An Introduction to Reykjavik, Iceland
Travellers from all over the world have discovered Reykjavik to be a remarkable travel destination. Founded in the late 9th century by Norwegian Vikings that were fleeing from their King along with the Celtic slaves they picked up in Scotland and Ireland along the way. Because of Reykjavik’s geographical location, Iceland’s capital city stands alone with its impressive environment, otherworldly landscape of geysers, volcanoes, and waterfalls, and its unique culinary scene. Here is our comprehensive Reykjavik travel guide.
The official language is Icelandic, but almost everyone speaks English. The local currency is the Icelandic króna, written as ISK.
Top Experiences in Reykjavik
National Museum of Iceland
Whether you are visiting Iceland for business or pleasure, a trip to the National Museum will leave you fully enlightened about the making of the Icelandic Nation and its history. The museum offers a variety of fascinating exhibitions and one permanent display that illustrates the story of Iceland’s past.
Price: Around $20 USD for an adult ticket. For more information, visit the National Museum of Iceland’s website.
Golden Circle Tour
A tour of the Golden Circle is nothing short of spectacular. Encompassing a 190-mile loop across a landscape that is unlike anywhere else on earth, you’ll experience some of the world’s most unbelievable natural wonders. Stops include Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Haukadalur valley to view the Strokkur, geothermal geysers and the Gullfoss waterfall. Several tour companies are available to book year-round tours.
Price: The prices average around $100 per person. Discounts are available for children and groups. For more information, visit the Thingvellir National Park website.
Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik
The Blue Lagoon is renowned for its warm mineral water and silica-rich mud. Besides the powerful healing properties of the lagoon, it also boasts an on-site restaurant featuring local delicacies, rejuvenating massage packages, sauna, steam rooms, and a skin care shop featuring mud mask treatments and body scrubs to take home.
Price: Pre-booking your visit to the Blue Lagoon is required and prices start at $58. Find more information about the Blue Lagoon on their website.
Northern Lights in Reykjavik
A visit to Reykjavík would not be complete without experiencing nature’s spectacular natural phenomenon, the northern lights. Best viewed in the darkest months of the year, anytime between September and mid-April, seeing the northern lights is an ethereal experience. Gaze up and watch the sky transform into colourful waves, dancing across the sky. Tours are highly recommended, as viewing depends on weather and geography.
Price: Tickets are reasonably priced, as low as $65 per person for a 3-hour guided tour. You can also visit the Visit Reykjavik Excursions website for additional tours and information about tickets.
Hallgrimskirkja church is Reykjavik’s main landmark and its tower can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Be sure and take the elevator up to the observation area for the best views in town.
Price: Around $9 USD. For more information visit Hallgrimskirkja Church’s website.
Eating in Reykjavik
For a true Nordic culinary experience, try Scandinavian Restaurant and Bar. Authentic Icelandic treats including lamb soup, reindeer pâté, and roasted lobster tails are standard, and the discerning palate will leave you quite satisfied.
For a more familiar choice, pop into Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Conveniently located in downtown Reykjavík near the harbour, this cleverly named establishment literally translates to “The best hot dog in town.” Dignitaries such as Bill Clinton have dined here, and The Guardian claimed this hot dog stand to be one of the best food stalls in Europe.
Iceland is also becoming well-known for it’s impeccable pizza options.
Nightlife and Entertainment in Reykjavik
Iceland is famous for its nightlife scene, and it is little wonder why. Strong alcohol was prohibited until March 1st, 1989. According to locals, this day lovingly became referred to as “Beer Day”. Regular hours for bars and nightclubs in Reykjavík run well into the night, closing as early or late as 4 a.m., depending on how you look at it.
Check out Laugavegur Street, the central hub for the more popular bars and nightclubs in Reykjavík. The atmosphere is palpable, with dozens of high-energy dance clubs, jazz clubs, and chilled-out bars all within walking distance of one another. Lebowski Bar and The English Pub are lively and crowd favorites.
In the mood for a more refined evening? The National Theatre of Iceland fits the bill, with a diverse offering of plays, musicals, dance, and opera. Icelandic arts culture is on display at its finest at this award-winning venue.
Reykjavik Travel Guide: Getting Around
Transportation options in Reykjavík are limited to car, bus, taxi service, or good old-fashioned walking. The city is favourable to pedestrians, especially in concentrated areas like the downtown area. If you are planning excursions outside of the city, car rental services are available and are suggested for longer distances.
Strætó is the public bus option for travellers in Reykjavík and throughout the country. Single-fare tickets can be purchased for as low as $4.19 per ride, and one-day or three-day passes are available for added convenience.
For more information, visit Public Transport for Reykjavik.
Climate in Reykjavik
Reykjavik is the northernmost capital city in the world. The average daytime temperature hovers in the mid-teens, and nighttime lows can dip below zero.
The daylight hours of Reykjavik are of most interest to travellers. From May to August every year, Iceland experiences what is referred to as the midnight sun. Because of Reykjavik’s proximity to the North Pole, the sky is lit for a total of 22 hours a day during the summer. Be sure to pack a sleep eye-mask in your travel bag.
When to Visit Reykjavik
The right time to visit Reykjavík is different for every traveller. Each season offers distinct opportunities that can only be experienced depending on the month. Summers are the busiest months from a tourism standpoint. The summer can also be a very interesting time to visit, because of the daylight hours and warmer climate.
Alternatively, the winter months are the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland. The winter months in Iceland also provide an incredible backdrop for snow sports including snowboarding and skiing.
Where to Stay
Reykjavik has a wide variety of hotels, hostels and a variety of accommodations. Find your perfect stay here.
Flying into Reykjavík
International flights into Reykjavík land at Keflavik International Airport. This hub offers travellers efficient security wait times, complimentary Wi-Fi, several restaurants and shops, car rental service, and two handy airport shuttles for getting you to Reykjavík. The Gray Line Iceland bus and Flybus get you to the city centre in as little as 40 minutes.
No place else on earth is like Reykjavík, with its evocative landscape and exceptional culinary offerings. A trip here will go down in the books as a captivating memory to last forever. Book your travel today at Skyscanner and take advantage of the affordable deals on flights and hotels.