The world’s most northerly capital combines colourful buildings, quirky people, a wild nightlife and a capricious soul to devastating effect. Most visitors fall helplessly in love, returning home already saving to come back.
The city’s charm lies in its many peculiar contrasts, which, like tectonic plates clashing against one another, create an earthquake of energy. Reykjavík offers a bewitching combination of village innocence and big-city zeal. It’s populated by darkly cynical citizens (a quality brought very much to the fore by the country's recent near-bankruptcy) who are, in spite of everything, filled with unstoppable creativity and enduring spirit. In summer the streets are washed by 22 hours of daylight; in winter they’re scoured by blizzards and doused in never-ending night. Reykjavík is a city that treasures its Viking past but wants the future – the very best of it – NOW!
You’ll find all the cultural trappings of a large 21st-century European city here: cosy cafés, world-class restaurants, fine museums and galleries, and state-of-the-art geothermal pools. Reykjavík has also become infamous for its kicking music scene and its excessive Friday-night runtur, a wild pub crawl round the small, superstylish clubs and bars.
Add to this a backdrop of snow-topped mountains, an ocean that wets the very toes of the town, air as cold and clean as frozen diamonds, and incredible volcanic surroundings, and you’ll agree that there’s no better city in the world.
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Best places to stay in Reykjavík
Iceland - Reykjavik (Chapter)
The world’s most northerly capital combines colourful buildings, quirky people, eye-popping design, a wild nightlife and a capricious soul to devastating effect. Most visitors fall helplessly in love, returning home already saving to come back.
The land of fire and ice: touring Iceland's Golden Circle
The stark beauty of Iceland's wild scenery. Photograph by David Noton Pulling into Reykjavík harbour, it seems remarkable that anyone could make their home in this forbidding land. Huge cliffs loom all around, looking like they might lurch forward at any moment and push the tiny town into the sea...
Reykjavík destination guides
Iceland's Penis Museum
'It started as a joke,' says Sigurdur Hjartarson, curator and founder of the world's only 'Phallological Museum,' located a couple dozen miles south of the Arctic Circle in Iceland. 'Someone gave me three bull's penises once. I gave two away as Christmas gifts and kept one,' he explained dryly...
Golden Circle Classic Day Trip from Reykjavik
Want to see some of the best-known natural phenomena in Iceland on a day trip from Reykjavik? From spouting geysers, tumbling waterfalls and ancient volcanoes, the popular Golden Circle Classic full-day excursion by coach will introduce you to Iceland's world-renowned pristine natural beauty surrounding the capital.
Sailing from Spitsbergen to Greenland, follow the ice’s edge with an eye peeled to the horizon for wildlife. Navigating south, you'll explore this remote landscape not only by ship but also on foot and via Zodiac. This journey highlights the contrast and change in the Arctic as you move south, finally ending in the Iceland, "the Land of Fire and Ice.
Two days in Reykjavik
Reykjavík may seem like a mystifying place, but this two-day itinerary will have you feeling like a hearty local. Day one: Early risers should visit the bustling working harbour to watch the fishing boats come in. It's backed by stunning views of the peak Esja, across the fjord in southwest Iceland...