Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital, and also one of the smallest in the world, is an amazing sustainable city surrounded by mind-blowing natural wealth. Iceland is still a pretty pricy destination to visit so we’ve put together the very best free attractions and activities in the city that will make you cherish those memories for a lifetime. Plus, we have great Hostels in Reykjavík to stretch your money even further.
Discover the city from above
Perlan, in English ‘the Pearl’, is a great way to see the spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of Reykjavík and the mountains. There is a café inside, so if you wish you can admire beautiful scenery while sipping on a nice hot coffee. Plus, there are two artificial geysers as well which will surely entertain the kids as the inside one blasts off every couple of minutes – truly fascinating.
Swim with the locals in the North-Atlantic
From Perlan, you can follow a path directly to Nauthólsvík beach where you can take a dip and enjoy a bit of beach time. During summertime, the temperature is about 15 – 18°C, but in wintertime, it can go down below zero. One of the popular traditions with brave locals is to swim, all dressed-up, in the ice-cold sea on New Year’s Day. It is believed that besides this experience being invigorating, it is supposed to strengthen the immune system as well. Would you dare to try?
Go shopping at Kolaportið
Reykjavík‘s only flea market, a treasure trove of antiques and vintage clothes, is located in the city centre near the harbour. There you’ll find all kinds of people selling many different things, new and second hand, typical Icelandic homemade sweaters and stalls selling traditional Icelandic food. The market is only open on weekends.
Look for elves, and hidden and mystical people in Iceland
You can take a tour in Iceland to look for elves and hidden people. Many Icelanders firmly believe in the existence of these mysterious beings and it is an inherent part of the Icelandic culture. Why would the entire country lie about this sort of thing? What’s more, you can even attend the Icelandic elf school to learn about different types of elves, trolls, gnomes, fairies, and dwarves.
Clear your mind, climb up Mt. Esja
Esja is a very popular mountain amongst hikers and climbers, and climbing it is a great way to get rid of stress and everyday life overload. Hike the most popular hiking route to the Þverfellshorn summit, where you can enjoy a spectacular view, relax, and connect with your inner self. Before heading to the top of the mountain, consider the weather conditions, invest in good hiking shoes, and wear breathable trousers, and a jacket.
Share the peace
Visit Imagine Peace Tower, a memorial of John Lennon from his widow Yoko Ono, situated on Viðey island, right outside of Reykjavík. The peace tower was lit on the 9th of October 2007 for the first time. Yoko Ono gathered wishes throughout the years that are buried underneath the memorial. The words ‘Imagine Peace’ are written on the memorial in 24 languages, making it a unique work of art, giving light to the strong message everyone should embrace.
Relax in the park
Klambratún is a large park in Reykjavík, which offers a variety of activities like volleyball, Frisbee, or golf. The park is sometimes used for concerts or other entertainment, and has been used on Reykjavík Culture Night, an annual event, which takes place in August, where you can enjoy a host of events, ranging from musical performances to art exhibits, all delivered by local budding talent.
Go for a stroll
Laugardalur, the largest green area in Reykjavík, is where in the old days, women washed their laundry in the hot water, which came from the ground. Now, you can find The Botanic Garden here, a fairy tale-like garden with around 4,000 plants; a sports stadium; marked running routes; and the Reykjavík Park and Zoo, a great place to enjoy the great outdoors within the city.
Experience a natural phenomenon
The most magical free thing to do in Reykjavík is to watch the magical show of the Northern Lights. The best time to spot the Aurora Borealis is from fall to spring on clear nights.
Try the sleepless nights in Reykjavík during the summer solstice when day and night merge. Capture the midnight sun that creates shades of pink and yellow all around the city, feel the extra energy fuelling your body, and enjoy endless opportunities. Have you ever played midnight golf for instance?
Get a Reykjavík City Card
The Reykjavík City Card is the easiest and most inexpensive way to experience the city. The card offers free entry to a great selection of museums and galleries, all swimming pools in Reykjavík, and free unlimited travel by bus within the Reykjavík capital area. In addition, the card also gives you a free ferry trip to Viðey island and discounts on various tours, in shops, and on services. Reykjavík City Cards are available for periods of 24, 48 or 72 hours.
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