Top 10 things to do in Reykjavik
1. The Sun Voyager
Being the birthplace of Vikings, Iceland lives up to the expectations – among the top 10 things to do in Reykjavik is visiting the extraordinary sculpture – ‘Sun Voyager’, located in the Northern Shore neighbourhood. Created by a local artist in 1990, it resembles a tribute to the seafarers and explorers, yet it symbolises something much deeper – the desire to dream and the pure hope to find new lands overseas. The best time to marvel at this creation is at sunset, where you can take some of the most stunning pictures.
Located on the border between land and sea, this concert hall was built in the past decade. Its official opening took place in 2011 and since then Harpa has received a number of awards for outstanding architecture. Designed by local and Danish architects, this unique concert venue consists of a luminous steel frame, mounted on top of glass panels of various shapes and colors. When seen from afar, the building resembles a huge gem, sparkling under the light and reflecting the sky. Offering ultra modern facilities and cutting edge equipment, the concert and exhibition hall is home to numerous events and performances throughout the year, including the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra that gives more than 60 concerts each season.
Visiting the Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral is one of the top 10 things to do in Reykjavik. It is one of the most prominent landmarks in the city and the largest building in the whole of Iceland. The 75m bell tower rising over the city can be seen from every corner and the view from the observation deck is unsurpassed. The Hallgrimskirkja was built for 40 years and the construction was completed only in 1986. Right now the Cathedral is a Lutheran Church with service held every Sunday, where you can enjoy the astounding acoustics and the performance on more than 5000 pipes and the largest organ in the country.
One of the buildings that stand out among others in Reykjavik is the Perlan building. This glass done, built on top of the Oskyulin hill next to the city’s hot water tanks, is home to a revolving restaurant, an observation deck and a lookout tower with panoramic telescopes, offering breathtaking views of the city. Visitors can also explore the adjacent exhibition space, a winter garden, a Saga wax museum as well as an artificial geyser.
5. Mount Esja
Considered to be the guardian angel, protecting Reykjavik from bad weather and other climatic conditions, Mount Esja was named after a popular female name in Iceland. In the colder months its peak covered with white snow is visible from any point in the city and if you are interested in hiking, you can reach the top of the hill, some 914m above sea level, to enjoy breathtaking views of the city. There is a ‘guestbook’ there where you absolutely must leave a message, otherwise, the story is, that the elves will get upset.
6. Snowmobiles and dogsleds
One of the top 10 things to do in Reykjavik is exploring the countryside via some transportation methods characteristic to this fantastic country; be it snowmobiles in the glacier in the winter, dogsleds led by beautiful huskies or an exciting adventure on ATVs, there is plenty to see and experience – from stunning nature and landscapes, to modern towns and traditional settlements. Whether it is pristine silence that you are looking for or an adrenaline rush, all is possible in Iceland.
7. Hunting or Fishing
Iceland is known for its abundance of fish, especially salmon and trout, as well as caribou and various species of birds. When in Iceland, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy fishing in one of the 16 rivers on a one-day tour, available from June to October; or hunting the Icelandic reindeer, who usually abide in the west of the country, or even various types of geese. Although some types of hunting safari tours require special training, others are suitable for beginners who want to have a go at this sport. While hunting can be enjoyed in Iceland at any time of the year, the best period is from June to early November.
8. Blue Lagoon
Located only 30km from Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon is a unique natural geothermal spa, where you can relax and enjoy the healing power of the warm water. These therapeutic pools, where the temperature of the water remains at +39C throughout the year, are formed when the water sources in the cracks of hardened volcanic lava, rich in minerals and algae. Among the numerous benefits are dermatological healing, skin nourishment and hydration, as well as an overall calming and energising effect. If you are lucky, you can even enjoy watching the mysterious northern sky, lit up beautifully by the most gorgeous colours.
Thingvellir valley, located less than 50km from Reykjavik, is a beautiful National Park, protected by UNESCO. It is believed that right in this place in 930 the first Icelanders formed a new nation and settlement. Located in the zone of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Thingvellir park is a geological gem, there are stunning rock and cliff formations, lava cracks and canyons, as well as more than 150 species of plants characteristic to the region, Thingvallavatn lake, the largest in the country, and snow covered peaks.
10. Whale watching
There are very few places in the world where one can see such a great variety of whales which are visible from the shore. Among the top 10 things to do in Reykjavik is to watch the whales – blue whales, humpback whales, and even dolphins all abide here and can be seen from various parts of the city, an activity that is best enjoyed from May till September.