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Reykjavik Holidays

The world’s northernmost capital city

At 64 degrees north, Reykjavik is the northernmost capital city on the planet – less than 300 kilometres below the Arctic Circle, and home to around two thirds of Iceland’s entire population (including the surrounding region). In the depths of winter, temperatures typically plummet below freezing, it’s dark for around 20 hours a day, and when the weather conditions are clear, the ethereal green glow of the northern lights regularly illuminates the sky. In the height of summer, meanwhile, the sun barely dips below the horizon as the city bathes in constant daylight.

The descent into Keflavik International Airport straight away gives you a snapshot of the Reykjanes Peninsula’s barren, rugged landscapes, dominated by vast, moss-carpeted lava fields, volcanoes and geothermal springs. While Reykjavik may feel more like a large town than a city by European standards, what it lacks in geographical size it more than makes up for in cultural attractions, architectural splendour and easy access to awe-inspiring nature. Given its remote geography, it’s a remarkably cosmopolitan place with a chilled-out vibe that lends itself to being enjoyed at a leisurely pace, either as a city break or as a jumping off point for a longer trip.

Otherworldly landscapes in abundance

Reykjavik is a captivating destination for a long weekend, but it’s only by venturing beyond the city that you’ll be able to truly appreciate the awe-inspiring natural wonders that this part of Iceland has to offer. One of the top excursions is the Golden Circle, which links three spectacular landmarks – Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park – along a 300-kilometre route. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is another fantastic option a couple of hours north, while Skogafoss waterfall, Reynisfjara black sand beach and Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon are among the must-see highlights of Iceland’s southern coastline.

Whale watching is hugely popular, too, with regular tours departing from the Old Harbour all throughout the year. If you’re visiting between mid-September and mid-April, you may be fortunate enough to see the northern lights. Depending on the strength of the solar activity, it’s possible to see them in Reykjavik when the skies are clear, but in general, it’s better to head out of town away from light pollution for the best views.

A flourishing culinary scene

While much of Iceland’s allure is bound up in its beguiling natural beauty, from glistening glaciers and majestic fjords to steaming hot springs and jet black beaches, one of the most enjoyable aspects of any trip to Reykjavik is delving into the thriving food and drink scene. As well as traditional delicacies such as hangikjöt (smoked lamb), plokkfiskur (fish and potato stew), humarsúpa (creamy langoustine soup), some of the best pylsur (hot dogs) in the world are served here.

Much like other Nordic countries, Iceland also has a real penchant for exceptionally delicious pastries and cakes, which you’ll find throughout Reykjavik’s many artisan bakeries. Alcohol prices might seem eye-watering at first, but there’s a superb craft beer scene to discover, and lots of bars offer happy hour discounts. For a full-spectrum culinary experience, take a trip to Hlemmur Mathöll – a trendy food hall in a renovated bus terminal, with stalls specialising in New Nordic cuisine, Neapolitan-style pizza, Vietnamese sandwiches, tacos and plenty more.

Discover Reykjavik

Need to know

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Language
Icelandic
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Currency
Icelandic Króna
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Time zone
GMT
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Flight time
2hrs 50mins

* Average time from London Luton to Keflavik International

Explore resorts in the Reykjavik region

Exploring Reykjavik

Your Reykjavik region questions, answered

It takes around three hours to fly from London to Reykjavik, and just under three hours from Manchester. The journey from Edinburgh is a little shorter – just two-and-a-half hours or so.
 
Icelandic is the official language, but English is spoken fluently by the vast majority of people so you’ll have no trouble getting by. 
It depends whether you’re just visiting Reykjavik for a city break, or whether you’re planning to stay for a few nights further afield as well. A long weekend is a good amount of time to spend in the city, while five days would give you long enough to discover more of Iceland’s spectacular nature. You wouldn’t regret staying longer, especially if you’re hoping to see the northern lights.
Keflavik International Airport is around 50 kilometres outside of Reykjavik. There are regular shuttle buses, or you may choose to hire a car and drive yourself. The journey takes around 45 minutes.
If you’re just staying in Reykjavik, it’s not necessary. However, if you’re planning to venture further afield, such as to the Golden Circle, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula or along the south coast, then hiring a car is definitely worthwhile. It gives you maximum flexibility to travel at your own pace and make stops wherever you like, and it might even work out cheaper than booking lots of individual excursions. 
There’s no bad time of year to visit Iceland– it just depends what type of trip you’re after. Icelandic winters are cold and dark, but it’s also a charming time of year to visit, especially when the city is blanketed in snow. For the northern lights, mid-September to mid-April is the best time to go, with the winter months providing longer hours of darkness. October and March are considered particularly good months for aurora chasing, and generally bring milder conditions. Reykjavik in summer is a different experience entirely, as it never gets fully dark. It can get surprisingly warm, too – enough to comfortably sit outside without wearing a jacket or a jumper.