11 Best Things to Do in Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik intrigues visitors with modern attractions like FlyOver Iceland and an amazing Lava Show (with real lava!). You’ll also find amazing natural wonders like the Northern Lights and hot springs. With easy access to the country’s main attractions, Iceland’s capital city also makes a wonderful launching point for nearby explorations. Read on to discover the 11 best things to do in Reykjavik!

Reykjavik street scene
Reykjavik street scene (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Thank you to Pursuit Collection for hosting my visit to Reykjavik. All opinions are mine, as always.

Travel Mamas and Grownup Getaways sometimes receive compensation and/or hosted travel and sample products related to blog posts. This story may include affiliate links for which we receive a small commission at no extra cost to consumers. As an Amazon Associate, we earn money from qualifying purchases.

1. FlyOver Iceland

Kick off your explorations with a visit to FlyOver Iceland to get a glimpse of the whole country from the heart of Reykjavik City. You’ll fly over glaciers, past rivers and waterfalls, and through fireworks in Iceland’s capital. This attraction will give you chills and might just bring tears to your eyes.

Do you like Disney’s Soarin’ Around the World? Then you’ll LOVE FlyOver Iceland. Created by the same former Imagineer, this 8-minute ride (38-minute experience) takes passengers to the most remote, unreachable, and prettiest parts of Iceland.

FlyOver Iceland with kids
FlyOver Iceland exterior (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

SúVitra the Troll

Elves and trolls are an important part of Icelandic folklore. FlyOver’s narrator is a female troll named SúVitra, which means “Wise One” in Icelandic. This strong female character is an example of Iceland’s strong ties to its heritage and the country’s belief in equal rights for all.

SúVitra the Troll
SúVitra the Troll (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

FlyOver Shop

Pop into the FlyOver Shop to pose for a photo with a statue of SúVitra. Then peruse a fun selection of Icelandic artwork and souvenirs. Kids will especially love adorable troll-shaped stuffed toys.

Stuffed troll dolls for sale in the FlyOver Iceland Shop
Stuffed troll dolls for sale in the FlyOver Shop (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Book FlyOver Iceland Tickets

Purchase your tickets in advance to secure your preferred flight time and receive a 10% discount. Riders must be 40 inches tall to ride and children need to be accompanied by an adult or teen aged 14+. Wheelchair users are welcome and accommodated.

FlyOver Iceland ride
FlyOver Iceland ride (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. Geothermal Pools

Iceland is one of the most volcanically active places on the planet, creating naturally heated waters just below the ground, perfect for hot springs and geothermal pools.

Sky Lagoon's geothermal pool, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean
Sky Lagoon’s geothermal pool, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Sky Lagoon

Opened in the spring of 2021, Sky Lagoon is a new and luxurious geothermal pool just outside Reykjavik. This outdoor pool was designed to feel at one with nature. It was built into volcanic rock formations with waterfalls and tunnels for exploring. An infinity edge overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.

Blue Lagoon view
Blue Lagoon view (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Blue Lagoon

Iceland’s most famous geothermal pool, Blue Lagoon, opened to the public in 1987. It is heated by run-off water from a nearby geothermal energy plant. The Blue Lagoon features the milky blue water you know and love from Instagram photos and bucket lists in glossy magazines.

But which Icelandic geothermal pool is better? Find out in my in-depth Sky Lagoon vs. Blue Lagoon comparison. (Yes, I pick a winner!)

Free Walking Tour with CityWalk Reykjavik
Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat during a Free Walking Tour with CityWalk Reykjavik (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. Walking Tour of Reykjavik

Although Reykjavik is by far Iceland’s largest city, in geographic size it’s just 1.5 square miles (3.9 square kilometers). Nearly all of this walkable city’s 150,000 residents are able and happy to speak English with visitors from around the world, too.

A walking tour of city center with CityWalk Reykjavik is the best way to get your bearings in the country’s capital and learn about Iceland from a knowledgeable local. As you stroll through Reykjavik’s main streets, you may view such landmarks as the Alþingi Parliament Building, City Hall, Laugavegur shopping street, the Old Harbor, Lake Tjörnin, and some impressive street art.

Reykjavik's City Hall
Reykjavik’s City Hall (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

What’s more, CityWalk offers 2-hour tours of downtown Reykjavik free of charge. That’s right. There’s no fee to attend! Do keep in mind, however, that it’s customary to provide a tip to the tour guide afterward as a token of your appreciation. (Typically, $10 to $20 per person.)

Street art and scooters in Reykjavik, Iceland
Street art and scooters in Reykjavik (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Book a paid VIP Walking Tour for small groups for a more in-depth and customized experience. Private Walking Tours with food tastings are available as well. (Fermented shark, lobster soup, or cinnamon and licorice buns, anyone?) Choose tours in English or Icelandic.

Reykjavik, Iceland
View of Reykjavik from Hallgrimskirkja (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. Hallgrimskirkja, Church of Iceland

During your Free Walking Tour of Reykjavik, you will get a glimpse of the city’s most famous church, Hallgrimskirkja. Standing 244 feet tall (74.5 meters), this Evangelical-Lutheran church is one of the tallest buildings in the whole country.

Hallgrimskirkja, Church of Iceland
Hallgrimskirkja, Church of Iceland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Commissioned in 1937, it took 38 years to build this striking place of worship. Icelandic Architect Gudjon Samuelsson designed the church to resemble the country’s shards of basalt lava rock.

Admission to Hallgrimskirkja is free, but there is a small charge to reach the observation deck via steps or elevator. The tower entrance fee is well worth the sweeping views of Reykjavik’s colorful metal-corrugated buildings, surrounding mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Reykjavik's Rainbow Street with Hallgrimskirkja at the top
Reykjavik’s Rainbow Street with Hallgrimskirkja at the top (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Rainbow Street

Skólavörðustígur Street was painted like a rainbow for the first time back in 2015 to celebrate Gay Pride and has since become a permanent art installation. Iceland is a very open-minded nation where folks of all stripes are welcomed. The country officially celebrates Gay Pride during the second weekend in August each year.

Look for lots of cute shops and art galleries surrounding this proud street in the heart of the capital of Iceland. Shop for original artwork, woolen socks and sweaters, handmade jewelry, chocolates, and lots of puffin-shaped stuffed toys. At the top of Rainbow Street, you’ll find Iceland’s most famous church, Hallgrimskirkja.

Reykjavik's Lava Show
Reykjavik’s Lava Show (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. Lava Show

Despite Iceland’s small size, it ranks among the top 10 countries in the world with active volcanoes, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program. Furthermore, the educational website, Learnz.org states, “Since the Middle Ages, a third of all lava that has covered the earth’s surface has erupted in Iceland.” 

Still, it isn’t always possible to view lava flowing in Iceland. Or is it? For a truly unique experience, reserve a seat at the Lava Show in Reykjavik. You’ll witness real 2000°F (1100°C) lava oozing into a showroom and learn about Iceland’s volcanoes from a volcanologist.

Golden Circle small group tour from Reykjavik
Golden Circle small group tour from Reykjavik (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is an absolute must when you visit Iceland! A guided tour is a great way to see all of the best places along the country’s most famous and scenic route in one day. Many tours pick up in Reykjavik and take just one day.

You can rent a car to explore on your own but I liked learning about the Land of Fire and Ice from an entertaining (and singing!) local guide during a Golden Circle Small Group Tour minibus tour. Besides, you can enjoy the scenery of Iceland’s south coast without having to worry about navigating to find each amazing stop along the way. All entrance fees are included.

Selfie at Gullfoss Falls
Selfie at Gullfoss Falls (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Golden Circle Tour Attractions

  • Thingvellir National Park
  • Gullfoss Falls
  • Geysir Hot Springs
  • Kerid Crater
  • Some tours include additional sites like the Sky Lagoon or Blue Lagoon

8. Whale Watching

Humpback whale in Iceland
Humpback whale in Iceland (Photo credit: JakubMrocek, Depositphotos.com)

Iceland ranks among the best places in the world for whale watching. The cold Atlantic Ocean water surrounding the country provides an ideal environment for various whale species. April to September is the best time of year to spot these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat in Iceland.


Sign up for a whale-watching boat tour from Reykjavik’s Old Harbour with our trusted partner, GetYourGuide, for an opportunity to see humpback whales, minke whales, and other wildlife like dolphins and puffins. If someone in your family suffers from motion sickness, then be sure to take precautions before setting sail.

Life-sized whale models at Whales of Iceland
Life-sized whale models at Whales of Iceland (Photo credit: Whales of Iceland)

9. Whales of Iceland

Even if you can’t get out on the water, you can still get up close to cetaceans in interactive exhibits at Whales of Iceland. This unique museum is home to 23 life-sized models of Icelandic whale species from the beluga all the way up to the sperm whale and even the blue whale. Audio guides are available in 17 languages.

Attend a live guided 30-minute tour of Whales of Iceland at 11 am or 3 pm at no extra cost. Each guided tour takes about 30 minutes. 

Additionally, the Fin Whale Theatre shows a documentary on a large cinema screen about whales and what we humans can do to help conserve these fascinating animals.

View from the Perlan Museum dome's observation deck
View from the Perlan Museum dome’s observation deck (Photo credit: Kim Tate, Stuffed Suitcase)

10. Perlan – Wonders of Iceland

I visited Reykjavik with my friend and fellow travel writer, Kim Tate, editor of Stuffed Suitcase. We split up to explore different attractions and apparently, I really missed out by skipping Perlan Museum. Kim says, “For natural science lovers, the Perlan Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Reykjavik.”

She continues, “Located about five minutes outside of the city center, the observation deck of the distinctive glass dome overlooks the city, giving clear 360-degree views of the city and surrounding area.

Inside, the museum features exhibits that tell the story of Iceland through its nature, history, and culture. One highlight is the man-made ice cave, where visitors can see carved sculptures lit with colored lights.

The Northern Lights planetarium show is also amazing. You get the chance to see dazzling videos of the aurora borealis projected overhead on the building’s dome.”

These are not your standard wieners. Made with a blend of lamb, pork, and beef — the sausages are traditionally topped with ketchup, sweet mustard, remoulade, crispy fried onions, and raw onions. If you want to dine like a president, order a “Clinton” to get your dog topped with mustard only.

A sunny mid-summer view of the Old Harbour in Reykjavik
The Old Harbour in Reykjavik is home to one of Reykjavik City Museum’s five locations, Reykjavik Maritime Museum (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

11. Reykjavik City Museum

Reykjavik City Museum consists of five museums, each with a unique focus and different location in the city. Visit whichever captures your interest, or go to all five if you have the interest and time.

The Five Reykjavik City Museums

  • Reykjavik Maritime Museum
  • Árbær Open Air Museum
  • The Settlement Exhibition
  • Viðey Island
  • Reykjavik Museum of Photography
A cat in Reykjavik, Iceland
A kitty in Reykjavik in summer (Probably NOT the Yule Cat!) (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Decide When to Visit Reykjavik

The best time to visit Reykjavik depends on the desired weather and light conditions as well as which attractions and cultural experiences you seek.


In summer months, Iceland becomes part of the Land of Midnight Sun. Milder temperatures and plenty of sunshine make it easy to explore the city of Reykjavik and the nation’s natural wonders. Average summer temperatures in Iceland range from about 50 to 59°F (10 to 15°C).

Expect 24 hours of sun throughout the month of June. The peak of midnight sun occurs on the summer solstice in mid-June. That’s when the sun travels the farthest distance in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere, providing the longest day of sunshine.

Outdoor festivals in Iceland celebrating music, art, athletics, and more abound during summer. All of this sunshine and celebration comes at a cost, though. Expect higher prices and fewer vacancies in hotels in the summertime.

Northern lights above the Perlan - Wonders of Iceland
Northern lights above Perlan – Wonders of Iceland in Reykjavik (Photo credit: Perlan Facebook page)

Spring to Fall

From spring to fall, Iceland transforms into the Land of Northern Lights, a scintillating reason to visit Reykjavik. Travelers from around the world flock to this Nordic country to view the aurora borealis from September to April. The polar light displays dazzle observers with streaks of neon greens and purples as well as pinks, reds, blues, and even yellows. Even with city lights, the northern lights can be seen nearly anywhere in Reykjavik.

Winter offers longer periods of darker skies, making for more viewing time. Plus, Reykjavik ranks among the best places in the world to celebrate a white Christmas.


Save Money on Your Reykjavik Vacation

Get discounted admission to the National Museum of Iceland, all the Reykjavik City Museums, Reykjavik City Bus access, and entrance to several other Reykjavik attractions with the Reykjavik City Card. Buy yours now!

Reykjavik's famous hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Reykjavik’s famous hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Learn More

Taste the best foods in Iceland, from Reykjavik’s famous hot dogs to Happy Marriage Cake.

Discover the Yule Cat and other scary Icelandic characters, along with other unusual Christmas traditions in Europe.

In addition to Sky Lagoon and Blue Lagoon, soak in these hot springs around the world.

Explore another vibrant Northern European capital city with these things to do in Amsterdam with kids recommended by a resident expert.

Best things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland

Keep These Fun Things to Do in Reykjavik

Dreaming of a trip to Iceland? Be sure to save this list of the best attractions in Reykjavik and nearby. Simply pin the image above to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Which of the best things to do in Reykjavik would you like to experience? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: Pursuit Collection hosted many (but not all) of my experiences in Reykjavik, including FlyOver Iceland and Sky Lagoon. I did not receive any monetary compensation related to this article about must-see Reykjavik attractions. Regardless of who’s paying, I always share the truth with readers.


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  1. Iceland has long been on my list of desired travel destinations. Many have said it’s the most beautiful
    Place in the world. Your article is a great resource for planning my trip.

  2. Iceland is on my bucket list for sure! There are so many amazing things to see here. It would be tough to decide which of the sights to see!

  3. Hhhhmmm….I am honestly lost for choice. I would like to do all these 18 things! Reykjavik is a very familiar place to me, from the days when Mummy worked in a company that had an office there.

  4. Didn’t know there are lots of awesome and wonderful things to do in Iceland. Thanks for sharing this with us

  5. These are really cool things to do in Reykjavik Iceland. I would love to experience the city’s history, food, quirky sites and urban street culture.

  6. You know, Ive always wanted to visit Iceland and your post made me really plan and experience the place. So many amazing things to do!

  7. Fantastic rundown of Reykjavik’s must-dos! Your enthusiasm shines through each recommendation. From capturing the Northern Lights to diving into local culture, your insights offer a comprehensive guide for anyone visiting Iceland’s vibrant capital. Your love for the city is infectious!

  8. This is an amazing blog post for anyone who wants to visit Reykjavik. I’d totally love to see the northern lights and the rainbow street! Thanks for sharing. I might have to pin this.

  9. In college I took a lot of geology classes, and one of the most interesting places geologically is Iceland. It’s where the continental plates are pulling apart. I want to see the volcanoes.