Iceland is the destination for travellers right now, and it’s hard to understand why it’s taken this long! Iceland is one of the most aesthetically blessed countries in the world, with dramatic waterfalls, black sand beaches, hot springs, and glaciers gracing the landscape. Anchoring this tiny country (both in land and population) is the capital city of Reykjavik. Though small in size, its offbeat personality and stunning views more than compensates. So don’t be tempted to run off into the Icelandic wilderness without spending a few days on the planet’s northern-most capital city; the beguiling and bewitching Reykjavik.
Visit Hallgrímskirkja Church
Entry is free inside Iceland’s largest church, where you can admire the pipe organ while you take shelter from the cold. For a small price, you can also take the elevator up to the top spire for the best views of Reykjavik and its candy-coloured buildings.
Soak in a thermal pool
There are several naturally occurring thermal pools around Reykjavik, but by far the most famous and popular is the Blue Lagoon, it is one Nat Geo’s Wonders of the World after all! There is plenty of debate about whether the Blue Lagoon has become a tourist trap, and while yes, it will cost a you a pretty penny to enter, you simply can’t not enjoy your time there. Slap some of the pool’s mud onto your face (yes really!), and swim your way through the luminescent blue water in sunshine and even in blizzard conditions. It’s so warm in you won’t even notice!
Go on the Golden Circle Tour
Iceland in the winter can be quite hard to navigate around by yourself, what with the snap blizzards, long nights, and all that ice and snow. So if you want to see some of Iceland’s natural wonders but want to stay close to the city, hopping on a Golden Circle Tour is your best bet. Most are run by Reykjavik Excursions, the same guys who can get you to the Blue Lagoon. The Golden Circle takes in the Geyser and Strokkur geyser park, the Gulfoss waterfall, and Pingvellir national park, where the continents of Europe and North America meet. It’s a full day but well worth it if you don’t have the time or means to explore greater Iceland.
Party with the locals
Reykjavik’s night life is almost unknown in comparison to its Euro capital counterparts, but in this diminutive city, the locals know better. In a city where it’s dark for more than 20 hours per day, you’ve got to embrace the night life. With an offbeat, hipster vibe, there are a surprising amount of venues to choose from. Try locals pubs with live music, pulsing clubs, or quirky cafes & restaurants such as The Laundromat Cafe, or the Chuck Norris Grill.
See the Northern Lights
Look, it’s probably the main reason you chose to come somewhere this far north in the middle of winter right? Seeing the sky filled with a dancing green light is one of those moments that features on many a bucket list for good reason. Iceland is the perfect place to see the Northern Lights and there are a few different ways you can do this. If you join a tour, most will allow you to go again if you don’t see the lights. As the key to seeing the lights is a nice, dark, clear sky, getting away from the artificial lights of the city is vital. We took a city bus out to a nearby peninsula and huddled behind a fishing shed eating Icelandic biscuits until midnight waiting for the lights to show. Whilst we never saw them, sometimes to search is half the fun. And it just means I’ll have to come back and try again!
Whilst there are so many beautiful places in Iceland, make sure you dedicate some time to exploring this fascinating little city. Reykjavik has personality coming out of every colourful storefront, from the mountains in the background and in the residents who know they are living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Have you ever been to Reykjavik? What were your favourite moments?