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One Day in Reykjavik: What To See and Do
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland, known for its beautiful natural landscapes that include stunning blue waters and fiery volcanoes. It’s also one of the best places to visit for its lively art and music scene. Tourists from all over the world travel to the capital city, lending to its growing tourism industry. As a result, there are plenty of fun and interesting things to see and do while there.
Things to see and do in Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a great place to visit to learn about the history of North America. Hallgrimskirkja Church is the highest building in downtown Reykjavik. The Lutheran church is a hotspot destination due to its architectural design inspired by the country’s natural volcanoes and glaciers. And for an up-close feel of the culture, tourists can take pictures of the striking murals and street art plastered throughout the city.
On the south coast, tourists can sink their toes into the warm, dark sand at Reykjavik’s black sand beaches. Or sit in a natural hot tub at Blue Lagoon Spa near the Keflavik airport. There, you can relax in the waters as the geothermal hot springs detox and soften your skin.
One of the best things about Reykjavík is its delicious food, especially its hot dogs. The best spot to try a traditional Icelandic hot dog is at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, where they serve them up with fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and regular mustard, and remoulade.
Reykjavík is no small city. In fact, it’s the largest city in the country. So if you’re scheduling a trip with limited time, it’s important to plan your visit so that you can cover it all. While there are many things to see and do in the city, a full day in Reykjavík is definitely doable. Here are six things you have to see and do with one day in Reykjavík:
1. Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon is a body of geothermal seawater that formed due to the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. Scientists were curious about the reservoir, including its primary elements: silica, algae, and minerals. Eventually, the company Blue Lagoon Limited was founded for the research and development of the milky-blue water’s healing properties, thus leading to a skincare line.
Today, Blue Lagoon is part of a resort and retreat where tourists can experience the healing powers of the lagoon for themselves. Believed to help treat common skincare problems like psoriasis, many people dip into the waters in hopes of restoring and rejuvenating their skin.
Blue Lagoon also offers in-water massages, float therapy, and a bar. Outside the water, there’s a sauna, steam room, and multiple restaurants. For fantastic views of the steaming geothermal waters, try Lava Restaurant, an upscale dining establishment built into an 800-year-old lava cliff!
2. Northern Lights
The Northern Lights is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions. In fact, it’s considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. If you’re in Alaska, you may already be familiar with the Northern Lights, but Iceland has excellent views of the phenomenon as well.
Between September and April, tourists flock to Iceland to see the Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights. The Aurora Borealis happens when electrically charged particles from the sun collide with each other as they enter the earth’s atmosphere. As a result, they produce colorful neon lights that are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres.
The best time to see the lights is during the winter months on a dark, clear night. And Thingvellir National Park is a great place to catch the phenomenon in real-time, especially a couple of hours before or after midnight.
3. Sun Voyager
The Sun Voyager is a historical landmark created by artist Jon Gunnar Arnason as an ode to the sun. Many people believe that Arnason designed the steel sculpture while battling leukemia to represent a vessel that transports the soul to the afterlife. While we don’t know the deeper meaning behind its design, what we do know is that it was meant to be a dream boat that symbolizes light and hope.
You can find the sculpture sitting on the waterfront, near the city center. It’s a short walk away from Harpa Concert Hall. There, you can take pictures of one of Reykjavik’s most visited attractions.
4. Golden Circle Tour
The Golden Circle is the most popular tourist attraction in Iceland. It’s a scenic route from Reykjavik to Thingvellir, complete with views of the Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir geothermal area. The route forms a circle so tourists can see all three natural sights before heading back to Reykjavik.
Due to its popularity, many companies offer tours of the route. Golden Circle tours are a great way to experience each site while learning about their histories and significance. There are a number of tours to choose from, some of which include visits to other tourist hotspots like the Lava Tunnel or Crystal Caves.
5. National Museum of Iceland
Located near the city center is the National Museum of Iceland, where tourists can learn a great deal about the city’s history and culture. Its permanent exhibit, Making of a Nation, explains Iceland’s heritage and history dating back to the Settlement age. There, you can find over 2,000 historical artifacts and other objects, including 1,000 photographs that shed light on the country’s past and present.
The museum also contains Iceland’s largest collection of prints and other images, with approximately 6.5 million photographs.
With so much to cover, you can take a guided tour of the museum to see its many galleries and exhibits in little time. Visit the museum’s official website for more information about their free walking tours that are available with the cost of admission.
6. Harpa Concert Hall
Harpa Concert Hall is a popular tourist destination to visit to attend a concert, festival, or other musical performance. The concert hall features several rooms where guests can congregate for banquets, professional meetings, conferences, and more. Named one of the best concert houses of the new millennium by Gramophone Magazine, Harpa Concert Hall is the perfect place to experience Iceland’s music scene.
You can find a number of musical genres playing at the concert hall, from jazz to opera. Listen to a traditional Iceland chorale or sing along as an orchestra plays your favorite movie tunes at a movie concert. The hall even offers lectures, stand-up comedy shows, and theater performances.
Plan your visit by visiting the official website for a list of upcoming events and ticket prices.