Iceland’s capital and largest city, Reykjavik is the first stop for most visitors to the Land of Fire and Ice. Many will pass through quickly on their way to marvel at Iceland’s natural wonders, but those who stick around to explore the Greater Reykjavik area will be richly rewarded.
Major landmarks in the downtown city centre of Reykjavik include the towering Hallgrimskirkja church, the honeycomb-like Harpa concert hall and the skeletal Sun Voyager sculpture on the Saebraut seaside promenade. Whale and puffin watching tours leave from the historic harbour. Top museums in the area include the Settlement Exhibition and the Saga Museum, both unveiling pieces of Icelandic heritage. Reykjavik has a thriving café culture, and when the sun goes down, its “djammid” nightlife is unparalleled.
Downtown Reykjavik is quite compact and easy to navigate by foot and city buses serve the greater Reykjavik area. Reykjavik Excursions provides shuttles between the city centre and its main bus terminal 10 minutes’ away, where visitors can connect to larger buses to reach the airport or tour other parts of Iceland, like the otherworldly Blue Lagoon located midway between Reykjavik and Keflavik Airport.
Only in the last decade or so has Iceland developed a strong tourism industry. One of its greatest draws is its long history. Reykjavik, the country’s only true city, was first settled by the Norse. The city’s popular Settlement Exhibition shows the nation’s most ancient treasures, dating back to 871.