Published April 24, 2019
Ever since the mid-20th century, six hot water tanks stood on top of Öskjuhlíð. In 1991, an immense glass dome was placed on top of them, forming Perlan, which in the years since has become one of the most iconic and visited attractions in Iceland. The name translates to ‘pearl’, and seeing the building from the distance will show you why. On a sunny day in the city, it sparkles out like a prize-winning diamond, enchanting locals and foreigners alike.
But the Perlan is much more than just its beautiful exterior, and in fact, the activities you can find there are almost too numerous to count. On a sunny day, soak in a 360° view of Reykjavík from their observation deck, where you can gaze out at Mount Esja, Hallgrímskirkja and even the Atlantic itself as you stroll around the perimeter.
Directly inside, there’s the celebrated top-floor Út í Blainn revolving restaurant, where you can relax surrounded by a circular glass dome with a coffee, cocktail, or meal. The word revolving isn’t just part of the name—the restaurant slowly spins around at night ensuring you get to experience the entire view of the city without interruption.
There’s no need to fret when the weather isn’t so good, though, as Perlan offers a plethora of indoor ways to spend an afternoon. Unwind in their new Áróra Planetarium, where you can experience the beauty of space, the Northern Lights, and the Icelandic countryside from the comfort of a cushy seat. It’s the perfect way to ensure that—regardless of weather—you’ll be able to admire the incomparable Aurora Borealis.
Afterwards, head over to their “Wonders Of Iceland” exhibition, where you can walk though a 100m long ice cave, look for sea birds on an augmented reality model of the famous Látrabjarg Cliff, and learn interactively about Icelandic water, climate, glaciers, and even bugs. Both kid-friendly and fascinating, the museum will entertain both children and adults alike.
While the Perlan might be a bit far to walk to, especially in bad weather, they offer a free shuttle bus from Harpa daily from 10:00 to 19:30 on the whole and half hour. Don’t worry—they also offer a shuttle back, so you have no excuse not to treat yourself to an afternoon of fun and beauty.