Sight Seeing in Reykjavik
To truly take in your surroundings when you first arrive in Reykjavik, you need only head to the Perlan. Aptly translated as the ‘Pearl’, this shimmering glass dome sits atop heated water tanks on Öskjuhulio Hill. Wander along its open-air viewing deck and you’ll see stunning scenery that stretches for miles all around you. The Old Town’s famous bright townhouses drift into the distance below, capped by a backdrop of angular mountains. There’s even the exciting Saga Museum, featuring engaging exhibits about the early history of Iceland.
On the subject of museums, Reykjavik is overflowing with fascinating exhibitions. One of the most popular is the National Museum of Iceland. Fully refurbished with clean, contemporary lines to cast light on the incredible artefacts, this museum takes you through the ages of Iceland from 800 to the present day. Bronze figures, drinking horns and ancient bibles will all give you a strong sense of the history of this amazing island.
While you’re in Reykjavik, you’ll notice one other attraction dominates the skyline just as sublimely as the Perlan – the Hallgrimskirkja. The largest church in Iceland, you’ll see how its tall stone spire cascades with jagged edges to create a rocket-ship shape. You’ll certainly feel like you’re soaring to the stratosphere if you take the lift to the top!
Being the capital of the country, Reykjavik is also home to the National Gallery of Iceland. Here, you’ll see a myriad of works by Icelandic artists, with rolling collections dating from the 19th to the 21st centuries.
And if you find the native art really captures your imagination, yet more inspiration awaits at the Reykjavik Art Museum. In open, airy white rooms, the modern pieces are given the space to exert their full power on you, whilst the museum is also in charge of the outdoor sculptures you’ll see dotted around the city. Of most interest is the Sun Voyager, a gleaming steel Viking Ship that sits at the edge of the silvery grey seafront.
With so many museums and galleries in Reykjavik, it’s fitting that the Culture House is a combination of both! Its upper floor has a selection of highly original Icelandic art, but what really make this attraction a must-see are its Old Norse parchments, said to be the oldest manuscripts in all of Iceland.
Romantic Breaks in Reykjavik
Blessed with beautiful natural scenery and soothing thermal spas, Reykjavik is a romantic city that will make an idyllic weekend break for you and your partner. And if you’re looking to unwind, there’s certainly nowhere more appealing than the Blue Lagoon. Close to the Keflavik Airport you’ll arrive at after your flight with Jet2.com, this inviting spa is one of the most famous (and photographed) attractions in all of Iceland. Soak in its steaming sapphire waters and you’ll look out upon the polar white peaks of the black mountains that surround you. It’s a blissful scene for you both to share during your Icelandic escape.
As if to prove that the volcanic currents flowing beneath Reykjavik are an eternal source of warmth, there’s more than just one geothermal spa in the region! In fact, there are no less than five spas, so you could choose to bathe in the hot tubs of Laugardalslaug, see the swirling steam rooms of Arbaejarlaug or enjoy outdoor swimming at Vesturbaejarlaug.
In addition, lazing by the beach may not be your first thought for a dreamy break in Reykjavik, yet Nautholsvik Thermal Beach is here to blow away all your expectations! Lined with an arc of golden sand, geothermal tubes heat a section of its icy Atlantic seafront. So go ahead and share a refreshing dip in the bracing seawater!
Proving that Reykjavik has a close relationship with the water, even the most romantic scene in the city centre is at the Tjornin, affectionately translated as the ‘Pond’. This small mirror-like lake creates glossy reflections of the many white swans that settle at its lake. It’s a peaceful beauty spot that’s perfect for immersing yourself the serene atmosphere of this far northern city.
Fun Seekers in Reykjavik
Get ready for Reykjavik! While its fir-lined nature reserves and peaceful bay may hint at relaxation, this is a city that never sleeps! That’s especially true of the spring and summer seasons, where the crisp white light lasts until midnight and beyond.
The best way to enjoy eighteen hours of daylight is by partying into the early hours! It’s something the people of Reykjavik are well aware of, and the vibrant nights have spawned an exciting live music scene, with Bjork and Sigur Rós as its two shining stars. The best street for bars and clubs lies in the heart of the city, at Laugavegur. The draw of the city’s glittering nightlife attracts celebrities and musicians from all over the world, so you may see someone famous in the clubs on Hverfisgata and Austurstaeti streets too.
Conveniently, Laugavegur is also the best street for shopping in the city. This main thoroughfare has a selection of unique boutiques offering quirky one-off designs. You’ll find that everything, from fashion to homeware, incorporates a fresh, clean, Nordic style.
The retail therapy in Reykjavik continues at the Kolaportio Market. Taking a supremely cool approach to the traditional flea market, you’ll find stalls selling original antiques and classic first-edition books, or you can even try Icelandic fish and chips at the many food stalls!
If you’re looking for something of a more entertaining nature, you’ll be impressed by Reykjavik’s thriving cultural scene, complete with avant-garde theatres and concert halls. One of the most impressive is the Harpa. This stunning honeycomb-shaped structure of glass and metal houses the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. But even if you don’t witness the amazing acoustics of the concert hall, you should still take the time to admire the thrillingly modern architecture.
Family Fun in Reykjavik
Fun for the whole family awaits at Reykjavik’s awe-inspiring natural attractions. Children and adults alike are sure to be wowed by the unique animals and dramatic terrain of this stunning island.
One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to explore Iceland as a family is by horse riding. It’s an incredibly popular pastime in Reykjavik, largely thanks to the abundance of Icelandic Horses. As short as ponies and with thick, fluffy hair, they’re a favourite with young children thanks to their friendly, relaxed nature. So get in the saddle for a gentle trot into the evergreen landscapes that surround Reykjavik.
On the subject of friendly animals, all ages will love to visit the Reykjavik Zoo too. Here, you can pet a collection of farmyard favourites like pigs, cows and goats, as well as more unusual species from the northern hemisphere such as reindeers and seals.
You’ll discover yet more wondrous wildlife if you visit Faxafloi Bay. On this occasion, you can expect to see the giants of the marine world as the cold Atlantic waters are a haven for thousands of whales. Go whale watching in the bay and it’s very likely you’ll see grey, minke and pilot whales rising gracefully from the water’s surface.
You’ll also find that young minds will be captivated by the natural wonders of Iceland. Reykjavik sits within the Golden Circle, an awe-inspiring sightseeing tour that takes in the huge three-step Gullfoss waterfall, the 70m high steaming spout of the Geysir and the aquamarine volcanic crater lake of Kerid. Another popular stop on the tour is the Thingvellir National Park, the site of the first Icelandic Parliament back in 930AD, where you’ll also witness the Almannagjá – a deep gorge that is at the exact fault line between two of the earth’s rocky continental plates.
If you’re feeling hungry after all that exploring, the kids will love a trip to the Baejarins Beztu. Described as the best hotdog stand in Europe, it has been established since 1937 and has welcomed famous diners such as Bill Clinton to try its deliciously fast food.
Events in Reykjavik
Spring and early summer sees Reykjavik transform into a city of light, with boundless energy. That’s why you should check out these three festivals:
Children’s Culture Festival – April 23rd – 28th 2013
This festival injects the city with an enthusiasm for vibrant children’s events. Youngsters can get involved at live readings and performances with fun lessons on all kinds of subjects, including photography, knitting and yoga!
Art Without Boundaries – April 18th – May 2nd 2013
A distinctive annual event, Art Without Boundaries celebrates works by disabled Icelandic artists. It provides a fantastic platform to display unique, contemporary pieces in beautiful natural surroundings.
Reykjavik Art Festival May 17th – June 2nd 2013
Still going strong since 1970, this annual art festival celebrates Reykjavik’s diverse cultural scene, and includes special programmes focused around art, theatre and music.
Top Tips for Reykjavik
One of the best ways to get around Reykjavik is by foot, as the city centre is relatively compact. Plus, you may find yourself taking a winding road into the hillside for incredible views! But if you really want to save the strain on your legs, the public transport system for buses is excellent as they are kept scrupulously clean and are often on time.
With the long, bright days, it’s worth remembering that bars and clubs don’t actually begin to fill up until 1am! The nightlife scene in Reykjavik is excitingly vibrant, but be sure to go out late and party till morning for the best atmosphere during the weekends.
As mentioned in our Jet2.com guide, Laugavegur street is a brilliant choice for fresh and funky Nordic designs. However, if you feel like you’re missing your brands, visit the modern mall of Kringlan in Reykjavik and you’ll find many different international labels.
The cuisine of Iceland can be very exciting if you want to try something decidedly different. For example, there’s every chance you may spot fermented shark, whale kebabs and yoghurt-style sheep’s cheese in authentic restaurants.
Hotels & Apartments
For fabulous city breaks in Reykjavik, visit our sister company Jet2holidays and get your flights, hotel and ATOL Protection all wrapped up in one great package!
Here’s a small selection of Reykjavik hotels you can stay in with Jet2holidays:
Hotel Klettur – 3-star
Situated close to Reyjavik’s vibrant shopping street, Laugavegur, the Hotel Klettur places you by the silvery seafront of this beautiful city. In keeping with the fresh, natural surroundings, the Klettur has an understated design with a clean, contemporary feel.
Hilton Reykjavik Nordica– 4-star
Located in the very heart of the city, you’ll be impressed by the spacious style of the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica. Its classy restaurant, modern bar and relaxing spa have all the attention to detail you’d expect of a Hilton hotel, while you’ll ascend a stunning spiral staircase to rooms with a polished finish.
Hotel Borg – 4-star
By the water’s edge at the Reykjavik harbour, the Hotel Borg has a long and distinguished history dating back to 1930. The hotel has been beautifully restored to display all the splendour of its original Art Deco style with grand monochrome furnishings and a gourmet French restaurant.
Think these hotels in Reykjavik sound fantastic? Visit Jet2holidays to book city breaks in Reyjavik.