Discover Natural Beauty & Quirky Culture In Reykjavik.
Discover natural beauty and quirky culture in Reykjavik, the most northern capital of the world.
Pack some warm clothing and a pair of sturdy boots and venture out. Iceland, and its stunning natural beauty, should be seen in person, not through the pages of a magazine.
Even if you’re only visiting for a few days, perhaps as a stopover on your way to The States, here are some tips on how to make the most of your time…
Visiting for the first time?
Take a hike: Compact Reykjavik is really easy to get around, and you can see many of the sights on foot. Start by the sea and take a look at the quirky architecture, including the Alþingi parliament building and colourful houses. The Old Harbour, home to the Saga Museum, is a perfect spot to begin a coastal stroll whilst observing the incredible views across the bay to Mount Esja.
Sample the art scene: There are museums and galleries galore here. The pick of the bunch are the Art Museum and the informative National Museum of Iceland. Don’t miss the chance to see some of Iceland’s best modern art in i8, either. Pop your head around the door of some of the smaller, contemporary galleries that scatter the streets to find some hidden gems of emerging talent.
Experience local culture: Make sure you take in some of the city’s vibrant cultural scene, whether in the Nordic House exhibition space or the Harpa concert hall, worth a trip for the magnificent glass-fronted building alone, inspired by Iceland’s raw and vast basalt landscape. You might be lucky enough to catch one of the free lunch time concerts performed by the Icelandic Opera, or an open rehearsal by the Iceland Symphony.
Climb the church tower: Towering over most other buildings is the Hallgrímskirkja, a beautiful white-concrete church with a lookout point in its spire giving incredible views over the city. Admission to the church is free, but if you want to ascend the tower, there is a small charge – the views are most certainly worth it!
Shop until you drop: Sample the great boutiques and independent stores around Laugavegur, so called because it was formerly a hot spring route to where many Icelanders took their laundry. Along every block of this hip street you’ll find eclectic pieces – some might just be small enough to squeeze into your suitcase for the journey home. Once you’re spent up, relax by Tjörnin, the small lake in the city centre.
Looking for something different?
Relax in a thermal pool: A trip to one of the city’s outdoor pools is a great way to experience local life and enjoy a spot of pampering. Laugardalslaug, which has a steam bath, a seawater bath and a water slide, is one of the most popular.
Discover Iceland’s past: From Vikings to volcanic eruptions, learn all about Iceland’s past at the Saga Museum, which uses mannequins based on casts of today’s Reykjavik residents to bring history to life.
Taste something new: With a feast of international flavours, finding somewhere to eat out is a breeze, but for something a little different why not try Icelandic delicacies like pickled herring or reindeer? Or perhaps a little fermented shark? Take advantage of the local seafood at Fiskelagid or Grillmarkadurinn, but be prepared to shell out for the privilege.
Go on the runtur: Experience the city’s nightlife on a runtur – or round trip – of all the great bars. A staple of weekends all over Iceland, expect to be out until the small hours. If you’re unsure what to drink, beer will probably be the most affordable option. We’d recommend tasting a drop of smooth, Reyka vodka as well though, handcrafted in Iceland using Arctic spring water.
Want to go further?
The Northern Lights can be seen from several spots around Reykjavik in the winter months and there are loads of tour companies in the city that will make sure you get the best views. To increase your chances of catching a glimpse of this breathtaking phenomenon, visit between the months of September and April, but be patient and head out of the centre of Reykjavik and the lights of the city.
The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is where thousands of travellers go each year to soak in mineral-rich waters that bubble up from below the earth’s surface. It’s worth spending a little more and going for the ‘comfort’ or ‘premium’ package so you don’t have to worry about taking your own towel, and you can enjoy a complimentary drink without leaving the water.
Want to know a secret?
Boston is hotly-tipped by locals as being the coolest bar in Reykjavik, with a cosy atmosphere and one of the best happy hours!
Fly from Birmingham Airport to Reykjavik three times a week with Icelandair. Jump on a plane and in less than three hours you could be enjoying the sights of this stunning city. From here, Icelandair offers great connections onto 18 destinations across the US and Canada.