10 Things to Do On a Layover in Reykjavik

September 18, 2015

Although Reykjavik is often considered its own arctic destination, Iceland’s capital on the coast also serves as an exciting point of embarkation or disembarkation. As a part of many of Quark’s arctic expeditions, you may be fortunate to have a Reykjavik layover as part of your Icelandic cruise. If you find yourself in this city of delightful contrasts, consider one of these activities to start or end your trip:

Solfar (Sun Voyager) Sculpture 

Solfar - Photo Credit: The Planet D

Photo opportunities are plentiful in Reykjavik, but the Solfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture near the sea is an Icelandic icon. Examining the shiny skeleton of a Viking boat, which sits perfectly among one of Reykjavik’s most scenic views, allows an opportunity to stroll along the beach near the sea and mountains, or take in a lovely sunrise or sunset.

Árbær Open Air Museum

Open-Air Folk Museum 

Visitors who appreciate the history, culture, and architecture of Iceland’s past should stop in at the Open-Air Folk Museum Arbaejarsafn. Home to rural and urban Icelandic artifacts, varying from furnished homes to farmland, horses, and churches, the museum offers guided tours, exhibitions, events and a café. Here, you can easily find yourself engulfed in Icelandic history for hours.

Lagafellslaug in Mosfellsbaer 

If you’re looking for things to do with kids in Iceland, or to cool off and wind down, Lagafellslaug in Mosfellsbaer offers water slides, hot tubs, steam rooms, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. It even provides bathing suits for rent, and is considered to have the best water slides and public pools in Iceland.

Off-Road Superjeep Tours 

Photo courtesy of Discover Iceland ToursPhoto Credit: Discover Iceland facebook page

Along with hiking and biking, there are also opportunities for exploring off-road. Discover Iceland provides private tours and day trips by way of 4x4 superjeeps, with guided stops for viewing Iceland’s dynamic scenery of waterfalls, streams and mountains, up close.

Volcano House

Even those not typically interested in history or museums will appreciate Volcano House, featuring information and exhibits pertaining to Iceland’s volcanoes. You can touch and feel volcanic rock and sands that were part of the region’s most historic volcanoes, observe geology exhibitions, and watch films of volcanic eruptions in the museum’s theater.

Aurora Reykjavik 

Photo credit: Aurora Reykjavik facebook page
Photo credit: Aurora Reykjavik facebook page

Iceland is well known for providing one of the best seats in the world for viewing the Northern Lights. If, however, you aren’t able to view the Aurora Borealis in person, you can experience the next best thing at Aurora Reykjavik. Here, you can view and learn about the phenomenon through stunning photos, videos, and activities.

Helicopter Tours 


Another not-so-conventional mode of travel is provided by Nordurflug Helicopter Tours, one of Iceland’s largest helicopter services. These tours provide glimpses of Reykjavik’s breathtaking landscapes of volcanoes, glaciers, geothermal hot springs and summits. Many trips include landing in the mountains for lunch, Happy Hours on summits, and heli-volcano caving.

Imagine Peace Tower

Imagine Peace Tower
Photo credit: Imagine Peace Tower

The Imagine Peace Tower is an amazing memorial created by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. The monument can only be reached by ferry to Videy Island, and provides views of some of the best scenery in Iceland. The tower is intended to communicate “awareness to the whole world that peace & love is what connects all lives on Earth” and is best visited in the evening.

Brewery Tours 

Photo Credit: Grey Line ToursPhoto Credit: Grey Line Iceland

To also taste some of Iceland’s most popular beverages, Gray Line Iceland provides a Taste the Saga tour. This tour allows you to sample Brennivin, Iceland’s signature spirit, and includes information on the region’s drinking culture, history, and the technology involved in creating this famous beer.

The Tin Can Factory 

One of the area’s most relaxing and enjoyable get-togethers includes learning and dining. The Tin Can Factory allows you to meet Reykjavik residents during “Meet the Natives” sessions. These day or night lessons include an introduction to Iceland’s language and history, while sampling the cakes and bread of a traditional afternoon meal, or a relaxing evening dinner of Icelandic lamb-soup and Icelandic beer.

Want to learn more about Reykjavik or book a pre- or post-trip extension before or after your arctic expedition? Contact an experienced Polar Travel Adviser today.

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