Monuments In Iceland

An essential guide to the most famous monuments in Iceland

For a country of fewer than 400,000 people, you will find a surprising number of famous monuments in Iceland. Of course, we can’t ignore the country’s wide selection of natural attractions — such as the iconic Kirkjufell mountain and its geothermal springs.

Icelanders have made incredible use of their isolated land and its harsh climate, with the country becoming one of the most prosperous on the globe. Plenty of statues and buildings show this in all of its glory, with some being formed by the forces that exist in this part of the world too.

Many monuments in Iceland have been made famous through popular TV, while social media has also played a role. Meanwhile, others were previously hidden gems that have now become much more mainstream.

If you’re ready to learn all about the monuments of Iceland, you’re in the right place. This article will guide you through some of the country’s most prominent ones. Are you ready to join us on this adventure? Great; let’s get started.

What is the most famous building in Iceland?

While some could argue that Hallgrímskirkja church is Iceland’s most famous building, you could also put a case forward for another one a little further east.

If you go to Thingvellir National Park, which is part of the Golden Circle, you will notice a selection of small white houses and a church with a similar design.

While it may seem unassuming at first, this is where Northern Europe’s first parliament existed. It’s also the location where Iceland first became an independent country, having become free from the Kingdom of Denmark in 1944.

At Thingvellir, the first Northern Europe parliament was created around AD 930. Besides the parliament buildings, though, the rest of the park is well worth walking around.

It’s pretty accessible, regardless of your previous hiking experience — and its close proximity to Reykjavík makes it a fantastic day trip from the Icelandic capital.

What are some of the other major monuments in Iceland?

Of course, the parliament building at Thingvellir is not the only famous monument in Iceland. You will find plenty of others dotted throughout the country, and you don’t even need to travel too far from the capital to find many of these.

Below are some of Iceland’s best monuments that are worth checking out when you visit the country.

The Berlin Wall piece, Reykjavík

Where would you think that a piece of the Berlin Wall would end up if it was not in Berlin? Did you ever guess that you’d find some of it in Reykjavík?


Well, oddly enough, you can.

The Berlin Wall piece in Reykjavík is not very old; it’s only been there since 2015, in fact. Unsurprisingly, we have to go back to the Cold War for the reason why this piece of the Berlin Wall found itself in pretty much the middle of nowhere.

Iceland received this part of the wall as part of the 25th-anniversary celebrations of Germany becoming a single country again. Reykjavík was the scene of the Reykjavík Summit in 1986, which is where Ronald Reagan met Mikhail Gorbachev at another of the monuments that we will discuss later in this article.

The piece of the Berlin Wall is close to the waterfront in Reykjavík, and it’s next to where the meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev took place. You can access the monument on foot from the city center; on a good day, it’s also possible to walk along the waterfront and admire the views of Mount Esja.

The Rolling Stone, Grímsey

It’s common knowledge that Iceland is very, very far north. So far north, in fact, that the sun does not rise before 11 am in any part of the country on the shortest day of the year. But despite this, the main part of Iceland does not cross the Arctic Circle.

Believe it or not, the only part of Iceland in the Arctic Circle is Grímsey — a small island with fewer than 100 people living there. Besides the natural beauty that you’ll find on Grímsey, you will also find a monument showing where the Arctic Circle begins in Iceland.

Considering that the Arctic Circle moves each year, the stone has to be moved on an annual basis. To get here, you can fly from Akureyri; the journey only takes 30 minutes.

Akureyri itself is around 45 minutes away from Reykjavík by plane; IcelandAir regularly flies throughout the week, but you’ll need to go to the domestic airport in Reykjavík — which is just outside of the city center.

Flights from Akureyri to Grímsey take place during the summer.

Monuments In Iceland

The rainbow street, Reykjavík

Iceland is regularly named one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and you can very clearly see Icelanders’ open attitudes in Reykjavík. One of the clearest examples of this is the new rainbow street in the capital, which you will find on Skólavörðustígur.

Originally, the rainbow street in Reykjavík only appeared during the annual Pride parade in the city. However, it became a year-round sight in 2019, and residents of the city — along with Reykjavík’s mayor at the time — helped to bring it to life.

Skólavörðustígur leads up to Hallgrímskirkja, which is the most famous church in Iceland — and one of Reykjavík’s most photographed buildings. You don’t need to pay money to view it, and it’s along one of the busier streets in the city.

In addition to the rainbow monument, you will find several restaurants, bars, cafés, and shops along this street.

Monuments In Iceland

The Northern Lights, countrywide

Of course, we can’t mention monuments in Iceland without talking about the fabled Northern Lights. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, this incredible natural phenomenon is one of the main reasons that people visit Iceland during the winter months.

Thanks to Iceland’s northerly location, you can actually see the Northern Lights in any part of the country — even in Reykjavík. But because of light pollution, it’s often difficult to see the phenomenon from the capital.

Instead, you’re better off venturing out into the countryside — where you will have a much better chance of viewing the Northern Lights. It’s not guaranteed that you will see them, however, as cloud cover can significantly impact how visible they are.

In Iceland, you can see the Northern Lights between September and April. During the other months of the year, the daylight hours are long — and almost never-ending. As such, you’ll have to make do with enjoying the Midnight Sun instead.

Hard life, isn’t it?

Monuments In Iceland

The Ingólfr Arnarson Statue, Reykjavík

The statue dedicated to Ingólfur Arnarson is a monument in Iceland that you will find right outside Hallgrímskirkja. That’s all well and good, but who exactly was he?

Ingólfr Arnarson is known as the first Norseman that settled in Iceland; he moved to Reykjavík with his wife and foster brother in 874.

Initially, Arnarson was Norwegian — but he was made an outlaw in his homeland. Eventually, he ended up in Iceland.

The statue itself has existed in Reykjavík since 1924. It was designed by Einar Jónsson; it was there decades before Hallgrímskirkja. The monument is a popular place to take photos next to when in Iceland, and it’s worth spending a few minutes to check it out.

Oh, insider tip: Head to Café Loki across the street for amazing rye bread ice cream. After you’ve been to the observation deck at Hallgrímskirkja, of course.

The Sun Voyager, Reykjavík

If you find yourself walking along the seafront in Reykjavík, it’s almost impossible to ignore the Sun Voyager. It’s one of the most famous monuments in Iceland and has been where it currently is since 1990.

The stainless steel monument is supposed to signify multiple things. In particular, it represents discovery, freedom, and hope.

You can go right up to the Sun Voyager to take pictures, but we should warn you that it can get quite windy. Nonetheless, you’ll have a fantastic view of Mount Esja across the water on a good day — and it’s not too far from a selection of hotels in the city.

The Sun Voyager is also easy to walk to from Harpa Concert Hall, making it an ideal spot if you fancy having a lazy day where you aimlessly stroll around Reykjavík.

If you choose to visit the monument, it’s completely free.

Höfði House, Reykjavík

Do you remember earlier in the article when we were talking about Reagan and Gorbachev meeting in Iceland? The place they did so is Höfði House, which is close to the waterfront in Reykjavík.

Höfði House was actually built in 1909, and over the years, it has served various diplomatic purposes. Originally, it was designed for French representatives in Iceland. And later, it became a place for the British Embassy.

Some have speculated that Höfði House is haunted, but proving that has been impossible thus far.

Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík

We’ve mentioned Hallgrímskirkja so many times already that it would be a bit mindless to leave it off a list of monuments in Iceland.

This is the big one; the church you can see from almost every part of the city without too much difficulty. Hallgrímskirkja is an architectural marvel that is unique and intriguing in equal measure.

Hallgrímskirkja has been a key part of the Reykjavík skyline since its completion in 1986, and it’s one of the tallest buildings in the country. The church took over 40 years to complete, and today, it’s used for multiple purposes.

Besides services inside the building, you can also go to the top for an amazing view over Reykjavík.

If you go to the observation deck at Hallgrímskirkja, you can purchase a ticket inside. Two things to keep in mind:

  • Consider bringing earplugs because the church bell is incredibly loud.
  • It can get windy — like, really windy — and your hands might not be too appreciative. Wear a good pair of gloves.

Getting to Hallgrímskirkja is easy; it’s at the top end of the rainbow street we previously mentioned.

Monuments In Iceland

The plane wreck monument, Sólheimasandur

If you’ve spent any amount of time searching for hashtags related to Iceland on Instagram, you will almost certainly have seen images of a plane crash on a black beach. That plane belonged to the US Navy, but it ran out of fuel in 1973 and crashed. Thankfully, the people on board survived.

Today, the remains of the plane wreck are still on the beach in Southwestern Iceland. You can visit the crash site, but you should be warned that it is quite a long walk, and you cannot drive along the sand.

Because of the area’s treacherous nature and the fact it’s in a pretty remote location, you should avoid traveling during bad weather conditions — especially in the winter when there is little daylight.

You can take a tour to the plane wreck, which is the best option if you have little experience of driving in Iceland — or the Icelandic landscape in general.

The Skeiðará Bridge monument

Hopefully, your trip to Iceland won’t involve you having to deal with the forces of nature in a bad way. However, you can see prominent examples of how Mother Nature works in this part of the world — and the Skeiðará Bridge monument is one of the main ones.

The Skeiðará Bridge has been rebuilt since 1996, when it was damaged by ice boulders following a flood caused by the eruption of Vatnajökull. Today, you will see two pieces of metal that formed part of the old bridge — but were twisted and ripped apart from it.

Today, the Skeiðará Bridge has been rebuilt — though it is slightly shorter than the previous version. But despite that shortening in length, it’s still the longest bridge in Iceland. The river it crossed has also changed route.

The Skeiðará Bridge is in the southeast of Iceland, and the monument is just over 300 kilometers from Reykjavík.

A Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat

If you visit Reykjavík, going to Tjörnin pond and enjoying the peaceful surroundings is a must. As you’re walking around this small body of water, you will notice a statue of a person wearing a suit. That seems normal…

… Until you notice that the person has a massive block on their head.

The monument has been at the lake since 1994, and it was meant to show a token of thanks to public servants that typically get little credit for their jobs.

You can, however, also interpret the statue as meaning other things. For example, some visitors have pointed to the suit and block on the person’s head as showing how soulless working in the corporate world can be — and it can act as a visual representation of those people’s feelings and thoughts.

The monument is not too far from the main square in Reykjavík.

The Orca Statue, Grundarfjörður

Besides its landscapes, Iceland’s wildlife is iconic. And one of the most famous landmarks in Iceland depicting this is the Orca Statue, which you will find in the town of Grundarfjörður. The statue has been in the town since 2016, and it’s a life-size version of an orca’s upper body.

Why here, though? Well, geography is one reason. Grundarfjörður is on Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which is the only part of Iceland that orcas — also known as killer whales — typically frequent. Around 5,000 orcas live in the country.

You have the chance to see orcas in Iceland as part of a guided tour. While you’re in Snæfellesnes, which is arguably the most beautiful part of Iceland, you can also enjoy numerous other sights. For example, the famous Kirkjufell mountain — which you’ll recognize from Game of Thrones — is close to Grundarfjörður.

Monuments In Iceland

The rainbow street, Seyðisfjörður

While the rainbow street in Reykjavík has gained significant attention since it became a permanent sight, it’s not necessarily the most famous street of its kind in Iceland. That goes to the version in the small and picturesque town of Seyðisfjörður, which is in the east of Iceland.

The rainbow street in Seyðisfjörður has been there since 2014, when one of the locals decided to host a Pride event locally. Since then, it has become one of the most popular places for Instagram photos in the entire country.

The town itself is well-known for its creative community, and it’s pretty enough to stick around for a bit once you’ve seen the street.

Seyðisfjörður is quite a long distance from Reykjavík, and we don’t recommend doing it in a day. Perhaps a more scenic option is to take the ferry to the town, which you can get from Denmark. The ferry first stops in the Faroe Islands before continuing from Tórshavn to Seyðisfjörður.

Note that this will be a multi-day trip; the ferry from Hirtshals to the Faroe Islands alone takes 30-38 hours.

Monuments In Iceland

The Arctic Henge, Raufarhöfn

If you’ve ever been to England before, you’ll have at the very least heard of Stonehenge. Iceland has its own impressive rock formation, which is in the north of the country and known as the Arctic Henge.

Unlike Stonehenge, which is thousands of years old, the Arctic Henge is a relatively new thing. It has been around since 2004, and it looks very much like something from a fantasy-style Netflix series.

It is said that dozens of dwarves exist around the area. The stones are very much worth visiting, especially if you’re into photography. It’s just over a kilometer from the center of Raurfarhöfn, which is in the far north of Iceland.

The Erling Blöndal Bengtsson Statue, Reykjavík

Heading back to Reykjavík, we’re going to head to Harpa Concert Hall next. Erling Blöndal Bengtsson was a cellist from Denmark and had a statue designed by Ólöf Pálsdóttir in 1970. Known as The Musician, it has been outside Harpa Concert Hall since 2014.

To get here, it’s a short walk from downtown Reykjavík. From there, you can walk onwards to the Sun Voyager; note that again, it can be pretty windy here year-round.

Hvitserkur, Northwestern Iceland

In the northwest of Iceland, you will find Hvitserkur — a peculiar rock formation that is known locally as “The Troll”. The rock is a popular place for birdlife, and it’s not too far from the Westfjords.

If you drive from Akureyri, you can expect the journey to take just over two-and-a-half hours.

Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavík

Harpa Concert Hall counts as a landmark of Iceland, but it’s also a major monument in Iceland. The building is a fine example of Nordic modern architecture, and it was completed in 2011.

Today, you will find several performances throughout the year at Harpa. But beyond that, it’s also a place for conferences — and the building is also open to the public.

Harpa is one of the most famous buildings in Iceland. Inside, make sure you look up at the roof — which you will notice closely resembles fish scales.

Blue Lagoon, Grindavík

Whether you love or hate the Blue Lagoon is up to you. Regardless of your thoughts on it, let’s face the facts — this is one of the most iconic monuments in Iceland. The lagoon is entirely man-made, and today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland.

Besides relaxing in the geothermal water, you can also enjoy a drink at the Blue Lagoon. The entry fee is pretty steep, and the spa is almost exclusively frequented by tourists.

The Blue Lagoon is not far from Keflavík International Airport, but it’s also within a decent driving distance of Reykjavík. Regardless of whether you want to take a day trip from the capital or stop by before heading into town, it’s in a handy location.

You will find plenty of monuments dotted throughout Iceland

As you can see from this list, you will find plenty of monuments in Iceland — some of which are natural, and others being man-made. The famous monuments in Iceland are an ode to the country’s unique nature, quirky people, and its harsh climate — all of which have made what you see today.

The monuments we’ve mentioned on our list only scratch the surface; as you explore Iceland, you will likely find plenty of hidden gems. And if you join a tour, many of the guides will be kind enough to show you their personal favorites.

If we were to choose any off the top of our list, we’d say that the rainbow street in Seyðisfjörður should be on your list. The Berlin Wall piece in Reykjavík is cool, too, as is Hallgrímskirkja.

Iceland is an amazing place to visit, but it’s also expensive. If you want to cut your costs, camping is a good option. However, there are a few things you need to know first — and this guide will tell you everything you need to know.

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