Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Fri November 12 2021
Reykjavik, Iceland's Capital City (photo via SuppalakKlabdee / iStock / Getty Images Plus)


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Reykjavik, Iceland's Capital City (photo via SuppalakKlabdee / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Reykjavik, Iceland. (photo via SuppalakKlabdee / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Reykjavik is not only the beautiful capital of Iceland, but the northernmost capital city in the world. With a population of 200,000, Reykjavik, Iceland, stands as the center of the country’s economic, cultural and governmental activity. Because of its close proximity to the Arctic Circle, the city receives only four hours of sunlight on the shortest days of winter and the summer nights are almost just as bright as day. Between its natural beauty, thriving arts scene and world-class shopping and dining, this Viking city is rapidly becoming a popular tourist destination.

Due to Reykjavik’s volcanic activity, there are a plethora of geothermal hot springs that not only create a sort of central heating system for the city, but are used as thermal pools and spas. Found in every district of the city, the naturally and pleasantly warm pools are used year-round and are mostly found outdoors. In addition to the natural beauty and splendor of the pools, Reykjavik offers many guided tours some of the world’s most spectacular natural sights and attractions. From glaciers to geysers and horseback riding to whale watching, the wilderness of the area becomes truly inspiring.

Reykjavik’s buzzing cultural scene is alive with art, music and year-round festivals. Visual art flourishes in the city with the many galleries and museums, such as the Reykjavik Art Museum and the multi-medium Gallery Gryla. The vibrant artistic community draws an international crowd every year to experience the latest in Icelandic art and music. The Reykjavik Jazz Festival is held every fall and the downtown live music venues and clubs are always packed with an eclectic group of musicians and artists.

Hallgrimskirkja cathedral in reykjavik iceland (photo via surangaw / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Hallgrimskirkja cathedral in reykjavik iceland (photo via surangaw / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Traditional Icelandic cuisine may partially revolve around the food preservation techniques of the past (pickling, smoking and salting), but today’s modern cuisine is a fresh and organic mix of old and new. In addition to the hearty hometown dishes like smoked lamb and cod stew, the city is embracing fusion cuisine into their diets. For a sophisticated coupling, Apotek is located in the city center and comes with an extensive wine menu called a “prescription.” La Primavera is one of Reykjavik’s most popular Italian eateries, serving up homemade dishes like gnocchi, polenta and pomegranate-lime-seared scallops. The Icelandic-Mediterranean joint, Siggihall, is best known for their bacalao and offers plenty of fresh upmarket seafood.

Keflavik International Airport (KEF) is Iceland’s main international airport and is located 30 miles from Reykjavik. Reykjavik Airport (RKV) is situated in the center of the city and used for only domestic air travel. Icelandair is the main international carrier for the country and offers many nonstop flights to the U.S., Canada and many European destinations. The city’s public bus system is clean and reliable. Purchasing a Reykjavik Tourist Card, which allows access to the buses, museums and free Internet, is recommended. Walking or biking around Reykjavik is the best way to get around, as many attractions are near the hotel area.

Reykjavik is categorized by a subpolar oceanic climate. Despite its location in the extreme north Atlantic region, the city is warmer than most with the same latitude. Average winter temperatures usually won’t fall below 14° F (-10° C) due to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream that moderates the coastal weather. Summers have cool temperatures, ranging around 50°-59° F (10°-15° C), and sometimes even exceeding 68° F (20° C). The best time to visit Reykjavik would be in the spring and summer months, when temperatures are pleasant enough to walk around the city comfortably, yet visitors can still take in all the natural wonders of this northern subpolar metropolis.