None of the Europe tours can be as wild and naturally enticing as the ones to Iceland. This is especially true when you explore its capital town, Regarded as the globe’s most northerly capital, the city instills the sense of calmness and space for fresh breathing in travelers otherwise habituated to the hustles of traffic-clogged avenues of other Europe travel destinations. Reykjavík is a not so densely populated but is a throbbing metropolis as compared with the other developers regions of Iceland.
(Photo Credits: Moyan Brenn)
Located on the periphery of the Atlantic Ocean and flanked by a lunar volcanic world, the capital is under the shadowy shell of Mount Esja surrounded by sea, woodlands, rivers, parks and geothermal pools for swimming. Reykjavik is truly an ideal Europe travel destination for wildlife and outdoor fans who will surely love to see whales, Northern Lights, beaches, lagoons, and geothermal pools for swimming in naturally lukewarm water unlike the icy seawater.
For the adventurous fans, the capital offers activities such as sailing, hiking glaciers, rafting, and cycling all of which are intimately connected. The Eyjafjallajokull eruption in 2010 resulting in a massive disruption with volcanic ash cloud created a no-fly zone over the city’s European skies lasted two months. However, the volcanoes are a major appeal and several day trips are arranged.
During the day, the naturally blessed capital is a far more placid place with rubbish-free streets and easygoing routine pace. However, at night, legendary bars and clubs go live for beer celebration that needs plenty of cash to keep up. Surprisingly, the city has several cultural attractions, including the festivals deducted to art, music, film, food, and history.
Getting Around Reykjavík
Straeto is the main bus service provider with buses operating at Hlemmur and Laekjartorg. Get the Reykjavik Card and you can enjoy unlimited transport on buses. Even metered taxis such are available with standard fares without any tipping expected in return.
(Photo credits: Gunnar Nikulásson)
You can even hire a car but it is not necessary because the city is small and the cost is high. However, if budget is not a problem and you enjoy driving, the experience is bound to enjoyable due to less traffic as well as congestion. However, traffic is at its peak around 2300 in the city centre, as the locals come out for enjoying nightlife. Nevertheless, Icelandic drivers are caring due to which the risk of an accident is least. If you choose to drive, parking is luckily easy due to plenty of metered spaces.
(Photo credits: Jeremy Brooks)
Of all, cycling is the perfect medium to get around due to the city’s flat topography and we suggest renting a bicycle.
Things to See In Reykjavík
The old town of Reykjavík is small and explorable on walk. Due to the distinct houses soaked in visibly bright colors and metal siding, it is truly pleasing to spend some hours in wandering around the city. Apart from that, the travelers will consider the following attractions as feast for the eyes, most located in and around the downtown area.
- Aurora: Reykjavik allows viewing the spectacular Northern Lights through this educational and interactive centre. It utilizes latest multimedia technology for showing Northern Lights, photographs of Lights, interactive elements, and history of the lights, and Borealis’ royal green glow.
(Photo credits: Alexander Gerst)
- Heita Potturinn: These are the hot pots and geothermal swimming pools forming the core of social Icelandic life. Did you know that passing a swimming test after lessons are mandatory without a student is not a graduate? Offering therapeutic benefits, the hottest pools operate at a regulated temperature of up to 44°C. The absence of heavy chlorine mandates nude showers before entering. The largest one is Laugardalslaug with a curved water slide and 50m pool and steam paths and five hot pots operating at varying temperatures. Locals come here between 8 and 9 in morning to relax before catching up the day for work. Another option is Nauthólsvík having a heated lagoon and an artificial beach. Just buy a 10-visit season ticket to explore all city pools affordably.
- Hafnarfjörður (Harbor-fjord or Town in the Lava): This one is nestled atop the Burfell lava formation that is over 7,000 years old. Situated in the natural harbor’s arc, this is a suburb of Reykjavik famous as a cultural centre. The main highlights are a lighthouse, sculpture garden, an archaeological site belonging to the pre-Lutheran era, Icelandic Maritime Museum, Museum of Postal and Telecommunications, Museum of Local History, Keilier Golf Club, and two geothermal pools.
- Perlan (The Pearl): Stroll via the landscaped gardens embracing an artificial geyser and you will reach atop Öskjuhlíd Hill where the Pearl is an architectural masterpiece of glass. It includes a revolving restaurant on top of hot water tanks, which is an engineering marvel. A viewing deck on the fourth level gives brilliant city views, while the ground floor houses a museum showing multi-dimensional exhibits of Icelandic history. The dioramas employ realistic silicone rubber effigies reflecting Reykjavik residents whom you might even see on the streets.
(Photo credits: tanktv)
- Hallgrímskirkja: This is the city’s highest and most striking structure of a church noticeable from more than 20km. Its stark, light-packed interior and modern structural resembling basaltic lava show mixed reactions. The panoramic view of the city from the top is also amazing.
- Reykjavik Park and Zoo: This is a family attraction with over 150 animals of different domestic and wild species along with an aquarium. Popular activities here include seals feeding, horse riding, and enjoying rides in the neighboring Family Park.
- Tjörnin: This is a small lake known for duck feeding and is flanked by the Music Pavilion Park. The attractions here are small bird reserve (closed during egg hatching season) and Reykjavík City Hall.
- Árbæjarsafn (Árbær Open-Air Folk Museum): This is largest open-air museum of the nation with 30 buildings belonging to the period of 1820 to 1920. The main highlights are reconstructions of homes, special exhibitions, traditional crafts, Sunday events with live accordion music, horse rides on Saturdays, and milking daily at 4:30 pm.
- Thjódminjasafn Íslands (National Museum): This houses a wide variety of relics and tools reflecting the capital’s 11 centuries of history. You can find everything from medieval altar, a 12th-century door with Norse battle scene, clothes, settlement exhibits, archaeological finds extracted from Mount Hekla, the first Icelandic bible, and Icelandic witchcraft fables.
Things to Do In reykjavik – Adventurous Europe Tours
- Take a boat tour for watching whales and other marine species during April to October.
- Experience scuba diving to explore clear waters with visibility going up to 100m in Silfra, a rift between the tectonic plates of Eurasia and America.
- Hike the 3,000ft Mt Esja for enjoying breathtaking views over the city. The less challenging one is the route to the Lagafellsklif’s peak.
- Walk along the southern shoreline for some lovely sea views.
- Take up an adventurous glacier or mountaineering tour (www.mountainguides.is) from Reykjavik.
- Ski in the nation’s most best skiing area located just a 30-minute drive away from the capital, Blafjoll ski resort. There are downhill skiing opportunities for beginners and intermediates, cross country skiing routes, and snowboarding sessions from mid-November to mid-May. In summer, you can try glacier skiing at the close by Kerlingarfjoll and Vatnajokul glaciers.
Budget Places to Eat – Hotels In Reykjavik
Reykjavík has the ideal collection of eateries in Iceland, most of which are in the downtown area. However, the prices are high, reservations are essential, and alcohol is prohibitively costly. The prices include an average three-course meal for an individual without tax or tip. As a result, you might choose self-catering options for which the ideal supermarkets are in the city centre near the Austurvöllur square and Laugavegur.
(Photo credits: sigurtor)
- Austur India Felagið: This is a moderately priced option on Hverfisgata, which has won awards for being an upmarket Indian restaurant in northernmost of the globe as well as in Europe. You will enjoy North and South Indian, Tandoori, Mughalai, and other Indian recipes cooked authentically.
- Baejarins Beztu: Come here to taste the most famous dish of Iceland, Hot dogs (pylsur) just like Bill Clinton who came here when he was in town. Overlooking the harbor and a parking lot, the small kiosk at the corner of Tryggvagata and Pósthússtræti serves Icelandic hot dog, especially Full Monty having raw and fried onions, ketchup, and mustard.
- Café Solon: With music in the background, bright dining room, and funky artwork, this is a chilled and budget place to savor different flavors. Many also enjoy the bar and disco upstairs at night.
- Kina Husid: This is another affordable option and is nestled on Laekjargata in a little red building. It is famous for its delicious Chinese food and special discount on lunch and a la carte selection of specialties such as Peking, Szechuan, and Cantonese recipes.
Places to Shopping In Reykjavik :
- Laugavegur in downtown housing boutiques, craft galleries, designer shops, and jewelry studios
- Laekjargata and area between harbor and Tjörnin offering Icelandic jumper
- The flea market, Kolaportið at Tryggvagata every Saturday and Sunday from 1100-1700
- The Kringlan shopping mall in downtown offering souvenirs
- Smaralind shopping centre near old town with several shops, restaurants, and a multi-screen cinema
Places to Stay In Reykjavik:
Although there are many hotels in the Iceland capital, they all are expensive. Therefore, it is suggested staying in guesthouses, apartments, and studios for significant savings.
Europe Tours from Reykjavik
- Blue Lagoon
- Westman Islands
- Golden Circle
Best Time to Visit Reykjavik: