Reykjavik Destination Guide
Clean, green and captivating, the colourful port of Reykjavik is one of Europe's most enchanting cities.
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.
Reykjavik is easily navigable by road, with its network of well-maintained, multi-lane highways. This is just as well, since there are no public railways in Iceland. Despite the high rate of vehicle ownership, congestion and parking are not major problems; hiring a car is a good option, and self-drive holidays are popular in Iceland. Remember to drive on the right and adhere to the speed limit, which varies between 35 and 50kph in urban areas.
Ever-present on the capital's roads are the bright yellow Strætó buses, which run across 30 city routes at roughly 15-minute intervals. Public transport services operate from the Hlemmur and Lækjartorg terminals in central Reykjavik, with stops well-distributed across the city.
Reykjavik is a car-friendly city, but more is being done to promote healthier modes of transport in the capital. There's a good network of cycle paths, complete with bridges and underpasses to help users avoid the roads. These paths are also open to joggers and walkers. Cycling Iceland has detailed information.
Miðborg, or Downtown Reykjavik, is the geographical, cultural and architectural centre of the capital. This is where you'll find most of the key city landmarks, including the parliament buildings, the idyllic Tjörnin lake, Harpa concert hall and the unique Hallgrímskirkja cathedral. Reykjavik's nightlife centres around the 101 district – this is where you'll find the greatest concentrations of bars and restaurants.
The increasingly-upmarket Vesturbær, or West Town, is now one of Reykjavik's most desirable areas. The harbour district, which was at the epicentre of the city's 19th-century growth, is no longer just about fish; there's a healthy student population here and a burgeoning tourist trade. Cafes, shops and thermal pools are plentiful just a 30-minute walk from Downtown.
Although the eastern suburb of Laugardalur is a quiet and residential, there is plenty to do. With a name that translates as 'hot spring valley', it's no surprise to find Reykjavik's largest outdoor geothermal pool situated here. The Family Park and Zoo, featuring Icelandic animals, is open throughout the year, and the 2.5 hectare Reykjavik Botanical Garden showcases an array of Arctic flowers and plants. The valley is home to the national football stadium, the 15,000-capacity Laugardalsvöllur.
Time Zone: Western European Time (GMT) – Iceland doesn't use daylight savings, so you'll need to set your watch back during British Summer Time
Population:City 123,300; capital region 216,940 (2016)
Language: Icelandic (English widely spoken)
Currency: Icelandic krona (ISK)
Voltage:230V; Europlug adapter required