Making the most of your Reykjavik City Card
Updated: Aug 1, 2019
Everyone has different travel interests and how one person enjoys exploring can be quite different to the next. You may well be visiting Iceland with nothing but nature in mind. But before you head out into the amazing landscapes of Iceland think about exploring the capital city of Reykjavik first. Getting to know the city and its people is a very rewarding experience.
When it comes to exploring a city you may be one of those serendipitous wanderers. Preferring to simply meander around and see where the day and the city streets take you. Others like a schedule. They prefer to read up on all the top sights and museums and decide where to go ahead of time. If you would like to maximise your time in the capital then the Reykjavik City Card is definitely for you. Even if you are one of those wanderers we mentioned earlier it could still be well worth your while to pick up a card. There are lots of great benefits and discounts to enjoy on all sorts of leisure activities. You’ll also get a taste of the cultural life of the city and of Iceland as a whole.
The city card gains you free admission to Reykjavik’s top museums and galleries. It also offers unlimited travel on the city buses and access to seven thermal pools. Add to that buses and the ferry to Viðey Island and discounts on restaurants, events and entertainment. Experiencing the cultural scene and vibrant city life of Reykjavik doesn’t get easier than this.
The city card is available for 24, 48 or 72 hours. For us the ideal amount of time to make the most of your card and the capital would be 48 hours. The 72-hour card would be great if you have the luxury of time. The 24-hour card can work if you are organised about it. But two full days to explore Reykjavik will give you a much more well rounded and complete experience of the capital.
What is included on the Reykjavik City Card?
Unlimited bus travel within the city and the ferry to Videy Island.
Free entrance to over ten museums and galleries in Reykjavik. This includes The National Museum of Iceland, The National Gallery of Iceland, The Culture House, The Settlement Exhibition, The Maritime Museum, the Museum of Photography, the Natural History Museum and several more besides.
Entry to Reykjavik Zoo and Family Park.
Entry to seven beautiful thermal pools in Reykjavik.
A variety of changing offers on restaurants, cultural events and shows.
Note: There is a special Children’s City Card in addition to the adult card. Entrance fees for children under 18 years to museums is free. But there are various charges for pools, buses and the zoo. The Reykjavik City Card for kids is much lower in cost to account for all this.
Making the most of the capital
There are so many options so what you choose to do will really depend on your interests, time and energy levels. Outdoor activities such as visiting the zoo or Videy Island will be affected by the Iceland weather. But outdoor thermal pools and indoor museums are all pretty much weather proof.
Along with your city card you will receive a small booklet that gives an overview of all of the galleries and pools covered. It will also tell you about the current offers available in terms of restaurant discounts, show offers and events. These change regularly and are a fun way to get to know some unexpected parts of the city.
If you would like to visit several of the museums then Mondays are best avoided. Many museums and galleries are closed on Mondays. It is a good idea to choose exactly which museums you would like to visit and map out a vague itinerary. You could then add in any that are nearby each other if you have the time. Do note that the majority of the museums close by about 5pm most evenings. There are a few that open late on a Thursday so this can be a good day to start your City Card pass.
How to spend forty-eight hours in Reykjavik
Day One: Begin your day early and take a stroll around the city centre. Perhaps visiting the Settlement Museum near city hall. Getting an overview of the settlement of Iceland will really enrich your visit. Then head down to the harbour for a look at this recently developed area with its converted industrial warehouses.
You could visit the Maritime Museum while you are in the area and then grab a bite to eat. Check out any lunch offers available on the City Card or pick up a hot dog at the famous harbour kiosk Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. After lunch hop on a bus to the Laugardalslaug Swimming Pool with its thermal pools and water slides. The evening might be spent taking advantage of one of the evening meal offers followed by a film or a show.
Day Two: How about a cultural morning at Reykjavik’s excellent art galleries? The City Card allows access to all three of the varied locations of the Iceland Art Gallery network. Each venue is really unique and well worth a visit. In the afternoon you might like to do something outdoors. Perhaps head to the Zoo and Family Park or catch the ferry to Videy Island where you can enjoy the hiking trails. Another fun option is the Árbæjarsafn Open Air Museum.
In the evening soak tired feet in one of the city’s relaxing thermal baths generally open late. If you visit the Open Air Museum then Árbæjarlaug pool and baths is nearby and open until 10pm most nights. If you’d prefer a calmer less family-orientated pool then head to Sundhöllin. This is the oldest public pool in Iceland it is and also open late until 10pm.