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Top Places & Museums To Visit In Reykjavik – Iceland

Popular tourist attractions in Reykjavik

These are four popular tourist attractions in Reykjavik, Iceland

1. Centro Storico

The historic center of Reykjavik is a vibrant and cosmopolitan area with a mix of old and modern architecture, museums, art galleries, cafes, shops, and hotels. The area is relatively small and can easily be explored on foot. It is recommended to walk along the main streets of Laekjargata, Austurstraeti, Laugavegur Street, and Skólavörðustígur Street. In summer, visitors can enjoy the Juhannus festival, which celebrates the summer solstice and the phenomenon of the midnight sun. In winter, the Porrablot festival takes place, featuring Viking-inspired dinners and performances.

2. Quartiere Laugardalur

Laugardalur is a neighborhood located near the center of Reykjavik. It used to be the source of hot water for the city, but now it is a popular leisure area with the Laugardalslaug thermal pools, the Grasagardur Botanical Garden, the Húsdýragarðurinn park and zoo, sports centers, hiking trails, and a skating rink. Visitors can also find local markets, rural buildings, concert venues, and sports arenas in the area. This is an ideal place for families with children to spend a few hours relaxing and having fun.

3. Chiesa di Hallgrímur (Hallgrimskirkja)

Hallgrimskirkja is the tallest building in Reykjavik, standing 75 meters high and visible from over 20 km away. Visitors can take an elevator to the top of its central tower for an exceptional panoramic view of the city. The interior of the church is characterized by simple and essential architecture, with a magnificent organ featuring 5,275 pipes. The construction of Hallgrimskirkja took over 20 years, and the monumental work was dedicated to the Lutheran pastor and poet Hallgrimur Pétursson, the author of a famous Icelandic hymn book. The three bells of the bell tower represent him, his wife, and his daughter, who died at a young age.

4. Sólfar (Sun Voyager)

Sólfar, also known as the Sun Voyager, is a steel sculpture located by the sea in Reykjavik. Designed by Jón Gunnar Árnason in the 1980s to commemorate the bicentennial of the city’s foundation, the sculpture resembles a Viking ship and pays homage to Iceland’s maritime history and traditions. Sólfar is one of the most photographed landmarks in Reykjavik due to its simple yet enigmatic design and the stunning scenery surrounding it. On clear days, visitors can even see the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

5 . Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre is a stunning landmark of Reykjavik, Iceland. The Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik was designed by artist Olafur Eliasson in 2011. This splendid glass auditorium, which reflects in the waters of the bay, is visible from a considerable distance, especially at night, thanks to its colorful light games. The building is the home of the Symphony Orchestra and Opera, and often hosts congresses, art exhibitions, and of course, classical and contemporary music concerts.
Inside, there are also two restaurants and some book and music shops. It is worth visiting even just from the outside, to admire its spectacular design. You can visit the building independently or by taking a guided tour.

6. Viking Maritime Museum

In a country founded on fishing, it couldn’t be missed! Set up inside the buildings of the old ice factory of Reykjavík Trawler Company, near the old harbor, is the Viking Maritime Museum, simply known as the Reykjavík Maritime Museum. As mentioned, fishing has always been a source of prosperity and wealth for Reykjavik and Iceland in general. Practically all Icelandic society has developed around this. The museum tells its story with films, photographs, and various objects.

The monographic section of the exhibition on shark fishing is very interesting, as sharks were hunted to produce oil. This oil represented a great resource for the country and was even exported to Denmark, as it was used for lighting the streets of Copenhagen. A large space is dedicated to fishing boats and fishermen’s work, as well as the preservation of fish in the past and, finally, the changes that took place around 1900.

7. Whales of Iceland Museum

A museum entirely dedicated to cetaceans. Fantastic for families with children! An interactive exhibition set up in a space that recreates, in an outstanding way, and from all points of view, the underwater dimension: underwater ambient lighting and a black and yellow floor similar to a beach.
To be admired are 23 life-size models of the various species of whales that have lived or still live in Icelandic waters. All the models are soft and fun to touch, for a real interactive experience. A place to make children dream but also to instruct them thanks to informative stands, videos, and simple but precise and in-depth information sheets.

8. Icelandic Phallological Museum

A unique museum that certainly does not leave anyone indifferent! Probably the unique of its kind. Opened in 1997, it collects a collection of about 200 embalmed penises plus various other phallic-shaped works.

The collection is divided into a main room and some smaller rooms, all of which can be visited with the help of a free audio guide in English. Among the museum’s treasures is a collection of over 200 embalmed penises from Icelandic mammals, including 17 penises belonging to different species of whales and cetaceans and even 3 human penises. A curious and certainly memorable experience!

9. Tjörnin and the Old City

A white swan swims in the water on Lake Tjornin in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Old City of Reykjavik offers visitors a series of wonders. It is the subject of guided and organized tours, but can also be discovered independently, among picturesque buildings and gardens.

At the heart of the neighborhood, Reykjavíkurtjörn, or Lake Tjörnin, is a real lake in the city, where over 40 species of migratory birds soar, perfect for running, cycling, and in winter, skating on the ice. In the park surrounding the lake, there is the beautiful postmodern city hall, which is open to visitors free of charge, the basalt palace that houses Parliament, whose meetings are open to the public, and the Domkirkia Cathedral.

10. Perlan, Icelandic Saga Museum

2 km from the city center, easily accessible by public transport, stands the iridescent glass dome of Perlan, which houses the fantastic Icelandic Saga Museum, made eerie by the presence of fantastic silicone characters and a background of screams and metallic clangs. It represents one of the main points of reference for those who wish to understand the origins and evolution of Iceland’s main natural tourist attractions.

Don’t miss the visit to the ice cave. Inside the museum complex, the shape, sounds, and even the temperature of an ice cave have been recreated. The temperature can reach -15°C! And if you can’t admire the suggestive phenomenon of the Northern Lights live, the Árora Planetarium will offer you an alternative with the audiovisual show that offers a magnificent educational show that showcases the phenomenon of the Northern Lights.

11.  Geothermal Spring of Nautholsvik

Just a short distance from the city center, the artificial beach of Nautholsvik overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and offers visitors the thrill of immersing themselves in a hot tub maintained by a geothermal spring.

In the summer months, the most daring can experience the thrill of bathing in ocean waves, whose temperature is around 12°C. The Nordic climate does not prevent the beach from taking on a pleasant Mediterranean appearance.

It is located on the southern coast, 3.5 km south of the city center. Easily accessible by car via Road 49 (7 min) or by bus line 8 from Landspítalinn, near the hospital. Reference stop Nauthóll – HR – Get directions.

12.  Icelandic National Museum

It allows you to discover Icelandic art throughout its 1200 years of history. The Icelandic National Museum was inaugurated in 1863; until then, Icelandic artworks, which are now preserved inside, belonged to private Danish collections.

Spread over three floors, over 2,000 works of art are preserved, allowing you to rediscover over a millennium of Icelandic history: from the colonization period during the 9th century AD to the present day. Among the treasures preserved in the museum are Viking artifacts, ritual masks, medieval stained glass, photographs, and much more.


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