What to see in Reykjavik in one day
Reykjavík is the northernmost capital in the world and the most populous part of Iceland.
Compared to Moscow, Reykjavík may be a small city, but it’s certainly special. There are no skyscrapers and tall buildings can be counted on the fingers. Reykjavík is a quiet, almost peaceful place – the cars there creep along at a speed of 30 km/h. If the weather is good, people also wander slowly through the streets, infectiously enjoying every moment.
Usually tourists do not stay long in Reykjavik: all the most interesting things in Iceland are in the interior of the island. My friends and I spent two weeks in the country, and we only stopped in Reykjavik for one day. That was enough: it felt like the whole city would fit within the Moscow Garden Ring.
I made a route of 8 km. It starts at the National Museum and ends at the whale museum. On the way we visit the local town hall, the Hatlgrimskirkja church, the museum of phalluses, the San Voyager sculpture, the Harp Cultural Center, and the port.
Cost in average entrance to the museum
Reykjavik City Hall is located in the city center by Lake Tjörnin. The mayor and city administration sit there, but tourists go there to see the giant 3D map of Iceland. Sometimes there are art galleries and exhibitions in the town hall. You can also pick up a free map of the city and find out about upcoming events, like street concerts and parades.
The lakefront behind City Hall offers a beautiful view of downtown. It’s a great place to take a couple of panoramic photos as a memento.
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran church, a symbol of Iceland and the most recognizable building in the country. It is notable for its design, which is unusual for most churches: from afar, Hallgrímskirkja resembles a fighter plane hovering in the air. Admission is free.
More often than not, houses in Iceland are multi-storey due to the slope on which they stand. It turns out that each floor has contact with the ground
Phallological Museum is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. It displays the reproductive organs of various animals preserved in formaldehyde. The phalluses are all different sizes, from mouse phallus to whale phallus. Each exhibit has a plaque with its history and scientific facts.
“The Sun Voyager is an amusing metal art object, shaped like a Viking rook. It is the second most recognizable landmark in Reykjavik.
In my opinion, it is not even the object itself that impresses, but the whole panorama that opens up near it. The “St. Voyager” stands on the waterfront overlooking the ocean and the huge island with mountains over the horizon. According to Google Maps, there is nothing on that island. The picture is impressive: a Viking boat gleaming in the sun, the ocean and an uninhabited piece of land.
Harpa is a cultural and social center where music concerts are held. At first glance it looks like a giant mirrored beehive, but if you look closely, you can see that some of the windows are asymmetrical. Inside the building is illuminated by the reflection of the sun from the glass surfaces under the ceiling.
Admission is free. If you want to listen to music, you can buy tickets in advance on the center’s website.
costs the entrance to Harp Concert Hall
The port of Reykjavik is just behind the center of Harp. There are plenty of seafood restaurants – you can’t doubt their freshness – and also yachts and various ships in the harbor, which are just fun to look at.
Outside, the Harpy Concert Hall resembles a fishing net, but inside it looks like a beehive of mirrors.
Money. The currency of Iceland is the Icelandic kroner (kr). One krona is worth 0.56 R . Cash is rarely used by Icelanders, so you can pay by card everywhere.
Language. Icelanders speak English fluently. Moreover, they are very friendly and sociable, so they don’t hesitate to be the first to talk to foreign tourists.
To get to Nejtjolsvik is most convenient by bus. There is an Egilsgata/Barónsstígur bus stop behind the Hatlgrímskirkja church. To get to the beach, take bus number 5, which goes in the direction Nauthóll – Ha-er. It takes 13 minutes. Get off at the bus terminus. After that you have to walk another 5 minutes towards the ocean.
Travelling around Reykjavik: top 3 best sights
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal pool known worldwide. Moreover, it is really unique. The lagoon the color of the sky is the true symbol of the northern country and one of the favorite Scandinavian resorts. Due to the unique composition of the water, bacteria simply do not survive in the Blue Lagoon.
Imagine World Tower
One of the most moving monuments dedicated to a loved one is the brainchild of Yoko Ono, the famous widow of the legendary Beatle John Lennon. But like everything the couple did, the monument can’t be called just a lump of stone – it’s a global work of art in its intent and message to the world.
A volcano that has been erupting for 2 or 3 million years, the guardian angel of Reykjavík and one of the most common names of blond Icelandic girls, all this is Mount Esja, 10 km from the capital, to the delight of all panorama lovers.
The amazing story of a small mansion that appeared without the knowledge of the authorities in the northern part of the capital of Iceland, makes every day the crowd of tourists to approach to the albeit closed to visitors Hövdi house, look through the windows and take the traditional selfies against it.
Harpa Concert and Convention Center
A new jewel in Reykjavik’s collection, which appeared on the city map not long ago, is the Harpa Concert and Congress Center, which won the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Architecture Prize in 2013. The striking building resembles a spaceship from the future.
Cultural Center Perlan
It’s no accident that the avant-garde, extravagant and eccentric Björk was born in Reykjavik. Where else in the world could this fragile young lady with her crazy ideas and brilliant voice have grown up if not in Iceland, where they turn a city boiler-room into a cultural center?
You can’t say that Iceland in general and Reykjavik in particular can boast a wealth of architectural sights. But they do not need it, as it is more than compensated by the wonderful colors of life and, of course, nature.
National Museum of Iceland
Icelanders call their national museum a place where the Nordic sagas are closely intertwined with actual history. The exposition, located in a building huge by the standards of the island, covers the history of the country from the emergence of the first people here to the present day.
Videi Island is a unique place, but little known even to those tourists who ventured out into the frozen expanses of this ancient and beautiful country, like an elven saga. And no wonder: the beauty of national parks, thermal geysers and waterfalls overshadow the seemingly inconspicuous island of land.
Sun Voyager Monument
One of the most elaborate and brilliant sculptures in the world, “The Sun Voyager” or “The Sun Traveler”, is a Russian translation of this monument. Created from sketches by the talented Icelandic artist Jon Gunnar Arnason, the Sun Voyager was installed on the waterfront of Reykjavik
Reykjavik City Hall
One of the most controversial landmarks of the capital of Iceland, located in the heart of the city and still causing much discussion and sometimes condemnation by locals. Of course, we are talking about the City Hall of Reykjavik.
Arbaejarsafn Folklore Museum
The largest open-air museum in Iceland, which is housed in 30 buildings and introduces visitors to “Reykjavik leaving” is Arbaejarsafn, a real treasure trove of original folklore, amazing traditions and ancient architecture of this northern country.
Powerful, utterly futuristic, and rudely piercing the skies, the Lutheran church of Hadlegrimskirkja would look more organic in Babylon 5 than in the middle of one of the Old World’s capitals. For most orthodox tourists, the temple’s appearance is perplexing.
Small, modest, charming and cozy Reykjavik can, without a shadow of a doubt, be called one of the most interesting capitals of Europe. The main thing that distinguishes the city on the map of the Old World is probably its location. It is located on a frozen island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between the New World and the old Europe. No wonder its face, character, atmosphere and attractions are so different from the rest of the mainland’s capitals.
“The Sun Wanderer” is a monument so similar to the skeleton of a Viking war boat. At sunset, when soft purple and orange hues descend on the city, this sculpture is considered the most romantic place in the capital, and the number of “selfies” on its background just goes off the scale.
Reykjavik is amazing, and you’ll know it as soon as you step off the plane. And it’s hard to say what strikes you more – the stunning nature of the land of elves and Vikings, or the man-made sights of Reykjavík. To begin with, the Hadlgrímskirkja Church, which at first glance looks like at least a spaceship that has unexpectedly landed in Iceland, in the middle of its capital. The overall monumentality of the building is impressive, as is its sharp spire, pointing into the sky and piercing the heavens above.
To see the beauty of Reykjavík, and just to enjoy the fantastic views of the ocean, you should go to Mount Esja. In addition to the panoramas, everyone who bothers to go up to one of its peaks (and it’s not that far – about 1.5 hours of scenic walk), will have the opportunity to leave an autograph in the guest book. Another excellent viewing platform, and also a full-fledged cultural center with a restaurant, a museum and a boiler room that heats the whole city, is “Perlan”. Its 360-degree rotating restaurant offers perhaps the best views of the city.
The waterfront in Reykjavik is also worth a visit, because there are at least three places worthy of a visit. The first is the Sun Wanderer, a monument that resembles the skeleton of a Viking war boat. At sunset, when the city descends soft purple and orange hues, this sculpture is considered the most romantic place in the capital, and the number of “selfies” on its background just goes off the scale. The second most popular sight by the water is the Hövdi House, where an agreement was reached to end the Cold War between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.S.R. Finally, the port where the ferries to Videy Island depart from. Of course, in the latter case, it’s not the harbor itself that’s important, but where you can go from it. After all, it is on the island of Videi that the oldest stone church in the country, with its interior virtually intact, has been preserved. And it’s also home to the very Imagine World Tower, which was designed by the famous Yoko Ono in memory of her husband, John Lennon.
It would be unforgivable not to mention the Reykjavik Town Hall and the Open Air Folklore Museum. The former attracts the eye with its brutal “hi-tech” look against the background of traditional wooden houses in the center of the capital. And the second is ready to acquaint everyone with national crafts, ancient dwellings and fascinating exhibitions about everyday life and traditions of Reykjavik residents.