Despite the devaluation of the currency in 2008, Iceland is still a pretty pricey place to visit. But, there are some free and cheap things to do, especially in the capital city of Reykjavik. Here are some of the best choices. If you plan on visiting several, check out the Reykjavik discount card.
The 871 Settlement Museum
If you only go to one museum in Reykjavik, I suggest this be the one. Admission is just 600 ISK (under $5 US) and well worth it. The museum is centered around an excavated Viking longhouse that is over 1000 years old, and includes various interactive exhibits.
Culture House Museum
Admission to the Culture House is free on Wednesdays, and just 300 ISK (just over two bucks) on other days. The museum contains some of Iceland’s oldest and most treasured manuscripts. On Mondays and Fridays at 3:30pm, a free guided tour of the exhibition is available in English.
The Reykjavik Art Museum
The Reykjavik Art Museum is actually comprised of three different museum buildings located around the city – the Kjarvalsstadir, the Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum and Park, and Hafnarhus – which together offer over 3000 square meters, with 20 exhibitions being hosted annually. Admission at all three is free.
Reykjavik Museum of Photography
Admission is free at the Museum of Photography, which is the largest of its kind in Iceland and has a collection of over 1.7 million artifacts. The museums features modern and vintage works from Icelandic and international photographers.
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More commonly referred to by visitors as “the big white church” Hallgrímskirkja Church is one of the most recognizable buildings in Reykjavik. It also provides the best view of the city. Visitors can go into the church and look around for free, but to get up to the viewing tower, you’ll need to pay a 400 ISK (about $3 US) fee.
Icelanders are crazy about swimming, and the city is teeming with public pools that are kept very hot and open all year round. Admission is just 110 ISK (less than one US dollar) and swimsuits are even available for rent.
The Reykjavik harbor shouldn’t missed. From the city center, head to the water’s edge to get an up close look at the Viking Boat sculpture (and take the requisite photos) and then continue on to check out the large whaling ships (identified by the big white H) and the whale-watching tourist boats side by side. Be sure to grab a hot dog from Bæjarins beztu, Iceland’s best hot dog stand.
Tjörnin and City Hall
Tjörnin, (translation: the pond), is just that: a pond in the middle of the city that is a great place to people-watch or to bring kids who will get a kick out of feeding the ducks. Right next to the pond is the Reykjavik City Hall, which hosts a small cafe and a pretty cool table-top 3D map of Iceland.
The Kolaportid market
Of course, shopping at the weekend flea market will cost you, but a quick browse through to try on some traditional sweaters, called lopapeysa, or to sample some Icelandic delicacies like hakarl, is free.
Free My Reykjavik walking tour
This 90-minute free tour takes you around some of landmarks in downtown Reykjavik and is led by informative and entertaining guides. There’s no cost for the tour, but tips are appreciated (and well-deserved).