Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is a stockpot of world culture and art. Known for some of its historical and cultural attractions, it makes for a tourist’s delight. For the adventurer in you, Reykjavik also celebrates a variety of festivals and offers a wide range of activities all year round. It is home to not only historical and cultural institutions but also world-renowned artists. While you will be spoilt for choice as to how to spend your vacation here, listed below are 10 of the few most exciting ways to spend your time in the city, which involves getting up close and personal with its history and culture in a light-hearted and fun manner. So here are the best non-touristy things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland.
One of the most exciting things to do in Iceland is to experience a white water river rafting, with a professional guide to navigate the boat. It is usually a day trip from Reykjavik to the Hvítá River. Pass through the gorgeous landscape of an ancient volcano and the Brúarhlöð canyon. If you want to try something more exciting, then consider jumping from the cliff of the canyon into the water. There are pick-up facilities available from a few hotels, unless you decide to start from the base camp in Drumboddsstadir.
Day Trip from Reykjavik: River Rafting on the Hvítá River
Duration: 7 hours
2. Shop at Kolaportið
Kolaportið is the largest flea market in Iceland, situated in Reykjavik. Even though it is an old warehouse just near the harbour, it sells pretty quirky items. You will find hipsters selling their clothes and other valuables and antiques, mittens knit by old ladies, some second-hand books and vinyl records. You basically find assorted things of different variety under one roof. There is also the famous food court that serves authentic Icelandic food, which includes a lot of fish curated with Icelandic mountain herbs and served with some tea prepared out of Icelandic moss.
Address: Tryggvagötu 19 , Old Harbour Grófin Reykjavik Kvosin, Iceland
Opening hours: Sat - Sun: 11am - 5pm (closed from Mon - Fri)
3. Explore street art
Iceland is well-known for its art murals, graffiti and street art culture. While the graffiti arts spread its wings in Reykjavik, owing to the hip hop culture in the 1990s, there was a project that was started in 2015 called Wall Poetry. The project involved the merging of Reykjavik artists with musicians. The artists then represented on the walls their personal interpretations of the music, to create some amazing pieces. The street art culture became a serious fad since then. Almost every building you come across will have a graffiti on its sides.
Reykjavik Street Art
Website: Reykjavik Street Art
Opening hours: 24/7
4. Watch shows at Norðurpóllinn Theatre
When the weather doesn’t favour, Norðurpóllinn Theatre is the best place to visit. It is situated around Seltjarnarnes, away from the bustling parts of the city. The theatre hosts all kinds of shows, including dance shows, music concerts, plays, art shows and several others. Apparently, anyone can rent a hall or room to perform their own show for people to come and watch. The theatre is usually always packed.
Address: Hverfisgata 19, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Website: Norðurpóllinn Theatre
5. Visit the Secret Lagoon
This cosy geothermal pool is located in Flúðir in the Golden Circle area, about a one-hour drive away from the main city. Given the unpredictable chills of Iceland, the Secret Lagoon surrounded by these small springs of hot water or ‘Little Geysir’ are worth the visit. It is known to be the oldest pool in Iceland. These geysers erupt every five minutes, and in the winters the Northern Lights can be seen from here, making it a win-win situation for tourists trying to avoid the cold.
Address: Hvammsvegur, 845 Flúðir, Iceland
Website: Secret Lagoon
Opening hours: 10am - 10pm (daily)
6. Eat a hot dog at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur
Apart from the varieties of fish dishes that you will find here, the hot dog that you will find at Baejarins Beztu Pysur is out of this world. This place is world-known for its delicious hot dog for 60 years now. From President Bill Clinton to the famous music band Metallica have all visited this place. Even though Iceland is quite expensive as a place, this place and its hot dogs are amazing and pretty cheap. They taste best when eaten with ketchup, sweet mustard, raw and fried onions and remoulade.
Baejarins Beztu Pylsur
Address: Tryggvagata 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Website: Baejarins Beztu Pylsur
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 10am - 1am; Fri - Sat: 10am - 4am
Enjoy a ride atop an Icelandic horse - the breed that was brought to Iceland by the Vikings. You will ride one of these beautiful, small yet sturdy, horses past mountains, lakes, moors and scenic beauties covered in lava. You will have an instructor guiding you through an hour or two-hours long ride. The ride includes hot rejuvenating drinks, riding equipment and hotel pick-up and drop-off facilities. You can choose your ride from among the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
Icelandic Horseback Riding Tour from Reykjavik
Duration: 2 hours
8. Head to Nordic House
You must visit the Nordic house in Reykjavik to experience the programmes on cultural events and exhibitions that take place. The house was designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The house is an embodiment of Alto’s taste in furnishing, architecture and interior decor. Inside, there is a very beautiful library and the AALTO Bistro restaurant that are a must visit. There are concert and exhibition halls displaying an elaborate adornment of art.
Address: Sæmundargata 11, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Website: Nordic House
Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)
Attend the Viking knife-making workshop for fun. If you have a fetish for knives, then you have a lot to learn and experience in this workshop. You will learn to make your own knife and leather sheath, using materials readily available in nature, just the way Vikings used to make them. You will get a free hotel pick-up and drop and not just learn but also make a knife during the workshop itself. It is a fun experience.
Viking Knife–Making Workshop in Reykjavik
Duration: 6 hours
This is another very interesting kind of workshop. In this workshop, you get to learn a very exciting form of printing. Get an insight into the history of the letterpress printing technique, which had started out in the 15th century. Learn the basics of the letterpress technique yourself, with the help of instructors trained in graphic designing. Create about 20 postcards with designs of your choice, during this workshop itself.
Reykjavik Letterpress Workshop
Duration: 2 hours
Learn by means of play in Reykjavik
Get an insight into the culture and heritage of Iceland in the most exciting manners that you can think of. Listed above are 10 of those unique activities that you must be a part of if you happen to be in Reykjavik and are looking to acquire a proper picture of the city and its history.
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