Set on the waterfront, the striking Harpa (Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre), home to both the Icelandic Opera and Iceland Symphony Orchestra, is one of Reykjavik’s most prominent landmarks. Designed by world-renowned Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and Danish firm, Henning Larsen Architects, the building’s glass facade features honeycombed panels that change colors as they reflect the sky and the ocean.
Opened in 2011, Harpa concert hall is the hub of the Reykjavik cultural scene. There’s something going on here nearly every night of the week, from the city’s most prestigious music and theater events to lower-key, free concerts. Even if you are not seeing a show, it is well worth visiting to admire the shimmering interiors, filled with public artworks, and the views over Reykjavik’s Old Harbour. The building also houses a couple of restaurants and several shops selling Nordic music, books, design items, and gifts.
Guided tours of Harpa concert hall shed light on the award-winning architecture and typically take visitors behind the scenes to areas of the building, including the main stage, usually only accessible to performers. You can also enjoy Harpa’s beautiful exterior as a stop on a variety of Reykjavik walking tours and Segway excursions. You can even view the hall from the water during a whale-watching cruise or from the sky in a helicopter.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Harpa concert hall and conference center is a must-see attraction for architecture and design enthusiasts.
- The building is free to enter but take a guided tour to explore behind the scenes.
- The building is accessible for wheelchair users with an elevator that connects the floors, and accessible doors and restrooms.
- There is free Wi-Fi in the building.
How to Get There
Harpa is in the center of Reykjavík, by the Old Harbour, no more than a 15-minute walk from downtown hotels via the pedestrian crossing over Tryggvagata. If you are driving, you can access Harpa via Saebraut and park in the concert hall’s own (paid) covered parking lot. Harpa bus stop is served by public bus number 3.
When to Get There
Harpa concert hall is open every day from early morning through late night. After dark provides the best views of the exterior as the facade’s shifting color patterns light up the night sky. One of the best times to catch a concert is during the annual Iceland Airwaves music festival, one of the world’s premium musical showcases. Airwaves concerts occur around the city, but the biggest names tend to play Harpa.
Exploring Harpa, Iceland’s Cultural Hub
A Reykjavik landmark, Harpa is as famed for its striking architecture and glistening interiors as it is as the setting for the most important cultural dates on the calendar. Book a ticket to hear classical music or touring pop stars, to watch stand-up comedy or a play, or to join a guided tour to look behind the scenes and uncover Harpa’s secrets.