Segway Tour of Reykjavik
Our scheduled Segway tour may include but is not limited to the following places. Harpa concert hall, Hofdi house where Reagan and Gorbachev met in 1986, Laugardalur botanical gardens, Hallgrímskirkja memorial church, city centre and City lake.
Get ready to cruise through the capital. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Duration: 2 hours
- Activities: Sightseeing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 15 years.
- Languages: English, Icelandic
- Highlights: Hallgrimskirkja,
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran church, located on top of hill Skólavörðuhæð in the centre of Reykjavík. At 74,5 metres tall, it is the largest church in Iceland, and its tower offers a spectacular panoramic view over the city.
History and design
The church was designed by one of Iceland’s most renowned architects, Guðjón Samúelsson, who is said to have sought inspiration for his expressionistic design from elements of the Icelandic nature. These include glaciers, mountains and trap rocks, such as the hexagonal basalt columns that surround the waterfall Svartifoss in Skaftafell National Park.
The church took 41 years to build, with construction starting in 1945 and finishing in 1986. The leaders of the Church of Iceland wanted a building that would tower over the Catholic church of Landakotskirkja, also designed by Samúelsson. The large pipe organ inside Hallgrímskirkja, consisting of over 5000 pipes, was built by German Johannes Klais of Bonn and its construction was completed in December 1992.
Outside the church stands its predecessor; a statue of Leifur Eiríksson by American sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder. The statue was a gift from the United States in 1930, on the millennial anniversary of Iceland’s first legislative body Alþingi, founded in Þingvellir in 930 AD. Leifur Eiríksson was a Norse explorer from Iceland who discovered the continent of North America in the year 1000, more than half a century before Christopher Columbus.
The church’s namesake is Icelandic priest Hallgrímur Pétursson, a 17th-century poet and author of The Passion Hymns (Passíusálmar). The hymns are a vital part of Icelandic religious tradition and a stable of local literature, having been reprinted over 75 times since their original publishing in 1666.
The tower of the church is each day visited by hundreds of spectators who seek to enjoy its sweeping view of the capital. The observation tower can be accessed via a lift. Hallgrímskirkja counts as the most iconic landmark of the city of Reykjavík and is visible throughout most of the capital. It serves as a focal meeting point for several cultural events, for example, an annual gathering for watching the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.Höfði,
Hofdi is a building in north Reykjavik, most famous for being the meeting point of then-presidents Ronald Reagan of the United States and Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union in 1986.
Hofdi is also notable as the former residence of Icelandic poet and entrepreneur Einar Benediktsson. Since 1958 it has been used for formal receptions and festive occasions. The house is rumoured to be haunted.
A Hollywood film is now being made about the meeting of the Soviet and US leaders, starring Michael Douglas and called Reykjavik.Laugardalur,
Laugardalur valley is an area in Reykjavik. Among its attractions are the remains of the old washing pools - from which the valley derives its name.
In Laugardalur there is a botanical garden, and the small but charming domestic animal zoo. The main sporting arena is located in Laugardalur, and is sometimes also used for concerts. The Laugardalslaug swimming pool is the largest swimming pool in Iceland, and definitely the most popular one. The art museums Asmundarsafn and Listasafn Sigurjons Olafssonar are close by.
We recommend you enjoy a walk around the area, jump in the swimming pool for some local culture and afterwards enjoy a rewarding hot dog in the famous stand in front of the pool entrance.Laugavegur (street),
Laugavegur is the main shopping street in Reykjavik, located in the city centre.
Laugavegur starts from Bankastraeti in the west and joins Kringlumyrarbraut in the east. Shops, cafés, bars, clubs, hotels, and service companies can be found there as well as residential apartments.
Plenty of old houses with interesting history can be found on Laugavegur. Nobel author Halldor Laxness lived at Laugavegur 32 in his youth. Note that this street should not be confused with the Laugavegur hiking trail, Iceland's most popular one.Sun Voyager,
The Sun Voyager (Sólfarið) is a large steel sculpture of a ship, located at Sæbraut by the seaside of central Reykjavík. The work is one of the most visited sights in the capital, where people gather daily to gaze at the sun reflecting in the stainless steel of this remarkable monument.
The sculpture serves as an ode to the sun where it gracefully faces north across Faxaflói Bay. A popular misconception is that the Sun Voyager represents a Viking Ship. However, that is not quite the case. According to the sculptor’s vision, the piece rather accounts for a vessel of dreams; a premonition of the promise land, a plight for hope, pursuit, progress and freedom.
The sculptor is Jón Gunnar Árnason, who described his vision as one of the possible origins of the Icelandic people. When Jón visited the island of Bockholm in Finland, he claimed to have experienced an uncanny feeling that he’d been there before, many centuries ago.
The story goes that as ancient explorers from the centre of the known world set out to the four different cardinal directions, some set out towards the rising sun and made port at Mongolia. There, they settled down, until discovering the scribes of the explorers from the original journey who had ventured out west. With the discovery of another fatherland, the people yet again set sail, but this time they headed back towards the setting sun. After having followed the sun for years, they eventually ended up on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
When Jón was looking out to sea from Bockholm, he envisioned a vessel of dreams that would take him the rest of the way home; to the newfound promise land of the setting sun. He carved his vision into a granite rock by the sea, and thus the sun ship was born in his mind.
- Learn more about the origins of the Icelandic people here: Where did Icelanders come from?
- Get acquainted with the whales of Faxafló Bay on this Whale Watching Tour from Reykjavík.
As the city of Reykjavík celebrated its 200-year anniversary in 1986, the town council of Vesturbær held a competition for works of exterior art. The Sun Voyager was deemed as the winner, and an aluminium prototype was donated to the city of Reykjavík. In August 1990, shortly after the death of Jón Gunnar, the final piece was revealed at its current location by Sæbraut.
The site of the sculpture was considerably disputed. Many have pointed out the fallacy in the ship’s mast facing north, as opposed to west; to adhere to the original concept behind the artist’s vision. Jón originally wanted the ship to be situated in the western part of Reykjavík, or by the coastline of Ánanaust. Eventually, and with the artist’s consent, the small headland on Sæbraut got chosen. Although the headland has no name, the artist comically referred to it as Jónsnes—or Jón’s Peninsula.
- Visit the Sun Voyager and other Reykjavík Landmarks on this walking tour with a local guide.
- See a full list of Reykjavík Tours here, for exciting adventures that set out from the capital.
Below, you can see a time-lapse video of a day in the life of the Sun Voyager sculpture.Alþingi,
The Alþingi is Iceland’s longest running and highest institution of government, having been formed amidst the stunning beauty of Þingvellir (“Parliamentary Fields”) in the year 930AD. The formation of the Alþingi was the country’s first step to solidifying a national identity, creating not only the Icelandic Commonwealth (until its end in 1262), but also, what was arguably the longest running parliament in history.
Upon the Alþingi’s formation, Viking chieftain and their tribes met for two-week sessions at the Lögberg, or ‘Law Rock’, at the base of what is known today as the North American tectonic plate, to discuss matters of politics in a free and open discussion. At the centre of these proceedings was the Lögrétta, or Law Council. Any law abiding citizen of the land was free to attend and encouraged to do so, as the open air assembly ensured a level of transparency to the meetings. These sessions quickly became the main event of the year’s social calendar, with farmers, merchants, travellers, craftsmen and warriors all in attendance, staying in temporary camps called 'búðir' with their families.
For two weeks, unifying laws and customs were read aloud by the Lawspeaker to these assemblies, largely by employing the North American tectonic plate as a literal sounding board. Using this method, the Lawspeaker's’ voice could reach all those in attendance. From this position, new legislation was pronounced, political disputes were resolved and justice was implemented.
In 1262, after nearly two decades of civil war, Icelandic Chieftains finally succumbed to the King of Norway, pledging their allegiance to him. This newly imposed crown rule had a number of consequences, one of which was the changing structure of the Alþingi. Though it still convened at Þingvellir, the lawspeaker could now only pass laws signed off by the Norwegian crown. The Lögrétta was reassigned as an acting court for the region and was held as accountable to the King for any violations to Norway’s rule. Sessions at the Alþingi transformed from the enacting and pronouncements of new law to primarily, the resolution of legal disputes.
This continued upon the formation of the Kalmar Union (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) at the end of the 14th Century, when the rule of Iceland transferred across to the Danes. Denmark was an absolute monarchy and was quick to strip Icelanders of certain ancient rights they had always held close. One of these was the right to assembly, to which the King was highly suspicious. The Alþingi came to an end at Thingvellir in 1798 and was abolished entirely in 1800. The Lögrétta still convened throughout this period at Hólavellir. However, due to an increase in national sentiment throughout the 19th Century, the Danish crown was forced to secede their control and allowed Iceland to re-establish the Alþingi in 1843, in the country’s capital, Reykjavik.
There were a number of changes to the structure and purpose of the Alþingi throughout the early 1900s. However, on the 9th April 1940, Iceland severed its ties with its former colonial master, the then Nazi-occupied Denmark, gaining national independence. In 1944, the Republic of Iceland was officially established. Today, the Alþingi resides at Parliament House, in downtown Reykjavik.Harpa – Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre
Harpa is Rekjavík’s premier concert hall and conference centre. Opened in 2011, it was designed by a collaboration between Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, and the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects.
The idea for a purpose-built concert hall in Reykjavík had been tossed around since the 1880s, but it wasn't until this millennium that it began to gain traction. Construction finally began in 2007.
It’s future, however, was left uncertain in the wake of the financial crash of 2008, when it was left partially constructed and the funds to finish it were lacking. The Icelandic populace was divided between having a half-finished construction site facing their downtown or spending money no-one was sure they had.
The Icelandic government, however, decided that it was the only building in the country that warranted being raised, in spite of the dubious future of the economy, and fully financed its completion.
- Find out more with Nanna's blog on Harpa
Harpa won the prestigious Mies van de Rohe award in 2013, otherwise known as the European Prize for Contemporary Architecture, and is featured heavily in any tour of the city. Its structure is beautiful and unique; it has a facade of 714 glass panels, all of which are a different shape and built with an LED light that allows for shows whenever the sky is dark.
Olafur Eliasson is world-renowned for his large-scale installation art, and for the influences he takes from the natural world. This is clearly exhibited in Harpa; it reflects the basalt landscapes of Iceland and the dark coloured glass creates beautiful effects with the natural light.
Studio Olafur Eliasson employs 90 people, from architects to graphic designers, craftsmen to art historians. Based in Berlin, they work across the world, and are well-known for works such as London's 2007 Serpentine Gallery Pavillion and the annual event Life is Space.
Henning Larsen Architects are similarly successful. They have collaborated on the construction of dozens of buildings in over twenty countries, such as the Copenhagen Opera House and Uppsala Concert Hall in Sweden. They are currently working on the creation of thirteen buildings around the world, many of which they scored the opportunity to work on due to their competition-winning designs.
Today, Harpa is one of the jewels in Reykjavík’s crown. The hall hosts exhibitions, concerts, cultural events, meetings, and festivals such as Airwaves, Sónar and the Reykjavík Fashion Festival. Home of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and the offices of the Icelandic Opera, it is a centre of culture in Iceland’s capital.
Many internationally known artists from around the world have performed here, including people such as Eddie Izzard and Cyndi Lauper. It also regularly showcases native talent, such as Björk and Of Monsters and Men.
- Find out more about the Music of Iceland
Below, you can see a video showing Harpa's construction.
Ægisgarður 7, 101 Reykjavik
Segway, helmet and professional English-speaking guide.
What to bring:
It is always a good idea to bring a hat and gloves to Iceland as well as rainproof gear. We have some extra clothes that you may borrow during the tour.
Good to know:
Reykjavik Bike Tours and Reykjavik Segway Tours is in Reykjavik's old harbour on the same street as the whale watching companies. Look for two fire engine red shipping containers with a roof over both.