Whether to enjoy the continuous daylight of summers, or the outstanding display of Northern Lights during the winter, Reykjavik – The UNESCO designated City of Literature, beckons you to visit and offers you many adventures and natural wonders to savor and enjoy.
Inhabited since the year 871, Reykjavik started developing as a town in the 18th century and in 1801 became the capital of Iceland. Being the largest town of Iceland, majority of the inhabitants of Iceland are settled here. The lives and the culture of the people revolve around this city and it is also one of the main tourist spots. While the city is sprawling, the city center is small and compact and has great shopping, dining and drinking options.
Though small in area, Reykjavik offers visitors a host of events and festivals all through the year and you can catch a glimpse of the fascinating Nordic history, enjoy natural beauty of volcanoes and glaciers, and see the largest mammals on earth, and party till you drop. All this and more awaits you at Reykjavik. Your travel is made all the more easy and delightful by the friendly and easy going Icelanders and because of them Iceland has earned the moniker of the friendliest nation in the world.
Reykjavik has been shaped by the ancient Vikings as well as the contemporary architects and trendsetters and you will enjoy this unique blend of the ancient juxtaposed with the ultra-modern in this vibrant city abuzz with energy, drive, passion and creativity.
Where is Reykjavik?
Known as the world’s northernmost capital, Reykjavik is on the south-western side of Iceland, on the south shores of Faxaflói Bay and is the focal point of all cultural, economic and government activities of Iceland.
How to get to Reykjavik?
You can reach this friendly capital city by air or by the sea. There are two airports in Reykjavik, one for international and the other for domestic air traffic with a distance of 50 km between the two. Iceland's international airport is located in the town of Keflavik around 50 km from Reykjavik. It is known as the Keflavík International Airport and caters to flights to and from major European and U.S. cities.
There are bus services from the airport to the Reykjavik hotels and the time taken is about 45 minutes. You can buy these tickets at the airport or online and the driver will have to be notified in advance. There are also taxis that operate between the airport and the city center and while the shuttle buses cost you between 2,000 ISK and 2500 ISK one way, taxis can set you back by 14,000 ISK.
How to get around in Reykjavik?
For travelling within the city, walking comes highly recommended as the city is compact and the attractions are within walking distance of each other. There is also a very good and reliable bus system to travel within and outside Reykjavik. If you plan to travel by bus then you might find buying the Reykjavík Welcome Card helpful as it allows unlimited rides on buses and free visit to some museums along with some discounts at hotels.
Attractions in Reykjavik
Reykjavik offers a plethora of summertime activities and you can choose from whale and puffin watching from sail boats and ships, sea fishing, horse riding through verdant gales and lava fields or enjoying cultural activities like music, theatre or art.
Sightseeing & Museums in Reykjavik
Some of the must-see sights in Reykjavik include a visit to the Tjörnin pond to give food to the ducks, the Reykjavík City Hall and the Reykjavik Cathedral to admire the architecture, the Klambratún which is the largest public park and the Reykjavik Botanical Gardens to enjoy nature and the Reykjavik Art Museums to enjoy art at its best.
A visit to the Hólavallagarður Cemetery is also a must do and if you are in Reykjavik you should not miss the Imagine Peace Tower at Viðey Island, dedicated to the memory of John Lennon by his wife Yoko Ono. The museums like the National Gallery of Iceland and the National Museum of Iceland will offer you glimpses of the Viking era and should be a part of your itinerary too.
Your visit to this small but interesting city would remain incomplete without visiting at least one geothermal pool. There are around eighteen such pools in the Capital Area of Reykjavik to choose from, with the Laugardalslaug geothermal pool, the Árbæjarlaug, and Sundhöllin pools being the most popular.
In the winters, the Christmas lights are spectacular and a trip to the Hafnarfjörður Christmas Village is a must, as is skating on the Tjörnin pond and admiring the awe inspiring Northern Lights.
Shopping in Reykjavik
Boutiques and shops line the Laugarvegur making it a popular shopping destination and if you are looking for souvenirs to take home then you must pay a visit to the Skólavörðustígur with its many crafts and souvenir shops. The flea market of Reykjavik is called Kolaportið and stalls sell everything from old books to clothes and antique furniture on weekends. There are also two malls in the Capital area of Reykjavik that have international chains, but prices here are steep because of the high sales tax.
Dining & Nightlife in Reykjavik
Whether it be cafes or fine dining, Reykjavik has something to suit everyone’s taste. Cafes dot the city and are very nice to relax and enjoy good inexpensive food. You must not miss having a hot dog at Bæjarinsbeztu but be warned of long queues. For fine dining, Perlan with its rotating restaurant offering patrons the most amazing views of the surrounding landscape must be your destination.
Reykjavik’s nightlife is as world famous as is its locally produced beer and Icelandic schnapps. The nightlife here is referred by the locals as "jammith” and bars and clubs stay open into the wee hours of the morning catering to the needs of the partying crowd. Some of the popular bars and clubs are the BjarniFel, The Celtic Cross, The ÖlstofaKormáksogSkjaldar, the Dillon Rock Bar, and the Kaffibarinn club. You will find most of these bars and clubs concentrated around Laugarvegur.
Excursions in Reykjavik
The Þingvellir National Park with its canyon and historical sites, the Gullfoss waterfalls and the Geysir Geothermal Hotspot form a day long Golden Circle tour and can be done by either a coach or a car. You could also visit the town of Hafnarfjörður and the other nearby islands.
Travel Tips for Reykjavik
- Taxis are very expensive in Reykjavik.
- You can exchange your currency mainly at banks as there are very few currency exchange shops.
- The winds can be pretty strong and bone-chilling at Reykjavik.
- You do not need to tip here as it is not expected.
- You must try the lip smacking local cuisine of Iceland namely - hot dogs, soft ice cream, skyr and liquorice.
Event Tourism in Reykjavik
This little city which usually comes to minds with a lot of curiosity has been gaining more attention from the vent organizers recently. As a result there has been a sharp increase on the number of the international congresses, conferences, symposiums, fairs and trade shows that are held in the city. The attendees get the chance to satisfy their curiosity about Reykjavik and enjoy participating in their desired event with the help of the good quality hotels and the venues that are equipped with the latest technology.