Iceland’s tiny capital has an almost inconceivable quantity of character. Home of spurting geysers, mammoth hot spring baths where you can lounge amongst fresh snow fall and a music scene the envy of cities several times its size (think Bjork, Sigur Ros and a White Stripes, ‘fans only’ gig that has since become the stuff of legends). Reykjavik lies high on many a savvy travler’s must-see list.
Unsurprisingly, given its reputation, Reykjavik is difficult to match in terms of natural allures and incredible sights. Grabbing a bike and heading out into the surrounding wilderness – wrapped up in a suitably large number of layers, obviously – reveals perfect grassy meadows and pools shooting water high into the air, as well as idealistic spots for angling, hiking, climbing and pretty much any other kind of outdoor adventure you care to think up. If you’re here for the thermal pools, you could happily hop between them for the entire duration of even a lengthy trip, not forgetting to stop off at the bizarre geothermal beach (where hot water influx allows summer vibes amongst the frigid waters) and the infamous blue lagoon, where the rustic waters have been turned into a phenomenal and pricey health spa, and can also be explored more naturally on foot.
Icelander’s are culturally laid back - no doubt a great plus given their recent brush with bankruptcy – and seem to have a community outlook when it comes to cultural development, with plenty of their impressive art and sculpture mounted against the backdrop of striking sunsets or incorporated into the modern city. You can explore the Viking times thoroughly, including glancing at a reconstructed longhouse and delving into the archives of the national museum, while the more modern end of the spectrum is fulfilled with stunning contemporary art galleries and countless smaller artistic entities popping up amongst the more standard shopping streets.
In a way, Iceland is like a frozen utopia, where nature is somehow more beautiful than you could ever imagine, and the streets have a strength of artistic and attractive sentiment yet the people remain unpretentious. Count on spending a small fortune, but visitors invariably believe it’s worth it. If you dig deep enough you might encounter a truly unforgettable and up close experience with a true native.