Things to do in Reykjavik
Shopping in Reykjavik
There are an abundance of shopping streets to choose from in Reykjavik but the most well-known is Laugavegur, considered Iceland’s single coolest street and the very best for shopping! Laugavegur, which translates to “Wash Road,” was once the route to the hot springs where many Icelanders would take their clothes to launder. Now, the street is a place where you can quite easily spend your money on clothes, homeware, accessories and many other cool Icelandic goodies!
Iceland is famous for many things, but its nightlife is one that never ceases to impress. Amazingly, beer only became legal in Iceland in 1989, and every weekend Reykjavik’s small population of 120,000 does its best to make up for lost time. An eclectic collection of bars and clubs have opened up across downtown Reykjavik, all of them oozing style and character. With the knowledge that all the bars and clubs are within walking distance from one another and the fact that Iceland is known for being one of the safest countries in the world, what better place for a night out could you ask for?
Eating in Reykjavik
In today's Iceland, you can find almost anything your culinary heart desires. Restaurants around the country offer a wide variety of both foreign and Icelandic dishes, inspired by the ingredients found in nature. Most traditional Icelandic dishes will contain the likes of fish, lamb and the Icelandic skyr. Once again, Reykjavik doesn’t disappoint with an abundance of cafes, restaurants and bars to eat at as well as most of the city centre hotels offering their own in-house restaurants for those that don’t fancy going out for the night.
At the Old Harbour in Reykjavik, you can jump aboard one of our fantastic Iceland whale watching tours to see the incredible wealth of marine wildlife just off Reykjavík’s shores. This tour is a must for nature-lovers and fits perfectly into a busy holiday. We take you straight from the capital city’s harbour into the middle of the ocean to get the best views of Iceland’s beautiful marine wildlife. If you would like to book one of our Iceland Whale Watching yours, click here or contact us today.
Considered Reykjavik’s main landmark, Hallgrimskirkja church towers above the city and can be seen from almost any point in the capital. It was designed by the late Guðjón Samúelsson in 1937, who was often inspired in his endeavours by the fascinating shapes and forms created when lava cools into basalt rock. The church features, most notably, a gargantuan pipe organ designed and constructed by the German organ builder Johannes Klais of Bonn.
The Sun Voyager
Another iconic landmark within the city, the Sun Voyager sits on the coast and was constructed to mark the 200th birthday of the city of Reykjavík on August 18, 1990. Designed by artist Jón Gunnar, the statue is built of stainless steel and is the artist’s interpretation of a dreamboat and ode to the sun. Jón’s intention was to give the city something that inspired dreams and imagination and symbolizes light and hope.
The Old Harbour
As well as being the place where you can adventure off coast on some incredible Whale Watching tours, Reykjavik’s Old Habour is worth seeing for its colourful buildings, boats and atmosphere. Around the harbour, you can also find some wonderful shops, eating spots and the city’s best dark-roasted coffee.
Things to do near the Golden Circle
Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is one of Iceland’s most significant geological sites. It is where the first Iceland parliament was founded in the year 930 AD and the Althing parliament remains the oldest operating parliament in the world. The site is also home to breathtaking geology including views of where the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates meet as well as the where those plates have been drifting apart. You can also go diving in the crystal clear waters of Silfra lake, a fissure which has the purest natural freshwater on the planet with visibility that can extend to more than 100 meters (300 feet) underwater, making it the most unique diving and snorkelling site in the world!
Geysir Geothermal Area
This breathtaking area is renowned for its geothermal hot springs which famously bubble and spray out of the earth and into the air every few minutes. Most of the springs are aligned along a 100-meter-wide (328 feet) strip of land running in the same direction as the tectonic plate lines, from south to southwest. You can explore the hot springs, see the steam rising from the ground, and smell the sulfur in the air at this phenomenal natural wonder! You can see the Geysir Geothermal area as part of our Classic Golden Circle tour.
This loud yet majestic waterfall is easily one of Iceland’s most beautiful as it name directly translates to ‘Golden Falls’ or ‘Waterfall of Gold’. It’s waters stem from the glacial river, Hvítá before cascading stunningly down two huge steps descending into a deep gorge. The immense power of Gullfoss waterfall is a must-see on your Iceland holiday.
Snorkelling in Silfra
The Silfra lava fissure is one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets. Silfra, which is situated in the heart of Þingvellir, the site of the world’s oldest parliament, is an otherworldly scene. The crystal clear water in the deep fissure gives you a feeling of being weightless as you float along with the lazy current. Frequently rated as one of the worlds top ten dive sites. Silfra offers up to 100 meters of underwater visibility and is located on top of the separation between Europe and America! You get an hour of snorkelling with our Silfra Snorkelling tour.
While the Blue Lagoon is certainly worthy of everyone’s bucket lists, those that would prefer to miss the crowds and relax somewhere more remote and quiet should look up Iceland’s Secret Lagoon. Known locally as Gamla Laugin, it is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland made in 1891 at Hverahólmi, a geothermal area near Flúðir. Like the Blue Lagoon, it has warm, clean and rich in sulphur waters that stay around 38-40 Celsius all year round. You can book a Secret Lagoon day tour on the Iceland Holidays website here.
Following a volcanic eruption, magma chambers usually collapse, but in Thrihnukagigur, the lava drained out like water from a pipe leaving the volcano's plumbing system empty. For this reason, Thrihnukagigur crater is one of few places in the world where you can enter a volcano and explore its magma chamber. With our Volcano tour, you will be literally taken into the volcano, through the top crater and right to the bottom of its magma chamber where molten magma flowed during an eruption 4.000-years ago.
Things to do in Vik
The Lava Tunnel
On this adventure, we visit the lava tunnel Raufarhólshellir located only 30 minutes from Reykjavík. We will witness the inner workings of a volcanic eruption while we walk in the path of a lava that flowed thousands of years ago. The lava tunnel is one of the biggest in Iceland and gets up to 30 metres wide and 10 metres high. The lava tube ceiling has caved in near the entrance, which creates beautiful columns of light. The fantastic range of colours of the tunnel wall is caused by the different mineral types of the rock. This is a tour for the senses. Experience a new world, hear the talk of the cave and sense the forces of nature like you have never done before. Learn new things and step out of your comfort zone.
Seljalandsfoss is one of the best-known waterfalls in Iceland. It is approx. 60 meters tall and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It is a must to visit Seljalandsfoss when visiting the south coast, you will not regret it! A path leads you behind the waterfall, but do bring a raincoat as you will get soaking wet from the drizzle.
With a height of 200ft (60m) and a width of 82 (25m), Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s greatest and most beautiful waterfalls. Due to the amount of spray produced by the cascade, you can see at least one rainbow at any time on a sunny day! Take in the magnitude of the fall from the misty base of the falls, or challenge yourself to get to the top and climb what feels like an infinite amount of stairs (there’s 370)!
Scenic landscape, favourable weather conditions and a selection of hiking trails make Skaftafell an ideal destination for those who like to enjoy outdoor activities in Icelandic nature. Short and easy trails lead to waterfall Svartifoss and glacier Skaftafellsjökull, but for those who want to reach further out, the Morsárdalur valley and Kristínartindar mountain peaks are perfect in terms of distance and labour. Skaftafell is also the perfect base camp for those who seek to climb Iceland‘s highest mountain peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Jokulsarlon is Iceland’s most famous glacier lagoon. Conveniently located in the southeast by Route 1, about halfway between the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Hofn, it is a popular stop for those travelling along the South Coast or around the Ring Road of the country. It is also known as the ‘Crown Jewel’ of the country and is home to some seal colonies. The glacier lagoon is for sure one of the most beautiful and dramatic spots in Iceland. This area can be explored in one day, and the best way to live this moment to its fullest is to join a boat tour.