Type: City Break, Adventure, Road Trip
Best Date to Visit: July-August (Hiking), Dec-March (Winter/Northern Lights)
Expense: Very Expensive
Things to Do: Dine, Visit Natural Attractions
Points of Interest: Hallgrimskirkja, Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager, National Museum of Iceland, Höfði, ect
The Good: Unique, character, friendly locals, no transport required to roam
The Bad: Expensive, small can be explored within the day
The small city of Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and the northernmost capital of the world. Its name means ‘Smokey Bay’ and around 70% of the country’s inhabitants live in the city.
Due to its close proximity to the north pole and the city’s high latitude, Reykjavik can have up to 4 hours of daylight in the winter but around 21 hours of daylight in the summer one of a few cities where you can see the famous midnight sun.
Roaming the City
Visiting or passing through Reykjavik is inevitable when visiting Iceland. It will probably be the centre or starting point of any journey around the country. However although the main attractions in the country are in other regions, exploring the city in my opinion is worth while.
First place to visit and probably the main attraction in the city is Hallgrimskirkja which is a Lutherian church (Church of Iceland). The 74.5 metre high building is only second highest in the country beaten by an office tower situated in Kopavogur, south of Reykjavik. Its architecture which is meant to echo the shape of cooling lava was voted both the most beautiful and the ugliest house of worship in the world. It is free to enter but a fee is required to take the lift to the top.
Harpa Concert Hall is another attraction that is worth visiting. Also the city’s main conference centre Harpa which opened in 2011 hosts most of the major events which take place in the country. The main features of this building is the coloured glass facade which is inspired by Iceland’s basalt landscape.
The next place of interest is the Sun Voyager sculpture, which is situated along the city’s main bay area next to Sæbraut road. The stainless steel sculpture designed by artist Jón Gunnar Árnason is meant to portray a dreamboat which is described as an ode to the sun.
The Hofdi house is a point of interest with historic significance. Known as the place where summit meeting of presidents Ronald Reagan of the United States and Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union took place in for the 1986. It is said that this was a step to the end of the Cold War. To date the flags of the United States and the Soviet Union are cross-hung to commemorate the meeting. Initially built for the French consul in 1909 this building had various famous resident such as poet Einar Benediktsson and painter Louisa Matthíasdóttir.
There are also many different museums found in the city the Whale Museum, Culture House Museum, Art Museum, Photography Museum and the Saga Museum are just some of them found within the city. The different museums vary in entrance fees, some free.
Other than the above you will find plenty of things to see within the city including street full of bars, some incredible restaurants and plenty of street arts scattered across the city. The bay area is also a nice scenic place to wander.
Altogether, if you are going to Iceland the capital is a place you would probably end up going and it is a worthwhile place to do so. In my opinion the city is very small for a capital and for a city to say the least and you can explore the whole place in about half a day depending on your pace. However although small it is just full of Nordic culture and character. Its different building designs and its increasing attitude towards street art is admirable to a young traveller like me.
Only negative for me which goes with the whole country is its cost of living. It is one of the most expensive places ive been and speaking to fellow travellers the reason why a long period stay is tough to do. Nonetheless I think Reykjavik and even the whole country itself is a very important place to visit in the world. Maybe a 2-3 night stay is sufficient, and staying else where in the country is a good idea.
References: https://wakeupreykjavik.com/facts-about-reykjavik/ Photo Sun voyaer - https://www.flickr.com/photos/opalsson/35521880821 Hofdi House - https://www.flickr.com/photos/plastictubing/32919307435