When it comes to food, Rejkjavik’s got just about everything you could ever dream of and more. From sumptuous street food enjoyed on the go to high-end dining experiences, this small capital city has it covered. There’s a thriving café culture and many establishments transform into tapas-style bars when night falls, so when you book a holiday to Reykjavik, you’ll experience the best of both worlds. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are a whole host of local delicacies to get your teeth into: whale (hvál), fermented shark (hákarl) and puffin (lundi) are found on many traditional menus and make for a truly authentic dining experience.
Reykjavik is bursting with art and design, from dedicated museums and galleries, to quirky houses, ornate churches and everything in between. When you embark on a cultural tour of this city, the Art Museum and National Gallery should definitely be on your list, so too should the Culture House and, the Icelandic Phallological Museum.
Even if you’re only in Reykjavik for a few days, exploring the great outdoors is a fantastic way to get a real insight into this incredible destination. Find your own Nordic paradise on the golden sands of Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach, mingle with the locals at Heiðmörk Nature Reserve, or even take a dip at Laugardalur, the city’s largest outdoor thermal pool. If you’re into active pursuits, a hike to the top of Mount Esja is certainly worth the effort. At an impressive 914 metres high, this magnificent natural wonder dominates the Reykjavik skyline, and unsurprisingly, the view from the summit is one of the best you’ll find anywhere in the whole city.
Overlooking the beautiful Tjörnin lake, the National Gallery of Iceland is one of Reykjavik’s many cultural hotspots. Despite being pretty small, this gallery boasts an impressive collection drawn from a range of over 10,000 exhibits, displayed on a rotating basis. There’s only space to have a small selection on show at any one time, but highlights from previous exhibitions include the works of some of Iceland’s best-loved artists: Jóhannes Kjarval, Sigurjón Ólafsson and Nína Sæmundsson.
For an insight into local life, there’s nowhere quite like Reykjavik’s Old Harbour. Known as the heart of the Icelandic capital, this area is packed with traditional houses, historic architecture, and great places to eat and drink. Built between 1913 and 1917, the area is fast becoming one of Reykjavik’s most vibrant hangout spots. Sample freshly roasted coffee, tuck into some high-end street food, enjoy stunning views across the bay to Mount Esja, and admire Harpa, the glittering concert hall.
For gorgeous harbour views, ancient artefacts and a fascinating insight into Iceland’s cultural heritage, Reykjavik’s Culture House is the place to go. Situated in a newly renovated building dating back to 1908, the museum is an ingenious collaboration between the National Gallery of Iceland and four other cultural organisations, so entry here will also get you into the National Gallery.
This impressive church is one of Iceland’s most striking landmarks, and when you visit Reykjavik, you’ll certainly see why. Inspired by the basalt rock formations surrounding Svartfoss Waterfall, the building stretches no less than 240 feet into the sky and took over 40 years to complete. The name Hallgrimskirkja comes from that of the Icelandic poet Hallgrimskirkja Pétursson, whose most famous work was the Passion Hymns (Passíusálmar). Because of its impressive stature, the church has come to be recognised as one of Reykjavik’s best-loved architectural displays, and can be seen from almost anywhere in the whole city.
During the high season (June to August), Reykjavik gets very busy, and flight prices will reflect this. More daylight hours and warmer temperatures (around 14 degrees) mean more activities, festivals and festivities, and it’s a great time to see the great outdoors. Between May and September the weather will be cooler, and during the low season (October to April), average at around -2 degrees. Although daylight hours are briefer, cooler temperatures offer more opportunities for winter sports and to spot the spectacular Aurora Borealis.
If you are a British citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter Iceland but you must have a valid passport. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iceland/entry-requirements.
In Reykjavik, the currency is the Icelandic Krona (ISK).
The main language spoken in Iceland is Icelandic.