10 free things to do in Reykjavík

Iceland is expensive. I won’t kid you, even if you take budget flights and camp out, it’s hard not to spend more money than you want to. But even in the big city of Reykjavík, there is quite a lot you can do for free! It was surprisingly easy to think of 10 good things to do.

All of the  activities below are outdoors except for the last three, and some involve walking up to 30 minutes from “downtown” (a good way to get away from the lazier tourists!).

I’ve included links to other pages where I’ve written about some of these in more detail.

1. Watch/feed the birds at Tjörnin – one of the most popular places for tourists to go is “the pond”, it’s centrally located and full of interesting birds at any time of year.

2. Ásmundur Sveinsson outdoor sculptures – arranged outside a museum of his other works, these weirdly modern and smooth sculptures date from the 1930’s.

3. Walk around the harbour – some interesting sights lie around the main harbour area – the large exhibition hall Harpa, all kinds of boats, the flea market and some really scenic views across the bay.


4. Viewing deck at Perlan – there is a viewing platform here that gives you a panoramic view from high above the city.

Maybe not on rainy days, though

Maybe not on rainy days, though

5. Hólavallagarður – historic cemetery with interesting graves, also unusual in Iceland for having many trees.

6. Nautholsvík – how would you live to visit a beach with golden sands, geothermically heated water and hot tubs? Such a paradise exists in Reykjavík, although small and man-made it’s worth a visit!

7. Solfar sculpture – this must be one of the most photographed bits of Reykjavík, and can normally be found with tourists draped over it in interesting formations!

8. National Museum of Iceland – this is only free on Wednesdays, and only during the quieter months of the year, so it’s worth double checking this before you go.

9. Harpa – love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. There are guided tours of the building, but you can also walk around quite a lot of the inside for free. The many windows and interesting light make it popular with photographers.

10. Hallgrímskirkja – you have to pay to go up to the viewing platform of the-church-at-the-top-of-the-hill, but can walk around the church itself for free. Someone was playing the huge pipe organ last time I did this, which was quite amazing to hear.

And of course, people watching and window shopping are always free and can also be fun ways to pass the time in Reykjavík.

Have you done any/all of the above? What great things have I missed off this list?


12 thoughts on “10 free things to do in Reykjavík

  1. there’s a museum right next to Hallgrímskirkja (stand with your back to the church and the museum is on your left). Around the back of it is a cute little sculpture garden. I used to live in the neighborhood and it was a wonderful place to go and sit with a coffee and a book.

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