National Museum of Iceland
Iceland’s rich history and heritage are brought to life in the city’s modernized National Museum, which displays an impressive collection of artifacts from the era of the very first Viking settlers to the present day. Browsing through the 2.000 objects and 1.000 photographs of Making of a Nation, the museum’s permanent exhibition, is a good way to acquaint yourself with Iceland’s treasures. For a more diverse cultural experience, the museum also hosts an impressive range of temporary exhibits that showcase the work of contemporary artists offering an intricate panorama of Icelandic life.
The Old Town district and Lake Tjörnin
Any visit to Reykjavik is bound to start or end with a walk in the Old Town district, an undeniable local favorite. Laid out around the photogenic lake Tjörnin, the area holds a great concentration of intriguing sights, including Iceland’s 19th-century Parliament House and the modern Reykjavik City Hall with its huge 3D map of Iceland for the eager explorer, as well as several art galleries and museums. The shallow waters of Tjörnin act as a habitat for over 50 different bird species that patiently wait to be fed by visitors, a popular pastime, especially on a sunny day.
Iceland’s emblematic Hallgrímskirkja or Church of Hallgrímur is devoted to the Icelandic clergyman and tormented poet Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614–1674), who was the author of the Passion Hymns, one of Iceland’s most cherished works of religious poetry. Designed by State Architect of Iceland Guðjón Samúelsson, who passed away before seeing the completion of the church, the iconic building is a piece of both Icelandic soul and nature, constructed with local materials and inspired by the unique basalt columns of Svartifoss. The tower of the church is one of Iceland’s tallest buildings and is visible from almost anywhere in Reykjavik. The top of the church tower offers breathtaking bird-eye views of the city and surrounding mountains.