© iStockphoto/basiczto
© iStockphoto/basiczto

Five free things to do in Reykjavik

3 minutes to read

It's easy to end up moneyless in Reykjavik, one of the most expensive capitals in Europe. Still, there are plenty of things you can do for free in this quirky city. There is something for everyone: a bit of nature, architecture, and culture. Simply, follow this itinerary of five free things to do in Reykjavik and choose for yourself. 

1) Go hunt aurora borealis

If you happen to be in Iceland between October and March, it's almost guaranteed that you will be able to witness one of the most spectacular events that nature has to offer: the Northern lights. For a more beautiful "show" you may want to get out of the city to a darker place, but even if you stay in Reykjavik, there's a good chance that you will see it. Just move away from the city center, look up to the skies and wait patiently. 

© iStockphoto/sumos
© iStockphoto/sumos

2) Chill by the Tjornin Lake

One of the most favorite chill-spots of the locals is the Tjornin Lake in the city center of Reykjavik. Even though this lake is surrounded by the buildings of important institutions, such as the City Hall, the Althingi Parliament house, the Office of the President of Iceland, and the US embassy, it's possible to walk freely around it. The full circle around the lake takes about 45 minutes, but you can stop to feed birds (almost 40 species live here) or go ice skating if the lake is frozen.

© iStockphoto/RPBMedia
© iStockphoto/RPBMedia
Lake Tjörnin
Lake Tjörnin
Tjörnin, 101 Reykjavik, Islande
Althingi - the Parliament house of Iceland
Althingi - the Parliament house of Iceland
Kirkjutorg, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

3) Visit the botanical garden

Iceland offers many amazing experiences but being surrounded by green nature is not one of them. The botanical garden of Reykjavik, established in 1961, is a small green oasis of the city, where you can spend a few hours reading, meditating, having your coffee or observing lots of different plants before you get back to the hard reality of this peculiar island. If you happen to visit the Botanical Garden on a Friday during summer months, there are free guided tours, starting at the main entrance at 12:40. Otherwise, you can explore on your own, also free of charge.

Grasagardur Botanical Garden
Grasagardur Botanical Garden
Grasagardur Botanical Garden, Hverfisgata 105, Hverfisgata 105, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Floran Garden Bistro
Floran Garden Bistro
Grasagarðinum Laugardal, 104 Reykjavík, Iceland

4) Admire the architecture of Harpa Music Hall

Since its construction in 2011, the Harpa Music and Conference Hall became a true landmark of the city of Reykjavik. Even if you are not really into architecture, Harpa is worth visiting just for the play of the lights through its walls made of geometrically shaped glass of different colors, and the views over the harbor and Mt. Esja that it offers. If the cold winds from Greenland make it impossible to walk by the ocean, that's just another reason to go inside.

© iStockphoto/Lutique
© iStockphoto/Lutique
Harpa
Harpa
Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavík, Islande

5) Hike up the Esja Mt.

If it is not raining or snowing and if you are somewhat fit, one of the best things you can do when in Reykjavik, is hiking the nearby Mt. Esja. It's the mountain visible from the city center, with a 914 meters high summit, Hábunga. The hiking paths, however, take you to the other two peaks: Þverfellshorn (780 m) and Kerhólakambur (851 m). There are two paths (western being the steeper one), both clearly marked, and on a sunny day, you will find many Icelanders walking around here. Needless to say, once you are up, you get to enjoy some of the best views over Reykjavik. 

© iStockphoto/klikk
© iStockphoto/klikk
Mt. Esja
Mt. Esja
Lækjarmelur, 116 Mógilsá, Iceland

Indeed, the best adventures are often the free (or cheap) ones. This is certainly true when it comes to Reykjavik. Seeing the Northern lights just once in your life can't compare to any experience you pay for. So, follow the five free things to do in Reykjavik itinerary and enjoy some of the free fun that the capital of Iceland offers.


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The author

Natacha Costa

Natacha Costa

Hello, I will tell you about the south of France, the Azores, Iceland, among other places, here on itinari. Traveling has taught me more than any school, and I am excited to be sharing this passion of mine with you!

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