Visited in 2009. The Pearl offers a 360 degree view of the city from several restaurant, gift shop. snack bars . The place is built on large hot water tanks. It gives a great overview of the entire city. The ice cream is a Baskin Robbins type place and was great. Nothing in the gift shop or snack bar was cheap but it is a good place to stop. Bought the only XXL Iceland tee shirt I found in the city.
There are artificial geysers both inside and outside Perlan. There are also manywalking trails on the hill Perlan is situated on. There are wartime bunkers among the paths. We walked down the hill and right from Perlan to reach Nautholsvik Thermal Beach.
Perlan means the Pearl. We got here from Hafnafjordur on the number 1 bus and walked from the Kringlan stop. You can also get here on the number 18 bus from Hlemmur. We walked back into the city centre and it was not very far.
Perlan is on top of a hill. It is a building on top of six hot water tanks. It contains souvenir shops, a restaurant, a cafe, the saga museum and a viewing platform which is free and provides wonderful views over Reykjavik.
Öskjuhlíð hill is the hill around Perlan - it is a true gem in the middle of Reykjavik and a very popular outdoor area. Reykjavík - and Iceland on the whole - hasn't got many trees or forests so walking through the forest of Öskjuhlíð makes us Icelanders feel like we are in another country. Over the years 200.000 trees have been planted here.
There are a lot of paths in a semicircle around Perlan and it makes for quite delightful walks with a lot of good spots for sunbathing on a sunny day. I "own" my special sunbathing spot there.
It is also a historical place as there are old shelters, saps and barracks from WW2 when the British army occupied Iceland.
You might come across a rabbit or two or... These rabbits were pets which the owners released in nature (I know) and then became wild rabbits.
The hill reaches down to Loftleiðir hótel and the domestic airport (which was built by the English in WW2) and there are walking paths from the hotel to Perlan. Öskjuhlíð also reaches down to Nauthólsvík, the geothermal beach (see my off the beaten path tip). On one side of the hill is Fossvogskirkjugarður cemetary. And on the west side of Öskjuhlíð is Keiluhöllin bowling and billiard.
Down by the geothermal beach there has now risen a University area with a café.
Perlan (The Pearl) is built on and in between 6 hot water tanks with geothermal water. My tips on Perlan are divided in three, "Perlan from the outside", "Perlan on the inside" and "Perlan - the view of Reykjavík from the platform". Perlan was built on top of these 6 hot water tanks which were built on the hill, Öskjuhlíð, the first tank was actually built in 1939. Four of these hot water tanks contain 24.000 tons of hot water of 80 degrees C which heats our houses. Perlan was inaugurated in 1991 and caused a lot of controversy, especially as it resembles a space-ship, but is now a very popular place to visit, both by tourists and Icelandic people.
Perlan has now become Reykjavík's landmark together with Hallgrímskirkjan, as it is visible from almost everywhere. Outside of Perlan is Strókur, an artificial geysir, which simulates real geothermal geysers. On the ground floor of Perlan is the wonderful Saga Museum (see my tip), and the Wintergarden (Vetrargarðurinn) which often hosts receptions and markets. From the ground-floor there is a fountain, which reaches as high as the caféteria with short intervals. From the caféteria there are exits to the platform with a panoramic view of Reykjavík city and the surrounding areas, see my pictures in my next tips. On top of Perlan is a rotating restaurant with spectacular views. See more detailed information in my next tips.
Before Perlan was built we used to play in this area as children, running and hiding in between the water tanks.
Here is a 360° view of Perlan.
On the fourth floor of Perlan there is a panoramic platform with one of the best views of the city. In Hallgrímskirkja there is another panoramic platform with a better view of the city center, each one is equally nice, but the view from Perlan is for free, whereas you pay for going to the Hallgrímskirkja tower (see my tip on Hallgrímskirkja). There are 6 panoramic telescopes, you just press a botton and can chose between a description in Icelandic, English, German, French and Norwegian. There you can take a closer look at f.ex. Bessastaðir, the resident of the President of Iceland.
I think that almost every tourist visiting Reykjavík visits Perlan and I do recommend a visit there. I go there often.
From time to time there is a very popular book market on the ground-floor in Perlan in the Wintergarden (Vetrargarðurinn). Icelanders, being called the "Nation of Books", read a lot and I wanted to add this tip to show you how well attended this book market is. There is chaos there the first days. And if you ever happen to be in Perlan while there is a book market take a look inside and check out the prices of the books. You can get all kinds of travel books on Iceland for a much lower price than in the stores.
There is also a CD and DVD market from time to time, and it is always very crowded. I go every time to both markets and so do almost all the citizens of Reykjavík and neighbouring areas.
The Saga-museum is a museum not to be missed. It is awesome. It shows the life of the vikings and the chronological history of Iceland. It brings you right back to the Viking ages and it is so life-like (they use silicon instead of wax) that it is almost scary. One just cannot believe that some of them are not alive. Snorri Sturluson's figure even has a mechanism which makes him breathe! And some of them are quite scary, I wouldn't bring small children there as one of the figures are of a nun being burnt at the stake and another of a bloody viking being slain by another viking in the battle for power here in Iceland.
By the entrance to the museum you get a headset and the tour takes 30 minutes. So you stop by every figure and have the history behind it explained to you. I found it better to just read the information beside the figures and wander around in amazement of how superbly these figures are made. Here you can see an Irish munk which was here when the Vikings came to Iceland. Hrafna-Flóki with his ravens. Melkorka, the Irish princess, which was captivated and brought to Iceland, Ingólfur Arnarson, the first settler, Skalla-Grímur and Egill, Leif the Lucky, the Conversion to Christianity, Snorri Sturluson, victims of the black-death and the beheading of Jón Arason during Reformation.
I highly recommend visiting Saga-museum!
Admission fee is ISK 1.500.
Opening hours: every day from 10:00-18:00, April 1st - September 30th.
Every day from 12:00-17:00, Oktober 1st - Marsh 31st.
Inside Perlan on the ground-floor is the Wintergarden (Vetrargarðurinn) with its palms and fig-trees. The Wintergarden often hosts receptions, wedding-celebrations, concerts, art-exhibitions, DVD-CD sales, book-sales and sports-clothes sales, which are very well attended by the Icelandic nation.
On the ground-floor in one of the tanks there is the Saga museum depicting very life-like Vikings. See my next tip.
Down the steps is the fountain which shoots up high in the air with certain intervals.
On the fourth floor is the caféteria with the exits to the platforms. It has got a very good souvenir shop and is open from 10-21h every day.
Then on the fifth floor is the rotating restaurant which is one of the most popular restaurants in the city with some of the best chefs in town. It is open from 18:30h and can accomodate 340 persons. Take a look at their menu and pictures on Perlan - the other website I inlcude in this tip is created by the Municipal Geothermal Heathing Authority which owns and leases Perlan. It is only in Icelandic but this short video is worth watching as it shows a view of the Perlan taken from an airplane.
The Pearl, a city landmark, is a glass dome that tops the giant hot water storage tanks. There is a café inside the dome, and a platform all around it with great views of the city, and of a man-made geyser on the grounds that erupts every few minutes. The atrium downstairs contains a Viking museum.
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