A short distance from Reykjavík, Viðey is a charming island . The island's highest point is 32 meters (104.9 feet) above sea level. The island is thought to be around two million years old, a former volcano rising from the bottom of the sea. It rose above sea level only nine to ten thousand years ago. A day spent in Viðey is an ideal outing for the family. Besides walking the island, it is possible to hire a horse and see Viðey from horseback. The island is relatively well grown and rich in bird life. At least 30 species are known to lay eggs on the island. There are also beautiful, historic buildings on the island. Research has shown that people lived there as early as the tenth century and a church was built in the twelfth century. A monastery was established in 1225 and stood until 1539, when it was raided and everything from it stolen. The oldest stone building in Iceland is in Viðey and has preserved its original charm and grandeur. One of the oldest church buildings in Iceland, built in 1774, is also in Viðey.
Árbæjarsafn was founded in 1957. It is situated in Árbær, an old farm that used to be outside Reykjavik, but the city has grown and expanded so that this place is now within the city itself. When the museum was established, only farmhouses stood there but within the next years some old houses from Reykjavik's city center were moved up there and rebuilt. One of the museum's buildings is a church, built in 1842 and still used for religious ceremonies. As well as being an open-air museum, it also organizes exhibitions based on themes from the past. A case in point is an exhibition showing old cars and old garage tools. It is thought that the first settlers in Iceland built their houses in Reykjavik in 874. The museum is dedicated to Reykjavik's history from that day until the present day, showing artifacts representing the everyday life of Reykjavik's inhabitants over the period. For those wanting to get to know the history of Reykjavik, Árbæjarsafn is the best place to visit.
Sun Voyager is a beautiful landmark in Reykjavik and boasts of designs by Jón Gunnar Árnason, a famed architect. Also known as Sólfar, this steel-ship features tridents symbolizing magic and proudly sits at the seaside. Being the last design of the architect, it is believed that the ship is a mark of healing and faith and is also interpreted as a ship that transports the spirit to the afterlife.
A scenic repository that pays tribute to Iceland's seafaring culture, the Reykjavik Maritime Museum is located along the city's harborfront. The museum is built into a former fish freezing factory unit, a plant that was originally built on the Grandi landfill. It explores the time-honored legacy of Iceland's fishing past, alluding to the time when early settlers depended heavily on fishing for livelihood. Over the years, fishing practices burgeoned into a larger industry, thus accelerating Iceland's prosperous growth over the years. The maritime museum also hosts a stunning nautical relic that was acquired in 2008, the former Coast Guard Vessel Óðinn. Fastened to the pier adjacent to the museum, this grand vessel served a prime role in all three Cod Wars between 1950 and 1970. Iceland's first steel ship Magni, also stands at the pier in resolute magnificence.
Picture this: A dull day, icy winds beating on your face, and time on your hands. Where do you go? Well you can venture into one of the many thermal pools in the city or outskirts that cater to tourists and locals. Sundholl offers saunas, solaria, indoor and outdoor pools and hot pots. And it's Ladies' Night on Tuesday and Thursdays from 8p-9p!
A little outside the city center of Reykjavik, the glass dome of the landmark Perlan glints beautifully under the sun. Perched atop six gigantic hot water storage tanks, this unique architectural marvel is symbolic of the country's geothermal sources, and their key role in Icelandic society. Each tank wondrously holds 4 million liters (1 million gallons) of geothermal hot water. Within the humongous domes, a large atrium hosts exhibitions and events, mostly regarding the history and future of glaciers. From the fourth floor of the dome, visitors can enjoy panoramic vistas of Iceland's stellar landscape, from bird-eye views of Reykjavik and the majestic summit of Mount Esja, all the way to Snæfellsjökull.
Enlightening its students and visitors about Icelandic legends and folklore, Álfaskólinn - the Elf School or the Icelandic Elf School is Iceland's answer to Hogwarts. Local myths of the 'hidden people' and different types of elves are some of the most popular topics of discussions here. Located in Reykjavík, one of the most important cities of the country, this school not only provides a fantastic relief from the mundane routine but also serves the purpose of preserving cultural beliefs, mythology and values.
One of the best parks in the city, Klambratún is known for its lush greenery and ample recreational space. Locals flock this park with their families and children. Earlier known as Miklatún, the park provides a basketball court and a beach volleyball court as well. It also doubles up as a venue for local concerts and events.
Kjarvalsstadir-Listasafn Reykjavikur was one of the very first establishments which was founded solely for the purpose of hosting art exhibitions. Along with regular exhibitions of the famous Icelandic painter, Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval, the museum is also host to year-round temporary modern art exhibits by painters and sculptors from around the world. While here, you may enjoy a cup of coffee at the museum cafe as you take in the view from their floor-to-ceiling windows.
Nestled in the downtown of Reykjavik city, Laugavegurinn is a historical neighborhood of the city. Literally meaning 'Wash Road', this venue housed hot springs which were used for laundry purposes by the locals. Constructed in 1800s, Laugavegurinn has been a popular spot for shopping ever since malls like Kringlan and Smáralind have settled at this spot. Being a main tourist area now, Laugavegurinn is dotted with several restaurants and is near the famous Phallological Museum of Iceland.