From Þúfa to Laugavegur, between street art and murals: the best things to do and see in Reykjavìk (and surroundings), the capital of Iceland.
Located in the south-western part of Iceland, inside a bay directly overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean, Reykjavìk is a city full of museums, monuments, theaters and colour.
Called "the smoky bay" due to the geothermal fumes that surround the area, Reykjavìk is the northernmost capital in the world, as well as the most populous city in Iceland (about 206,000 inhabitants equal to 2/3 of the entire population).
If you are planningan itinerary on the road in Iceland, Reykjavìk will certainly be your first and last stop considering that Keflavík international airport is the only one that connects the island to the main airports in Italy and Europe.
In this article, I leave you a list of the top 10 things to do and see in and around Reykjavìk, as well as advice on how to get there from Keflavìk airport.
How to get to Reykjavik (from Keflavik airport)
L’aeroporto internazionale di Keflavìk dista circa 50 km dal centro di Reykjavìk ed è l’unico che collega l’Islanda ai principali scali d’Italia e d’Europa.
Esistono tre soluzioni principali per raggiungere il centro di Reykjavìk (e viceversa):
- Flybus. E’ la soluzione più comoda e veloce. I bus della Flybus impiegano 45 minuti per colmare la tratta aeroporto Keflavìk- stazione dei bus di Reykjavìk. Gli orari di partenza (dall’aeroporto) sono collegati agli arrivi degli aerei mentre quelli per la tratta inversa sono circa ogni ora. Il prezzo standard del biglietto è 22 euro (con delle aggiunte se desiderate che il Flybus vi lasci davanti al vostro hotel, B&B o qualche altra fermata). E’ possibile prenotare i biglietti direttamente sul official site.
- Bus 55. L’autobusnumero 55of the Strætó company (download the application to stay updated and buy tickets) runs about 10 trips a day from Keflavìk airport to the center of Reykjavìk. The journey takes about 1 hour and a quarter, the cost of the ticket is about 14 euros (further information atofficial site).
- Taxi. It is the most expensive solution as the route costs around 125 euros.
What to do and see in and around Reykjavìk
With its colorful streets, murals and vibrant nightlife, Reykjavìk is a favorite city for Icelanders and visitors alike. The cheerful and attractive soul of the Icelandic capital is manifested through murals, street art, blue, red and green buildings, as well as an intense calendar of events.
I leave below the main 10 things to do and see in the center of Reykjavìk (it will take you at least a day) as well as those in its surroundings.
Old Town and Laugavegur
Among the very first things to do and see in Reykjavìk stands out the walk along the Laugavegur, the beating heart of the capital of Iceland. It is here that you will find souvenir shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors, theatres, museums and… a lot of colour. Along the Skólavörðustígur, the street of artists, you will come across rainbows, painted streets, murals and street art of all kinds.
The Lutheran Cathedral of Reykjavìk stands imposingly over the entire historic center and, with its almost 75 meters in height, dominates the entire city. Built in white concrete, the Hallgrímskirkja is dedicated to the poet Reverend Pétursson and has a majestic style on the outside and extremely sober inside. From its top you can admire a beautiful panorama. The entrance to the church is free while the climb to the tower costs around 7 euros).
Tjörnin, Alþingi and Ráðhús
The area that opens up around the picturesque Tjörnin lake is one of the most attractive in the historic centre. Here are the Alþingi, the parliament of Iceland, the Ráðhús, the town hall of Reykjavìk, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Museum of Iceland and the bizarre statue of the “monument to the unknown bureaucrat”.
To know!Inside the Town Hall there is a large model of the entire island of Iceland. Admission is free.
Old Port, Harpa, Sun Voyager and Höfði
The pedestrian street that runs along the bay of Reykjavìk is full of attractions and things not to be missed and not to be missed. First of all, the Old Port with the Grandi district next to it and the Kolaportið market (both used and food).
Continuing east you first come across the Harpa, the concert hall that attracts with its modern architecture, then the Sun Voyage, the enormous steel sculpture built in 1990 by Jón Gunnar Árnason depicting a boat on a granite base, and finally in the Höfði, the building which, between 11 and 12 October 1986, hosted the summit between the American president Ronald Reagan and the PCUS secretary Michail Gorbačëv. The meeting was fundamental in the thaw process of the Cold War.
The meaning of Þúfa is "tuft" and, on closer inspection, it looks like a tuft of grass with a strange gray installation on top. Created in 2013 by the artist Ólöf Nordal, the Þúfa is a 4500-ton grass mound on which a hut used for drying fish has been placed (harðfiskur). The installation is located in the Grandi district, at the extreme tip of Reykjavìk bay.
Grasagardur Botanical Garden
Located in eastern Reykjavík, the Grasagardur Botanical Garden is one of the places where Icelanders love to stroll, take their children and relax especially on weekends. The park is open, admission is free and the area is great for packed lunches and picnics.
In addition to being one of the most famous attractions in the country, the Blue Lagoon is usually considered the perfect conclusion to aitinerary on the road among the wonders of Iceland. Located about 50 km away from the center of Reykjavík (not far from Keflavík airport), it is a real open-air spa characterized by a large lake with a constant temperature of 39° C. The intense blue colors of the Blue Lagoon contrast with the black lava landscape and offer intense emotions.
The Golden Circle is a tourist route that is a couple of hours from Reykjavík and includes three main attractions: theÞingvellir National Park, the area of theGeysirand the waterfallGullfoss. It is an itinerary of about 300 km which can be done in one or two days (preferably two) and which has an important historical, naturalistic and cultural value. I'll tell you betterhere.
If you are looking for a day trip starting from Reykjavík, not demanding but very suggestive, know that the blue crater Kerid can be for you. Located about 70 km from the center of Reykjavík (an hour's drive), it is not strictly part of the Golden Circle but is often included in it. It is a crater lake whose depth varies from 7 to 14 meters. The entrance to the site is paid and the cost is 400 ISK.
Among the (current) best things to do and see around Reykjavík stands out, without a doubt, the excursion to the Fagradalsfjall volcano. Back active on March 19, 2021 after 8 centuries of quiescence,Fagradalsfjallit's about an hour's drive from the capital Reykjavik.
The trekking route that allows you to reach a few meters away from the lava flows takes about 1 hour uphill (the excursion lasts 2/3 hours). The experience is one that is easily forgotten in life.