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The world’s most northerly capital city, Reykjavik moves to the beat of its own drum with a lively arts scene and streets oozing creativity. While many visitors move on to the wild landscape outside the city, stop for a while and explore the museums, food halls, breweries and unique sights of Reykjavik.
An aerial picture of Hallgrymskirkja and Reykjavík downtown on a summer day
Best time to visit
All year round
Coordinates
64.1417° N - 21.9266° W

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Hiker  standing at a viewpoint, gazing down at the expansive valley below.
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A Hiker crossing the Vatnajökull Glacier in the south coast of Iceland.
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Vatnajökull Glacier Expedition

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Hop on - Hop off bus in front of Hallgrímsirkja Curch in downtown Reykjavík.
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Group of people gathered around a erupting geysir in Iceland.
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The Golden Circle & Hop On Hop Off - Combo Deal

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Things to Do in Reykjavík

Walks and Trails

You won’t find skyscrapers in the centre of Reykjavik, but rather a cluster of red-roofed, colourful buildings housing shops, restaurants, bars and cafés. On the central shopping street of Laugavegur, souvenir shops sell puffin-themed trinkets and chunky knitwear for cold days.

The best way to explore this area is on foot, strolling up the photogenic Rainbow Road to Hallgrímskirkja – the striking modern church in the centre of town. If you don’t fancy walking, the Reykjavik sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus hits all the major sights of the city, from the hilltop Perlan to the old harbour and Hallgrímskirkja.

At sunset, one of the best places for a walk is along the waterfront, where the Sun Voyager sculpture stands against a steely sea and seems to glow in the golden light.

You can walk the length of the seafront and discover Reykjavik’s old harbour, where seafood restaurants await and boats leave for tours of Faxaflói Bay.

Walking tours with a local guide are a great way to get under the skin of the city and learn something new, like the myths and legends of Iceland or all about Reykjavik’s famous cat population that stalks through the central streets.

An abstract metal sculpture of a Viking boat situated beside the sea

Adventures in and Around Reykjavík

Staying in the city doesn’t mean missing out on Iceland’s famously rugged scenery. From the outskirts of Reykjavik, you can take an ATV tour of the surrounding wilderness. Spend an hour bumping across river beds, summiting a mountain and stopping at a beautiful lake.

The weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, especially in the autumn and winter months. Luckily, if you find yourself on a rainy day in Reykjavik, there’s still plenty to keep you occupied. Perhaps test your Sherlock Holmes levels of deduction in one of the Escape Rooms, perfect for families and groups of friends.

Seeing Iceland’s iconic scenery, from the snowy expanse of glaciers to the rugged lava plains of isolated peninsulas, doesn’t mean getting stuck in a blizzard or caught in the rain, even if a storm is predicted. FlyOver Iceland in the new Grandi Harbour development is an interactive experience that sees you suspended above the island, soaring over land, sea and ice. It is an indoor experience, so it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside.

"Harpa Conference Hall's gleaming glass facade, viewed from the sea, accompanied by a large ship and several smaller boats in the foreground.

Wildlife and Waves

From the old harbour, boats putter out to spot whales breaching the surface of Faxaflói Bay all year. Whale watching is one of the most popular Reykjavik tours and you can combine a trip to see these majestic creatures out at sea with puffin spotting on the Puffin Express boat. Back on dry land, learn everything there is to know about orcas, humpbacks and minke whales at the Whales of Iceland experience.

Seeing the city from the sea shows you another angle to Reykjavik’s beauty, with Esja Mountain looming in the background. Boat tours offer sea-angling experiences to catch fish in the wild Atlantic or the more sedate option of a Northern Lights boat tour after dark. You have a better chance of spotting the other-worldly green lights twisting and turning against the night sky when out at sea, away from the city lights. Perhaps add some context to your boat trips with a visit to Reykjavik’s Maritime Museum and explore Iceland’s centuries-old relationship with the sea.

Thúfa hill in the Old Harbor, featuring a round green landscape with a small wooden shed at its peak.

Restoration and Relaxation

Slowing down and taking a few hours to unwind is essential to any holiday – no matter how adventurous you are. At the edge of the Reykjavik map, a fifteen-minute drive from the city centre, you’ll find the Sky Lagoon. This is where you can embrace the Icelandic tradition of outdoor bathing without leaving the capital. Surrounded by black lava stone, this naturally warmed geothermal pool juts out over the Atlantic Ocean, so you can watch the waves as you bathe in the hot tub-like water. It has only been open since 2021, but the Sky Lagoon is fast becoming one of the most popular Reykjavik attractions.

"Assortment of pastries displayed in a store window, set against the backdrop of graffiti-covered walls.

Food and Drink

Reykjavik’s restaurants cater for all budgets, serving hearty Icelandic fare like soup in bread bowls, roast lamb and fish sizzling amid potatoes in cast-iron pans. Within the city centre, you can choose between buzzing food halls serving good value street food or upmarket restaurants showing off the length and breadth of Iceland’s natural larder.

The area around Laugavegur is also the epicentre of Reykjavik’s nightlife, where pubs serve local craft beer and cocktails are served in magic surrounds at the city’s Ice Bar.

If you want to experience Reykjavik’s food and drink scene with the insights of a local, there are plenty of food tours and guided pub crawls. You can learn about the distinctive taste of Arctic lamb and hear about how beer was banned in Iceland until the 1980s while enjoying some of the iconic dishes and drinks of the island.

Everything you need to know about Reykjavik

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