City breaks don’t have to be all about the sun, and there probably isn’t a better example of that fact that Reykjavik – the capital city of Iceland.
The most northerly capital in Europe certainly isn’t somewhere you head if you are seeking to top up your tan during a short break away from home, but if you want to sample something different from a city break then Reykjavik is a fantastic destination to pay a visit.
When you head for Iceland firmly depends on what you want to get from your trip.
Should you be one of those people who is keen to ensure that the Northern Lights are shining brightly in the sky, then you probably want to visit during the winter months.
However, should you have more of a desire to marvel at the natural wonders that are within easy reach of the city, then the longer days and lighter nights of summer will probably suit you better.
In reality, Reykjavik is a city that will hold most appeal for those who love the great outdoors.
Whilst there are some historical sites both within the city and the surrounding area, you’re more likely to spend your time getting close to nature with impressive glacial landscapes, hot springs and dramatic volcanoes all to be found within a short distance of Reykjavik itself.
Once you’ve enjoyed an adventure filled day embracing the Icelandic landscapes, the nightlife within Reykjavik will be ready and waiting, with plenty of bars that are open until late – particularly during the summer months when the sun will be shining brightly in the sky at all hours.
There is also the chance to sample the local shopping and the unique cuisine for which Iceland is so well known; some of which you certainly won’t encounter anywhere else…
The Blue Lagoon is one of the most famous attractions in Iceland and is located around 40 minutes from Reykjavik, near to the airport. You can enjoy a range of different treatments in the natural spa, which is based around a natural lagoon of water kept warm by the geothermal activity below the surface.
The Northern Lights can be seen from a number of locations across Europe but Iceland is one of the best places in which to view the stunning displays that light up the sky. It’s for that reason than many people will elect to head for Reykjavik during the winter months and the opportunity to marvel at ‘Aurora borealis’ is something you don’t want to miss.
The Hallgrímskirkja Church is one of the main landmarks in Reykjavik and is famous for the large tower that can be seen from across the capital. That tower stands nearly 250ft high which makes it one of the tallest structures anywhere in Iceland, and a trip to the top provides the chance to take in stunning views from a viewing platform that looks out across the city.
The Pearl is another impressive building that is located within Reykjavik and houses a museum that tells the history and story of Iceland’s famous glaciers. There is also another observation deck which, whilst not as high as that at Hallgrímskirkja, offers stunning 360° views of the city and its surroundings.
The waters around Iceland are home to various forms of marine life and are a fantastic place to go whale watching, with various trips available on which you can expect to see creatures of all sizes – including humpback and minke whales. Get lucky, and Orcas and blue whales might even be spotted during your trip.
The Old Harbour region of Reykjavik is fast becoming one of the most vibrant parts of the city, with various new businesses springing up that help to cater for the tourist trade. You can also take in impressive coastal views or pay a visit to the maritime museum that is located around the harbour.
The National Museum of Iceland is a great place to visit if you want to learn more about the history of the island, with a range of different exhibits that will provide something of interest to all ages. In total, there are more than 2,000 different artefacts to be viewed.
The rugged landscapes of Iceland are tailor made for exploring and an off-roading adventure is a great way to see everything that the island has to offer. From Reykjavik, you can head off in specialist 4x4 machines, in buggies or on quad bikes to explore off the beaten track; providing a unique opportunity to embrace the very best of the Icelandic countryside.
You can’t miss Mount Esja from Reykjavik, with the mountain towering over the city landscape. Easily accessible from the city, you’ll find various hiking trails for those who want to head towards the summit, where the end reward is some of the most breathtaking views imaginable.
Catch a festival
As the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik plays host to various festivals across the year so no matter when you visit, there is a good chance that something will be going on. Film fans, foodies and music lovers alike will be left spoilt for choice with the various events that take place every year, whilst there are also events for children that will be popular with youngsters.
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