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Reykjavik, Iceland

Detail of window at Hallgrímskirkja (church), Reykjavik, Iceland (cc)
Photo: Nic McPhee
 

Reykjavik Travel Guide

Introduction

Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital, rocks! It is one of the hottest nightspots in all of Europe, buzzing with an electric nutur culture – Reykjavik's version of the night pub crawl, which can give Dublin's Temple Bar pub scene a run for its money. It has a downtown packed with clubs and bars, more than 100 of them in just a few blocks, at once stylish, edgy and hip, which come alive on weekends after midnight, with DJs spinning the latest tracks and live bands, both hyped and obscure, belting it out at assorted venues into the wee hours of the morning. The city also has a thriving arts scene, with no dearth of exciting art galleries, classy museums and live theater, and a calendar chock full of events and festivals where music and literature are well represented. Besides which, Reykjavik is arguably the greenest city in the world, with the cleanest air of any city, its red-, green- and blue-roofed houses, together with its public buildings and numerous spas and pools, heated entirely by geothermal steam – yep, naturally-occurring steam: good, clean, pure energy! And that's Reykjavik!

Location

Reykjavik is the westernmost capital in Europe and northernmost in the world, situated on Faxafloi Bay in the southwestern part of Iceland. It is named for the bay and the geothermal steam frequently seen rising from both the ground and the waters in the bay: "Reykjavik," in Icelandic, means "Steamy Bay." From Oslo it is 1,088 miles (1,751 km) to the northwest as the crow flies, and from London, 1,175 miles (1,891 km), also northwest.

How to Get There

Reykjavik's principal airport is Keflavik, where virtually all visitors arrive and depart from when visiting Reykjavik and other destinations in Iceland. Several international carriers, including Iceland's national airline, IcelandAir, offer flights to Reykjavik. A secondary airport, the Reykjavik Airport, caters to domestic flights.

Sightseeing

Among priorities in Reykjavik are the Lutheran church Hallgrímskirkja, the tallest church in Iceland and the city's most prominent landmark, which was 41 years in the making, 1945-1986, and has a 244-foot (74.5-m) tower that resembles the basalt lava flows unique to Iceland; the Al_ingishúsi_, or Iceland's Parliament House, a classical, hewn dolerite building dating from 1880, significant as the seat of Europe's oldest parliament; and the Hofdi HouseHöf_i in Icelandic – the loveliest waterfront mansion in Reykjavik, notably the site of the 1986 Iceland Summit at which American and Soviet presidents Reagan and Gorbachev met for the last time. There are also several good museums in the city, led by the National Museum of Iceland with its antiquarian collection, the Icelandic Phallological Museum that houses the world's largest collection of penises – yes, we're speaking of the male organs – and the Reykjavik Art Museum and Viking Maritime Museum, the latter with fabulous displays of Iceland's maritime history. The city's principal shopping street is Laugavegur, which also has on it most of the bars, clubs, cafés and restaurants. Two other quite popular shopping areas of Rekyjavik, well worth visiting, are Kringlan and the newer Smáralind.

Main Neighborhoods

  • Downtown Reykjavik / City Centre -

  • Hafnarfjör_ur -

  • Álftanes -

  • Gar_abær -

  • Kopavogur -

  • Mosfellsbær -

  • Kjós -

How to Get Around

Where to Party

Reykjavik's nightlife is largely centered on Laugavegur, a principal artery right in the heart of downtown, as well as along the side streets that branch off Laugavegur, where a majority of the city's 100-plus clubs and bars are located. Be forewarned, though, that booze in Reykjavik is not inexpensive, which is why most partygoers drink at home before going out on the town.

Where to Eat

Where to Stay

Know Before You Go

  • Best Time to Visit: June-August
  • Cost Per Day: kr9600-kr (US$48000-US$400)
  • Currency: Icelandic Kronur ISK (US$1 ~ kr120)
  • Electricity: 230V - 50Hz | Schuko Socket or Europlug with 2 round pins
  • Phone Code: +354
  • Population: 118,800 (203,600 in the greater metropolitan area)

Nearby Destinations

© Indian Chief Travel Guides

Last updated December 10, 2013
Posted in   Iceland  |  Reykjavik
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