Reykjavik Tourism – Iceland

Reykjavik panorama, Iceland

Reykjavik panorama, Iceland

Why holiday in Reykjavik?

This is the most northerly capital city in the world and one of Europe’s geologicallyweirdest countries.
Reykjavik knows how to party when the sun sets, and even better when it doesn’t.
Pollution, crime and crowds are near zero, summers days are endless and the thermal pools are divinely curative. And winters? Well, they’re an experience.

It is a long road from Iceland to Heaven‘ David Stefansson

Reykjavik weather

Best: May-Augustfor least rain, most sun, warmth and long daylight hours. Midsummer average highs reach around 13C (55F) and lows of 8C (46F) with an all-time maximum of 26C (79F).
Avoid: December – March when temperatures average -3C (27F) to 3C (37F) but can drop to – 15C (5F). Then there are gale force winds, high precipitation (much of it snow of course) and short daylight hours.

Main Attractions

Reykjavik architecture has its interesting moments, ranging from renovated old to funky modern Scandinavian.
The Harbour is a very popular area.

Hallgrim’s Church – this mountain of a church dominates the skyline in its own uniquely volcanic way. Climb the tower for panoramic views but the interior is sadly dull.

Domkirkja Lutheran Cathedral – built originally in 1796 by Danish craftsmen who were too hammered for the job, it later had to be rebuilt several times.

Hofdi House – a painted wooden house that moved all the way from Norway and has played host to Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and Winston Churchill.

Oskjuhlid and ‘The Pearl’ – large water tanks provide a base for a large domed structure which has a restaurant inside. Not quite St. Pauls (London) but it’s fun.

Radhus City Hall – a white post-modern building containing amongst other things a large relief map of the country.

Short Trips out

Blue Lagoon ‘Blaa Lonid’ – journey two hours to bath beside a power plant? This would normally seem like insanity, but not in Iceland. These pools are curative and a social event for most Icelanders. Different pools have different curative powers – including arthritis, asthma and eczema.
The outdoor Blue Lagoon is the most famous in Iceland and rich in skin-healing properties such as salts, algae and silica. And the power plant is geothermal, not nuclear!

Reykjanesfolkvangur – a few miles south of the city is a natural reserve protecting the most interesting laval formations of the Reykjanes peninsula.

There are lots of walking trails, a large blue lake at Kleifarvtin, and steaming holes at Austurenjiar.

Videy Island – a small island, but with some important historic features.

The oldest building in Iceland is there, built in 1755, along with a memorial, a cave, sea birds nesting and interesting coastline with basalt columns.

Museums: National Museum (Icelandic and Norse Culture), Arni Magnusson Institute (Icelandic Sagas), Culture House (Historical Exhibitions) and many more.
Galleries: Hafnarhusid, National Gallery
Theatre: performances at the National Theatre and the Reykjavik City Theatre.
Classical Music/Opera/Ballet: The Reykjavik Chamber Orchestra and Ballet Company are well regarded.
Live Music: Gaukeur a Stong is very well known for its live bands and even livelier guests.
Other music and food filled ‘let’s get wrecked’ pubs abound, but beers are costly and the price of spirits will break yours.
Nightlife: wild nights are almost guaranteed, especially at the weekends as local youths go on outrageous pub and club crawls or ‘runtur’.

Generally expensive and traditionally repulsive – fancy 6 month rotted shark meat, pickled ram’s testicles or roast puffin?
To be fair, there are plenty of fish dishes available and the smoked lamb is excellent.
Reykjavik also has ethnic restaurants, fast food joints and buffets/salad bars that are less extortionately priced.
For cheaper eats, you could try the ‘Baejarins bestu’ hot dog stands on Tryggvagata Street and Posthusstraeti Street.

There’s a 15% tax reduction for tourists spending over 4000 ISK.
Classy/Arty: Skolavordustigur Street.
General: Laugavegur Street, Kringlan (a shopping mall)

Reykjavik Map