Getting to know Reykjavik
The whole country of Iceland is filled with sand and lava fields, mountains, glaciers, and many glacial rivers that flow to the sea through the lowlands. This island country is a perfect place for nature loving tourists and an unforgettable experience for anyone who visits.
What you can do for free in Reykjavik
- Walk by the seaside at Grótta
Grótta is situated on the tip of the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula and it has been a nature reserve since 1974 due to its abundant birdlife. The lighthouse and the surrounding area are a perfect place to relax and enjoy the fantastic Icelandic nature.
- Visit lake Tjörnin
Located right in the city centre, next to the Reykjavik city hall and many museums, the lake is a great place that you can visit for free. The avifauna is mesmerizing, even for the ones that are not specifically interested in birdlife. The lake is frequented by 40 to 50 species of water birds; whoopers swan are viewable within close proximity.
- Visit the Nauthólsvík artificial beach
This golden-sanded geothermal beach beach was created in 2000 and has been a top choice for the locals ever since. The hot water from the reservoir tanks heat up the lagoon and the hot tubs to the perfect temperature for visitors. In the best circumstances, the seawater in the lagoon is as hot as 15°-19°C, while the hot tubs are around 30°-39°C hot.
Top spots to visit
Hallgrímskirkja is an immense white-concrete church (74.5 metres high). It dominates the skyline and is visible from up to 20km away. It is located in the centre of Reykjavík and it is one of the city’s best-known landmarks.
Opening hours vary throughout the year: Winter (October – April): 9 am – 5 pm / Summer (May – September): 9 am – 9 pm
- National Museum
If you are interested in the history and culture of Iceland, this is a place you have to visit during your trip. The exhibits there give an excellent overview of all of that, and there is a free smartphone audio guide. that definitely adds a wealth of detail.
The opening hours vary: Summer – May 1 – Sep. 15, open daily from 10:00 – 17:00 / Winter – Sep. 16 – Apr. 30, open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 – 17:00, closed on Mondays
- Harpa concert hall & cultural centre
Visit this sparkling concert hall and cultural centre to have a chance to catch some of the top-notch shows that take place there (some are even free). You can also take a 30-minute guided tour throughout the fantastic building to be mesmerized by its greatess.
Hidden spots to visit
- Elliðaárdalur valley
This hidden nature paradise, located on the outskirts of Reykjavik is ideal if you want to enjoy some outdoor activities, such as walking or biking. You can explore the forest and its wild flowers, fill your mind with the beautiful images of the river and its multiple waterfalls and you can even go for a picnic on a sunny day.
- Siglufjörður Village
This little town used to be the world’s biggest herring fishing capital. It nestles in a small fjord and is surrounded by mountains on three sides. While there, you can visit the Herring Era Museum.
- Þjórsárdalur Valley and its Waterfalls
This valley is full of gorgeous waterfalls, and many tourists miss this fantastic gem of the nordic capital. See the waterfall inside Gjáin canyon (the canyon itself is absolutely spectacular too), the háifoss waterfall (Iceland’s second highest waterfall at 122m tall) and the nearby Granni waterfall. These are just a few of the magnificent waterfalls you can see there.
Reykjavik has many, many other beautiful hidden natural gems, such as the Glymur Waterfall, the Stakkholtsgjá Canyon, the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, the Þakgil Camping Ground and the Víknaslóðir Hiking Trails.
Some of the best fine-dining restaurants, with menus mostly based on Scandinavian food and Seafood: Matarkjallarinn – Foodcellar, Fiskfelagid – Fish Company, Grillid and Apotek Restaurant.
Best local cuisine restaurants include Icelandic Street Food, Ostabudin, Forrettabarinn and Fish&Co.
Spend less money but do it for amazing food at SALT Kitchen & Bar, Mulakaffi, Cafe Haiti or Krua Thai.
Recommended time of visiting
The midnight sun and warm temperatures make summer the best season to visit Iceland. There are up to 21 hours of sunlight during summer, while the sun only shows up for four or five hours between December and February. February, March, September and October are typically the best time to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights. If you want to go whale watching, visit Iceland between May and September. Winters can be quite harsh, and road closures during this season make access to some areas difficult.
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