If you are visiting Iceland a tour around Reykjavík is a must! This beautiful little city is full of amazing architecture, history, and street art. All of Iceland is easy to navigate and Reykjavík is no exception. This is a great city to see by foot in just one day. I put together this self guided walking tour for our recent trip to Iceland and we really enjoyed our day in Reykjavík! This tour will take you to all the major sights in town on an easy 6 mile walking loop. Check out below for a map and a printable fact sheet full of interesting information on each stop!
There is plenty of parking in Reykjavík. If you are visiting on a weekday free parking is easy to find near Hallgrímskirkja church where this walking tour starts. Search for spots between Njarðargata and Barónsstígur streets near the Landspitali University Hospital campus. Available spots may be hard to find in this area on weekends and holidays as this is a residential area. There is also plenty of paid parking in the city. Check out this article from I Heart Reykjivik for all the details on parking zones!
This self guided walking tour starts and ends at the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church. The church does not open its doors until 9am, so if you are arriving on an early flight there are plenty of bakeries near the church off of Frakkastígur street and Laugavegur street to grab some breakfast. Hallgrímskirkja is amazing from the outside but just as spectacular on the inside! Their organ has 5,275 pipes! As you can see by the look of pure amazement I captured on my husbands face when he first saw the organ it’s definitely worth a look! You can also take the elevator to the top of the church tower for 900ISK. From the top of the church you can get the best view of the city.
From Hallgrímskirkja this route takes you down Skólavörðustígur street to reach the lake. This street is filled with boutiques and gift shops. Granted this area is a bit pricey but there is some great browsing to be done along the walk to the next stop. As you turn on to Fríkirkjuvegur you will pass Stjórnarráðið, the prime minister’s office, and Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík, the oldest college in the city. These beautiful buildings are surrounded by sweeping green lawns and interesting sculptures. When you reach the lake you will see Fríkirkjan í Reykjavík, a beautiful white church with a green roof. The lake is filled with different swans, ducks, geese, and other interesting birds. As you finish the loop around the lake you will pass the Reykjavík City Hall building and its beautiful fountains.
This is a quick stop to admire another beautiful church in the city. This Catholic church was at one time the largest church in Iceland. We were not able to go inside, but it does boast furniture and alters from renowned Holland sculptors. Take the street directly across from the church to head down to the Reykjavík Old Harbor.
The Old Harbor
The Reykjavík Old Harbor has several interesting stops. Start by walking to the very end of the harbor to climb to the top of the small green hill, Þúfa, for some great views. On the way back stop at Vitkin Maritime Museum to step aboard and explore some old ships. Admission for this museum is 1500ISK. There are also some other great old ships on display around the harbor.
Being from the landlocked state of Colorado I was very excited to try some fresh fish and chips on our visit to Iceland. There are several great places along this walking route to grab some great local fish and chips. If you want to take some to go stop by the Fish and Chips Vagninn in the Old harbor. If you want to take a break and have a seat I highly recommend Icelandic Fish and Chips. It is located just across the street from the Old Harbor in the Volcano House building. This was the best fish I have ever had ever! It was cooked perfect and the batter was so light and crunchy! It was also great to take a look as some of the interesting displays of the Volcano House right off the entrance to the restaurant. They also have great free WiFi here making it the perfect place to rest your feet and fill up before walking the rest of the city. If you are not a fan of fish there are many other restaurants in the Old Harbor area.
Sculpture & Shore Walk
Reykjavík has a beautiful Sculpture & Shore Walk with some of the biggest attractions in the city the Harpa Conference Center and the Sun Voyager sculpture. The shore walk starts from the Old Harbor and the first major stop is the Harpa Conference Center. This is an amazing piece of architecture and I would encourage you to take a step inside to really appreciate this building. From the conference center you can see the famous Sun Voyager sculpture a few minutes walk along the shore. The Sun Voyager (Sólfar) is a beautiful statue in an amazing setting. It represents the dreams of hope, progress, and freedom. As you continue from the Sun Voyager there are several other pieces of art and amazing views of the ocean and mountains! The last stop along the Sculpture & Shore Walk is the Höfði House.
This beautiful house is considered to be one of the most historically significant buildings in Reykjavík. It is best known as the location for the summit meeting of presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbatsjov in 1986 that marked the end of the Cold War.
Back to the Start
This walking route takes you back to Hallgrímskirkja church from Höfði House via Laugavegur street. This street is filled with great gift shopping and restaurants. You will also pass by the Icelandic Phallological Museum. I was not one to take a step inside this museum but it was still funny to get a picture of the sign!
Everything You Need to do it Yourself!
Reykjavík Self Guided Walking Tour Map
(A note on this map: The map shows that after visiting Sun Voyager you have to go to 40 to cross the street. However, there is a cross walk at the Höfði House)
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