Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, is also home to the majority of Iceland’s population. Although some people may overlook it on their Iceland trip, Reykjavík has many exciting experiences to offer.
What are the best things to do in Reykjavík, Iceland? Here are my tips to see the best of Reykjavík in two days.
Visit Hallgrimskirkja church
Hallgrímskirkja church is a beautiful and intriguing landmark to visit in Reykjavík.
At 74.5 meters tall, Hallgrímskirkja is the tallest building in Reykjavík downtown and one of the tallest in Iceland. You can probably see the church steeple from anywhere in the city.
In front of the church is an impressive monument of Leif Erikson, the first European to land in North America.
I’m pretty interested in Viking history, so it was fascinating to see this statue.
As I entered the church, I was impressed by the simple yet striking interior. This church is undoubtedly different from other churches I’ve visited in Europe.
The huge 15 meter-tall pipe organ also caught my attention. I was lucky to visit the church while the organ was playing. Its sound was beautiful.
The church is free to enter. For a small fee (1000 ISK), you can take a lift up to the level of the clock face. The panoramic view is fantastic, and it’s a great way to see the city.
Explore Kolaportið market
Kolaportið is an indoor flea market near Reykjavík’s harbor.
I visited Kolaportið with my friend, and it was a pleasant experience.
Many stands were selling second-hand goods, handcrafted souvenirs, and licorice. I even tried fermented shark meat for the first time!
Try out Icelandic food
With several restaurants and cafes, Reykjavík is perfect for trying out some signature Icelandic food.
Be amazed at Harpa Concert Hall
Opened in 2011, Harpa is an impressive building dominating the harbor of Reykjavík. Its design has an angular box-like shape with a touch of modernism.
Harpa was made by Danish-Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson and the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects.
It mainly hosts several concerts and events, but you can stop by to see the architecture.
See the Sun Voyager Sculpture
Not far from Harpa is the Sun Voyager (Sólfarið), Reykjavík’s iconic sculpture.
This large ship-shaped steel sculpture is located on Sæbraut road overlooking the bay. The sun shines on various parts of the steel throughout the day and gives some beautiful reflections.
It’s undoubtedly a photogenic spot to add to your walk with fresh air and great views of the harbor and the ocean.
Visit Icelandic Phallological
Icelandic Phallological is a unique and fun place to visit in Reykjavik.
It displays a collection of more than two hundred penises and penile parts. Yes, you read it correctly!
This museum started as a strange hobby by a collector named Sigurður Hjartarson, an Icelandic history teacher.
He was given a dried bull’s penis as a joke, and others began to bring him more.
Today, the museum is dedicated to understanding the genitals of male creatures. At 15€, you can see humans, hamsters, whales, elephants, seals, and even polar bear penile parts.
Don’t forget to stop by their cafe and enjoy a penis-shaped waffle and a beer after your visit.
Spend about 1 hour of your trip at Icelandic Phallological, and you’ll indeed have an interesting experience to tell.
Visit Perlan Museum
Opened in 1991, Perlan is one of the most impressive landmarks in Reykjavík.
It was converted from huge geothermal-water tanks, and its enormous glass dome gives the museum the name.
Visiting the museum, you can learn about the Wonders of Iceland.
This exhibition features an excellent Northern Light show, artificial glaciers and an ice cave, Látrabjarg bird cliffs, and immersive exhibits on volcanoes, earthquakes, and geothermal zones.
Visit Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach
Thinking of sunbathing in Iceland? Head to Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach!
This small sandy beach is about 900 meters from Perlan and is an outstanding project with a lagoon next to the sea.
Here, hot geothermal water and cold sea emerge together, resulting in warm water. In the summer, geothermal water in the lagoon is between 15°C and 19°C.
|Entrance Pass – Valid 10 times||4.200 ISK|
|Spring Pass (Valid 1.1 – 14.5)||6.500 ISK|
|Autumn Pass (Valid 16.8 – 31.12)||6.500 ISK|
|Towel Rental||600 ISK|
|Swimwear Rental||850 ISK|
Visit the National Museum of Iceland
For an excellent overview of Iceland’s history and culture, you should head to the National Museum of Iceland.
The museum has two floors and displays artifacts and photos in chronological order from the time of the Vikings’ settlement (800s) to the present day.
Most of the displays have an English translation, so it’s easy to understand.
Expect to spend about 2 to 3 hours here.
You’ll learn a lot about Iceland’s foundation, religion, archaeological findings, relations with other European countries, family life, and pop culture.
Explore street art
Reykjavík’s colorful houses and colorful street arts give the city a vibrant vibe. You can find several murals and tags on Laugavegur, other main streets, or the alleys.
Some are pretty tiny, while others cover buildings of a few stories.
Visit Grasagarður Botanical Garden
Reykjavík Botanical Garden is home to more than 5000 subarctic plants. You can find flowers blooming everywhere, with markers identifying the name of each one.
There’s also a children’s play area and a small pond with ducks and geese.
You can also visit the nearby zoo, which mainly houses Icelandic farm animals.
Join the vibrant nightlife
Reykjavík is also home to one of the best nightlife scenes in Europe.
You can find several bars and nightclubs on Laugavegur street, making it easy to bar hop and explore different spots. The best thing is there is often no entrance fee, and the queues are small or non-existent.
After a fun night, you can head to convenient stores, shops, and restaurants on the same street for a bite. Isn’t it convenient?
Note: You need to be above 21 years old to enter clubs and bars.
Relax at Austurvöllur park
Located in the heart of Reykjavík, Austurvöllur is a pretty little square with well-maintain gardens.
On sunny days, you can expect to find many locals enjoying the sunshine on the green lawn.
In front of the square is the large statue of Jon Sigurdsson, a leader of Iceland’s independence movement.
Nearby, you can find the Parliament House, the Domkirkjan – the city’s oldest church, and the Hotel Borg.
There are also plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops around this place, so it is a popular gathering place for residents and visitors.
Relax at Blue Lagoon
The best way to finish your Iceland trip is to visit Blue Lagoon before heading to the airport.
In the black-lava field, the cyan Blue Lagoon spa is delivered water via the Svartsengi geothermal plant.
The water is rich in fine silica mud, blue-green algae, and minerals, healing, rejuvenating, and nourishing the skin.