I had been to Iceland before in 2015 on my own for a two day layover and wasn’t quite prepared for that trip. It was my first solo trip ever and my first time to Iceland so I did a poor job of planning and making sure I took full advantage of everything Reykjavik had to offer. So this time around, there was one thing I needed to make sure I did. I needed to make sure I got to the tower of Hallgrimskirkja and actually look out over the city. If you haven’t heard of this church, it is located on a slight hill in the city and looks out over the entire city. You can spot it from almost anywhere and it is a practicing church so if you plan on visiting, make sure to keep the hours in mind. The interior of the church is minimalist and beautiful with a very large organ on the back wall. If you walk into the church, look behind you.
The other main thing to see here is that tower. You can pay about 9 Euros and ride an elevator to the top of the church tower and get a 360 degree view or the entire city and coastline. It is beautiful and totally worth it. Tip: when you walk in, there are very small signs that say go toh the gift shop to purchase your ticket. They have the occasional volunteer walking up and down the line checking to make sure you have a ticket but they are not the most diligent about it. If you don’t purchase the ticket and just go straight to the line, you’ll end up waiting in line to go the elevator and then being turned away to go buy the ticket and then starting the process all over again. I don’t recommend this. Definitely saw this happen to one or two people and they did not look happy.
Tip number 2: take into consideration their hours and when they have service. The tower is only open during a very specific time so there is a possibility of it overlapping with the service so take that into account. In addition, they stop the elevators a little before closing time so be aware. Lastly, it definitely gets super busy near the end of the day and so if you want to see the view, be prepared. I also feel like the amount of people trying to get to the top of the tower will also be dependent on the weather, and will drastically increase when it’s beautiful weather.
We wandered up to the church, looked at the Viking hanging out in front and immediately bought our tickets and stood in line. When it was our turn, we took the elevator up and got out of the secured little room and were immediately greeted by the elements.
Remember when I shared how we were freezing at the coastline, we officially hit something colder and almost more unbearable. But we paid money and I wanted to see the city. At each wall of the tower is a small viewing window with bars. There are boxes you can stand on to fully view out the window and look at the city. I will warn you that if you’re doing this when it’s windy, be careful because it is COLD. I definitely had a few moments where I had to brace myself in order to actually stay on top of the box looking out. There are some bars in the windows and they’ll definitely be in your picture. If you don’t want them there, the gaps between the bars are wide enough that you can move your hand outside to take a photo. Caution number 2: if it’s terrible weather be careful because the elements may try to take that phone away. Or your hand may lose all feeling cause it’s been exposed. I definitely took the risk. It was worth it but honestly, there were a few moments where I was pretty sure I was going to lose my phone to the city below.
After going to all four viewpoints we frantically ran back to the elevator and made our way back down to the warmth. Even if it was only for a minute. By this point, we could officially make our way back to our hostel to check in and get ready for our night excursion.