With a metropolitan population of over 200.000 people, Reykjavík is both the capital and the largest city of Iceland. What’s interesting is that it is the northernmost capital in the world, making it a frequently-chosen destination by tourists from all around the globe. According to Iceland’s first recognised settler, Ingólfur Arnarson, Reykjavík was founded in the 9th century AD. Though no urban development had begun until the 18th century, Reykjavík is believed to have been a popular settlement on Iceland since its first moment of inauguration.
Serving as a commercial hub in the north, Reykjavík has become a national artefact when it comes to business. With its perpetual prosperity, the city has become one of the safest, cleanest and greenest in the world. Also, what the northerners seem to be emphasising is relaxation. If you take a look at the locals or the skyline itself, you’ll find that almost everything seems to adhere to a general state of tranquillity. There are no traffic jams, overcrowded bus stops or even ceaseless horn-honking for Reykjavík is an emancipated island in a world often driven by stress, ire and impatience.
Located in the subpolar oceanic climate zone, Reykjavík’s temperatures fluctuate a bit depending on the season. Temperatures tend to vary between cool and moderate with heavy winds and you might find that days can get perpetually cloudy. Winter is the season, though, that presents itself with the most gales. Mind your footing and tread lightly, for every single speck of caution is worth it – the sights and the experiences are indubitably unparalleled.
In spite of the fact that car-density there is among the highest in the world, Reykjavík does not suffer from traffic jams. Public roads and highways are intelligently handled and you are not likely to run into nerve-racking inconveniences. You don’t even need to plan your route carefully, for no matter where you tread, you are sure to find yourself at your destination soon. The infrastructure of the city is thought out in a way that it flawlessly reflects the “All roads lead to Rome” axiom.
Public conveyance is handled solely by a bus system named The Ring Road (Strætó bs. Route 1). Note that the aforementioned does not only handle urban transport but it also links Reykjavík to the rest of Iceland. If your housing is located on the outskirts of the city, this is your best bet at getting there (if you do not have a car, of course).
Due to the relatively small number of people inhabiting Iceland, there is no rail system at all on the island. Keep this in mind for the only locomotives that you’ll find are the ones presented as museum objects (they were once used to build the docks).
The Reykjavík Airport is the one serving the city and it is the second largest in the country after the Keflavík International Airport. Flights do sometimes tend to be pricy so make sure you regularly check the internet for special offers.
SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES:
First and foremost, one should check out the Hallgrímskirkja, an imposing Lutheran church finalised in 1986. Named after the renowned poet and cleric, Hallgrímur Pétursson, the church is provided with a 73-metre-tall tower that can be used as an observation tower. Do try and get up there to view the landscape of Reykjavík and beyond from the perspective of a bird.
The home of many worthy artefacts is the next stop that we recommend that you make. You guessed it, we are talking about the National Museum of Iceland. Previously hosted in various attics, it has since become one with the Safnahúsið (the Culture House). The aforementioned building itself is used for several exhibitions and cultural events. Make sure you ask around to make sure that you don’t miss one accidentally (should you be lucky enough to be there at the right time).
Another exquisite museum that you should not leave out is the Árbæjarsafn – Reykjavík’s historical museum. It is an open-air exhibition that offers insight into how the locals have lived in earlier times. Let us remember a bit what we have already discussed: that the urbanisation of the place has only started in the 18th century. This might make you wonder how the people there managed to pull their weights. This open-air marvel is sure to give you a few much-needed and spectacular visual answers.
If you happen to be cruising on the Sæbraut road, do take a glimpse at Jón Gunnar Árnason’s Sun Voyager sculpture. The boat itself seems a bit surreal and otherworldly yet it will make you question every little detail of its creation. Why would the sculptor make it so? Why intertwine a water-based vehicle with the realm of dreams? The answers that you might seek will be as personal as it can get, we promise you that! Do not leave this out.
If you happen to be in the mood for a road trip (a trip within the trip), do check out the Ice Cave located in the Vatnajokull region. Such caves can only be visited during wintertime but they are sure to offer you one of the most eerie experiences that you have ever had. We won’t spoil it for you by telling you how exactly the light cascades on the crystalline walls but we will say this: make sure you inhale while continuously being awe-struck.
You cannot visit Reykjavík without examining its outskirts for, truly, Iceland is one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you drive north from the capital, you might run into Iceland’s renowned Kirkjufell Mountain. With its moderate height of 463 metres, it boasts with an adjacent triple-waterfall. Bask in its brilliance for as long as you wish, for, the best parks of Iceland are the ones that are tended to by Mother Earth.
Dozens of articles could be written about Reykjavík and its outskirts and thus we shall now urge you to go crazy and track down your own points of interest. The city is very walkable and not all that big – do take it slow and admire the surroundings for seldom shall you ever see such marvels around other corners of the world. Have fun and let the trip take you, not vice-versa!
PS: be on the lookout for local geysers and the Aurora Borealis for these can become the toppings of the already-spectacular cake of your trip.