Reykjavik City Guide - What To Do In Reykjavik, Iceland

Welcome to Reykjavik, capital city of Iceland and home to 122,141 (2015) people. This colourful little nordic logo-like city is the most northern capitol in the world and I am guessing you're lucky enough to be planning a visit. 

But first a little background, back in February 2016 I followed my heart and relocated to Reykjavik to join my Viking, Ingimar *now husband*. A new city, and a new adventure - so I decided to keep a video diary recording each week and uploading a new vlog to my YouTube channel.

In the last year I have made Reykjavik my home and consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by such dramatic and picturesque landscapes, living under the northern lights and escaping for day trips to chase waterfalls, be amazed by the dreamy moss covered lava fields, glacier and other magical sights.

Today I'm sharing my Reykjavik City Guide.

diy Walking Tour

There are a few free walking tours in Reykjavik or you can just go off and do your own.

Start at the Sun Voyager and walk along the coast to Harpa, then head towards the Parliament and its public square. If you're hungry, why not try the local Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur for a yummy hot dogs, a bowl of lobster soup at Sægreifinn or one of the trendy spots such as The Laundromat Cafe. Continue walking towards the pond lined with cute Icelandic houses, the very Scandinavian church Fríkirkjan í Reykjavík and the modern City Hall.

From here, cross Fríkirkjuvegur and walk up the side street (taking in the street art) until you arrive at the magnificent Hallgrímskirkja church, inspired by flowing lava. *You can buy a ticket to gain access to the top of the spire for views across the city, alternatively drive up to the city water towers at Perlan for a free view.* 

Walking around, you might spot some little statues and superheroes on the street signs too.

Finally walk down the main street of Skólavörðustígur which joins the main shopping street of Laugavegur before you'll arrive back near Harpa.

EDIT: Summer 2019

The Laundromat Cafe has closed but there are rumours it will reopen soon

Perlan is no longer free to access the viewing deck but the cafe on the floor above is nice and the view is free

grab an itinerary

Botanical Gardens - Free admission

I’m adding the Botanical Gardens in because I love them, we are often walking here, and the cafe here is just beautiful.

The botanical gardens are a wonderful space near where we live. If the weather allows, you can spend a morning wandering the paths and heading towards the allotment where you'll find a fantastic Café Flora (open May 1st - September 30th and open at weekends in December, closed Dec 24th, 25th, 26th, 31st, Jan 1st) where you can sip a coffee and nibble on a homemade treat in the beautiful greenhouse cafe.


Botanical Gardens - Free admission

Laugardalur, 104 Reykjavík

Summer (May 1st - September 30th) 10am - 10pm
Winter (October 1st - April 30th) 10am - 3pm

local swimming pools with hot tubs

You can also head to the nearby swimming pool at Laugardalslaug and experience the different hot pools here, including a salt water pool.


Laugardalslaug swimming pool

Sundlaugavegur 30, 105 Reykjavik

Look for bus number 12 and 14 (stop near Laugardalslaug)

Mondays - Thursdays: 6:30am - 10pm
Fridays: 6:30am - 10pm
Weekend: 8am - 10pm

Grótta lighthouse and hot pool

Ever fancied a stroll along a black sand beach? Watch the sun set with your feet in a natural hot tub? Get all bundled up watching the northern lights with the reward of a hot chocolate after?! Head to Grótta, an easy 10 minute drive along the coast from Reykjavik's Harbour and take in the view across to Esjan.

If it's sunny, why not grab an ice cream from Valdi in Grandi on your way there.

Viðey Island

A short ferry ride (1,500ISK) from Reykjavik harbour is the island of Viðey (summer ferries leave daily from Skarfabakki, Harpa, and Aegisgarour pier and in winter ferry from Skarfabakki weekends only). The island was where the 'father of Reykjavík' Skuli Magnusson constructed his home and a church in the 12thC and has archaeological remains from the early 10th C.

One this island is the Imagine Peace Tower, a beam of light which shines high into the nights sky from a wishing well bearing the words "imagine peace" in 24 languages. Designed by Yoko Ono, widow of John Lennon, it is lite annually between his birthday and his death: 9th Oct - 8th Dec.

Iceland has a little piece of my heart and in return she has given me dark, magical and snowy winters filled with breathtaking Northern Lights, and long, light summers with plenty of hours to explore. And we can’t forget about my Viking and our own Saga as we prepare to marry this summer.

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what are your reykjavik plans?