Landmarks and Views
- Hallgrimskirkja is hard to miss. It’s 74.5m tall, as well as being on a hill, so can be seen for miles around. Often mistaken for a cathedral, it’s actually a Lutheran church. The design reflects the hexagonal structures formed by cooling volcanic basalt. Pop inside to admire the vast organ, and go up the tower for spectacular views of the city and bay. Outside the church is a statue of Leifur Eriksson, the first European to reach America.
- The Perlan can be seen from miles around. It is situated on a hill just outside the city centre, and consists of five hot water storage tanks with a dome on top. Inside the lower part of the structure is the Wonders of Iceland, which features various exhibitions. But head upstairs to the observation deck for panoramic views of the city. Sadly, while the observation deck used to be free, it now has a small charge. Right at the top of the dome is a restaurant and café.
- Harpa is the city’s opera house, located by the harbour. Check online before you travel to see what’s on, but even if there’s nothing that takes your fancy it’s worth going inside and taking the lift to the fifth floor. From here you can appreciate the vertiginous architecture in all its glory.
- Laugavegur is the main shopping street in Reykjavik. Here you will find an eclectic selection of tourist shops, outdoor clothing brands, restaurants and the occasional more “normal” looking shop. It’s not pedestrianised so look out for cars, but they go very slowly.
- Kringlan / Smaralind are the two shopping malls in Reykjavik.
- Whales of Iceland Museum – on the opposite side of the harbour from the Harpa, this is worth a wander around if you want to marvel at scale models of 23 whale and dolphin species found off the shores of Iceland. This includes the blue whale, measuring in at 25m long.
- Phallological museum – located at Laugavegur 116, the Icelandic Phallological museum hosts over 215 penises, ranging from a blue whale to a mouse. It’s a slightly surreal experience. If you have an old guide book to Iceland, note that this museum used to be in Húsavík but has now relocated to the capital. Confused-looking people can still be found wandering around Húsavík, clutching their pre-2010 Lonely Planet guide and wondering where all the penises are.