Visitors to Reykjavik experience easily the pure energy at the heart of Iceland's capital city - whether from the boiling thermal energy underground, the natural green energy within the city and around it, or the lively culture and fun-filled nightlife.
Think of the qualities of a great city - fun, space, clean air, nature, culture - and Reykjavik has them in spades. It has the features of a modern, forward-looking society which are complemented by a close connection to beautiful nature.
The population of the Reykjavik Capital Area is about 200,000. Reykjavik is spread across a peninsula with a panoramic view of the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean on almost all sides. In the summer, you can sit by the harbour at midnight and watch the sun dip slightly below the horizon before it makes its way up again.
The world's northernmost capital is framed by the majestic Mt. Esja, which keeps a watchful eye on the city, and the blue waters of Faxafloi Bay. On a sunny day, the mystical Snaefellsjokull glacier appears crystal-like on the western horizon, while mountainous moonscapes spread to the southeast.
Reykjavik is a great place to visit, whether for some cultural nourishment, a spot of unbridled fun or to recharge your batteries. Think of the ideal city break and you'll think of Reykjavik.
So Much to Do!
Reykjavík's compact city center has plenty to keep you occupied. The downtown area is clean and safe and ideal for strolling around. Find the perfect souvenir enjoy a gourmet meal or lose track of time in a modern gallery.
Culture & Museums
Reykjavík has more museums, galleries and cultural events than other cities of its size. In addition to a national symphony, opera, theater and dance company, which all hold regular performances, the city hosts various artistic and culture festivals throughout the year. These events, like the Reykjavík Arts Festival, Culture Night, Winter Lights Festival and the Iceland Airwaves music festival, showcase the best of Icelandic and international talent, and are popular with locals and visitors alike. The city center has a broad array of museums and galleries that are open year-round. They vary from displays of national historic treasures and texts to small eclectic galleries of the latest works on a local artist. Many have free admission one day a week and the Reykjavík Tourist Card provides free access to them and many other sites in the city.
Design & Shopping
Reykjavíkers are known for their innovative design style. Walk up Laugavegur or Skólavördustígur, the city's main shopping streets, and you'll spot arts and crafts galleries, music and bookstores, jewelry shops with one-of-akind Icelandic designs that often incorporate local semi-precious stones or pieces of lava rock, and locally created fashion like a handbag made of fish skin or a delicate woolen top. Reykjavík's oldest building on Adalstraeti 10, newly renovated, houses the city's Crafts and Design Center and an Icelandic design shop. Familiar luxury brand names are also comparatively well priced, especially when a visitor's tax-free discount is factored in. In 2007, it is even easier to spot the latest unique designers. Look out for the specially identified shops, restaurants and galleries that have been marked as part of the city's new "Design District" (designdistrict.is). There you can be assured of finding the latest in Icelandic creativity. Don't forget you can claim back the value-added tax (VAT) on any items you purchase over ISK 4000.
Restaurants, Cafés & Nightlife
The city's cafés are the perfect place to take a break from sightseeing and shopping. Virtually all have free wireless internet access and many have a generous supply of English-language newspapers and magazines, giving you lots to do while you curl up on a comfy sofa with your latte. Downtown also has a great selection of restaurants. Icelandic chefs have garnered numerous prestigious cooking awards in recent years and this is showcased in the various fine dining locations in the city. There are many places with that famous fresh seafood and lamb, or you can try some international cuisine, like Indian, Japanese or French. Many of the city's coffee shops and bistros serve excellent meals too. Reykjavík is already famous for its thriving nightlife. On summertime weekends the streets of downtown are just as bright and busy at 3 a.m. as they are at 3 p.m.! There are dimly lit bars, cozy cocktail lounges, trendy nightclubs and loud dance or live music venues to suit every taste.