Best places to visit in Reykjavik: top attractions you don't want to miss

From tourist attractions to natural wonders, Reykjavik has plenty to offer. Explore the 20 best places to visit in Reykjavik for a memorable vacation.

Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland and one of the world's most unique tourist destinations. From active volcanoes and other natural landmarks, there is certainly no shortage of things to see during your stay. On top of this, Iceland is a popular location for travelers who enjoy tours, day trips, and water activities, meaning you'll find plenty to do either on your own or as part of a group.

Are you looking for child-friendly places to visit on a family vacation? Do you want recommendations for cultural places of interest or educational museums? Would you rather stay off the beaten path and explore some of the hidden gems in the area? Find them all in this guide to the best places to visit in Reykjavik.

Best places to visit in Reykjavik for history

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1. Perlan Museum

The Perlan Museum is one of Reykjavik's biggest tourist attractions and places a focus on natural history. A Perlan Museum Wonders of Iceland entry ticket will grant access to all exhibitions. Explore the history of Iceland's ice caves, volcanoes, and much more.

Highlights:

Visit the Icelandic Museum of Natural History's exhibition, which outlines the role water has played in Iceland's geography, culture, and society.

Address and opening hours:

105 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open daily, 9:00 AM-10:00 PM.

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2. National Museum of Iceland

If you want to see items of significance from Iceland's past, get a National Museum of Iceland entry ticket. You'll have the chance to explore the history and heritage of the region, with exhibits covering the period from settlement through to the modern day.

Highlights:

See unique artifacts that date all the way back to the Viking era.

Address and opening hours:

Suðurgata, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open daily, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

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3. Settlement Museum

Vikings play a key role in the history of Iceland. With the Icelandic Viking Age walking tour, you can explore this history as part of a group, while you visit relevant locations throughout Reykjavik, including the Settlement Museum.

Highlights:

As part of the tour, you'll visit Viking-related landmarks and get access to the Settlement Museum.

Address and opening hours:

Meet at Austurstræti 4 101, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Start times vary.

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4. Political landmarks

Visit the old town area, see iconic buildings, and learn about how Reykjavik has evolved over the years on the Reykjavik City Sightseeing experience. As well as the politically important Höfði house and the presidential residence at Bessastaðir, you'll get a chance to visit a geothermal swimming pool.

Highlights:

Your tour includes a stop at Perlan, a restaurant built on the city's water tanks.

Address and opening hours:

Meeting points vary. Tours start at 9:00 AM.

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5. Grótta Island Lighthouse

Among the most striking buildings in the area is Grótta Island Lighthouse. The current lighthouse was built in the 1940s, but a lighthouse has been present on the island for more than 100 years. Visitors can access the area during low tide.

Highlights:

The area around the lighthouse offers great views of the northern lights and makes for a great location for vacation snaps.

Address and opening hours:

Grótta Island Lighthouse, Iceland, Seltjarnarnes, Iceland. Open 24 hours a day.

Best places to visit in Reykjavik for art

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6. National Gallery of Iceland

The National Gallery of Iceland is an art museum, with the primary focus being 19th and 20th century art. Most artwork displayed in the gallery is Icelandic, but international pieces are also showcased. Exhibitions are spread across 3 floors and help to paint a picture of how Icelandic culture has evolved.

Highlights:

The National Gallery currently owns the most valuable collection of Icelandic art in Reykjavik.

Address and opening hours:

Fríkirkjuvegur 7, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open daily, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

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7. Living Arts Museum

The Living Arts Museum is a nonprofit contemporary art museum operated by artists. An entry ticket is completely free, and it is one of the best places to visit in Reykjavik if you have an interest in modern and experimental art. Explore unique collections of work from the 1960s to the present day.

Highlights:

The exhibitions at the museum are constantly changing in order to highlight different artists - check the schedule before you go.

Address and opening hours:

Grandagarður 20, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 12:00 PM-6:00 PM.

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8. Sun Voyager sculpture

Located in the city center, close to the sea, the Sun Voyager is a stunning example of public art. The sculpture is based on a Viking longboat and symbolizes freedom, discovery, and hope.

Highlights:

Jón Gunnar Árnason's sculpture is crafted from stainless steel. Its location also makes it ideal for photos.

Address and opening hours:

Sæbraut, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open 24 hours a day.

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9. Reykjavik Art Museum Kjarvalsstaðir

If you're seeking a conventional art gallery experience, the Reykjavik Art Museum Kjarvalsstaðir is one of the city's best options. The museum is predominantly centered around modern art, including paintings and sculptures. Much of the artwork is produced by local artists, but some of the most famous art pieces displayed in the museum are from Jóhannes S. Kjarval.

Highlights:

Admission to the museum is free with the Reykjavik City Card .

Address and opening hours:

Flókagata 24, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open daily, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

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10. Whales of Iceland Museum

Iceland is famous for its wildlife, and whale watching is popular in the region. At the Whales of Iceland Museum, you can gain a new sense of perspective while learning about these creatures. The museum includes incredible life-size models of more than 20 different whale types.

Highlights:

Learn about conservation efforts, explore interactive exhibits, and gain a deeper understanding of the role whales play in nature. Enjoy an audio guide as part of the experience.

Address and opening hours:

Fiskislóð 23-25, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open daily, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

Best places to visit in Reykjavik for families

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11. Lava fields

The lava fields around Reykjavik are perfect for a sightseeing tour, and what better way to experience these natural marvels than on horseback? A horse-riding tour across lava fields is perfect if you have children over the age of 8 with some prior horse riding experience.

Highlights:

You'll use high-quality equipment and ride friendly horses provided by the Ishestar Horse Riding Center.

Address and opening hours:

Meet at Sörlaskeið 26, 220 Hafnarfjörður, Iceland. Tours start at 2:00 PM.

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12. FlyOver Iceland

FlyOver Iceland is a thrilling ride which makes use of advanced screen technology to create a fully immersive experience. With an ticket to the FlyOver Iceland experience, you'll feel as though you're flying over real-world locations thanks to motion seating and incredibly clear footage displayed on a spherical screen.

Highlights:

Special effects enhance the experience, including wind simulating the sense of movement and scents further stimulating the senses. Suitable for children over 102 cm in height.

Address and opening hours:

Fiskislóð 43, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open daily, 9:30 AM-7:00 PM.

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13. Thrihnukagigur

If you're looking for an active day out with the family, the Thrihnukagigur Volcano Guided Hiking Day Trip could be just the experience for you. Descend 400 feet into the crater of the dormant volcano and experience one of the very best places to visit in Reykjavik for lovers of the natural world.

Highlights:

Hike across a lava field, learn the history of volcano activity in the region, and get incredible views of Reykjavik itself. Keep your camera handy.

Address and opening hours:

Thrihnukagigur Volcano, 206 Hafnarfjörður, Iceland. Tour times vary.

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14. Escape Room

For a family-friendly idea that is off the beaten path, how about the Bank Heist Escape Room Experience? Work together as a team to solve puzzles and find clues. Can you beat the clock and make it out in time?

Highlights:

This escape room game has a bank heist theme, where you must break in, steal from the bank and get back out again. Perfect for kids who love playing cops and robbers.

Address and opening hours:

Borgartún 6, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 2:00 PM-8:00 PM.

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15. Lava Show

One of the most unique attractions in Reykjavik involves getting up close to real flowing lava. With your Lava Show entry ticket, you'll be able to see lava, feel the heat coming off it, and learn about volcanoes along the way.

Highlights:

The experience is created by heating real lava from the 1918 Katla Volcano eruption.

Address and opening hours:

Fiskislóð 73, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open daily, 12:00 PM-7:00 PM.

Best places to visit in Reykjavik for culture

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16. Sky Lagoon

Icelandic bathing traditions form a key part of local culture. Book the Sky Lagoon experience with a seven-step spa ritual and you'll be able to connect to these traditions by learning an authentic Icelandic bathing ritual. Relax your body and mind during an unforgettable experience.

Highlights:

Upgrade to the Sky Pass for access to private changing facilities and the use of botanical body products.

Address and opening hours:

Vesturvör 44-48 200, 200 Kópavogur, Iceland. Open daily, 10:00 AM-11:00 PM.

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17. Iceland’s best restaurants

In addition to seeing the key sights, a great way to embrace Icelandic culture is to sample local dishes. With the 3-hour foodie adventure walking tour, you'll visit up to 6 different restaurants. Try authentic meals prepared in just the right way and eat like a local.

Highlights:

Taste real Icelandic cuisine, including local cheeses, lamb soup, and homemade ice cream. Try authentic skyr, as well as a highly acclaimed lobster soup.

Address and opening hours

Meet at Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Start times vary.

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18. Blue Lagoon

For a relaxing, rejuvenating day out, book a Blue Lagoon ticket that includes transfers and get ready for a new level of tranquility. Bathe in the famous heated waters. Apply a silica mud mask and enjoy the sights at one of the world's modern wonders.

Highlights:

Upgrade to the premium package for an algae mask, a bathrobe, and a reservation at the Lava Restaurant.

Address and opening hours:

Norðurljósavegur 9, 240 Grindavík, Iceland. Open daily, 7:00 AM-12:00 AM.

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19. Hallgrímskirkja

The Hallgrímskirkja, or Church of Hallgrímur, is one of Reykjavik's most iconic tourist attractions. It is a Lutheran parish church and is instantly recognizable owing to its unique curved spire and side wings. It has also been described as a symbol of the modern Icelandic national identity.

Highlights:

The distinctive church is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. Admission to the church is completely free.

Address and opening hours:

Hallgrímstorg 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Open daily, 09:00 AM-20:00 PM.

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20. Northern Lights

For anyone visiting Reykjavik in the winter, seeing the northern lights is a must. In addition to serving as a spectacular sight, the northern lights play an important role in Icelandic culture and have been subject to many myths and legends.

Highlights:

Get away from the light pollution of the city with the Northern Lights sightseeing cruise and see the northern lights in their full glory.

Address and opening hours

Meet at Ægisgarður 5b, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland. Tours start 9:00 PM, September-April.

FAQs

How many days should I spend in Reykjavik?

Reykjavik has plenty to offer visitors, especially when you factor in the tourist attractions in the surrounding areas. While it is common or visitors to travel to the region for a long weekend or a short stay, it is generally recommended to spend at least 5 days in the city, and there is more than enough to occupy you for a week or longer.

What is the best time of year to visit Reykjavik?

There are pros and cons to visiting Reykjavik at different times of the year. The summer months will offer maximum daylight hours and the best weather, but one of the main attractions is the opportunity to see the northern lights. This phenomenon is primarily visible in the months around winter, as the sky reaches sufficient darkness.

How do I get around Reykjavik?

Reykjavik is relatively easy to explore, even if you don't have access to a car. Many of the key locations within the city are within walking distance of one another, and public transportation options are plentiful and cost-effective.

What are the best neighborhoods to visit in Reykjavik?

Plenty of neighborhoods in Reykjavik have a lot to offer visitors. Laugardalur is great for family days out, while Vesturbær serves as one of the key cultural hubs. Fossvogur, meanwhile, will appeal to nature lovers.

What are the best places to go shopping in Reykjavik?

Laugavegur is Reykjavik's main shopping street. Along the way, you will find clothes shops, souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, and book shops. An alternative to this is Kringlan Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in the city, boasting more than 150 different shops for you to explore.