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Best things to do in Reykjavik

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Iceland  /  Capital Region  /  Reykjavik
In a city surrounded by a landscape known for its stunning natural wonders and interesting Viking history, visitors find plenty of things to do in Reykjavik. The tall grey walls of Hallgrimskirkja tower over the city, offering those who want to climb to the church's top a view of the entire city. If you tour Golden Circle Route, you'll see many of the nation's landmarks, including the falling waters of Gullfoss, the giant geysers of Haukadalur, and Kerid Crater.

Reykjavik is best known for its Churches, Scuba & Snorkeling, and Nightlife.

Top 15 things to do in Reykjavik

1. Hallgrimskirkja

An unusual-looking church, the design of Hallgrimskirkja was inspired by the forms created when lava cools into basalt rock. The church was designed by Gudjon Samuel in 1937 and constructed between 1945 and 1986. The tower, at 73 m (239.5 ft) tall, dominates Reykjavik's skyline. The view from the top looks out over the entire city, plus the rocky, volcanic landscape and the sea beside the capital. Inside the church, listen to the melodies wafting from the enormous, 25-ton pipe organ. A statue of Leifur Ericsson, the first European to reach America, stands directly outside the strange edifice.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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2. Food Tours

Suggested duration: 3 hours
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3. Horseback Riding Tours

Tread the paths of old Norse explorers on a Reykjavik horseback riding tour. You'll uncover the dramatic and seemingly prehistoric landscapes of Iceland while riding an ancient breed of horse under the experienced gaze of a local guide. With a wealth of picturesque scenery to choose from, you can select the countryside location you most want to visit, then head out on horseback toward the horizon. All experience levels are welcome, with minimum age stipulated on some tours. Most trips take at least five hours.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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5. Blue Lagoon, Grindavik

Melt away in the warm pools of Blue Lagoon, a manmade lagoon filled with water that's heated naturally by a nearby lava flow. True to its name, the lagoon's water reflects a nearly opaque shade of brilliant blue due to the high mineral content. Try the different pools of varying temperatures, and pamper yourself with spa treatments, such as mud masks, a sauna, or steam baths. Climb up to the viewing platform to see a view of the lagoon below and the rolling green hills set behind. Rich in minerals, such as silica and sulphur, the blue waters are said to be healing for skin conditions, such as psoriasis. A research center at the lagoon is working on developing cures for other skin diseases. Book your tickets in advance via the attraction's website and be aware that slots fill up days and even weeks beforehand during the busy season.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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6. Sun Voyager

Wander down to the harbor to see Sun Voyager, a massive sculpture of a dreamboat. Designed by Jon Gunnar Arnason in 1990, the stainless steel artwork resembles a Viking ship and is dedicated to the sun. The sculpture is close to shore and offers a view of Mount Esja across the harbor. More art installations dot the shore if you continue to walk along the water, but this sculpture is the highlight.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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7. Nature & Wildlife Tours

See the pristine and often outrageous beauty of Iceland on a guided nature-and-wildlife tour from Reykjavik. You'll have a chance to absorb awe-inspiring vistas of towering glaciers, black-sand beaches, wild moorlands, lava fields, and other dramatic natural creations while learning folk legends from your knowledgeable and friendly guide. These exciting tours allow you to sail along the coastal waters to see puffins and whales, observe seals and seabirds in their natural habitat, ride an ATV over rugged terrain, paddle a kayak through a fjord, and experience the magic of Aurora Borealis. The duration of these excursions is variable, from 1 to 10 hours.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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8. National Museum of Iceland

Iceladic history comes to life at National Museum of Iceland, founded in 1863. Though its collections used to be held in various Danish institutions, the museum now houses objects returned to their country of origin in the 19th century. The permanent exhibit includes a celebrated carved door depicting a lion slaying a dragon.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Off-Road Tours

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Thingvellir National Park, Thingvellir

Containing the site of the former parliament of Iceland, Thingvellir National Park serves as a historical landmark set in a beautiful landscape. Part of the Golden Circle, the park is one of the most visited attractions in the country. The national park was founded in 1930 to protect the former parliament, which dates to 930 CE, as well as the natural land surrounding it. Explore the park's highlights, including the Mid-Atlantic ridge, where the Eurasian and North American plates meet, and the largest natural lake in the country. The park has facilities for hiking, camping, and even scuba diving in Silfra Lake.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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11. Perlan

A city landmark, Perlan features an exhibit space, shops, restaurant, and viewing platform. The ground-floor area, called the Wonders of Iceland, hosts an exhibit about Icelandic nature. On the fourth floor, browse one of the oldest gift stores in Iceland, with an emphasis on Icelandic artwork. Walk around the building on the wraparound viewing platform, which offers a 360-degree look at the city and surrounding area. Enjoy a meal in the restaurant, which provides spectacular views of Reykjavik or take in a show at the planetarium.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. Landnámssýningin/The Settlement Exhibition

Learn about the construction of buildings during the time of Vikings and the settlement of Iceland through thousand-year-old artifacts in Landnámssýningin/The Settlement Exhibition. Located in Reykjavik City Museum, the exhibit features archaeological finds excavated in Aðalstræti in 2001 which represent the oldest physical evidence of human habitation in the city. A wall fragment from before 871 CE and a longhouse from the 10th century are the focal point of the exhibit. Both are preserved in their original locations. Explore the exhibit to gain an understanding of how the first settlers lived. Follow the displays using an audio guide that's available in several different languages.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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14. Adrenaline & Extreme Tours

Suggested duration: 8 hours
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15. Dogsledding Iceland, Mosfellsbaer

Few adventures can show you some of the country's remotest places quite like Dogsledding Iceland, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that thrills nature and dog lovers. Dog sledding allows you to travel across Iceland's picturesque landscape without creating noise or air pollution. It's just you and your furry friends gliding across the frosty stillness that makes Iceland such a unique and unforgettable destination. Depending on weather, you can join a snow or dry-land tour, so be sure to check the website for currently available options.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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