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Top 5 Under-the-Radar Things To Do In Reykjavik Iceland

The cityscape of Reykjavik, facing the Atlantic Ocean and a stunning backdrop of Mount Esja, invites you to explore the things to do in Reykjavik Iceland.

Are you searching for things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland, especially those unique, under-the-radar activities? Imagine diving into a city where every corner unveils a hidden gem, blending the ancient sagas of Vikings with a lively, contemporary flair.

Reykjavik is a treasure trove of more than just the iconic Northern Lights and rejuvenating hot springs; it’s a vibrant center of culture, rich history, and all the peculiarly Icelandic experiences you can think of.

Wandering through the streets of Reykjavik feels like exploring a living storybook, where every turn brings a story to life. While the awe-inspiring views from Hallgrimskirkja church and the peaceful retreat of the Blue Lagoon are on most visitors’ lists, the real enchantment of Reykjavik lies in discovering its lesser-known spots.

Whether it’s your first visit or you’re coming back for more, Reykjavik always has something new and exciting up its sleeve. This journey is all about finding those hidden, off-the-beaten-path experiences that transform a simple trip into an unforgettable adventure.

 Top 5 Under-the-Radar Things To Do in Reykjavik Iceland

1. Visit a Geothermal Bakery at Laugarvatn Fontana

Icelanders love their rye bread, baked underground by geothermal energy. The dirt serves as the bread oven, and you can see the bread baking at Laugarvatn Fontana in the so-called Golden Circle.  Bakers make the bread following an old recipe, dig it into the warm ground, and bake it for 24 hours before digging it up and serving it. Guests experience the geothermal bakery firsthand and see as bakers dig out a pot of fresh bread from the hot black sand. Guests are offered to taste the bread, served hot from the ground with Icelandic butter. This is something you should not miss! The baker offers 40-minute tours, and you can do this along your Golden Circle journey.

  • How to Get There: Situated on the Golden Circle route, about an hour’s drive from Reykjavik.
  • Things to Know: The tour lasts 40 minutes, showcasing the baking process and including a tasting session.

2. Take Part in the Réttir

The Réttir is an annual sheep round-up, a vibrant and culturally significant event in Iceland. Each autumn, farmers and volunteers gather to herd sheep from their summer grazing grounds back to the farms. This tradition offers a unique insight into Icelandic rural life, community spirit, and the importance of sheep farming in the country’s history and economy.

  • How to Get There: Events occur across South Iceland, with the closest to Reykjavik about 1-2 hours away by car.
  • Things to Know: Held in early September. Visitors should respect the farmers’ work and the animals by dressing warmly and wearing sturdy footwear.

3. Explore the Basalt Tiles at Kirkjugólf

Kirkjugólf, or “Church Floor,” is a natural wonder that showcases the geometric beauty of basalt column formations. This natural pavement, made of hexagonal tiles, creates a mesmerizing pattern that seems almost man-made. Located near Kirkjubæjarklaustur, this site is a testament to Iceland’s volcanic activity and the artistic touch of nature’s forces.

  • How to Get There: About a 3-hour drive from Reykjavik towards Iceland’s south coast.
  • Things to Know: Free to visit, with no hiking required from the parking area, making it accessible to all visitors.

4. Discover the Icelandic Phallological Museum

The Icelandic Phallological Museum offers an unusual yet fascinating exploration of phallic specimens from various species.

This one-of-a-kind museum in Reykjavik’s old harbor is both educational and humorous, providing insights into biology, culture, and the quirky side of Icelandic humor. It’s a testament to the country’s open-mindedness and interest in all aspects of natural history.

  • How to Get There: Easily accessible on foot, by bus, or by car in downtown Reykjavik.
  • Things to Know: Open year-round, with admission fees for adults and discounts for students and groups. The museum’s family-friendly approach makes it an intriguing visit for all.

5. Unwind in Grasagarður Reykjavík Botanical Gardens

The Grasagarður Reykjavík Botanical Gardens, nestled in Laugardalur Valley, is a hidden gem offering a tranquil escape with its lush displays of Icelandic and international flora. This under-the-radar oasis is perfect for those seeking peace and a deeper connection with nature, away from the city’s mainstream attractions. Its free entry and diverse plant life, including a special greenhouse café open in summer, make it a unique spot for a leisurely visit. The gardens provide an educational yet serene experience, showcasing plants that thrive in Iceland’s unique climate, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and anyone looking for a quiet retreat.

  • How to Get There: The Botanical Gardens are in Laugardalur Valley, easily reachable by bus from Reykjavik’s city center, by car with available parking, or by a pleasant bike ride or walk for those nearby.
  • Things to know: Entry is free. They’re open daily, with seasonal variations in hours. Don’t miss the on-site Café Flora, open in summer. Check for event schedules or guided tours during your visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are these attractions suitable for all ages?

Yes, each of these hidden gems in Reykjavik offers experiences that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages, making them perfect for families, solo travelers, and couples alike.

How can I participate in the Réttir?

The Réttir takes place in various locations across Iceland in September. Visitors are welcome to watch and, in some cases, participate. Participation in the Réttir often requires coordination with local farmers or tour operators who organize trips to the event. It’s a seasonal activity, so planning ahead is crucial.

Is the Geothermal Bakery at Laugarvatn Fontana open year-round?

Yes, the Geothermal Bakery offers demonstrations and bread tasting throughout the year. However, it’s advisable to check their schedule or contact them directly for any seasonal changes.

Can I buy geothermal bread to take home?

Yes, visitors to the Geothermal Bakery at Laugarvatn Fontana can purchase freshly baked geothermal bread. It makes for a unique souvenir or a tasty snack to enjoy during your travels.

Can I visit Kirkjugólf without a guide?

Yes, Kirkjugólf can be visited without a guide. It’s accessible to the public, but respecting the natural site and not walking directly on the formations is encouraged to preserve its beauty.

What’s the best time to visit the Grasagarður Reykjavík Botanical Gardens?

While the botanical gardens are beautiful year-round, the best time to visit is from late spring to early autumn, when the majority of plants are in bloom, offering a vibrant display of colors and scents.

Is the Icelandic Phallological Museum suitable for children?

The museum is educational and presents its collection in a scientific manner. However, parents should use their discretion based on the maturity level of their children.

We hope this guide has fueled your desire to experience under-the-radar spots in Reykjavik, Iceland. Before you start packing those bags, don’t miss our highlights video; it might just have you adding a few more “must-sees” to your itinerary!

As you plan your trip to Reykjavik, remember that this city is just the beginning of what Iceland has to offer. The surrounding landscapes, with their volcanoes, glaciers, and waterfalls, beckon for further exploration. Consider extending your adventure beyond the city limits to fully embrace the Icelandic experience.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist (www.TheDesignTourist.com) that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: https://thedesigntourist.com/the-magazine/ Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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