10 Top Tourist Attractions in Reykjavik

Martina Rosado
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Saga Museum

One of the top ten museums in the world is right in downtown Reykjavik. It’s the ten stories Saga Museum that perfectly displays the history of Iceland and is located above the stunning Hallgránur temple. The museum highlights the lives of its three main components namely, the Saga of Icelanders in the early age, the Saga of Natives in the Viking Age, and the Saga of Icelanders in recent time and the Self-government.

The Saga Museum offers historical tales that are very important and a must to know about the Arctic island nation. It offers a completely original approach to [saga] historical collecting, and exhibits the most magnificent examples of the art of Icelandic medieval grave stones.

You have an absolute right to learn lots of interesting stories about the sagas before you even set foot to Reykjavik by visiting the Saga Museum in Iceland.

Volcano House

Reykjavik is famous for its rich volcanic history, as every day the locals can hear the famous Reykjavik folk rhyme “All the volcanoes are motionless; the lava is all cool”; however, it is easy to forget that the city sits on top of an active volcano and can therefore also be destructive. In the 14th century, the first of three eruptions completely destroyed the town of Reykjavik, and in the following centuries the ashes covered the city every few decades.

In the late 1800s, it was decided to construct the Reykjavik City Hall on top of the central part of the heart of the city, which was followed by the Southern and Eastern parts of the city being used as the city’s mortuaries as they were full of the dead of the previous pillaging.

The city’s most important attraction, though, is the Volcano House – a time capsule built on the spot that the city was wiped off the map in the 14th century. It is the most expensive hotel in Iceland, as it is designed to look like the city’s medieval architecture with surviving remnants from old ruins incorporated into the front of the building.

Laugavegur

This is a beautiful site in Reykjavik. In summer there is a stream in the park. In winter, there is still water here, but it is flowing through a cave. You need to take a hike around the park to see all the various mountains in Iceland.

If you are in Reykjavik, this is a must-see. It is the oldest nature reserve in Iceland. There are three main hiking trails to choose from.

Arbaer Open Air Museum

Harpa

Harpa Concert Hall is a concert hall in Reykjavík, Iceland. It is located at Reykjavik’s harbor, designed by Finnish-American architect Eila Häyry and Finnish-Icelandic architect Alvar Aalto. It has the largest concert hall in Iceland, seating 3500 people, although solo concerts are on a much smaller scale, usually seating less than 300. The hall was built after extensive surveys revealed that there was a demand for such a venue for Iceland’s constantly growing population. Construction started in 1971 and was completed in 1975, and the hall was opened on 1 April 1976 by Yoko Ono. It is notable as one of the work places of Sigur Rós, who commissioned the design for the hall and underwrote the cost of construction.

Perlan

Settlement Exhibition

National Museum of Iceland

The National Museum of Iceland is part of the Saga Museum campus on Austurstródígur in Reykjavók. The museum was founded in 1944 in Reykjavók and was moved to its current location in 1982. The building was designed by Gunnar Helgaîkansson.

More than 70,000 guests visit the museum every year, attracted by its museum shop and permanent exhibition. The museum mainly seeks to educate its visitors on the different components of Icelandic history since the settlement. The collection has more than 40,000 specimens on display from the Mesolithic ages to the early 20th century. The museum is also actively researching and preserving artifacts.

Here are some tips if you’re visiting the museum for the first time:

Be prepared to walk a few miles if you choose to tour the museum

The museum is open year-round except for the months of December and January.

Saturday is usually the busiest day of the week, however, Mondays are much less crowded. Tip: avoid weekends and try to arrive during Monday afternoon to avoid the crowds.

If you are visiting during the summer, be prepared to be very hot. The museum is located on the outskirts of Reykjavik, at the base of a volcano, but the ventilation system is not very sufficient to compensate for the high temperature inside.

Solfar Sculpture

The Solfar Sculpture Museum is a museum in Reykjavik, Iceland built in 2000 that displays contemporary sculpture exhibitions. The art is a collection of Icelandic and international artists. The museum moved to its current location in August 2010 and has been renamed Solfar “S’ exit in Kringlan shopping mall. The current museum is an exhibition space for contemporary sculpture as well as art exhibitions.

The building was originally designed by Danish architects Henning Larsen and Peter Krogh in 1978. It was later rebuilt and designed by Norwegian architects Snorre Rafenor Bjornson and Trygve Syvertsen in 2000. It consists of a single storey and a sculpture garden.

Hallgrimskirkja