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.
An immensely flattering imitation that traces the rugged mountainous features of Iceland's topography, the Hallgrímskirkja is a stunning structure in the heart of Reykjavik. Designed by architect Guðjón Samúelsson, the church was completed over a prolonged span of 41 years. It stands today as a symbol of splendid modernism and Iceland's natural beauty. The Hallgrímskirkja features a dramatic gray facade with craggy edges that swoop upward to meet the detailed steeple. The spire towers at a height of 74.5 meters (244 feet) and is visible from far-flung corners of the city. Compared to the church's imposing facade, the interior is less pronounced, though it notably houses a 5275-pipe organ that was erected in 1992.
Dómkirkjan is located in the centre of Reykjavík, next to Alþingishúsið (house of Parliament) and Hótel Borg. It is thought that a church had been in this place since the beginning of Christianity in Iceland. The present church is made of stone, and was built between 1788 and 1796. Dómkirkjan has played a part in Icelandic latter-day history. Iceland's national anthem was first played there in 1874, and Iceland's sovereignty was celebrated in the church in 1918, as well as its independence in 1944. Since Alþingi was re-established in 1845, its sessions have started with a mass in the church every year. Dómkirkjan has many old and distinguished objects and pieces of art. Its baptismal font, for instance, was made and given to the church by the famous Bertel Thorvaldsen in 1839.
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!
Despite being dwarfed by the neighboring city of Reykjavik, the town of Kópavogur manages to stand its own. Former farmland, the town has developed over the years into a residential and commercial area that is gradually finding its footing. The eponymous Kópavogur Church perched atop a hilltop is the most defining landmark of this fledgling township. At the heart of Kópavogur, attractions like the Kópavogur Art Museum and the Natural Science Centre offer a slice of cultural haven, while Smáralind, Iceland's largest indoor mall provides visitors with a lovely recreational option. The city's boundaries give way to several green spaces that stretch to meet the peaceful Lake Elliðavatn, bounded by the Heiðmörk Nature Reserve.
Sundhöllin is ahistoric public bath, one of the oldest in the city. It was established in 1937 and reflects an Art Deco style of architecture. It took eight years to build due to a lack of funds. It has a main swimming area along with a kid's pool. Saunas and steam baths are also available. The pool has a length of 25 meters (82.021 foot).
The Leifr Eiriccson Monument is a statue located in front of the Hallgrimskirkja monument which was a gift from the USA to Iceland in the year 1930. Leifr Eiriccson is said to be the first Viking explorer to have discovered the Americas. His father, Eric the Red, is said to have established the Viking settlement in Greenland where Leifr later moved to be with his family. The statue in front of the cathedral depicts the brave explorer looking out to the sea from atop a high pedestal.
Fríkirkjan í Reykjavík is a Free Church that was consecrated in 1903. It was inspired by Nordic churches and Icellandic immigrants and was created as a prayer hall for them. The Reykjavík Cathedral used to be the sole cathedral of the city. Thus, a new church was decided to be constructed near the Lake Tjörnin. This gave birth to the Fríkirkjan í Reykjavík.
Lækjartorg is a historical square in Reykjavík near the city center. It has been used since long ago as a place where farmers sell their products. It was named so, due to the presence of a brook that emptied into the sea. Today, the brook is underground and cannot be seen. Take a stroll along the square and engage in a spot of window-shopping. You will definitely find some souvenirs to carry home.