The best and most interesting walking tour in Reykjavík

  • The best and most interesting walking tour in Reykjavík
Nov 3 2017

One of the best ways to enjoy a city is to take a walking tour.  It is by far the most enjoyable way to experience the atmosphere, the architecture, the city landscape and all the exciting things a city can offer.  Reykjavík is no exception despite the fact that it is much smaller than most cities. So what is the most interesting walking tour you can take in Reykjavík?  The answer is quite simple; it is the Sculpture and Shore Walk from the City Center and Harpa to Höfði house. From the famous cold war landmark, you walk through Hlíðar district to Perlan for a spectacular overview of Reykjavík and surrounding towns.  From Perlan you walk to Hallgrímskirkja church and finally walk through the most exciting shopping street Skólavörðustígur as you head back to the City Center.  It is a six and a half kilometer long walk that will give you a good understanding of Reykjavík. And the walk has many noteworthy stops to enjoy sculptures, buildings, history, selection of cafés in addition to giving you a great overview of our small city.  And last but not least a refreshing walk in a fantastic city.  And although it is only about six and a half kilometers you should allow for at least four to five hours to really enjoy this walk.

City Center Reykjavik

City Center Reykjavík

The first part from City Center to Höfði House

The path from the City Center to Höfði house by the shore is often referred to as the Sculpture and Shore Walk. This is because of the many fascinating sculptures you can enjoy along the way.  Your first stop should be at Harpa conference hall.  You should go into the building and look around end enjoy its renowned architecture.  Not far from the conference hall Harpa is the first sculpture, Sun Voyager, that has in recent years become one of Reykjavik's famous landmarks. The walk is quite scenic with Kollafjörður bay and the Esja mountain on your left side and the tall buildings forming the new Reykjavík skyline on your right hand. Farther on, many visitors find the sculpture Shore Piece by Sigurður Guðmundsson, one of Iceland's most famous international artists, quite interesting.  It is, at first sight, a part of the breakwater but obviously, the rocks are polished and more colorful. From the Shore Piece, there is only a short distance to Höfði house, the famous meeting place of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev during the cold war years.  Höfði is a fascinating house with an interesting history prior to the world leaders meeting.  It is also surrounded by sculptures on the lot as well a part of the Berlin wall given to Icelanders some years ago.


Harpa Conference hall

From Höfði house to Perlan

From Höfði house you walk from Borgartún street to the east to the corner of Nóatún street where you take a turn and walk south. Borgartún has in recent years become a kind of an extension from the city center.  It is a place where many of our financial companies have headquarters and a street with increasing service-oriented activity.  At the same time, restaurants and cafés are popping up left and right.  So if you are already hungry, you can find a place to have a morning café or even an early lunch.  You continue on Nóatún street where it meets Langahlíð. Here you are walking through Hlíðar, one of the older districts in Reykjavík. Most of the homes were built in the forties and the fifties, and here you will find many wonderful small apartment buildings.  You will also walk by the small park Klambratún, and you might want to take a short loop into the garden for a peaceful and relaxed moment.  You continue Langahlíð street to the end and walk a short walking path up to Perlan.  Perlan stands on a hill, Öskjuhlíð, and the building is one of the most interesting places in Reykjavík. It is also a great place to get a good view and understanding of the layout of Reykjavík. Constructed initially as a reserve tank unit for the geothermal heating in Reykjavík, it was renovated and turned into a restaurant and kind of a cultural center some years ago. The area around Perlan is also quite interesting, and if you have time and energy to spare, a walking path around Perlan is worth it.

Sun Voyager

Sun voyager sculpure

From Perlan back to City Center

From Perlan you take a path through the trees down the hill Öskjuhlíð to the street Bústaðarvegur on the corner where it meets Flugvallarvegur street.  Follow the street Bústaðarvegur to the north all the way to Eiríksgata street.  You are now in the City Center district again.  A short distance from the actual City Center and this is more of a residential area with houses from the twenties and the thirties.  Eiríksgata street will take you to another hill, Skólavörðuholt, and Hallgrímskrikja church. The church is probably one of the best-known landmarks in Reykjavík and visited by most tourists that come to Iceland. There is rarely a moment from early morning until the evening when no one is taking photos of the church.  Taking a lift to the top of Hallgrímskirkja tower is also a good way to view the city, and you should also step into the church to enjoy the unusual and renowned architecture.


Perlan at Öskujuhlíð hill in Reykjavík

Skólavörðustígur has fabulous stores, cafés and restaurants

The final part of this walk takes you from the Hallgrímskirkja Church back to the City Center through the Skólavörðustígur shopping street.  At Skólavörðustígur you will find excellent cafés, all kinds of restaurants and excellent stores with Icelandic clothing design.  It is a very original part of Reykjavík with all sorts of small shops and things to do.  So take it easy when you walk down Skólavörðustígur.

Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.