What To Do in Reykjavik, Iceland

While Iceland’s spectacular natural scenery, which includes many waterfalls, black sand beaches, and soaring volcanoes, the vibrant capital city of Reykjavik has plenty to offer as well. Because most visitors to the country begin here, you should spend at least a couple of days exploring the city’s attractions and walking the streets, which are lined with buildings covered in colorful murals. Here’s a list of the top things to do in Reykjavik to get you started.

Take a bath at the Blue Lagoon

The famed Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions, offering a one-of-a-kind natural spa experience with milky azure waters surrounded by jet black lava rocks. While it is not located in Reykjavik, it is around 20 minutes from Keflavik Airport and may be reached by shuttle bus. Soaking in the naturally warm waters is relaxing in any season, but perhaps even more so on a chilly, wet day. Swim out to the middle bar for a glass of strawberry champagne or a healthy green smoothie, an in-water massage, or skin-enhancing treatments such as an algae face mask or volcanic rock scrub. Onsite dining options include the premium Lava restaurant and a poolside café.

blue lagoon

From Hallgrimskirkja Church take in the panoramic view

When you arrive in town, the first thing you should do is take in the view from Iceland’s largest church. This spectacular cathedral, which stands atop Skolavorduhaed Hill, was inspired by the gorgeous columnar basalt of Svartifoss Water in South Iceland. Visitors can ride the elevator to the top for a panoramic view of Reykjavik’s downtown area, which is the best view of the city and a fantastic opportunity to gain a sense of its layout. A statue of Leif Ericsson, an early explorer who discovered North America in the year 1000, centuries before Christopher Columbus, stands in front of the cathedral.

hallgrimskirkja church

Baejarins Beztu Pylsur sells a famous hot dog

Iceland is known for its hot dogs, and Bjarins Beztu Pylsur is the most well-known hot dog vendor in the world. Since 1937, it has been a fixture in the Reykjavik Harbor, and it rose to international prominence after former President Bill Clinton strolled up to the counter for a dog. Ask for the “ein me öllu,” a lamb-based hot dog topped in mustard, ketchup, fried and raw onion, and remoulade, a sweet mayonnaise-like dressing, which is a local favorite.

famous hot dog at baejarins beztu pylsur

The Northern Lights

Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights, or aurora borealis as it is commonly known. They’re most commonly seen on clear nights from late September to mid-March, however they can be seen at other periods of the year as well. Take a trip down to the coastline or join an expedition with an outfitter like Extreme Iceland, where you’ll be picked up right from your hotel and transported out on a 4×4 in quest of the greatest sighting.

northern lights

Harpa Building

The new Harpa facility, with its nature-inspired facades, is a beautiful concert venue and convention center. Its location on the edge of the crystal blue bay makes it ideal for getting a postcard-perfect photo, and seeing the water through the honeycomb glass will enchant you. Inside, there are a variety of sellers offering local Icelandic goods. It’s also worth going after dark because it’s lit up with tens of thousands of LED lights that change color and pattern across the entire exterior.

harpa building

Tonar 12 is a great place to learn about Icelandic music

As you walk down the hill from Hallgrimskirkja Church toward downtown and the lake on Skólavörustgur Street, which stretches all the way to the port, you’ll come across a number of wonderful independent shops, as well as a fantastic hidden gem: 12 Tonar. Open any of the CDs or vinyl, including limited editions, and listen while sipping free cappuccino to learn more about Icelandic music.


Discover Street Art

With so many city walls and buildings adorned with vibrantly colored murals, you’ll find a pleasant surprise around practically every turn as you wander the streets of Reykjavik. You could easily and happily lose yourself in this vast sea of creativity for days – in fact, the city has earned a reputation as one of the world’s real street art capitals, with murals sprouting up in the most unexpected spots all throughout town, adding a splash of color to otherwise drab areas.

street art

Phallological Museum

One of the city’s most interesting tourist attractions is this unique and fascinating museum. The Penis Museum, as it is affectionately called, houses a collection of over 200 phallic specimens representing practically every mammal found in Iceland. This is the place to go if you’ve ever wanted to see what a whale penis looks like. It is, however, contained in a jar and not attached to a whale. The museum, which is located on Reykjavik’s largest retail strip, has a large room with shelves and glass cases packed with formaldehyde-preserved animal penises ranging in size from a hamster’s to a whale’s.

icelandic phallological museum

Found something amazing? Spread the wonder and share it with your friends! 🥰