3 Reasons You Need To Visit Iceland's Hallgrímskirkja Church

Hallgrímskirkja | © Andres Nieto Porras / Flickr
Camille Buckley

The looming and regal presence of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Hallgrímskirkja is a frequent sight on images inviting visitors to Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik. The church, formerly the tallest building in Reykjavik, is still the tallest church at 73 meters high. In Iceland, it is historically significant for the region, as well as an architectural feat in its own right. The view offered from the top is also one of the best in town. Read our guide to find out why it shouldn’t be missed on your visit to Reykjavik.


Cultural significance

The church was named after the 17th-century clergyman and poet, Hallgrímur Pétursson. Commissioned in 1937, it was designed by the state architect at the time, Guðjón Samúelsson. Thanks to the Icelandic Parliament, Hallgrímskirkja was finally built after the 1929 declaration by parliament stating the new building should seat 1,200 people and have a tower high enough to transmit radio signals. While the church’s tower was finished before the rest of the church, it took 41 years to complete the entire church, which was finally completed in 1986. In front of the church is the figure of the Viking explorer Leifur Eiríksson, purportedly the first European in America. The statue was presented as a present from the United States to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of the Icelandic parliament in 1930.

The Klaisorgan

Architectural marvel

The church’s design was inspired by the Icelandic landscape in its resemblance to natural features to remind city dwellers of the country’s glaciers and mountains. The columns on either side of the tower represent the volcanic basalt columns that can be found in parts of the country. Guðjón Samúelsson was greatly influenced by new developments in Scandinavian modernism and found a way to combine this inspiration with natural Icelandic forms. At the time of its construction, there were many controversies by critics who disagreed with its striking presence as a sight so prominent in the capital.



The church houses a beautiful pipe organ with 5,275 pipes and is 15 metres tall and weighs 25 tonnes. Visitors are free to explore the building from 9am–5pm every day October to April, and 9am–9pm May to September. During Christmas season, a variety of concerts from choirs and organists are scheduled as well as during Easter and on national holidays. Concerts are also scheduled throughout the year featuring prominent visiting organists and musicians.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.