ICELAND is one of the most spectacular places on the planet – whatever time of year.
It’s the home of the Northern Lights, the stunning natural lights show in the winter sky, but Iceland is just as famous as a summer destination with its long hours of daylight and breathtaking volcanic landscape.
For a spell in the middle of the year Reykjavik basks in 24-hour daylight. A strange experience which can play havoc with the old body clock – and partying until it gets dark is going to be a very long party! The whole country bursts into life during the summer. It’s a time to get at one with the fantastic scenery and its amazing wildlife whether you go hiking up a volcano or camping in lava fields.
In Reykjavik itself, the most well-known sight in town is the Hallgrimskirkja, perched on a hill with a great view of the city and Mount Esja from the top. The surrounding neighbourhood is great for walking, and the Skólavörðustígur neighborhood has great shopping leading right up to it.
The City Hall is another spectacular attraction, set on a scenic pond to look like it’s floating in the water. The adjacent park is great for a stroll and a fantastic view of the centre of Reykjavik.
This 10-storey building, opened in 1991, stores natural hot water used for heating the city in enormous tanks. A revolving restaurant on top of the tanks gives a great view of Reykjavik.
Arbaer Folk Museum
Located on the edge of Reykjavik on the site of an old farm, Arbaer Folk Museum consists of several traditional Icelandic buildings collected from throughout Iceland. Of particular interest is the turf-roofed church, moved here in 1960 from its original location in north Iceland.
Reykjavik boasts an abundance of thermal pools, all filled with water from the many naturally-occuring geothermal springs. A visit to the pools is one of Iceland’s most popular leisure activities and they can become crowded at certain times of the day.
Church of Hallgrimur
The construction of the highest building in Reykjavik was started in the 1940s and not completed until 1986. Its unique architecture represents the main features of Iceland’s stunning landscape – the unusual exterior is designed to replicate basaltic lava columns. Inside the church is a lift to a viewing platform in the 73-metre high steeple.
National Gallery of Iceland
A vast collection of Icelandic art has been gathered together in this museum along with works by Edvard Munch and Picasso.
Artefacts from throughout Iceland are on display, including many relics from Iceland’s occupation by Viking invaders.
NIGHTLIFE IN REYKJAVIK
Reykjavíkians may start the party late, but they party long, with trendy clubs clustered around the city’s main street, Laugavegur. It’s here that the vibrant music scene that produced the likes of Björk was born. In all the city centre has more than 50 bars and clubs to get round, and it definitely knows how to have a good time.
EATING OUT IN REYKJAVIK
Reykjavík is as international as any world capital, with Indian, Italian, Thai and vegetarian cuisines found downtown, along Laugavegur or around the Old Harbour – while you’re there, make sure you visit the Icelandair Hotel for some of the best fish and chips in the world!
Those of you who like to be more adventurous when eating abroad will need a stronger than usual stomach for the hard core local delicacies – such as hakarl (fermented shark) and lundi (smoked puffin).
GET THE REYKJAVIK CARD
The Reykjavík Welcome Card offers a host of great savings on various fantastic products and services.
Available for 24, 48 or 72 hours and offering great value for money, the card gives you free admission to all of Reykjavík’s thermal pools, a great many museums and other attractions, unlimited travel on the Reykjavík buses, discounts at shops and restaurants and free internet access.
For all information on what Iceland has to offer, visit