A wise person once said: There is no such thing as bad weather, only badly dressed people.

Despite those wise words, the weather can sometimes be so bad that you shouldn’t really be spending too much time out in it. So, what can you do when the gales blow, and small children and animals can easily be swept up and blown to someplace other than Kansas?

Well! Fear not, we have a handy list for you to check out. Firstly though, we want to mention that if the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has issued a weather warning and asks people to stay inside – do that. They know what they’re doing!

But if sightseeing is out the window (hah!), what should you do?

Check out museums!

There are many museums in Reykjavík and the capital area. In fact, Iceland has around 100 museums of varying sizes.

The National Museum of Iceland

National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavík, what to do in bad weather
The National Museum of Iceland – Ray Swi-hymn from Sijhih-Taipei, Taiwan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The permanent exhibition of the National Museum of Iceland is called Heritage and History in Iceland. It is intended to provide insight into the history of the Icelandic nation from the Settlement to the present day. Apart from that, the temporary exhibitions are also worth checking out.

National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavík, what do to in bad weather
The National Gallery of Iceland – TommyBee, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The gallery’s main emphasis is on 20th and 21st century Icelandic Art. However, international art is featured as well. The museum also owns one sculpture by Picasso that his last wife gave former president Vigdís Finnbogadóttir.

The Icelandic Punk Museum

The Icelandic Punk Museum is in an abandoned public toilet in Bankastræti 0 (can’t get more punk than that!). The museum salutes the Icelandic punk and new wave scene, which started in Iceland in 1978.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

The Icelandic Phallological Museum is probably the only museum in the world that owns phallic specimens belonging to all the various types of mammals found in a single country. There’s even a phallic specimen of an elf (hidden people)! There are more than 200 penises and penile parts in the museum, from mice to whales to polar bears and humans!

The Whales of Iceland

Whales of Iceland, Reykjavík, what to do in bad weather
Whales of Iceland – Milan Nykodym from Kutna Hora, Czech Republic, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The whale museum in Grandi is the largest whale exhibition in Europe. The museum’s purpose is to educate the public about the fragile and fascinating world of whales and dolphins. There are 23 man-made life-size models of various whale species found in Icelandic waters. A 25m (82ft.) long blue whale and a full-size sperm whale are among them.

Then there are many other museums and galleries worth checking out.

FlyOver Iceland

If you go to the Whale Museum in Grandi, you can also check out FlyOver Iceland, located in the house next door. The attraction utilizes state-of-the-art technology to give you the feeling of flight. It doesn’t sound like much but trust us, it is incredible! You hang suspended with feet dangling before a 20-metre spherical screen. At the same time, the film whisks you away on an enthralling journey across Iceland. Think of the planetarium, but like you’re actually flying in space!


Perlan, Reykjavík
Perlan – O Palsson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Talking about planetariums. In Perlan, it’s possible to see the northern lights, even if the wind is howling outside. Aside from that fantastic show, you can also enter a real 100-metre-long ice cave. It is made from more than 350 tonnes of mountain ice, snow, and volcano ice. The ice cave includes an interactive exhibition about glaciers. Then there’s an exhibition on Iceland’s volcanos and their power. You can hear and feel the Earth! There’s also an exhibition on the water in Icelandic nature from the Icelandic Museum of Natural History (which are without permanent housing at the moment).

Check out one of the many swimming pools!

Just because the weather is terrible doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the swimming pools! If you’re not keen on being outside in the warm weather, there are a few indoor pools you can enjoy. There is, however, nothing like being outside in the hot tub with snow and wind all around!

Sundlaugar.is has the address of most (if not all) swimming pools in Iceland, but we highly recommend Laugardalslaug, Vesturbæjarlaug and Sundhöll Reykjavíkur.

Laugardalslaug – (WT-en) Meltwaterfalls at English Wikivoyage, CC BY-SA 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

However, if you want something a little bit fancier, Sky Lagoon in Kópavogur is totally worth the hype.

Go to the cinema!

Bíó Paradís on Hverfisgata is Iceland’s art cinema and always has something interesting going on. If you want to see something mainstream, there is a cinema in Kringlan and Smáralind (the two shopping centres in the capital area). Then there are a few others around the capital area; you can check out what’s films are showing here.

You can also check out our blog post on Quirky and Weird Reykjavík to see what else you can do!

What to wear in Iceland?

No matter what season you come to Iceland, it is always a good rule of thumb to bring warm clothes and layer up. Of course, there are instances where the temperature can go over 20°c in the summer (especially in North and East Iceland), but it’s always good to have something warm on hand.

We recommend everyone dress in layers since it is generally warm inside and cold outside, especially if you are out sightseeing and regularly going in and out of a car.

We recommend bringing thermal underwear, a scarf, mittens/gloves, a hat, a warm sweater, a winter coat, sturdy shoes, and woollen socks. Check out our Essential Packing Tips, What to Pack for Iceland and What Not to Pack for Iceland!

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