Reykjavik Holidays & City Breaks 2019
The splendid city of Reykjavik bears the title of being the most northern capital in the world. As well as the capital of Iceland, it is also the country’s largest city, located along the southwestern coast of Iceland. Reykjavik also finds itself to be a huge tourist attraction, due to its geological, historical and cultural sights. A trip to the Nordic countries, definitely warrants a Reykjavik holiday. In this Icelandic city you can go back in time and trace the history of the Vikings. Or you could admire the panoramic views of the city, as Reykjavik boasts colourful buildings, nearby hills and the sea. Of course, one of the main attractions to the city, is for the chance to witness the fascinating Northern Lights. This gives you a chance to explore outside of the city for a period, although sometimes the aurora does take the city of Reykjavik by surprise.
Things to do in Reykjavik
During a Reykjavik weekend break, discover a bunch of museums, stunning architectural structures and geological phenomenons.
- Golden Circle - This is a must-see tour. It is a popular tour amongst tourists, as it covers a large area from Reykjavik itself into the southern lands of Iceland. Along the Golden Circle route, you will make relevant stops at various geological sites. These include Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and Haukadalur.
- Thingvellir National Park - This is a very important site to Icelanders, in fact, it is a protected area in Iceland and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. What makes the park so unusual is the tectonic and volcanic environment where it lies.
- Gullfoss - The next stop on the tour is Gullfoss. Literally meaning ‘Golden Falls’ in English. This waterfall can be found by the Hvita River, located in the southwest of Iceland. This iconic waterfall has many stories to tell in terms of its preservation and the uses of it in the past.
- Haukadalur - The final stop on the tour, this valley is located north of Laugarvatn lake. Haukadalur is a famous attraction thanks to the geysers and other geothermal characteristics, such as hot springs and mud pots. The biggest geysers here are Strokkur and Geysir (the origin of the word geyser). You will find that Strokkur erupts every 5-10 minutes, whereas Geysir erupts very rarely.
Places to eat
If you want to try a variety of Nordic cuisine, you’re vising the right place. Reykjavik has many local, traditional dishes available in restaurants around the city. As you can imagine, being a coastal city, there are many seafood choices around. Langoustine is one of them, a relation to the lobster, they are a lot smaller (more like a prawn) but are quite a succulent dish. Lamb is a very popular option in Iceland, in fact, it may be the prime choice of meat. You’ll find a lot of it in the city, served tender and made deliciously. Cured shark is another Icelandic dish, eaten usually as a snack.
Top places to eat in Reykjavik include:
- Perlan - A fine dining restaurant located in another great piece of architecture. An ultramodern building with a revolving glass dome, it houses a restaurant with stunning views all around. There is even a cocktail bar, if you feel for a relaxing drink.
- Fiskfelagid - World-class Icelandic and international seafood.
- Baejarins Beztu Pylsur - A hot dog stand, serving an Icelandic twist on the popular hot dog.
- Grillmarkadurinn - Modern setting with delicious grilled dishes.
- Skolabru - Serves Icelandic cuisine influenced by the Mediterranean.
The nightlife in Reykjavik is gaining steam and its not surprising, considering the range of different bars, clubs and pubs that this small city has to offer. You can find a lot of bars and clubs on one single strip, Laugavegur, so it’s not hard to find something that tickles your fancy. If you wish to bar hop during a Reykjavik weekend break, you can do so quite easily. Icelanders like to dress to impress on a night out, so it is probably best to dress smart when you’re looking to get into a club, although there isn't a typical dress code.
Top bars and clubs in Reykjavik:
- 101 Restaurant and Bar - Stylish and fashionable, it’s the perfect place to dress up and enjoy the evening with a few cocktails in hand before you gear up for the rest of the night. If you wish to bar hop, you can do so quite easily.
- Bravo - Friendly bar, great for sitting down with a drink or getting up and dancing.
- Bar Ananas - Fancy a themed bar? You'll feel like you're on a beach, sipping on cocktails.
- Hurra - Venue with live music and fantastic DJs.
When to go
First and foremost, the weather in Iceland can be very unpredictable. The weather can be chilly and wet at times. Although, during the summer, temperatures increase a little making the weather quite mild, but once again, this isn’t guaranteed. The best time for a Reykjavik city break is perhaps between May and September. This period is the warmest Reykjavik will experience and also quite a popular time for visitors. Visit during October and March for a chance to see the Northern Lights, but don’t bank on it, as the weather and various other factors can affect this phenomenon.
Average high and low temperatures (°C):
- January: 3°/ -1°
- February: 4°/ -1°
- March: 4° / -1°
- April: 7° / 1°
- May: 10° / 4°
- June: 13° / 8°
- July: 15° / 10°
- August: 14° / 9°
- September: 11° / 7°
- October: 8° / 3°
- November: 5° / 1°
- December: 3° / -2°
Geothermal spa and Northern Lights
There are several sites which attract a number of tourists to book a Reykjavik holiday year on year. No doubt, the geothermal springs and spas that the country has is one of the main attractions. The Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited and can be found in a black lava field in Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula, in the southwest of Iceland (about a 30-minute drive away from the centre of Reykjavik). The Blue Lagoon is not only open all year round and has an average temperature of 39 degrees Celsius. It is said that it is great for your skin as the seawater is rich with minerals.
Another highlight of Iceland is of course the Northern Lights. But, it remains quite an unpredictable event. There’s no telling if you will be able to witness them in person for absolute certain as there are many variables which affect whether you will see them or not. These things include the time of the year you go, the weather, how long you stay there for, where you are and sheer luck. Occasionally, you can be in the city of Reykjavik and still be able to see the Northern Lights, despite the bright lights of the city itself. But, you are probably better off visiting the countryside to get your best chance at witnessing this natural phenomenon.
Culture and history
The city’s culture and history are rich, and you’ll be able to see this during a Reykjavik city break. With history dating back to the sagas and eddas, you’ll find many museums outlining the Viking history of Iceland. With many locals proud of their Viking heritage, you’ll find the effort to preserve a lot of the culture and history that marks Iceland. Literature has been a big part of Icelandic culture, with the country producing many great authors and poets.
- Sun Voyager - Art is prevalent, which you will clearly see through the city’s architecture and art work, most notably Asmunder Sveinsson’s ‘Sun Voyager’.
- National Museum of Iceland - Going back intime throughout Icelandic history and culture.
- Reykjavik 871+/-2 - Interactive museum about the Vikings.
- Reykjavik Art Museum - Highlighting the home and artwork of Asmundur Sveinsson.