What to see in Reykjavik and Reykjanes
1. Bláa Lónið / The Blue Lagoon (48 km from Reykjavík)
The Blue lagoon at Svartsengi, Reykjanes, has become one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. It was created by accident when the warm effluent from a local geothermal power plant was supposed to disappear into a permeable lava field – and obviously didn’t. For some time it was a well kept secret of the locals, with its slippery rocky bottoms and thick silica mud. Soon the healing effects of the brine on those who suffered from skin disease became evident. Today the lagoon has been turned into a modern spa, a well designed lagoon with a bathouse, restaurant, a hotel and a souvenir shop. It has become one of the prime attractions of the country. Relaxing in the warm and steamy lagoon in the captivating environment is a unique experience. The water is rich in salt, silica and various minerals and people from all over the world, including patients with skin ailment, enjoy the relief that it gives to body and soul. The Icelandic authorities recognize the results of the chemical analysis of the water and treatments at the lagoon for native patients are covered by their social insurance. Skin care products that are based on the Blue Lagoon brine can be purchased in shops all over the country.
The country’s biggest outdoor swimming pool is in Laugardalur, centrally situated in Reykjavik. It has excellent hot tubs, slides and jacuzzis. The botanical garden, the farm animal zoo and a family entertainment park, an ice scating hall, jogging tracks and more are located in Laugardalur.
3. Viðey Island
Viðey is a small but potent historical island in the nature reserve of Kollafjörður inlet, just off the shores of Reykjavik. Its highest point rises 32 m above sea level and no less than 30 species of breeding birds have been spotted there. Eider ducks and the lesser black backed gull are the most common ones. Archaeological excavations show that inhabitation on the island started shortly after settlement of Iceland, in the 10th century. A church was located on the island in the 12th century and in 1225 a Augustinian monastery was consecrated. In 1539 the reformation reached the island and the monks fled. In 1751 the island became the seat of the royal treasurer and sheriff Skúli Magnússon and his resident, the Viðeyjarstofa mansion, was erected in 1755. It was the first building made of stone and cement in Iceland. The country’s second oldest church still standing was built in 1774 and is also located in Viðey. In the 19th century Iceland’s first printing press was brought to the island and the country’s first harbour for ocean going vessels was built on its eastern part at the turn of the 20th century. The importance and prestige of the island declined rapidly in the first half of the 20th century as authorities had moved to Reykjavik and the Reykjavik harbour had taken over. There are two hiking trails that lead to all the corners of the island. They start behind Viðeyjarstofa, which today houses a restaurant. Regular ferry services are offered to the island all year round, as well as regular organised hikes and side tours and a riding school and a horse rental are operated during summer.
4. Árbær Museum
The Árbær museum was established in 1957 by the city of Reykjavik. It is an open air museum to show and preserve selected old houses. Its main aim is to bring into perspective the architecture and lifestyle of the past, as well as registering old houses, relics and antiquities. The number of buildings on the museum grounds is constantly growing and most of them have been moved there from the old center of Reykjavik. The oldest house, Smiðshús, was built in 1822. There is an old fashioned sweet shop and a souvenir shop at the museum, and demonstrations of long forgotten arts and skills are held throughout the summer. Guided tours can be arranged for groups.
A beautiful Icelandic fishing town on the south coast of the Reykjanes peninsula. The Blue Lagoon, Grindavik premiere attraction, is located 3 miles from the town centre. The Icelandic Salt fish Museum in Grindavik opened 6th of September 2002. It displays the story of salt fish production and its importance for the Icelandic economy throughout the centuries in a new specially designed house spanning 650m2.
A geothermal field southwest of Kleifarvatn, where blowing steam holes and bubbling mud pools can be inspected at close range.
Near Krisuvik is the only proper lake on Reykjanes peninsula, in barren but beautiful surroundings, where picturesque rock formations adorn the shore. According to legend, a monster inhabits Kleifarvatn and was seen from time to time, snake-like and the size of a whale.
A dramatic exhibition of geology, geothermal heat, and conservation of energy located in Eldborg, near the Blue Lagoon.
9. Keflavik Airport
Located 45 minutes drive from Reykjavik and easy accessible by taxis or the FLYBUS connecting the airport with all Fosshotels in Reykjavik.
Only 15 minutes drive from Reykjavik and is called the town in the lava. Here you find a botanic garden, a lively harbour, the largest elf community, different museums from art, seamanship to Vikings and in December a nice Christmas Village. Horseback riding, Hidden World Tours and Whale Watching Cruises available.
11. Hallgrímskirkja Church Tower
One of the best view points in Reykjavik.
12. Lundey - Puffin Island
North of Viðey is Lundey, a tiny island named after its large population of puffins. It is only possible to see the island as part of an boat cruise and it's not possible to go ashore. From the boat you'll have a great view of the cliffs and grassy slopes which make up the island's sides and the burrows where the puffins live.
Heiðmörk is a popular recreational area. The Municipal Forestry Service has managed the area from the beginning and the Raudholar nature reserve is within its limits. More than 4 million trees have been planted in the Heiðmörk area from 1950 and the already existing vegetation has thrived much better after the area was fenced off. There are many species of wild birds, especially around Elliðavatn and Myllulækjartjörn. Some archaeological remains have been excavated on Þinganes southwest of Elliðavatn, among them ruins of a site considered to have been a local parliament, or "þing", dating to 900-1200. More ruins have also been discovered, dating from the first half of that period. The Blue Mountain and Reykjanes Country Parks adjoin Heiðmork and together they grant access to a large and a very interesting and varied area for outdoors activites such as hiking and horseback riding.
This valley, located inside the capital, has interesting walking and jogging paths meandering through a tranquilly beautiful environment. Additionally, one of the country’s best salmon rivers runs through the valley.