Hallgrímur's Church (Hallgrímskirkja)

#6 in Best Things To Do in Reykjavik
Hallgrímur's Church (Hallgrímskirkja) picture
Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images

Key Info

Hallgrímstorg 101

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
4.3scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Iceland's tallest and largest church is also its most photographed site. Named after 17th-century hymn writer and church scholar Reverend Hallgrímur Pétursson, this church took nearly 50 years to complete, with construction on it starting in 1945. The shape of the futuristic structure is a cross between a glacier and a rocket ship.

Recent travelers recommended visiting Hallgrímur's Church to snap photos of the gorgeous structure and listen to the organ playing during free lunchtime concerts on Thursdays and Saturdays. Many also suggest paying 900 Icelandic króna ($9) to ride an elevator up to the top of the church. There, you'll find 360-degree views of Reykjavik.

Hallgrímur's Church is a working church, so you can attend free services on Sundays. If you'd rather skip sitting in on a worship service, you can visit daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (or until 9 p.m. from May to September) when mass is not in session. There are no entrance fees for this attraction. Complimentary choir and organ performances are also occasionally hosted here, and restrooms and a gift shop are available inside. Free parking is provided on-site, but you can also walk to the church from central Reykjavik and Laugavegur. More information about Hallgrímur's Church is provided on the attraction's website.

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Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
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#1 Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

The aurora borealis (or northern lights) can be an almost eerie sight: Picture emerald green swirls coloring the otherwise darkened sky. But scientists have a boring explanation for this phenomenal natural light show – "collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the Earth's atmosphere," according to the Northern Lights Centre. Still, it's a pretty breathtaking sight, and if you're visiting Reykjavik in winter, you might want to stake out some time for northern lights gazing.

Although you can see the lights from Reykjavik, you'll increase your chances of viewing them outside of the city. Previous travelers recommend taking a tour with local companies like BusTravel Iceland or Reykjavik Excursions. (But keep in mind that the aurora borealis requires a perfect cocktail of climate conditions in order to show – so you're not guaranteed to see the elusive display of lights even if you book a tour.) If you'd rather hunt for this natural phenomenon on your own, time your visit between September and mid-April.

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