Reykjavik

Clean, green and captivating, the colourful port of Reykjavik is one of Europe's most enchanting cities.

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The world's northernmost national capital offers stunning views, a thriving arts scene and a warm welcome that belies its subarctic climate. A beautiful skyline, dramatic coast and rich cultural heritage come together in a city that also makes an ideal gateway to Iceland's glaciers, geysers and lava fields.

Arriving at Reykjavik–Keflavik Airport

Direct flights depart London City Airport for Keflavik International Airport, which lies about 30 miles (50km) west of capital Reykjavik on the northern tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula. Short runways at the more central Reykjavik Airport mean it is only used by domestic carriers.

Built as a military airfield, Keflavik International Airport has three runways, two of which are currently in use. The passenger terminal – named after Norse explorer Leif Erikson – has been extended several times since opening in 1987, and received awards for its bright décor and range of facilities, which include an impressive range of shops and free unlimited Wi-Fi.

There is currently no rail link between the airport and Reykjavik, so all onward transfers are by road. Bus options include the Airport Express and FlyBus services, which depart between 30 and 45 minutes after each scheduled flight arrival. Drop-offs can be arranged for all major hotels in the capital, but you'll need to book in advance.

Several taxi companies operate from the airport, and you can pick up a hire car – book in advance with London City Airport.

Essential sights

The Northern Lights

If you're visiting between September and April then you have to at least try to catch the aurora borealis. The magnificent, otherworldly Northern Lights are best seen on cold, dark early autumn and early spring nights. This stunning natural light show can be seen from Reykjavik, although it's even better if you head out of the city for darker skies.

Perlan

On a hill southeast of the city centre, Perlan (the Pearl) is a museum, observatory and major architectural landmark. At 84ft (25m) tall and in an elevated position, Ingimundur Sveinsson's innovative glass dome is difficult to miss. The views from here are spectacular. Free buses run to the attraction from the Harpa concert hall at the harbour.

Tjörnin

The clear waters of Tjörnin lake provide an attractive backdrop to several prominent public buildings, including Reykjavik City Hall and the National Gallery of Iceland. The Pond, as Tjörnin is referred to, is home to more than 40 species of birds in the warmer months and countless ice-skaters when the water freezes. Footpaths on either side of the lake converge in the Hljómskálagarður park at the southern point.

Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral

Standing tall above the rooftops in Downtown Reykjavik is the 244ft (74m) Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland's best-known church. Designed by state architect Guðjón Samúelsson in 1937, the building is notable for its expressionist architecture. The church took over four decades to construct, with the nave finally consecrated in 1986. It's truly striking and unlike anything you're likely to have seen elsewhere. Climb the tower to the observation deck for the views of Reykjavik and the surrounding mountains.