10 Free Things to do in Reykjavik

Before I went to Iceland, I thought it was going to be a struggle to find anything free to do in Reykjavik because everyone kept telling me that Iceland was expensive. However, I couldn't have been more wrong, I found loads of free things to do in Reykjavik, 10 of which I've shared with you below. Reykjavik is relatively expensive but no more so than London or Tokyo and if you hunt around, get away from the main streets, you will find bargains and low cost accommodation and transport.

1. Harpa Concert Hall
The Harpa concert hall and conference centre is a stunning geometric shaped glass covered building overlooking Reykjavik harbour. At night it is lit up with waves of red, gold and green lights which dance across its facade.  It's not just a beautiful building to admire form the outside, it's free to explore inside too and the internal natural lighting effects are a photographers dream.

Harpa Concert Hall

2. Free Walking Tour of the City
Throughout the summer, there is a daily free guided walking tour.  You will learn about Reykjavik's architecture, history and culture from local knowledgeable and humorous guides.  The walk takes about 70-90 minutes and covers about 1.5 km (1 mile). You meet at Laekjartorg Square but there is more information at www.freewalkingtour.is

Free Walking Tour

3. A City and Garden of Sculptures
Almost every street in Reykjavik, has at least one sculpture of  either an important figure in Icelandic history or a piece of abstract art.  You will start to notice these sculptures from the minute you step outside at Keflavik airport where the beautiful 'Rainbow' sculpture and 'The Jet Nest', a giant steel egg enhance the airport grounds.  It doesn't end there though because there's a very interesting Garden of Sculptures behind the Einer Jonsson Art Museum with an entrance into the garden from Eriksgata.

Garden of Sculptures

4. Great Views from Oskjuhlid Hill
It's not so much the views from the hill, although they are lovely, but on the hill is a water storage facility which supplies the city with its geothermal hot water.  On top of these storage tanks is a revolving restaurant and an excellent viewing platform allowing you 360 degree views of the whole of Reykjavik.  The building itself is situated in a lovely wooded area of Reyjkavik and at the southern end of the park, at Nautholsvik is a thermal beach, a geothermal bay whose temperature is controlled naturally by the incoming and receding tide.  This isn't free but at only 500 Icelandic Krona (about 2.50GBP or 3.40 Euros at the time of writing September 2015) it's a real bargain as there is also an enclosed geothermal pool and a sauna.

Views over the Bay from Perlan Restaurant

5. Free Literature Tour
This is a free guided walking tour provided by Reykjavik City Library introducing you to Icelandic authors from the Saga period to modern day authors.  It is an educational and entertaining walk looking at the places the authors have lived or written about. It runs every Thursday in June, July and August at 3pm leaving from the Main Library in Tryggvagata 15

A colourful Reykjavik Street
6. Imagine Peace Tower on Videy Island
The island of Videy is only a few minutes by boat from Reykjavik.  During the summer, on this small island there are many events including concerts, festivals and walks. It's not a very expensive boat ride (1100 ISK, 5.50 GBP or 8 Euros as of Sept 2015) But on October 9th, the trip is free.  This is because of the celebration of the lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower, a tower of light and a memorial to John Lennon from Yoko Ono. The tower is lit every night from October 9th (John Lennon's Birthday) to December 8th (the date of his death)

Videy Island in Reykjavik Bay

7. Free bus to the shopping mall
If you fancy a bit of shopping and you're travelling on foot, it's always a problem finding transport to and from the malls.  In Reykjavik, there's a handy free ride to its largest shopping centre, Kringlan, with departures every hour between 10am and 5pm leaving from the Tourist Information in Reykjavik or outside Harpa by the harbour. 

Free Bus to the Mall

8. Botanic Gardens
Set in the Laugardalur hot spring valley are the beautiful Botanic Gardens. The area is very popular all year round as a recreational and sporting venue and in winter you can tiptoe across the ice in your swimsuit to the largest outdoor geothermal pool in Reykjavik. More info can be found here http://grasagardur.is/

Reykjavik Botanical Gardens

9. The pond
Lake Tjorninn or The Pond as it is affectionately known is conveniently situated right in the middle of Reykjavik. At any time there can be up to 40 different species of squawking and screeching visiting birds.  Despite this, Lake Rjornin and its park is a tranquil place to relax where once again, you find yourself surrounded by bronze sculptures.  It's popular with locals and if you take a walk around the lake at sunrise or sunset you will be treated to a symphony of changing lights and reflections

Lake Tjorninn

10. Sky lounge and Bar for Unbeatable Harbour Views
For great views over the harbour and Mount Esja across the bay, head to the Sky Lounge and Bar on the top floor of the Center Hotel at the corner of Aoalstraeti.  From up there, you can walk out onto the balcony and have unrestricted views across the bay. 

View from Sky Lounge Balcony

You may also be interested in 10 Free Things to do in Keflavik & The Reykjanes Peninsula

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