Are you stopping in Reykjavik for only a few hours, but still wanna see the most important sights the city offers? We have a good proposal for you: Explore the city by foot in no more than 2-3 hours, without having to pay anything!
1. Austurvöllur / Alþingi
A good place to start your walking tour is Austurvöllur, a public square in front of Alþingi, the 19th century house with houses the Icelandic Parliament. Austurvöllur during good weather is a good get-together place since there are some cafés and bars by the square. Also, this place is used by Icelanders if it comes to protests because it’s right in front of the parliament. Fun Fact: Did you know how Icelanders protest? They clap together wooden spoons for hours! Fits very well to this peaceful country.
Your second stop only a few hundred walking meters away could be the town hall of Reykjavik. It’s situated on the big pond Reykjavíkurtjörn and when entering you get to see a really big model map of Iceland, with glaciers, mountains, islands and everything Iceland has to offer. Definitely worth a visit! Fun Fact: If you’re wondering what that big red artwork on the wall is about? It is supposed to be a vagina which was hung up after the exhibition about the hundred-year anniversary of women’s right to vote in Iceland in order to encourage the people to talk more open about topics like that.
Arnarhóll would be your next stop. It’s a little hill which holds the statue of Ingólfur Arnarson, who according to the tradition has founded Reykjavik in 874 together with his wife and his brother. Also, it’s a nice spot to overview the harbor area. Psst, take a closer look and you’ll notice that the statue is wearing lipstick. That happened during the gay pride march.
If you get hungry, there’s the famous Hot Dog stand “Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur” close by (Tryggvatagata 1) – good place for quick lunch!
Harpa is a relatively new and modern concert and congress center in the harbor of Reykjavik which was only opened 6 years ago. The architecture of the building is, as many things in Iceland, inspired by the nature. With its geometric glass panels of different colors, it looks spectacular during day- and nighttime! You can also enter the building to explore it from the inside.
Your fifth stop could be the well-known Sun Voyager (Icelandic: Sólfar) which is located on Sæbraut, the street which you’ll find right beside the water. The Sólfar is a sculpture made from steel. It pictures a dreamboat, an ode to the sun and additionally a beautiful spot to snap some photos with the mountains in the background.
As you follow Sæbraut, you can turn right onto Snorrabraut and right again onto Laugavegur, the main shopping street in downtown Reykjavik. It’s a nice place to find a nice restaurant or café, buy souvenirs or only enjoy window-shopping. If you walk down the whole street you’ll end up where you started your tour, but there’s a detour I can only advise you to take.
Hallgrimskirkja is a very ‘young’ church as it was consecrated only around 30 years ago. Also, due to its size and design, the church is one of the most famous landscapes in Reykjavik. The church is open to public and you can climb up the tower to enjoy the view from above (900 Kr.).
Enjoy your stay :)