Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice, and in recent years it has become a popular Transatlantic stopover destination. In fact the island of Iceland sits where the Eurasian and the North American plates meet, which is why there is so much volcanic and geothermal activity.
Being located about halfway between North America and Europe, it makes for an ideal place to break up a trip. The capital city of Reykjavik offers a great introduction to the Iceland and its people, as well as being a useful base for day trip excursions to other points of interest on the island.
Reykjavik is a vibrant Nordic city that will give you an authentic experience of the Icelandic way of life. The combination of art and entertainment makes this place a city tailored to everyone’s liking.
For a detailed list, this guide features some of the best things to do in Reykjavik.
Reykjavik is a low-rise city, so the first landmark you will notice is the iconic church. Hallgrímskirkja is located on a hill in central Reykjavik, and at 70 meters it’s the tallest building in Iceland. A visit to the church tower is recommended, from where there is a beautiful view of the city. The church was built in 1939 so it has a modernist flavour. It was designed by architect Guón Samuelsson and has 1000 seats. Samuelsson took inspiration from Icelandic natural forms. The structure mimics lava that has cooled after a volcanic eruption.
Besides the beautiful architecture, Reykjavik is a city that offers many natural beauties. One of the scenic places to visit is Lake Tjornin, which is located in the very centre of the city.
Of all the natural beauty of the island, Iceland is perhaps best known for the magic in the sky known as the Aurora Borealis, i.e. the phenomenon of the Northern Lights. Light is created when electrons collide with atoms in the upper atmosphere, causing flickering green, white, purple, and reddish lights in the sky. They are best seen at night when the sky is clear, but it is not something you can plan for as Mother Nature’s light show doesn’t run on a timetable. If you are interested in the northern skies, you can visit The Pearl (Perlan), which is a planetarium, observation deck, and restaurant.
While you are in Reykjavik make sure to learn some of the history of the city and its people. The Viking history that Iceland is built on is stuff of legend. Attending the National Museum of Iceland will give you an insight as to what made Iceland what it is, and how the Vikings lived before modern technology.
Something a little more unusual is the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which is the home of the largest collection of penile parts (counting upwards of 300). This is not something you get to see every day!
The Blue Lagoon is closer to Keflavík International Airport, but it is usually considered as a must visit for any trip to Reykjavik. In fact you can even just visit the Blue Lagoon if you have enough time on a layover. This geothermal spa is as popular with the locals as it is with visitors, so don’t let anyone tell you it is just for tourists. Your body will thank you, especially after a long flight.
This video provides an overview of what to expect in Reykjavik.
For more information checkout Visit Reykjavík.