Holidays in

Surprises in Iceland’s cool capital

Reykjavik is Iceland’s metropolis. Home to over half the country’s 300,000 inhabitants, it has an infectious buzz. But it also still has the feel of a fishing village, with a compact centre and a relaxed atmosphere. It was founded in 874 AD when the Vikings first settled in Iceland, and if you want to explore its fascinating history, then Reykjavik city breaks are the way to do it.

Museums celebrate Iceland’s settlement, its outlandish sagas (outlaws, trolls and revenge feature heavily) and its independence from Denmark. The Old Town and nearby Old Harbour have many historic buildings, but also give a taste of a forward-thinking city. New restaurants, bars and galleries, plus the sparkling Harpa concert hall, hum with a modern energy.

This is a city of art installations, trendy boutiques, stylish Nordic restaurants and DJ nights. City breaks to Reykjavik can take you from parks and spas to former biscuit factories hosting alt-rock nights. Strolling its streets, you’ll get regular glimpses of the mountains and the sea, and Reykjavik is a fine base for excursions to the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle. You can also take shorter trips – whale-watching excursions run out of the harbour, and the island of Viðey offers great birdwatching. There are plenty of mini adventures in this city full of surprises.

Your Reykjavik questions, answered

Icelandic people are very used to visitors, so no one will laugh if you get it wrong, but try rolling that opening R in ‘Rayk-eeah-veek’.

Mainland Iceland is below the Arctic Circle – but only just. Average temperatures range from around -1°C in December to 14°C in July. Pack several jumpers and a waterproof.

That depends what you want – winter is quieter, with short days and the Northern Lights, summer is warmer, busier and brighter, with virtually endless days in late June.

Best attractions to see in Reykjavik


The city’s main shopping street is a great place to get an eyeful of Iceland, and offers everything from truffles and seasonal gin to vintage clothing and driftwood furniture.


This bizarrely brilliant church is made of slender pillars of white concrete, curving upwards to its 74.5-metre summit. You can get a lift to the top for great views.

Blue Lagoon

Located on the way to the airport, this is one of Iceland’s biggest attractions – a vast spa complex with a surreal, steaming hot, milky-blue pool at its heart.


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