As the world’s most northerly capital and one of the most compact – Reykjavik, the ‘Bay of Smoke’ – never fails to surprise, at any time of year. Blending Nordic heritage with modern, and distinctly unique style, this vibrant city can be reached in less than 3 hours from many UK airports.
Popular Reykjavik Holidays
Northern Lights Special
Northern Lights at Husafell
Blue Lagoon Spa Break
Golden Circle Self Drive
New Year at Husafell
The Road Less Travelled
Iceland in Style
You can easily explore Reykjavik on a independent city break or spa getaway, but we recommend that you experience this intriguing city as just one element of your Iceland adventure. For what makes Reykjavik truly special is its proximity to a wealth of scenic wonders. Whether you choose on an escorted tour, where you will be led by an expert guide or prefer to explore at your own pace on a self drive, making use of our exclusive digital travel guide, iDiscover, combine urban chic with natural beauty.
Iceland’s capital is just a 45-minute drive from the international airport at Keflavik, and is situated in the south-west corner of the island. Extended days under the midnight sun make this a very popular summer destination but with the prospect of sightings of the northern lights, winter also has a special draw. This is a city with a ‘small and friendly’ appeal yet with everything you would expect from a modern city; Reykjavik is an ideal short break destination in its own right. But visitors, no matter how long they have here, shouldn’t miss an opportunity to explore beyond the city limits where nature most definitely rules!
Reykjavik is set on a peninsula, surrounded by several hills that provide stunning viewpoints of the moody Reykjanes and Esja mountains beyond. Full of life and local colour, the city hosts international festivals and sporting events but also has a lively culture of its own. There are museums to commemorate just about every interesting facet of the country and its history; galleries and concert halls that play host to an incredibly talented artistic community; a national opera and theatre together with shops and boutiques that range from the chic to the outrageous.
Award-winning restaurants pride themselves on creating sensational dishes including the freshest seafood and mouth watering Icelandic mountain lamb – and in some wonderfully romantic settings. There is a lively cafe scene both day and night, perhaps not surprisingly since coffee is the national drink. Weekend nights are the time to join in Reykjavik’s legendary pub and club culture, but plenty of stamina is necessary!
One of Reykjavik’s two most prominent landmarks is Perlan or ‘the Pearl’ which overlooks the city from the top of Oskjuhlid Hill. Six large, silver circular tanks hold naturally heated hot water for the city and above the tanks a glass dome houses a revolving, world class restaurant. At night a bright light shines skywards from the tip of the dome. Inside the building you’ll often find a craft fair or art exhibition to stroll around but once you step onto the outdoor viewing platform you’ll see why this is such a popular place to visit.
Perlan & Hallgrimskirkja
Vying with Perlan for the most distinctive building award has to be Reykjavik’s tallest, the centrally located Lutheran church. Beautifully sculpted out of concrete and finished in 1986, the building is said to mirror nature’s own basalt columns. For wonderful views over the city, take the lift to the top of the 250 foot tower.
This is the original and main shopping street in Reykjavik, running east to west across the city. An eclectic mix of high fashion, Icelandic handicraft and book stores as well as quirkier offerings and a more favourable exchange rate are very tempting! In addition, Reykjavik has two more internationally styled shopping malls, Kringlan and Smaralind.
Austurvollur is the name given to the square in Old Town Reykjavik. Filled with flowers and outdoor coffee drinkers in the summertime, this square is surrounded by brightly coloured buildings, the city’s oldest church Domkirkja, the Parliament Building and elegant art deco Hotel Borg.
Separate from the commercial harbour, this is where visitors congregate to head out to sea on whale watching trips. Moored old fishing boats provide great photo opportunities.
The National Museum
This state-of-the-art museum presents 1,200 years of Iceland’s cultural and social history and is well worth a visit even if it isn’t raining! The Culture House and Reykjavik Museum of Photography are also recommended.
Although this translates as ‘the pond’ it is best described as a lake, which is located in the centre of town. It has a fountain and an abundance of birds, very willing to make friends in exchange for some bread.
A world-famous attraction is just a 30 minute drive from the capital. This surreal powder-blue, steaming lagoon surrounded by a craggy jet black lavascape is indeed a sight not to miss and to swim there is an unforgettable experience. The Blue Lagoon can offer a very pleasant detour on the way into Reykjavik from the airport at Keflavik or when returning to the airport at the end of a holiday.