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 light 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 neighbourhood 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.
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.
This 10-storey building, opened in 1991, stores natural hot water in enormous tanks used for heating the city. 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.
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.
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.
Artefacts from throughout Iceland are on display, including many relics from Iceland’s occupation by Viking invaders.
The Cinema of Fire, Ice and Northern lights
The volcanic eruption in the Bardarbunga central volcanic system, which started at the end of August, is still going strong in Iceland. But as it is far away in the highlands and dangerous at times due to volcanic gases, permission to visit is hard to come by. Instead it is possible to witness its awesome beauty at The Cinema, Old Harbour, Reykjavík, together with a film about the Northern lights; why we see them and why they are so breathtakingly beautiful.
These films are shown daily at the very cosy Cinema, as well as a film explaining how Iceland was made in a volcanic eruption in the Atlantic, how it is still in the making and how Icelanders have learned to use the hot water in the Earth, these eruptions generate.