26 sights worth seeing in Reykjavik
What do you think the reservoirs of the city’s water supply systems might be like? In Reykjavik they have taken a creative approach to this question – here they have become a city landmark, a real “pearl”. They were named Perlan accordingly.
The striking building, with a roof in the shape of a hemisphere, is 25.7 meters high and has a total area of 3,700 square meters. A steel frame supports the dome and the walls, which are connected by aluminum tanks.
Inside the building are many interesting objects: A winter garden, a concert stage, an observation platform equipped with telescopes, an amazing restaurant with a rotating floor, the Saga Museum with wax figures and an artificial geyser.
Leisure activities in the city
In Reykjavik there is a unique zoo Reykjavik Zoo & Family Park. Its peculiarity is that here you will not see the traditional exotic animals, but you can admire the pigs, goats, sheep and cows. Thus, this place is more like a farm, although there are also reindeer, foxes and minks, which, by the way, are not considered something special for the locals. Also worth noting is a small aquarium with a collection of coastal inhabitants of Iceland, a rehabilitation center for injured birds and a wide variety of attractions.
In addition, in the center of the city is an entertainment center Laugardalslaug with water slides and a huge swimming pool, where you can have fun with the whole family.
The capital of Iceland hosts many festivals: gastronomic, cultural, and entertainment. Some of the most popular ones are the Food&Fun festival, where the best chefs of the world take part, and the Winter Lights Festival, which includes a lot of street performances, shows and a rich entertainment program for kids.
There are more than 200 public establishments in the Icelandic capital, ready to offer residents and guests of the city a variety of culinary directions. You can get acquainted with Scandinavian cuisine at the Sjavargrillid restaurant, where most of the dishes are cooked on the grill. Seafood is popular, especially the chef’s masterpiece – lobster cooked to his own recipe. Fans of Indian cuisine will prefer Austur India Fjelagid – cozy atmosphere, attentive service. Fans of seafood and sushi should stop by Fiskfelagid which offers both classical treats and exotic for meat-eaters and vegetarians. Sweet tooth will be pleased with the city coffee house C is for Cookie, where you will be offered a variety of treats and entertainment for children.
Harpa Concert and Convention Center
Relatively recently, Reykjavik has a new popular attraction, the Harpa Concert and Congress Center, which was awarded the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award. By the way, it received this honorary prize not only for its architectural achievement, but also because it became a symbol of hope for the people of Iceland, which was hit by a severe economic crisis in 2008, and construction could well have been halted for many years, but the government decided to complete the structure, which became a symbol of future prosperity and a way out of the situation.
The spaceship-like building was designed by Henning Larsen and Olafur Eliasson. Today it is not only the first concert hall in the country, but also the second tallest building in Reykjavik. Many international conferences, conventions and major concerts are held here.
How to get there
Russia and the capital of Iceland is currently only one direct flight – from St. Petersburg to Reykjavik. It is carried out by the Icelandic airline Icelandair. From other Russian cities you can reach the main airport of Iceland with connections. The most convenient option, both in terms of transfer time and prices, is the Finnish carrier Finnair, which flies from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. Other connecting flight options are also available.
An international-class airport, Reykjavik-Keflavik is the country’s main hub for international air travel. It is located three kilometers west of the city of Keflavik and fifty from Reykjavik. The airport serves most of the international air traffic in Iceland.
Keflavik is the base for Icelandair and Iceland Express, which use it as their main hub. It serves only international flights, all domestic flights and flights to Greenland and the Faroe Islands are operated through Reykjavik airport. Accordingly, the transfer from an international flight to a domestic one requires a transfer to another airport, which takes about 45 minutes – so it is recommended to have at least three hours between flights.
Like most other airports in the world, it was built during World War II. The U.S. Army Air Forces needed an airfield at Keflavik capable of receiving heavy bombers as well as Allied fighters.
Despite Iceland’s population of only 300,000, there are regular flights from the airport to seven U.S. cities (Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Seattle and Washington), three Canadian cities (Halifax, Toronto and Winnipeg), and thirty European cities.
The airport has one terminal, named after Leif Eriksson (Scandinavian navigator and ruler of Greenland). In 2001, the terminal was enlarged to meet the requirements of the Schengen Agreement. The first thing you see when you enter the spacious, bright airport is the sign “It is strictly forbidden to spend the night in the terminal building. So if you need to leave early, you have to get up at dawn and look at the Flybus schedule or order a cab.
Keflavik is one of the most intuitive airports in the world for the tourist. Step off the plane and you’re straight into the one and only pedestrian corridor to the exit to Iceland. Arriving from outside the Schengen area? Then go through passport control first, and you will also be admitted to the “corridor to Iceland.
It is not profitable to change currency at the airport, wait until the city. The terminal is divided into two parts: on one side buses pick up arriving passengers, on the other side of the building drop off those wishing to leave.
How to get there from the airport
There is only a car connection between the airport and Reykjavik. The Flybus schedule is coordinated with the airplane schedule.
In addition to exclusively scheduled flights to the city, the carrier company regularly puts additional flights, their departure is timed to the next portion of the arrivals.
Cab for those who like comfort will cost about 70 EUR.
The Smyril Line ferry makes weekly trips from Seydisfjordur to the Faroe Islands, the British Shetland Islands and Denmark’s Huntsholm. It also calls at Bergen, Norway, in the summer.
Imagine World Tower
Not far from Reykjavik, on the island of Vidae, there is a memorial dedicated to John Lennon, the Imagine Peace Tower, whose author is Yoko Ono, John’s widow.
The memorial is a 4 km high pillar of light pointing upwards. Its illumination is provided by energy derived from geothermal sources. On the pedestal, installed at the base of the column, you can see the carved inscription “imagine the world” in 24 languages of the world. The phrase is directly related to Lennon’s famous song “Imagine,” which became a peace anthem.
The memorial operates only from October 9 to December 8 (date of birth and death of John), the week following the winter solstice, New Year’s Eve and the week following the vernal equinox.
The Black Pearl Hotel is centrally located near the Old Harbor. The rooms are fully equipped, the floors are marble and heated, and the balconies have a wonderful view over the city. Bars and restaurants, an art museum, and Harpa Concert Hall are all nearby. Hotel Alda Reykjavík offers modern rooms, free use of the sauna and gym. The building is located on Leigavegur shopping street, near Hadlgrimskirkja church, art museum and Tjernin lake. Located in the popular port area of the city, Icelandair Reykjavik Marina Hotel offers guests superb rooms with views of the city or port, as well as the opportunity to use the gym and a cozy lobby with a fireplace and a cinema room where you can watch Icelandic movies. A whale-watching service is available at the marina, which is directly next door to the hotel. Reykjavik Centrum Hotel is located on the ancient Adalstraiti Street, next to the art museum. Guests are invited to visit the unique exhibition center and enjoy the national cuisine in the local restaurant. An interesting feature is that it was built on the site of a destroyed Viking house.
Reykjavik is a city that is simply ideal for getting around by car. Why? Because there is a very well-developed network of very convenient urban roads. Public transportation is well developed, but in the spring and fall, traffic is difficult and in some parts of the city even temporarily suspended.
Reykjavik is also a city where there are clearly defined rules of the road, which local drivers must follow. The penalties for breaking them are very high. Depending on the type of road, the speed is also regulated.
Buses are the link between outlying urban areas as well as the suburban area. Tickets are affordable both within the city and in the suburbs. However, there is a nuance: in accordance with local traditions and rules, the driver is not obliged to give change to passengers.
Features of local transport in Reykjavik
There are cabs on the territory of the city, however, their cost is very high. In addition, the waiting time for a cab can be very long. If it is quite expensive to call a cab during the day, the cost of this transport at night increases many times, which is why cabs are not the most popular local transport even among tourists.
Local companies offer such service as car rental, but it is too expensive, because most often you will have to pay not only for car rental, but also for its insurance, as well as violations of traffic rules, which are almost always committed by tourists who do not know the peculiarities of local roads, and this despite the fact that the drivers, whose driving experience is less than two years, the car is not available for rent. Also, in order to rent a car here, you must have a credit card.
The relief and climatic features are two factors influencing the development of public transport. For example, just because of the terrain here, there is no rail transport, which in such an interesting city for tourists, like Reykjavik, would be very useful.
The city is very good in terms of transport except for some areas, such as those located in the lowlands, but the layout of the roads implemented with the peculiarities of the area, most of them pass through the coastal areas.
The National Museum of Iceland preserves valuable artefacts relating to the culture of the original inhabitants, providing a detailed look into the history of the different eras. The permanent exhibition has over 2,000 objects: collections of images, watercolor drawings, graphics and photographs, engravings and more, and the total number of images is about 4,000,000. In addition to these exhibits, the museum has state-of-the-art technology at its disposal, with which visitors can immerse themselves in vivid moments of the country’s history.
Under the auspices of the National Museum there are a variety of educational activities for visitors large and small. Not only museum exhibits, but also a modern scientific library, which has materials on archaeology and art history, are at the disposal of tourists.
A striking and soaring Lutheran cathedral in the center of the city is the church of Hadlgrímskirkja. One of the tallest buildings in Iceland, it resembles a huge stalagmite, or the figment of an eccentric sculptor’s imagination.
It owes its name to Hadlgrímur Petursson, the poet and spiritual leader, a Lutheran preacher.
Hadlegrimskirkya was built for 38 years, and today it is one of the main attractions of Reykjavik. The tower has an observation deck at the very top, offering picturesque views of the city. In addition to the external design, tourists are attracted by the huge organ inside: it weighs about 25 tons, and its height is 15 meters. The church regularly holds concerts of organ music, which can be attended by all comers.
Attractions in Reykjavik
Perlan Landakotskirkja Dettifoss Falls Godafoss Free Church Reykjavik Fallology Museum Seljalandsfoss Falls National Library of Iceland
This site contains Reykjavík attractions – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to what to see in Reykjavík, where to go and where the popular and interesting places in Reykjavík are.
Perlan is quite a versatile building. It originally served as the city’s boiler house – each of its tanks was heated with thermal water. Now the tanks are covered with a transparent blue roof. In Perlan tourists can visit the food, souvenir, and Christmas stores, which are located on the fourth floor.
In addition, this famous building boasts bars and a revolving restaurant. The latter is located inside a spherical glass dome and makes a complete revolution around its axis in a few hours. At night, the roof is illuminated by thousands of bright lights and looks mesmerizing.
On the fourth floor is a wide observation deck with six panoramic telescopes. It gives a great opportunity for locals and tourists to enjoy the beauty of Reykjavik or admire the starry sky. On the first floor of Perlan is an exhibition space that locals call the “winter garden.” It often hosts various concerts and fairs.
In one of the former water reservoirs is the famous Saga Museum. Tourists will be interested to see the wax figures, which will help draw a general picture of life and life of the Icelandic people. Inside Perlan, you can find a decorative, periodically active geyser.
Landakotskirkja is one of the outstanding architectural monuments and landmarks of Iceland. It is situated on the western part of Reykjavik and rises majestically on Landakots Hill. In addition, the church of Landakotskirkja is considered the unique cathedral of the diocese of Iceland.
The first Catholic priests to come to Iceland during the Reformation were Jean-Baptiste Baudouin and Bernard Bernard. They bought a plot of land and began to live on the farm. Initially, these legendary Frenchmen built a chapel – this happened in 1864. A few years later near the priests’ house a wooden church was built, which was not very impressive in size.
The French made themselves known only after the end of World War I. In that period of time, the growing Catholic community had an urgent need for a church of its own. A decision was made to build a church in the Neo-Gothic style. Already in 1929 it was completely finished, and at that time it was considered to be the largest church in Iceland. The rite of consecration of the church was performed by William van Rossum himself, who was a cardinal and envoy of Pope Pius XI.
The construction of the Landakotskirkja can safely be called innovative for its time, because it was erected in concrete, which is not typical for structures in the Gothic style.
In the church building itself one finds many modern elements, geometric proportions are respected. Instead of the standard spires, its square tower has a unique flat top. The interior of Landakotskirkya is in the Gothic style, the floor is tiled with tiles of unimaginable beauty. Inside the building, a unique sense of freedom and flight is created, aided by numerous arches. There are also statues of St. Torlak, considered the patron saint of Iceland, and the Virgin Mary with a baby in her arms.
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Dettifoss Waterfall is located in northeastern Iceland, on the river Jökulsau-au-Fjödlum. It is the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Dettifoss is located in the Jökulsaurglüvur National Park, 1 kilometer downstream from Selfoss Falls and 2 kilometers upstream from Hafragilfoss Falls. The width of Detifoss waterfall is about 100 meters, height – 44 meters, the average water flow – 200 cubic meters per second, and sometimes – up to 500 cubic meters per second. Not far from the waterfall is a picturesque lake Muvatn.
The name “Detifoss” translates as “bubbling waterfall”. Childrenfoss Falls can be seen in the film “Prometheus” by Ridley Scott. According to the film’s version, this is the place where the beginning of life on Earth began.
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Godafoss Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. The name “Godafoss” translates as “God’s waterfall”.
The waterfall is located in the north of the island, near the town of Akureyri, on the river Skjaulfandaflljöut. Godafoss was formed by the melting of a glacier. The height of this beautiful waterfall is 12 meters, width – 30 meters. Godafoss waterfall has a very unusual form: it is divided into several streams. This is one of the most visited waterfalls in Iceland. In 999-1000 years after the adoption of Christianity by the inhabitants, pagan idols were thrown into Godafoss. This event gave the waterfall its name.
Free Church of Reykjavik
The Free Church of Reykjavík (Fr kirkjan Reykjav k) is a kirk belonging to the Lutheran community, which is not part of the state Church of Iceland. That is why it is called the Free Church.
The Neo-Gothic building of the Free Church of Reykjavik was built in 1901 on the shores of Lake Tjörnin and fits in perfectly with the local architectural restraint. In addition to its architectural value, the Free Church represents great significance as a key player in the establishment of the country’s independence. In the early twentieth century, the congregation of the Free Church was made up of ordinary sailors, merchants, and laborers.
The Free Lutheran Church represented opposition to the Danish Lutheran Church, which played no small part in the independence movements of the 1920s.
Today the church hosts services and celebrations. Due to its lack of strict canons, the Free Church often becomes a concert venue for rock and pop stars as well as classical and folk music evenings. The Free Church is also the entrance to the National Gallery of Iceland.
The exterior design of the church is rather cold and unsightly, but it echoes the simplicity and modesty of the interior furnishings. There is a beautiful organ at the far wall. Therefore, concerts are often held here, and not only organ and folk Icelandic music is played.
The Phallological Museum, the Icelandic Museum of Phallic Figures, is a unique museum in Reykjavik dedicated exclusively to the study of animal penises. It is dedicated to phallology and has about 245 penises of a wide variety of animals, from the hamster to the sperm whale.
The museum collects preserved penises of mammal species native to Iceland. Exhibits of species that don’t live in Iceland and thematically related artwork are also on display. Since July 2011, a human penis has also been on display for the first time since the death of 95-year-old P ll Arason, who bequeathed his organ to the museum.
The museum’s founder and director, Sigurdur Hjartarson, began collecting the causal parts of males in 1974. This hobby was inspired by a friend who gave him a whip made from the dried penis of a bull from the Snaifeldsnes Peninsula. Since then, the collection has grown by 244 pieces, 195 of which Sigurdur canned by his own hand.
The entrance to the museum is decorated with a sign in the shape of a penis, as well as phallic variations on the theme of rounded and oblong stones. Inside the lodge, the walls are hung with dried animal penises, like trophies in the best hunting traditions. There are showcases with flasks inside which the phalluses of seals, whales, polar bears and also smaller mammals such as guinea pigs and others are floating in formaldehyde. The museum exhibits are illuminated by lamps made of bovine testicles, which Sigurdur made himself.
The largest item in the museum is a part of the penis of a blue whale, which is 170 cm long and weighs 70 kg. The whole organ would have been 5 meters long and weighed about 350-450 kg. Hamster penis bones only 2 mm long are the smallest exhibit in the collection and require a magnifying glass to examine.
The museum also has a section devoted to folklore. It has about 20 exhibits. One of them is the color of seaweed. If ancient legend is to be believed, it is the sexual organ of the waterman. It has a few more sculptures and mock penises, but no toys from the sex shop.
Several of the vessels in Hjartarson’s collection are empty. They are for human penises. Four homo sapiens – from Iceland, Britain, the United States and Germany – have already bequeathed their genitals to the museum, as evidenced by certificates on the museum wall.
Most of the artifacts were donated to the museum by fishermen, hunters and biologists. People come to the museum of phalluses to satisfy their curiosity, sometimes, however, forgetting that the exhibits once belonged to living creatures. Of course, you cannot go to the museum with children, but adults can see it for the sake of interest.