There are several parks and outdoor recreational areas that are maintained and run by the City.
Just a few steps away from the city centre, lies Hljómskálagarður garden. It is named after the white building called Hljómskálinn (conservatory) which was built in 1923. The garden surrounds the south part of Tjörnin (the Lake). The garden was designed in 1908 by Knud Zimsen, town engineer and Fr. Kjörboe, Danish master of carpentry, who was then working on the National Library building at Hverfisgata. The first trees were planted six years later.
There is a large play area for children, outside barbeque facilities and many benches and tables where it is possible to relax and enjoy the garden. The birdlife in the garden is fantastic as the lake and nearby wetlands in Vatnsmýri provide rich habitat for several species of ducks, geese, arctic terns and wading birds.
There are several statues and works of art in Hljómskálagardur park which are well worth observing. There is a statue of the national poet Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807 - 1845) and another one of the Icelandic - Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1789 - 1838). On the west side of the lake there are six sculptures by pioneering Icelandic women sculptors which were placed there in 2014; "The Settleress" by Gunnfríður Jónsdóttir (1889 - 1968), "The Mermaid" by Nína Sæmundson (1892 - 1962), "Man and Women by Tove Ólafsson (1909 - 1992), "Boy and Girl" by Þorbjörg Pálsdóttir (1919 - 2009), Son by Ólöf Pálsdóttir (1920) and "Nafarinn" by Gerður Helgadóttur (1928 - 1975).
In this part of the garden there are also 50 cherry trees presented to Reykjavík by the Japanese - Icelandic friendship societies in May 2011.
A little closer to Tjarnargata you will find a large statue of Ólafur Thors, former prime minister, and a statue of the Reykjavík poet Tómas Guðmundsson sitting on a bench contemplating and overlooking the lake.
Klambratún Park is a recreational area in the heart of Reykjavík. When Reykjavík was in its infancy as a city there was a farm where the park is now. The land was later bought by Reykjavík and the park was designed by Reynir Vilhjálmsson and built in the 1960s.
There are facilities for various sports in Klambratún; there is a basketball court, a frisbee golf course and a football field. There is also an excellent children's playground, outdoor barbecue facilities and wide grass fields for enjoying good weather and picnics.
Kjarvalsstaðir Art Museum (Kjarvalsstadir) is located in the park, named after Jóhannes Kjarval (1885–1972), probably Iceland’s most beloved artist. His works are displayed in the museum. You can find other works of art in the park, mainly statues and sculptures. The park is close to downtown Reykjavík.
Laugardalur (Hot Spring Valley) has become a major centre for sports and recreation in the capital. Like the name implies there are hot springs in the valley which were used by women to wash clothes in the first decades of the 20th century. In Laugardalur you will find a youth hostel, the Reykjavík campsite, and the largest outdoor thermal pool in Reykjavík, Laugardalslaug, in which you can swim all year round. The main sports hall Laugardalshöll and Laugardalsvöllur, the national sports stadium are also in this vicinity.
The valley has a large recreational space where you can enjoy walking or jogging on a network of paths. There are several features for children in the valley and places where you can sit down and rest on your visit.
Laugardalur also boasts a beautiful and interesting botanical garden featuring an impressive selection of Arctic flowers, plants and trees. Beneath the branches of a leafy grove in the gardens you'll find the lovely Café Flora.
The Reykjavík Family Park and Zoo is also in Laugardalur. There you will find all the Icelandic farm animals plus foxes, seals, reindeer and minks and during summer all kind of amusements for families and barbecue facilities in the family park. Family Park and Zoo's website.
Öskjuhlíð is a beautiful woodland area surrounding the Pearl - one of Reykjavík's stunning landmark buildings.
Conveniently located right in the heart of the city this gorgeous place makes for a popular quick getaway from city life, where visitors can cycle or walk along the various paths, that weave through a dense forest of pines and birch trees.
The paths around Öskjuhlíð join an extensive network of well-maintained footpaths in Reykjavík, leading through the scenic shores of Nauthólsvík Geothermal beach and around the coastline to Seltjarnanes. Another option is to take the southeast trail to the recreational areas and valleys of Fossvogsdalur and Elliðaárdalur and on to the Heiðmörk heath nature reserve.
Elliðaárdalur valley is a lush recreational area popular with walkers and cyclists alike.
Located within the city limits of Reykjavík the valley features a distinctive salmon river, famous for its run of grilse, salmon and brown trout.
The Elliðaár rivers are opened for salmon fishing by the Mayor of Reykjavík on June 20 each year. The Reykjavík Angling Club guards the rivers and sells licenses. Contact Reykjavík Angling club at: email@example.com
Elliðavatn lake, a reservoir that feeds the rivers, is also a prolific fishing lake with brown trout, arctic char and salmon in it. Those who buy the annual Icelandic Fishing Card can fish the lake.
Heiðmörk is a wonderful recreational area and forestry situated on the southeast outskirts of Reykjavík city. The area has many trails leading through a vast expanse of bushy vegetation, forest and lava formations.
Some of the areas most notable features are the Rauðhólar or 'Red Hills' - the remnants of a cluster of pseudocraters in Ellidaárhraun lava field. Heiðmörk is a favourite with the locals, especially for sports enthusiasts, families with children and couples looking for a healthy outdoor recreation.
Elliðavatn lake and Helluvatn lake are excellent trout lakes in Heiðmörk. See above.
Heiðmörk became a conservation area in 1950 and derives its title from its namesake in Norway. The district forestry service, Skógrækt Reykjavíkur, manages the area, including its 18 mile long gravel road network and the Rauðhólar nature reserve. More than four million trees have been planted there since 1950 and the already existing vegetation has thrived since the area was fenced-off. The most prominent of the 26 species of trees planted is the Sitka spruce. Those fascinated by the more feathery residents of Reykjavík will be pleased to discover that over 30 species of breeding birds have also been spotted.
Viðey is an island situated in Kollafjörður just off the coast of Reykjavík. One can enjoy a short trip with the Elding ferry service to the lovely island.
Apart from its ancient ruins and rich historical background, other attractions include impressive works of art by Yoko Ono (Imagine Peace Tower) and Richard Serra (the Milestones project).
Fans of architecture will also be interested to learn that the church in Viðey is one of the oldest in the country and that Viðey House is the first building in the country to be constructed with stone.
With an extensive network of trails and a population of lovely resident horses the island can be explored both on foot and by horseback. No matter which path you take, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding mainland, and to the west you'll be able to see the impressive outline of the Snæfellsnes peninsula.