Thinking about a trip to Reykjavík? The world’s most northerly capital is small by global standards, but full of charm. There’s a lot more to it than the legendary nightlife.
- The general size and feel – the central area is big enough to have lots of interesting routes to walk around, but small enough that it quickly feels familiar and you don’t spend all your time reading maps. The architecture is quite cozy and friendly with no towering skyscrapers. I love the colourful buildings, although admittedly there is also a fair proportion of concrete and pebbledash.
- The shops – if you love buying things made of wool this is the place for you. I could also stay forever in the music and bookshops Shopkeepers are generally helpful, busy with whatever they are doing and don’t feel the need to crowd you or do a “hard sell”.
- The setting – situated in a beautiful harbour with mountains all around, you still feel quite close to the countryside. You’re never far from a scenic view.
- The clothes – there are some really unique designers in the city, but what I really like are the outdoor clothes that we would consider “winter” clothes that you can pretty much wear all year in Reykjavík. Sorry, I’ve got to mention shopping again – check out my favourites Icewear and 66°North if you’re looking for winter chic.
- “The pond” – Tjörnin, centrally located and full of cute Arctic birds.
- The café culture – sitting in places like Cafe Paris and Kaffitár where you can people-watch and look at the newspaper.
- The swimming pools – you don’t have to spend lots of money going to the Blue Lagoon – just go somewhere like Laugardalslaug and you can soak in hot water, local life and not be surrounded by other tourists. Although much more touristy, The Blue Lagoon is worth checking out too, especially if you’re pressed for time, as it’s near the airport.
- The Northern Lights – not unique to Reykjavík but there have been some really bright displays this year over the city. The opposite of this is the midnight sun – also amazing to see.
- The day trips – I could easily fill a week here, but even if you’re only here for a day, there are lots of things you can do from the city – whale watching, horse riding, the Golden Circle, etc. And they’re all good excursions worth doing! Reykjavik Excursions runs all year.
- The church that everyone knows – Hallgrímskirkja – you can see this from so many angles and from so far away, it’s probably the main orientation point that you could use. The stark design is so unique.
You’ll probably notice that I didn’t mention any particular purpose built attractions – it’s not really that commercial which is also nice. If you are the type who needs something to entertain you all the time you might find it all a bit laid back.
What are your favourite things about Reykjavík?