When your tour is cancelled and the roads outside the city are closed due to weather conditions – what to do in Reykjavik? Well, you are not going to do much leisure walking on its cute streets, are you? But there is a lot to explore and experience in the Icelandic capital.
Here are some ideas:
1. Museums and exhibitions
I know that some of you would think immediately - “That’s so boring!” - but just hang on. You will discover that Reykjavik has remarkable attractions.
Perlan (The Pearl) is a famous landmark in the capital area. It has also been named No1. Attraction in Reykjavik.
The building was created by combining 6 water tanks on Öskjuhlíð hill and placing a glass dome on top. Under the dome is a restaurant on a turning platform providing a 360 panoramic view. There is a spacious viewing area outside as well.
Inside the old water tanks, you will find several extraordinary exhibitions presenting the wonders of Iceland.
You can walk through a 100-meter-long indoor Ice Cave. While it is man-made, the cave creates a genuine atmosphere. It is built with over 350 tons of mountain ice, snow, and volcano ash, and imitates the experience of visiting a real ice cave.
In Perlan's planetarium, you can enjoy the Northern lights show, which perfectly combines breath-taking views, music, and interesting information about auroras.
Apart from the above two, “the Pearl” has interactive exhibitions devoted to Icelandic glaciers, Volcanoes and earthquakes, and virtual reality bird-watching.
Whales of Iceland carries all the educational value of a museum, at the same time turning your visit there into an adventure. It has more than 20 life-sized whale models of various species found in waters around Iceland. The creatures are suspended from the ceiling making it easy to walk around and under them in the underwater ambient lighting. Unlike most of the things in museums, you can touch the models. They are squishy, soft, and pleasant to touch. The calm singing of the whales and projections of ocean scenery on the walls add to the experience. It feels like you are actually submerged and are a part of the underwater world.
This museum lets you walk through the Icelandic sagas, and witness important moments in history “frozen in time”. There are 17 installations with full-size models of historical figures in carefully recreated surroundings. Each of them tells a story of crucial events in the past of Iceland.
The Settlement Exhibition is built around an archaeological site, where a 1000-year-old hall or longhouse has been revealed. There you can learn about the life of Icelandic first settlers and see the foundation of a Viking Age construction.
There are plenty of other museums and exhibitions to explore, depending on what you are interested in. Among them are: the National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavík Maritime Museum, Reykjavík Art Museum, and even Icelandic Phallological Museum.
Fly Over Iceland is an indoor attraction simulating an adventure outdoors. It‘s designed to give guests a realistic flight experience – with effects like mist, wind, scent, and motion. And all that takes place in Iceland‘s breath-taking scenery.
What can be cozier in bad weather than a soak in the warm water of a geothermal pool? Not much, at least for many Icelandic people. Reykjavik has 17 swimming pools, usually equipped with hot tubs and saunas as well as smaller indoor pools and play areas for kids. These are perfect for families and, well, for everyone. They are inexpensive too, compared to SPA lagoons.
Harpan (the Harp) is an award-winning concert hall and conference center in Reykjavik situated at the Old Harbour. Its distinctive design reflects different natural phenomena and unique light conditions in Iceland.
You can check if there is something on – a concert or a show – during the day you need to fill. Or just walk around the building, explore its architecture from inside, stop at the gift shop, sit down in the restaurant or the cafe, or visit an exhibition.
Then, finally, you can have a good time doing not touristy, but fun things. Go shopping at a mall (Kringlan and Smáralind are the largest) or at a flea market (Kolaportið). Catch a movie at a local cinema (they are all played in English with Icelandic subtitles), go bowling, skating, or do anything that you like. If you are up for a challenge – try escape rooms at Reykjavik Escape.