If you’ve just checked the weather for Iceland and it’s showing rain, don’t worry! Here are the best things to do in Reykjavik when it rains which are many of the best things to do in Iceland when it rains too!
This post also applies to things to do when it snows in Reykjavik which I experienced a lot of on my recent trip!
Iceland is world-famous for its extraordinary nature – but it’s certainly not renowned for its reliable weather! While any trip to Iceland should include getting out and about and seeing sights like
Gullfoss Waterfall and Diamond Beach, there might be days when the weather just won’t
cooperate and your Iceland itinerary will need to change.
Despite the ever-changing weather, Iceland has plenty to offer all year round and there are many things to do in Iceland in the rain. It’s all about finding the right activities for the right weather, and that’s exactly what we’re going to delve into in this post.
So, in this Iceland travel blog, we’ll uncover what to do in Reykjavik when it rains and how to make the most of your rainy days in this beautiful city and country!
What to do in Iceland when it rains?
The good news is the capital city of Reykjavik is incredibly inviting, even when the outside weather is dramatic and discouraging!
In fact, there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik in the rain (and snow). One of my top recommendations for Iceland is actually not to skip the capital, as it’s an excellent place to learn about this unique country (and get a better appreciation for its nature!).
So, whether you’re visiting Iceland in winter and need some time away from snowstorms or in summer and the sun just isn’t appearing, here are all of the best indoor attractions in Reykjavik and things to do in Iceland when it rains.
This is the guest post by Claire. She is a Europe in winter travel expert. She spends her winters exploring different corners of the continent and loves promoting travel in Europe in the off-season, whether that be by visiting the snowiest possible places or heading south for some winter sun!
1. Perlan (Wonders of Iceland)
Perlan is one of the best rainy-day attractions in Reykjavik; it’ll help you see Iceland’s nature while still being cosy indoors!
Perlan’s different to seeing Iceland’s nature up close, but it’s worth doing as an addition to all the day trips to nature spots – because it provides unique looks at places and lots of information about Iceland’s geology, animals and natural phenomena!
Some of the interactive exhibits that you can enjoy at Perlan are:
- the world’s first man-made ice cave which is super cool!
- an aurora exhibition where you’re guaranteed a sighting of the Northern Lights (the real lights may not be visible if it’s raining in Reykjavik!)
- virtual fish tank where you can learn about the sea life in Iceland
- Geldingadalir lava exhibition
- 360 viewing deck
2. FlyOver Iceland
Another must-do activity in Reykjavik in the rain is FlyOver Iceland.
A winner of the Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award in 2022, FlyOver Iceland is a virtual flight that takes you all over the country, to some areas that are completely inaccessible to tourists and others that you might recognise if you’ve already travelled around the country a little!
The virtual flight quickly became one of the most popular things to do in Reykjavik, rain or sunshine, because it’s such an immersive experience and will help you see the nation from a different perspective.
The receptionist even told me that Icelandic locals had gone in to see the film, unsure of what to expect, and had left in (happy!) tears because they’d never seen their country in this way!
Book your tickets here so you don’t need to waste time booking them later on:
3. Soak in Laugardalslaug
If you’re visiting Iceland on a budget or want to experience a more local spa culture than the Blue Lagoon and Sky Lagoon, consider visiting Laugardalslaug.
Popular with locals, this spa complex consists of a heated outdoor pool and several hot tubs. It stays open in most wet weather, and you probably won’t notice the rain while you’re swimming or soaking which makes it one of the best things to do in Reykjavik when it rains.
Laugardalslaug stays open throughout the winter months – when I visited Reykjavik in January (and the weather was -10°C or 14°F), I visited on a very dark morning, and while it was cold getting into the open air swimming pool, the fact that it was heated to 28°C or 82°F made it bearable for a 20-minute swim – then I got straight into one of the heated hot tubs!
4. Visit Sky Lagoon or Blue Lagoon
They are busy, but during rainy weather, you might actually find them to be a little quieter making them one of the best things to do in Reykjavik when it rains. Like Laugardalslaug, they stay open in most weather conditions. But which geothermal spa to pick?
Blue Lagoon is located in a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The lagoon’s milky blue, mineral-rich waters are heated by underground volcanic activity and are known for their healing and rejuvenating properties.
All tickets as long as you want in the lagoon, silica mud masks and a drink (there are other packages if you’d like a spa treatment). The Blue Lagoon’s located about an hour from the city, close to Kevaflik International Airport.
Many tourists visit on the way or the way back from the airport, but if you don’t have a chance to do so and don’t have a car there are plenty of Blue Lagoon Tours leaving from Reykjavik.
Sky Lagoon is a newer spa on the outskirts of Reykjavik, also situated right by the ocean and is famous for its 7-step spa ritual. It’s cheaper and easier to visit Sky Lagoon, but Blue Lagoon is busier because of its fame and prestige!
Although close to Reykjavik, these are 2 great things to do in Iceland when it rains, not just from the capital city!
If you know you’re in for rain in Reykjavik, get your tickets booked here now:
What do in Reykjavik when it rains? I’d say learn about the country’s foundings at National Museum- when the Vikings first came to the country – and about its time under Danish rule and Independence.
You’ll also discover some of the quirkier parts of Iceland’s history, such as the infamous Cod Wars with the UK. An hour or two here will have you looking at the country from a different perspective!
6. Cafe hop
Reykjavik cafe culture is very much alive – as you’d expect from a city where the average yearly temperature is around 6°C!
While hygge is a Danish concept, a similar spirit is very much alive on the streets of Reykjavik. Wondering what are the best things to do in Iceland in the rain? Let me tell you, nothing could feel cosier than sitting in the window seat of a cafe in a thick jumper, hot chocolate or coffee in hand, watching the rain fall outside.
Also, like other Nordic nations, Iceland serves great coffee – they claim it’s some of the best in the world!
Head to Stofan Café for a hot drink and board games, Mokka Café for views of Hallgrimskirkja or Reykjavik Roasters, which many locals consider to serve the best coffee in the city.
7. Visit Reykjavik’s other museums
Once you’re fully versed in Icelandic nature at Perlan and social history at the National Museum of Iceland, there are a few more museums to explore, focusing on niche parts of Iceland’s culture and history making them one of the aesthetic things to do in Iceland in the rain.
You could easily spend a few days wandering around these, but I’d recommend picking one or two that specifically interest you:
- The Settlement Exhibition: This museum focuses on the development of Reykjavik, as it went from a rural area to the capital of Iceland.
- Saga Museum: This museum focuses on Iceland’s Medieval history – from the 9th to 16th century – through the concept of Sagas, which are Icelandic stories.
- Whales of Iceland Museum: This museum features life-sized models of various whale species found in Icelandic waters and plenty of interactive exhibits.
- Reykjavik Maritime Museum: Iceland’s history is constantly intertwined with the sea, and the Reykjavik Maritime Museum explores this.
Book the trips to the museum in Iceland in advance here:
8. Catch a Concert at Harpa Concert Hall
Iceland’s nature has inspired many music artists, with artists like Of Monsters and Men and Sigur Ros hailing from the country.
Concerts take place at the Harpa Concert Hall, a landmark in the city, throughout the year. They’re generally on in the evenings, but if you have a few rainy nights scheduled during your trip, it might be an idea to check out the listings, although this is one of the great things to do in Iceland no matter the weather!
In the daytime, anyone can enter and look around the hall’s main entrance; paid-for guided tours also take place. You can find out more about these here.
9. Have a Treat Dinner at Dill
The Michelin-star-rated Dill is not somewhere to visit if you’re on a budget – but it’s widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in Iceland. If you want a treat dinner on a rainy evening and thinking about what to do in the rain in Iceland, it might be worth considering.
You’ll taste the nature of Iceland through their set menu; they creatively assemble each menu from fresh Icelandic ingredients, offering an immersive experience of the country through food.
The menu constantly changes depending on what’s in season; they offer meat, fish and veggie dishes but aren’t able to accommodate vegans.
10. Pull on Your Layers And Go On a Day Trip!
Even if the weather’s not that enticing, that doesn’t mean that it won’t change!
Iceland’s famous for having “four seasons in one day”, and often rainy mornings lead to bright sunshine in the afternoon.
However, even if it’s a bit drizzly all day, Iceland’s beauty prevails; and many day trips from Reykjavik run whatever the weather and there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik when it rains.
If you’re not confident in driving in bad weather, I’d recommend foregoing the rental car and booking a day trip instead – plenty of tours leave Reykjavik on a daily basis, and some are quite affordable.
Organised day trips from Reykjavik include a driver who knows the roads and conditions well and an English-speaking tour guide who’ll fascinate you with tales from the country.
Tours you shouldn’t miss out on:
Suggested day trips you could do are:
- Golden Circle (the most famous day excursion in Iceland)
- South Coast of Iceland (see the Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls)
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula (known as “Iceland in Miniature”, this area is quite far from Reykjavik, so even if the weather’s bad in the capital, it could be much better here!).
If you’re visiting Iceland and the weather forecast isn’t looking ideal, don’t worry!
The country’s used to unreliable weather, which means that Reykjavik on a rainy day is a very comfortable place to be and many of the best things to do in Iceland in the rain are in fact the best things to do in Iceland overall!
If you do fancy braving the wilds of Iceland during bad weather, I recommend doing a tour with a local, but also be aware that the conditions could be completely different in another part of the country.
Whatever the weather, Reykjavik’s always worth visiting!