The Best Experiences in Reykjavik

Discover the beauty of Iceland
Discover the beauty of Iceland | © Getty Images
Melanie Moore

As well as its popular attractions, Reykjavik offers a range of exciting activities, from hiking glaciers to making blood puddings. Discover the beauty of Iceland by uncovering these cultural experiences that will introduce you to a different side of the country.

1. Slátur making – an authentic cooking class

Natural Feature

Slátur making is an authentic cooking experience where guests are whisked off to a working farm in the Mosfellsdalur valley to try their hand at making traditional Icelandic blood pudding and liver sausage. These national delicacies are consumed by many Icelanders, who grow up making them. Served during the cultural festival of Slátur (meaning ‘slaughter’), they are eaten during the Þorrablót feasts, a midwinter festival.

2. Catch and cook your own fish

Fishmonger, Icelandic

Fishing boat in Reykjavik Harbor, Iceland
© Arctic Images / Alamy Stock Photo

As Iceland is surrounded by water, seafood is a big part of the national cuisine, and what better way to learn about the island’s gastronomy than by catching your own fish? Many Icelandic restaurants offer a catch of the day, and this sea fishing gourmet tour teaches you all about the how it gets there. Setting off from the harbour, the three-hour tour takes visitors out to the open sea, where you may catch anything from cod and haddock to rockfish and pollack. Upon your return to the mainland, you will work on your cooking skills by preparing your catch to be eaten.

3. Stand-up paddleboard tour from Reykjavik with Forgotten Fjords

Natural Feature

Man on a stand up padlle board on a lake
© Alamy Stock Photo
Hvalfjörður is a prime example of the extraordinary natural beauty available on the doorstep of Reykjavik. Located 30 minutes away from the capital, the sheltered fjord, once a whaling station, is now home to a number of seals and birds. The paddleboard tour takes place close to Glymur, Iceland’s highest waterfall; you can also go on a scenic hike to the top, if time permits.

4. Glacier hike and ice climbing

Natural Feature

Solheimajokull Glacier on the south coast of Iceland.
© Snorri Gunnarsson / Alamy Stock Photo

Iceland’s glaciers are a beloved part of the national landscape, but are rapidly shrinking: 2019 saw the death of the Okjökull glacier, with locals holding a funeral in its memory. Now is the time to see these incredible natural wonders, while they’re still around. Located just two hours away from Reykjavik, this tour gives you an up-close view of the Sólheimajökull glacier, as you trek across frozen blue rivers and learn to climb inside steep crevasses.

5. Landmannalaugar hiking

Natural Feature

Lava Landmannalaugar - Amazing Landscape in Iceland
© Simon Dannhauer / Getty Images
Known as one of the most spectacular areas of Iceland, a hike in Landmannalaugar is one you won’t forget. Most people experience Landmannalaugar as part of the multi-day Laugavegur trek, one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. But this four-hour walk lets you witness some of the highlights of the area without committing to an overnight trek. Walk through dreamy landscapes of red and yellow hills dotted with dramatic steam vents and finish off with a dip in a natural hot spring.

6. Have dinner with a local

Art Gallery

Nothing beats an authentic local experience when you’re travelling. Get to know Icelandic culture, learn about Icelanders and their way of living by having dinner with a local artist in their home. The three-hour encounter takes place in downtown Reykjavik, where you’ll enjoy an Icelandic meal that could be anything from smoked trout to slow-cooked lamb.

7. River rafting adventure

Natural Feature

The Icelandic landscape is amazing, so why not enjoy it while taking part in an outdoor activity? Taking place at the Hvita River – a glacier river in south Iceland – this rafting adventure will take participants on a journey through a seven-kilometre (four-mile) stretch of the river, rafting while taking in scenic views of the area. Once reaching your final destination, a steamy sauna awaits to ensure you end the day on a note of relaxation.

8. Icelandic sagas: the greatest hits theatre show

Concert Hall

Concert Hall Harpa in Reykjavik, Iceland
© Sven Otte / Alamy Stock Photo
Sagas are an important part of Icelandic culture, and they helped to shape the country’s history. This popular show gives you a brief history lesson using dark humour, musical theatre and audience participation. The show takes place in the award-winning Harpa Concert Hall in downtown Reykjavik; arrive early to give yourself time to admire the venue’s architecture and its glass interior before the show begins.

Icelandic horse riding tour in lava fields

Drive just 10 minutes from Reykjavik, to the small town of Hafnarfjörður, and you will find the Íshestar Stables, a horse riding centre that lets you ride through some of the most scenic areas of Iceland. The horse riding tour invites visitors to a two-hour session; here, you’ll ride the horses through lava fields and beautiful green hillsides, against stunning backdrops of mountains and volcanic rock formations.

Viking knife making workshop

Ever wondered how Vikings made their weapons? Spend the day with a knife making expert who’ll teach you how to create your own Viking knife and leather sheath – an essential tool for survival during the Viking era. This rare opportunity takes place 15 minutes away from Reykjavik and includes a tasty home-cooked lunch and the chance to spend time with local residents while learning about Viking culture and history.

Culture Trip Summer Sale

Save up to $1,395 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article