As the world's most northerly capital, Reykjavik has all the trendy cafés, world-class restaurants, museums and galleries of any European city, along with a few additional features that make it distinctly Icelandic: hot springs, volcanoes and a colourful Viking history.
Set on a small peninsula on the west coast of Iceland, Reykjavik is a small city that has not lost the sedate pace of village life found in Iceland's other towns, nor the quirky personality of a community so isolated from the rest of the world.
Reykjavik boasts a creative arts scene and a lively nightlife with plenty of night time to enjoy it in. While Iceland enjoys 22 hours of sunlight a day during the summer, come winter it is plunged into a never-ending snowy night.
At any time of year, Reykjavik is exhilarating and unique. Powered completely by clean, geothermal energy, Iceland's capital is, quite literally, a breath of fresh air.
Things to do in Reykjavik
- • Hallgrímskirkja Visible from 20km away, Hallgrímskirkja is Reykjavik's most iconic and remarkable building. Completed in 1974, its impressive, sweeping architecture is a representation of the city's volcanic surroundings. Inside, the church's most impressive feature is a huge organ of 5275 pipes, while the 75m-high tower offers unbeatable views of Reykjavik.
- • National Museum of Iceland Exhibitions at the National Museum give visitors an excellent insight into Icelandic history and culture, with specific sections focusing on the settlement era and the country's Viking past.
- • Puffin and Whale Watching The waters around Iceland boast over 20 species of whale and dolphin. From April to October whale watching tours operate from Reykjavik's old harbour, where you can also climb aboard the old whaling ships which sit rusting and unused in the water. From May to August you can also take a trip out to the islands of Lundey and Akurey to see the huge colonies of puffins which nest there.
- • Saga Museum About 2km from the city centre, the Saga Museum offers a blood-thirsty look at Iceland's history, brought to life by silicone models and a hair-raising soundtrack. The museum is set in the Perlan centre, which also boasts 2 artificial geysers and a viewing deck with a café, where you can enjoy panoramic views over Reykjavik and the surrounding mountains.
- • Geothermal Pools and Nauthólsvik Beach Much like the JapaneseOnsen, Reykjavik's geothermal pools and spas are at the centre of the city's social life as the place where everyone comes to catch up on the gossip. Natural and chemical-free, the volcanic water stays at a comfortable 29°C, while 'hot pots' are heated to around 40°C. To the south of the city, the tiny Nauthólsvik Beach has been created using golden sand imported from Morocco and an artificial hot spring, giving the feel of the Med on the edge of the Atlantic.
Baldursbra Guesthouse is located at the heart of Reykjavik, just a short distance from the main bus terminal and Reykjavik Domestic Airport. A favourite with our customers, the guesthouse boasts a cosy, traditional ambience with 10 spacious rooms set over 4 floors as well as a garden with a Jacuzzi and Finnish sauna. Enjoy personalized service from your friendly French/Icelandic hosts and a generous buffet breakfast freshly prepared each morning.
Located just steps away from Laugavegur, Reykjavik's main entertainment area, Bolholts Apartments offer the comfort of a hotel with the privacy and independence of your own home in the city. The accommodation consists of 13 self-sufficient units, all with kitchenettes and private bathrooms. All rooms are set on the 4th floor, and those on the north side enjoy magnificent views of Reykjavik Bay and Esja Mountain.
Getting around Reykjavik
The centre of Reykjavik is only a few kilometres across, making it easy to navigate by foot or on two wheels. Taxis are not too expensive, and there is plenty of parking availablein the city centre, as well as two main bus stations and a harbour. Reykjavik Domestic Airport is also located in the city centre, while the Flybus meets all international flights landing at Keflavik International Airport 48km away, and brings you you to Reykjavik in less than an hour.
Do you own a B&B or guesthouse in Reykjavik? Sign up for free to BedandBreakfastworld.com to receive online bookings in real time.
By Eleanor Brown