relaxing stroll, and avid birdwatchers can spot a variety of bird species such as Arctic Terns and Gadwalls. During the wintertime, one can also ice skate on the frozen lake.

    Tjorning lake

    20. Explore the Area on Horseback

    On the outskirts of the city, you will find plenty of horse riding tours that allow you to explore the area on horseback. What makes these tours so special and unique is not just truly being immersed in the Icelandic landscape, but the fact that you are riding on the island’s local breed called the Icelandic Horse. These horses look more like ponies in stature and are known for their friendly nature.

    horseback riding reykjavik

    21. Go On a Puffin Tour

    Iceland boasts the majority of the world’s Puffin population (about 60%). But these guys can only be seen here on the island during their breeding season from May to August. If you’re ever visiting Iceland during this period, we highly recommend that you go on one of our Puffin tours departing from the Reykjavík harbor so you can spot these cuties with their colorful beaks.

    Puffin tours

    22. Take a Day Trip to Videy Island

    Videy Island lies just off the Reykjavík coastline and can be reached via ferry departing from the Reykjavík harbor. Videy Island is known for its picturesque and historic sights and birds, which include the Iceland Puffins during their breeding season.

    Videy Island

    23. Go On a Reykjavík Walking Tour

    This is the next best thing to the Reykjavík Food Walk, and ideal for those on a tight budget. An experienced guide will take you all around the city, showing off some of our most memorable sights and giving you the historic lowdown and inside scoop on what’s happening in and around the capital. Best of all – these tours cost absolutely nothing.

    Reykjavik walking tour

    24. Become a Viking

    If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to be a Viking, you can find out when visiting Reykjavík. At Mink Studio, you can dress up in traditional garb and accessories (including “weapons”!) and have your Viking portrait taken by a famous photographer who worked on the set of Game of Thrones.

    viking reykjavik

    25. Take a Break at a Local Café

    If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, we suggest you stop at one of our local cafes. Here, you will not just find coffee to reenergize you but delicious pastries and other baked goods to tantalize your tastebuds. A few local favorites are Sweet Aurora Reykjavík, Sandholt, and Hygge Coffee and Micro Bakery

    Reykjavik cafe

    26. Attend One of the Annual Festivals or Events

    As if those mentioned above wasn’t already enough to do and see in Reykjavík, you can also add the following festivities to your trip itinerary depending on the time of your trip: 


    The Reykjavík Food and Fun Festival

    The Reykjavík Food and Fun Festival is a family-friendly event where you can taste some of the most delicious dishes made by our top chefs and local eateries.  



    Whether you’re into architecture, interior design, graphic design, or product design, the DesignMarch festival is for you. You can attend exhibitions, workshops, and discussion panels with industry experts. 


    Reykjavík Art Festival

    The Reykjavík Art Festival truly encompasses every art form, from visual art to music, theatre, and dance. See some of the best exhibitions, acts, and performances by local and international artists.


    Iceland’s National Day

    Iceland’s National Day is essentially the country’s Independence Day. This celebratory day is celebrated with all sorts of festivities across the country, including music concerts, games, parades, and much, much more. 

    The Secret Solstice Festival

    The Secret Solstice Festival is one of Iceland’s biggest music festivals, featuring both local and international artists from a wide variety of genres—anything from hip hop and rock to experimental and house, and much more. 


    Innipukinn Festival

    This is a smaller music festival held in downtown Reykjavík that mostly includes local artists. But this music fest is also complemented with things such as music markets and music-themed pub quizzes. 


    Reykjavík Pride

    Reykjavík Pride is definitely one of the highlights in Reykjavík. It celebrates the progressive human rights of the LGBTQ+ community and includes a variety of festivities, such as concerts and parties, along with a parade through the city center.  

    The Reykjavík Marathon

    This marathon truly is for all, offering various distance races on the day, making it suitable for young and old. Thousands of people attend the Reykjavík Marathon each year (both local and international visitors), and, as an added bonus, you get free entrance to the capital city’s geothermal and swimming pools after the race.

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    Reykjavík Culture Night

    Reykjavík Culture Night kicks off right after the Reykjavík Marathon and is a massive cultural celebration in every sense of the word. It includes concerts, exhibitions, film screenings, fireworks displays, and much, much more.



    A post shared by Reykjavik Marathon (@reykjavikmarathon)

    The Reykjavík International Film Festival (RIFF)

    If you consider yourself a film buff, you cannot miss the Reykjavík International Film Festival. Here, you will not only be treated to some of the best films from all over the world, but also workshops and all sorts of panel discussions. Since this is an international event, you shouldn’t be surprised if you bump into some of the “who’s who” of the film industry. 


    Iceland Airwaves Music Festival

    Iceland Airwaves is yet another massive music festival in Iceland. Rolling Stone Magazine has named it the “hippest long weekend on the annual music festival calendar.” It features both local and international artists and draws thousands of visitors from all over the world. 


    New Year’s Eve   

    This date certainly needs no introduction, but this holiday is taken to the next level when it comes to Icelanders, who rarely need an excuse for a celebration. From parties held all across the island in various venues, including restaurants, bars, and clubs, the night usually ends with a bang (literally) as fireworks light up the night sky at 00:00.

    Reykjavik new year's eve

    There are Plenty of Things to Do in Reykjavík

    It’s hard to believe, but our list of 25 best things to do in Reykjavík merely scratches the surface of everything this city offers. So, please set aside at least a few days after arriving on the island to explore our capital. Then, we suggest a road trip to explore the rest of the island. Rent a campervan in Iceland, so you have both your transport and accommodation sorted, and you can have an affordable yet comfortable Iceland adventure.

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