Reykjavik has a wealth of culture in the city, with arts, museums, public parks, concert venues, and other attractions. These five things will give you a taste of Iceland’s rich culture right in the heart of its capital.
Majestically perched atop the highest hill in Reykjavik, Perlan is impressive both inside and out. For a quick visit to Perlan, you can admire its impressive dome-shaped glass exterior and surrounding statues, as well as some forested walking trails through the woods up along the hillside. If you’re eager to spend a bit more time there, several exhibits showcase the many awe-inspiring natural wonders of Iceland, including a captivating virtual planetarium experience of the northern lights. If you’re adventuring beyond Reykjavik, it’s a great way to get acquainted with the incredible experiences and natural features that await you; if not, it’s your best bet for experiencing the wonders of Iceland without even leaving the city.
Danish architect Ólafur Eliasson designed the concert hall’s geometric glass exterior to reflect and compliment Iceland’s dramatic natural features. From the outside, Harpa glimmers with dark blue hues and reflections of the surrounding sea and the city of Reykjavik. Inside, the prismatic ceiling and glass windows create a different view from every angle. For free, you can walk around multiple floors and admire the outer architecture, or see more on a guided tour. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Icelandic Opera, and other venerable groups perform here on a regular basis, as well as more casual shows like the one-man comedy “How to become Icelandic in 60 minutes.” Check out our behind-the-scenes tour of Harpa Concert Hall on PlacePass.
Part museum, part wellness boutique and store, and part artistic venture, Fischer invites passersby into its open doors with soothing celestial music and mystical Icelandic herb concoctions that give off alluring aromas. Four siblings and their father constructed and designed the entire store, with interactive aspects stimulating all of the senses. Visitors are encouraged to breathe in mineral scents, taste healing tea blends, and view entrancing video exhibits embedded in the architecture. Handmade soaps, lotions, and essential oil blends are available for purchase, along with ancient natural remedies.
4. Statue of Ingólfur Arnarson
The Statue of Ingólfur Arnarson on Arnarhóll commemorates the man who founded Reykjavik in 874 AD. One of the first permanent Norse settlers of Iceland, he chose the name Reykjavik (meaning ‘Smoke Cove’), because of the steam rising from hot springs all over the land. Next to Ingólfur, a dragon’s head decorates his high-seat pillar. The statue also features the god Odin, his two ravens, an eight-legged horse, and the folkloric Worm of Midgard. The location at the top of a grassy hill in the middle of the city makes for great views of the Harpa, the harbor, and seaside nearby, as well as the mountains in the distance.
5. Icelandic Phallogical Museum
The museum started with a real phallus given as a gag gift, and quickly grew into an exhaustive collection of Icelandic mammal penile specimens that became an entire museum. The audio guided tour will give you all the TMI you never needed in the first place, and you’ll see specimens from hundreds of species, ranging from giraffe to gerbil, scientific to spiritual, and mammalian to mythical creatures. The gift shop sells plenty of on-theme memorabilia, if you want something to remember your visit.