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Exploring Reykjavik: What to do in Iceland’s capital

Mention Iceland to anyone and it’s one of those places that people will say, “I really want to go there!” Mention it to me and I’d say ‘I really want to go back there’. I’ve been to Iceland twice and I’d go back in a heartbeat. With its picture-perfect volcanic landscape contributing to its wealth of outdoor activities, it’s an adventurer’s dream. But before you head out to Iceland’s epic landscapes there’s plenty to see and do in the country’s capital. Read on for the best things to do in Reykjavik…

Most people who visit the island country will book package holidays that base them in the capital, Reykjavik, the perfect point from which to explore further afield. There’s a lot to see and do in and around the city. If you’re planning your dream trip to Iceland, here are just some of the top things to do in Reykjavik.

Witness the Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights behind snowy peak

One of the main reasons why people visit Iceland is in the hope of catching a glimpse of the phenomenon that is the Northern Lights. There are plenty of tours that set off from Reykjavik and you’ve got a much better chance of seeing them over the winter months. Clear skies give the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. On my two visits it’s been cloudy so they’ve been obscured by clouds. I’d love to go back and catch sight of the elusive ribbons of coloured light dancing across the skies.

Read more: Tips for visiting Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital of cool

Explore the National Museum of Iceland

Now that I’ve visited Iceland and seen its beautiful landscapes I’d like to learn a little more about its past. The National Museum is the place to delve into the history and culture of the nation of Iceland and discover its treasures and exhibitions. Learn about everything from the Viking era, right up to modern day goings on. Explore more than 2,000 artefacts that tell the story of how Iceland came to be and see the all-important Valthjófsstadur door, a carved medieval church door.

Read more: Exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle


Catch a show at the Harpa

Harpa Concert HallHarpa Concert Hall

Harpa concert hall should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list when visiting the city. The building itself is a stunning piece of abstract design work, with countless panes of glass glistening in the light. The shapes of the panes are said to reflect the geology of Iceland’s rock formations. There are regular shows taking place throughout the year and going along to one is an experience in itself, regardless of what’s on. I stepped into the beautiful auditorium the first time I visited and I’d love to return for a concert and hear the acoustics for myself.


Visit the striking Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja Reykjavik

It doesn’t matter what corner you turn in Reykjavik, you’re bound to be able to see the impressive Hallgrímskirkja church at some point in the distance. Follow it from wherever you are and get up close to appreciate the sheer enormity of its structure. The 244ft-high building with its white, jagged-looking spire is the largest church in Iceland. It’s also one of the country’s tallest structures. I’d love to go back and head up to the top of the spire to check out the beautiful views over Reykjavik.


Keep a straight face at the Icelandic Phallogical Museum

You might not have been expecting to read this but, as the name suggests, Reykjavik is home to a museum dedicated solely to penises. And, believe it or not, they’ve actually managed to do it in quite a tasteful manner. The idea might be amusing, but the place itself is truly fascinating. The Museum features everything from display items in jars (an elf penis) and on the walls, to a giant 5ft 6inch sperm whale penis that greets you at the door when you walk in. This is probably one place you only need to visit once.

Read more: What to wear in Iceland


Take a walk along the waterfront

Sun Voyager’ (Sólfar), ReykjavikSun Voyager (Sólfar)

All the recognisable images of Reykjavik feature the city’s charming waterfront. With its brightly coloured rooftops and impressive views of snow-capped volcanic mountains out across the water it’s the perfect place for a stroll. Explore the bustling marina and old harbour, then walk along the shoreline see the sun reflecting off The Sun Voyager sculpture.


Bathe in the waters of the Blue Lagoon

Looking down on The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The famous Blue Lagoon may not be in Reykjavik itself, but it’s close enough to the airport for you to still be able to tie it into your trip. There are airport transfers that include a couple of hours at the Blue Lagoon. Take a dip in the azure geothermal waters and cover yourself in the soft silica mud for a skin treatment like no other. Just be sure to book in advance.

Read more: Tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon

Now you know what you will be doing when you visit Iceland’s capital you just need to book your flights and accommodation and plan the rest of your trip.

Find more inspiration in my series of Iceland posts.

Johanna Bradley

Wednesday 1st of May 2019

It does look an incredible place, Suze. I hope you get unimpeded views of the Borealis next time :) :)

Suzanne Jones

Wednesday 1st of May 2019

That would be so amazing wouldn't it!


Thursday 25th of April 2019

I too, want to visit Iceland, but like you, others who have already been there want to return! What a funny museum to visit, but must be really interesting at the same time! Hopefully one day soon, I can pop over to Iceland on my way to Europe!

Suzanne Jones

Saturday 27th of April 2019

I hope you visit soon, it's one of my favourite countries! Iceland is absolutely beautiful and has a fair amount of quirk!