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Reykjavik Travel Guide

About Reykjavik

Backdropped by the hulking Mount Esja and perched on the southern shores of Faxaflói Bay, nature is never far away in Reykjavik.

Yet, despite its obvious natural beauties, the world’s most northerly capital is a vibrant place that’s home to rows of colourful houses and a populace that gives the concept of living for the moment a whole new meaning.

Reykjavik is where the great outdoors takes centre stage with sea, mountains, rivers, woodlands, parks and geothermal swimming pools, all intimately connected.

Start with a trip to the artificial beach at Nauthólsvík, where golden sands and a geothermal-heated sea water lagoon combine to pleasant effect. If you want something more energetic, activities like cycling, hiking, horse riding, sailing and fishing can all be enjoyed on Reykjavik’s doorstep.

Though, these natural wonders can belie the fact that the city has much to offer in the way of urban attractions too. Reykjavik's nightlife attracts legions of tourists keen to sample its legendary bars and clubs, and as nightspots tend to stay open until the early hours of the morning, visitors will need plenty of stamina as well as money.

During the day, Reykjavik is a far more sedate place with trim houses, rubbish-free streets and an easygoing pace of life. There are bountiful cultural attractions from museums to art galleries, many show pictures of Iceland's historic volcanic eruptions. Those volcanoes, although still prone to the periodic eruption, have become part of the quintessential Iceland experience and are easily reached from the capital.

So too are the country’s many hot springs and geysers, while lurking offshore are vast pods of whales – many of which politely surface as whale watching boats approach.

Scandinavian in its egalitarianism, naturally beautiful and just plain old good fun, Reykjavik is a place you’ll keep coming back to.

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Featured Hotels


Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel

One of the newer hotels in Reykjavik, the Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel is housed in the former offices of an old Icelandic shipping line. It has been meticulously refurbished with urbane minimalist chic, so sleek dark wood furnishings cut a fashionable jib against the tastefully off-white décor. Outside it's officious, inside it's delicious.

Hilton Reykjavik Nordica

Good for anyone in search of a quieter stay, the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica sits 10 minutes from the city centre, close to the botanic gardens. Decked out in white and grey, the 284-room hotel is huge but boasts a soothing Scandinavian ambience. Along with the Vox restaurant, it also has an onsite spa.

Hotel Reykjavik Natura

Located a 20-minute walk from the city centre, close to the domestic airport, Hotel Reykjavik Naturais is run by national carrier Icelandair. A short stroll from the Perlan complex, it is good for nature fans with biking, running and walking paths and a nearby geothermal beach. Inside, rooms are comfortable and there’s an onsite spa.

Hotel Cabin

It might not have much in the way of frills, but what Hotel Cabin lacks in decorative flourishes, it more than makes up in convenience and charm. That’s not to say that the rooms are unappealing. Most are comfortable and well-appointed, with huge beds and single Scandinavian-style pillows.

Hotel Fron

With its bright blue facade, you can't miss Hotel Fron. When the runtur (pub crawl) gets underway at the weekend, a couple of rooms at the front might get a bit noisy, but most of the rooms are remarkably quiet. It's an excellent choice for leisure travellers wanting a central location at a reasonable price.

Sunna Guesthouse

Just behind Hallgrimskirkja, this guesthouse in the heart of the old town is within easy walking distance of the major attractions, shops and restaurants. The rooms are basic but clean, and the buffet breakfast is included in the rate. Accommodation options range from rooms with shared facilities to studios and apartments.