If you’re going to Iceland, chances are good it’s not to visit the city of Reykjavik…you’re going to hike, dip in hot springs, and explore the beautiful countryside. However, chances are also good that you’ll find yourself in Reykjavik for at least one day…so might as well make the most of it and discover the 10 best photo spots in Reykjavik!
Reykjavik has a little something for everyone. It has a surprisingly delightful food scene, it is a literary hotspot (it is designated as a UNESCO City of Literature), and it his home to some truly stunning architecture.
Though your time in Reykjavik will likely be short, this guide to the best photo spots in Reykjavik will provide a helpful guide to make the most of it!
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Overview of the Best Photo Spots in Reykjavik
For those in need of a summary, this section is designed to serve as a quick reference guide for the top photo spots in Reykjavik. I’ve also included an interactive map of all locations mentioned in the guide – I hope it is helpful in locating all of the top photo spots in Reykjavik!
- Hallgrímskirkja Church
- View from the top of Hallgrímskirkja church
- Harborside (by Harpa)
- Sólfarið or the Sun Voyager
- Bókabúð Máls og Menningar (Bookstore)
- Laugavegur Street Art
- Brauð & Co. Bakery
- Old Harbor
- Tjornin Pond
1 | Hallgrímskirkja Church
I’m going to be honest here, I still have absolutely no idea how to say the name of the church, but this church is one of Reykjavik’s iconic landmarks. I would orient myself in the city by finding it, plus it’s pretty photogenic too.
2 | View from the top of Hallgrímskirkja Church
Even better, take the elevator up to the top of the church for views of the city. For me, this is one of my favorite photo spots in Reykjavik. It’s hard to tell from below, but the roofs of Reykjavik are oh so colorful! Before you plan your outing, make sure to check the hours for the church tower.
3 | Harpa
Harpa is Reykjavik’s concert hall. It’s made of brightly colored glass, and gives you cool shots whether you’re shooting from the inside or outside. Hint: you can even go inside for free! The inside of the building is best to enjoy during the day so you can appreciate the brightly colored glass. At night, the outside of the Harpa is lit up, so I’d recommend checking it out both during the day and night.
While most people only visit the Harpa to experience the unique architecture, if you have time, it is worth checking out the schedule for concerts, plays, and Icelandic art & design exhibitions.
4 | Harborside (by Harpa)
Keep walking along the water and you’ll get beautiful mountain views. One of the cool things I learned was that the word Reykjavik translates to “Smoke Bay,” since it looks like there’s smoke rising off of the water. It’s not actually smoke, but steam from all of the geothermal activity! In any case, it’s easily one of the prettiest photo spots in Reykjavik and great on both sunny and cloudy days.
5 | Sólfarið or the Sun Voyager
The Sun Voyager is pretty hard to miss if you’re wandering around Reykjavik. The sculpture is an ode to the sun, and would look even better without people posing on it. But what can you do?
6 | Bókabúð Máls og Menningar (Bookstore)
What better way to get to know a country than through its books? Thankfully, this bookstore has an Icelandic and English section, because leaving Iceland I still knew a total of zero words…I’m normally better than that… In any case, this bookstore is huge, but also adorable, and for a book lover, one of the top photo spots in Reykjavik.
7 | Laugavegur Street Art
If you’re looking for street art in Iceland, look no further than Laugavegur, one of the main streets running through Reykjavik. I love the vibe they give and the pop of color they bring to the city, even on a gloomy day. I was personally a huge fan of this building that was an entire mural.
8 | Brauð & Co. Bakery
This quickly became my favorite bakery in Iceland…colorful on the outside and yummy treats on the inside. It’s a perfect stop for photos and snacks; my perfect kind of stop! Even though Reykjavik isn’t huge, it has a pretty great foodie scene – definitely take advantage of all of the culinary delights!
If you have the time, I’d also recommend doing a Reykjavik Food Tour. I did one while I was in Reykjavik and I discovered so many cool types of food and hole in the wall places to eat. I would highly recommend it!
9 | Old Harbor
Reykjavik Old Harbor is fast becoming a huge part of Reykjavik. Home to colorful restaurants, marine tours (like this awesome whale watching and marine life cruise!), and stunning views across the bay to Mount Esja, the harbor is definitely worth a stop and turned out to be one of my favorite photo spots in Reykjavik.
10 | Tjornin Pond
Tjornin Pond is right in the middle of Reykjavik and home to swans and geese all year round. Whether it’s a sunny or (for likely) a cloudy day, it’s a great spot to photograph.
Other Things to do in Reykjavik
Once you’ve hopped around town snapping all of your awesome pictures and finding all of the best photo spots in Reykjavik, here’s a list of a few other things to do in town:
- Reykjavik Food Tour: I did this and it was amazing! Turns out Icelandic food is fantastic!
- Reykjavik Walking Tour: If you want to get out and about and hear about the history of Reykjavik, the walking tour is for you.
- Beer Tasting: Imbibing local beverages of any kind is always my fave, and Iceland did not disappoint.
- Ride an Icelandic Horse: Ok, this one isn’t technically in Reykjavik, but it’s only a few hours, and the company will pick you up.
Best Time to Visit Iceland
Weather is always a key factor when choosing when to visit Iceland. Are you trying to have the most ideal weather possible, see the Northern Lights, go whale watching, or explore Iceland on a budget? With that in mind, I have a little breakdown below on the best time to visit Iceland depending on the goal of your trip.
Best Time to Visit Iceland for the Best Weather:
The summer months of June, July, and August are going to be warmest weather-wise. As another awesome perk, you can enjoy nearly 24 hours of daylight, so you’ll really be able to pack in the fun and enjoy Iceland to the fullest. It is important to note that even in the height of summer, Iceland weather is sporadic and you can experience all four seasons in the span of a day, no joke. One of my days in Iceland, I wore everything from just a tank top and leggings to that same outfit plus a fleece, puffy jacket, raincoat, and beanie.
If you want to enjoy the ideal weather, slightly lower prices, fall colors, and less crowds, September is also a great time to consider. Temps haven’t dropped drastically, though you do have some additional rainfall. May is the other month in shoulder season that you should consider; however, some roads and/or hiking trails may still have winter closures in place, so for that reason I’d prefer September over May.
Best Time to Visit Iceland for Northern Lights:
Planning a trip to see the Northern Lights is definitely a bucket list item, but planning a trip solely for the purpose of seeing the Northern Lights can lead to major disappointment. Your best bet for seeing the Northern Lights will be October through March, though make sure to check the aurora forecast before you go! One additional consideration is that due to winter snowfall, some roads can be closed.
Best Time to Visit Iceland for Whale Watching:
If you’re going to Iceland to see the whales, you’ll want to book your trip between May and September, though peak months are June and July.
Best Time to Visit Iceland for Cheap:
Honestly, you’re never going to visit Iceland for super cheap…Iceland is an expensive country. However, if you travel during off-season (not peak summer months), you can usually find less expensive accommodations. Another perk is that you’ll experience fewer crowds!
My Recommendation for the Best Time to Visit Iceland:
My personal recommendation would be to shoot for a September trip to Iceland. You’ll be able to enjoy temperate weather, accessible roads, and fewer crowds (it gets really busy at the main tourist attractions in peak season). Fewer people means lower prices and greater availability on tours, at hotels, and even in parking lots. Plus, the fall colors in September look absolutely gorgeous. However, I don’t think you can go wrong visiting Iceland any time of the year!
Where to Stay in Reykjavik
Since I only spent 4 days in Iceland, I opted to base myself in Reykjavik and do day trips out from there. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to planning your Iceland itinerary…you can choose to rent a car and do a self-drive tour, staying in different places each night or you could do as I did and use Reykjavik as home base.
Since I was on my own, get very sleepy when driving, and am an absolutely horrendous navigator, I opted to not drive myself. I’ll give you some of my recommendations for where to stay in Reykjavik.
Boutique Hotel: Stay at Hotel Ódinsvé—this hotel has an awesome location downtown, and offers cool amenities like a terrace and café bar. Try and book one of the rooms with a balcony so you can enjoy the views!
Mid-Range: I’d recommend Hotel Frón; this hotel is also centrally located and even has kitchen facilities in the apartments, which definitely comes in handy if you end up using Reykjavik as a home base.
Budget: If you’re looking to avoid hotels and go the hostel route, I recommend checking out Hostelworld; there are plenty of options in Reykjavik! My personal hostel recommendation is Loft Hostel. You have an amazing location in the heart of the city, and I absolutely loved the ambiance of the common area/bar and the outside terrace.
Local Stay: Another option to forgo the hotels and stay at this adorable house in the heart of Reykjavik. You’ll enjoy views of old town and the harbor while being surrounded by quaint restaurants and shops. One of the cool things about the house is that it is owned by a family of artists, which gives the home many unique touches. Also, the house includes parking, which is somewhat rare in Reykjavik these days!
Getting Around Iceland
You have a handful of options for getting around Iceland, so it all really comes down to preference.
1. Stay in Reykjavik and book groups tours on the days you plan to leave Reykjavik. This is what I did – it was easiest as a solo traveler that doesn’t know how to drive a manual car and detests long drives alone. I also booked an airport shuttle to Reykjavik in advance. Traveling solo, it saved me a bunch of money on taxis. Plus, the bus had wifi and was super clean and fast – I would definitely recommend this.
2. For those of you that enjoy driving, check out Expedia Car Rentals. Iceland is made for road trips and one day I fully intend to drive the entire Ring Road around Iceland. If you’re planning to go to Iceland in the winter months (October – April) when there may be snow on the ground, consider investing in a 4×4 car.
3. Join a fully planned small group tour! G Adventures offers this 3 day summer mini-adventure or a 5 day Northern Lights & Golden Circle Tour. I personally am such a huge fan of G Adventures since my first adventure with them through Jordan. The company designs small group tours with expert guides that can truly give you a local experience.
Lucky for you, I have so many detailed posts about Iceland, so use these guides to help plan your trip!
- Your Breathtaking 4 Day Itinerary in Iceland
- The Supreme Foodie’s Guide to Reykjavik
- 12 Best Tips to Know Before Visiting the Blue Lagoon
- 10 Must-See Highlights on Iceland’s South Coast
- The Ultimate Guide to Iceland’s Golden Circle
Flying to Iceland
Finding cheap flights to Iceland has never been easier, and airlines are continually expanding their routes. I’d recommend searching through eDreams. They scan tons of different travel discount sites and feature special flight deals. You can typically find good flights on IcelandAir. You’ll fly into Iceland’s Keflavík Airport, which is about 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik. As a nice perk, the airport offers free unlimited WiFi, which I used to pass the time as I waited in the immigration line. Make sure you book your shuttle to/from Keflavík Airport to Reykvaik in advance!
And that wraps it up for your guide to the best photo spots in Reykjavik! I definitely plan to visit again, so what are some of your Iceland highlights? Let me know in the comments how you would spend your time in Iceland and if you have any suggestions on cool photo spots in Reykjavik!