If you’re looking to go off the beaten path on your next getaway, try the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik. You can travel to this quaint, snowy Nordic city in around three hours from the UK, with flights costing as little as £30 with services like Easy Jet and you won’t be disappointed. Here are five attractions I’d recommend you check out in Reykjavik…
From London to Vienna, Europe boasts some magnificent churches and Reykjavik is no exception. Based in the city’s centre, Hallgrímskirkja is a gorgeous expressionist-style Lutheran church. The building is famous for its 73m tower, making it one of the tallest structures in the country, while its distinctive stepped-concrete facade resembles the rugged Icelandic landscape. You can enter the church for free, visiting its grand statues of saints, along with various religious artworks as you go. However, it costs roughly £6.30 to get a lift up to the top of its observation tower. You’ll be willing to shell out for this though, as at the top, you can look down on the area’s majestic mountains below.
Iceland is famous for its unspoiled natural beauty, with first-class attractions like Tjörnin. Situated near Reykjavik’s town hall, Tjörnin is an inner-city lagoon. It’s known to always look stunning, whether frozen over in the dead of winter, or reflecting the blazing rays of sun in the heat of summer. Tjörnin is home to roughly 50 types of water birds, like Eider, Arctic Terns and Greylag Gooses, making it a popular spot for bird-feeding and an absolute must for nature enthusiasts. There’s also a sculpture park you can check out near its southern shore and Tjörnin just so happens to be near some of Reykjavik’s best museums.
One of the Tjörnin-adjacent musuems you really must visit is the National Museum of Iceland. Costing roughly £10.50 for entrance, this modern building houses various exhibitions on Iceland’s past. It goes from Viking times to the present day, shedding light on how these amazing people came to be. The place houses over 2,000 artefacts, the most cherished of which is Valthjófsstadur door, whose medieval engravings depict the life of the iconic 12th Century Lion Knight. The National Museum is also wheel-chair accessible and has audio guides, as well as information in Braille, making it suitable for everyone.
Iceland is best known for its soothing – some even say healing, hot springs. The most famous is the Blue Lagoon, but if you want somewhere a little closer to home, go to Reykjadalur. Just a 40 minute drive from Reykjavik, this is a hot water stream that gushes down from the mountains, providing plenty of heated pools for you to relax in. It’s a great one for walkers, as you can hike to Reykjadalur along a 3km trail, which starts at the tourist office in the nearby town of Hveragerdi. You can rest in the hot springs of Reykjadalur without paying a penny, but remember to bring a bathing suit to be polite.
You should definitely put aside some time to stroll through Reykjavik. As you walk, you’ll pass a range of beautiful sites, from modern edifices like the Perlan glass-domed revolving restaurant, to more traditional structures, like the classic Icelandic wooden houses which dot the city’s streets. If you happen to be near Sæbraut road. which lies along the city’s coastline, stop by Sólfarið. This is the ‘Sun Voyager’ sculpture which was created by the artist Jón Gunnar Árnason in 1990. A stainless steel structure, Sólfarið is a ‘dream boat’ which was designed to serve as an ode to the sun. It symbolises the dream of hope, progress and freedom, inspiring everybody who looks upon its glorious face.
But there’s so much more to see in Iceland. This mythical Nordic nation boasts a plethora of stunning sites, from its iconic Blue Lagoon hot spring spa, which lies on the Reykjanes Peninsula, to the picturesque Gullfoss waterfall, which is situated on a river in the South-West of the country. You can travel to many of Iceland’s most popular tourist draws from Reykjavik, so by booking a stay in the city, you can use it as a base to explore this secluded Nordic nation, which has fascinated everyone from explorers to writers for centuries.