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Five journeys back in time – for a day

Reykjavik: Fünf Tipps für Ausflüge in die Umgebung

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Tuesday, 06.12.2016
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City map Reykjavík

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    Good to know

    Reykjavík – a brief overview

    With just 200,000 inhabitants, this may be one of the world’s smaller capitals, but Reykjavik packs a lot of culture, history and good living into its compact city limits. Clinging to the coast in the southwest corner of Iceland, it’s characterised by multicoloured old wooden houses, geothermal pools and a historic harbour.

    But Reykjavik is also a thoroughly modern city with world-class restaurants, top festivals and a famously hedonistic nightlife. Surrounded by an ethereal, dramatic landscape, it’s a fascinating place to visit at any time of year, whether during the heady days of the midnight sun, or the near-constant night of winter.

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    Top 10 sights in Reykjavík

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    Reykjavik, Island, Lufthansa, travelguide, Travel Guide

    Old Harbour

    Around Geirsgata and Myrargata
    Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Show on map

    Built in the early 20th century, Reykjavik’s harbour is a focal point for the city and a good place to get your bearings. Packed with restaurants, boutiques and galleries, it’s also the starting point for whale-watching boat tours.

    Hallgrímskirkja

    Skólavörðustígur 101
    Reykjavík
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 510 1000
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 0900-2100

    The capital’s largest church was designed to resemble cooled volcanic rock. Its 73m-high tower is accessible by lift, with beautiful views of the city from the top.

    National Gallery of Iceland

    Fríkirkjuvegi 7
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 510 1000
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Tue-Sun 1100-1700

    Housed in a former ice store, Iceland’s main art gallery has a large collection of early 20th-century Icelandic art as well as more contemporary pieces.

    National Museum of Iceland

    Suðurgata 41
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 510 1000
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 1000-1700 (May-mid Sep)
    Tue-Sun 1100-1700 (mid Sep-Apr)

    This fascinating museum charts Iceland’s history from the Viking era to the present day. A series of temporary exhibitions complement the permanent collection, and there are guided tours in English.

    The Settlement Exhibition

    Aðalstræti 16
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 411 6370
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 1000-1700

    In 2001, an archaeological dig uncovered evidence of the earliest human habitation of Reykjavik, dating from AD871. These fragments, along with remains of a 10th-century longhouse, have been preserved in their original location, with an exhibition built around them.

    Laugardalur

    Laugardalur
    Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 553 4039 (pool)
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Mon-Fri 0630-2200 (pool)
    Sat-Sun 0800-2200 (pool)

    This park and recreation area east of the city includes an ice rink, a zoo, botanical gardens and Reykjavik’s largest outdoor thermal pool, in which you can swim all year round.

    Blue Lagoon

    Grindavík

    Iceland
    Tel: +354 420 8800
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 0900-2300 (Jul-mid Aug)
    Daily 0900-2100 (Jun, mid-end Aug)
    Daily 1000-2000 (Sep-May)

    About 45 minutes’ drive from the city, this famous geothermal pool is a splash of vibrant turquoise amid a lava landscape. A dip in the mineral-rich waters is a fun and unusual experience.

    Golden Circle

    Golden Circle

    Iceland
    Show on map

    An hour from the capital, Iceland’s otherworldly landscape is showcased by three highlights – the powerful waterfall Gullfoss, the spouting hot pools of Geysir and the dramatic Thingvellir National Park.

    Viðey Island

    Viðey
    Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 533 5055
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Daily 1150, 1450 (ferry services; in summer only)

    Just off the coast of Reykjavik lies this pretty island sporting historic ruins and numerous walking trails. It’s also home to the Imagine Peace Tower, a light installation conceived by Yoko Ono as a monument to world peace.

    The Pearl

    Öskjuhlið
    125 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 562 0200
    Show on map

    This vast mirrored dome supported by six giant water towers houses a museum about the Viking period, a good restaurant, a man-made geyser and an observation platform with impressive views.

    Good to know

    Country information

    Country overview

    Wild, rugged and colourful, Iceland, ‘the land of ice and fire’, is a country like no other: a contrasting landscape of black lava fields, red sulphur vents, boiling blue geysers and green valleys.

    Geography

    Iceland, one of the most volcanically active countries in the world, is a large island in the North Atlantic close to the Arctic Circle.

     

    The most significant of its seismic features is found at Þingvellir National Park along the Almannagja fault. This rift in the rock shows the direct point on the earth where the Mid-Atlantic Rift runs through the island, where the North American and European tectonic plates are moving apart at an average of 2cm per year. The dramatic valley is clear on the land here, and is also visible in nearby Þingvellir Lake where divers visit the Silfra rift to see the crack between the tectonic plates in more detail.

    Equally, volcano tourism is big business, with walking routes near the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, helitours over it and scenic trips to nearby Hekla, its hitherto most famous volcano, all popular.

    Five-sixths of Iceland is uninhabited, the population being concentrated on the coast, in the valleys and in the plains of the southwest and southeast of the country. More than half the population lives in or around Reykjavík, the capital.

    Akureyri in the north is the country’s second city.

    The whole of the central highland plateau of the island is a beautiful but barren and uninhabitable moonscape – so much so that the first American astronauts were sent there for pre-mission training.

    Eleven percent of the island is covered by three large glaciers. Iceland’s highest and most extensive glacier is Vatnajökull; at 8,500 sq km (3,280 sq miles), it is the largest in Europe, although it is now reported to be melting. Vatnajökull National Park, established in 2008, is Europe’s largest national park, encompassing its namesake glacier as well as volcanoes, waterfalls and wetlands.

    There are several smaller glaciers in the country, including Snaefellsjokull, visible from Reykjavík, which sits atop an ancient cone volcano and was the setting for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Only 1% of the land in Iceland is cultivated, with 20% used for grazing sheep, Icelandic horses and cattle.

    General knowledge

    Key facts

    Population: 315281

    Population Density (per sq km): 3

    Capital: Reykjavik.

    Language

    The official language is Icelandic; English and Danish are widely spoken.

    Currency

    Icelandic krona (ISK; symbol kr) = 100 aurar. Notes are in denominations of kr5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500. Coins are in denominations of kr100, 50, 10, 5 and 1 and feature Iceland’s many native fish species. It is often difficult to get Icelandic money abroad, though not impossible; there are several ATMs and banks at the airport on arrival.

    Electricity

    220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are two-pin.

    General business opening hours

    Mon-Fri 0800-1600 (summer) and 0900-1700 (winter).

    Public holidays

    Below are listed Public Holidays for the January 2016 – December 2017 period.

    2016

    New Year’s Day: 01. January 2016
    Maundy Thursday: 24. March 2016
    Good Friday: 25. March 2016
    Easter Monday: 28. March 2016
    First Day of Summer: 21. April 2016
    Labour Day: 01. May 2016
    Ascension Day: 05. May 2016
    Whit Monday: 16. May 2016
    National Day: 17. June 2016
    Commerce Day: 01. August 2016
    Christmas Eve: 24. December 2016
    Christmas Day: 25. December 2016
    Boxing Day: 26. December 2016
    New Year’s Eve: 31. December 2016

    2017

    New Year’s Day: 01. January 2017
    Maundy Thursday: 13. April 2017
    Good Friday: 14. April 2017
    Easter Monday: 17. April 2017
    First Day of Summer: 20. April 2017
    Labour Day: 01. May 2017
    Ascension Day: 25. May 2017
    Whit Monday: 05. June 2017
    National Day: 17. June 2017
    Commerce Day: 07. August 2017
    Christmas Eve: 24. December 2017
    Christmas Day: 25. December 2017
    Boxing Day: 26. December 2017
    New Year’s Eve: 31. December 2017

    All information subject to change.

    Discover

    Around Reykjavik: Five journeys back in time

    Das Schöne an Reykjavik ist, dass die Stadt so klein ist. In 24 Stunden hat man sie kreuz und quer erlaufen und gesehen. Noch schöner ist, dass man von hier aus die erdzeitliche Weltgeschichte in Tagesreisen erkunden kann.Vor 17–20 Millionen Jahren: Manche Landschaften und Orte faszinieren nicht an sich, sondern erst durch ihre Geschichte. Þingvellir ist so ein Ort.Vor rund 700 000 Jahren entstand das Gebiet, in dem sich heute die heißen Quellen, die wasserspeienden Geysire und die dampfspeienden Fumarolen befinden.Der Thrihnukagigur-Vulkan schläft friedlich, sein letzter Ausbruch liegt 4000 Jahre zurück.Alle Isländer sind miteinander verwandt, und sie heißen fast alle gleich. Den Eindruck könnte man bei all den Gudruns, Sigrids, Einars und Jons gewinnen – wobei Vor- und Nachnamen auch noch gleich sind.Als Kind bin ich herumgerannt und habe den Enten und Gänsen die Eier aus den Nestern geklaut“, sagt Hákon. Er lebt zusammen mit seinem Hund Skuggi unweit von Reykjavik auf dem Gut Traustsholtshólmi auf einer kleinen Insel im Fluss Þjórsá.
    Local Outings around Reykjavik

    The great thing about Reykjavík is that it’s such a small city. You can walk the length and breadth of it and see all there is to see in 24 hours. The even nicer thing about it is that starting out from Reykjavík, you can retrace the geological history of the earth in day trips – five journeys back in time, each one taking just one day.

    17–20 million years ago

    Some landscapes and sites are of not particular interest in themselves, but their history lends them a certain fascination. Þingvellir (or Thingvellir) is one such place, a plain traversed by a meandering river, and covered in summer by a velvety down that shimmers green and ocher in the sunshine. A small waterfall, a canyon, mountains on the horizon. At first sight, a typical Icelandic landscape.

    At second glance, it’s the place where one of the first parliaments in history assembled. Every summer, the Viking chiefs would come together here and remain in session for two whole weeks, discussing laws and settling disputes. “Þing” means national assembly, “vellir” is the plain. Hundreds of years later, modern Iceland was established on this spot.

    But the real fascination only becomes clear at third sight: Iceland is growing. The island was formed 17 to 20 million years ago, and new continental crust is still being produced beneath it. There are only two places on the planet where this phenomenon can be observed. Iceland lies on two tectonic plates: in the West on the North American, in the East, on the Eurasian.

    Our earth is in the process of creating something akin to a large 3D jigsaw puzzle of tectonic plates, except that the pieces are not very accurately sawn. Beneath Iceland, the pieces are moving away from each other, while from beneath, hot rocks are exerting pressure. Standing in Thingvellir National Park on the edge of the “Old Men’s Canyon” with its steep walls that fray jaggedly upward, you get the feeling you might be watching as the transformation unfolds – millions of year’s of earth’s history pass before your mind’s eye.

    Contact & Info

    Thingvellir
    Selfoss 
    Tel. +354 482 2660
    thingvellir.is

    700 000 years ago

    Some 700 000 years ago, the region was formed, in which hot springs and geysers spewing water and steam are now found. The hot spring that goes by the name of “Deildartunguhver” – virtually unpronounceable for us – is like a gigantic boiler: It spews out 180 liters of hot water (97°) per second – that’s sufficient to fill a 25-meter swimming pool in an hour. Starting in October, it will be doing just that, when the Krauma geothermal swimming pool opens in Reykholt. The hot water is cooled down to bathing temperature with glacial water from Rauðsgil Canyon. There is no need for chlorine or any other chemicals there since the flow of water alone is sufficient to maintain its purity. Krauma is an oasis of relaxation with space for at most 140 bathers at any one time.

    Almost five times as many people can make a daily splash at the Blue Lagoon at the UNESCO Global Geopark Reykjanes, located between the capital city and the airport. The Blue Lagoon came into being almost by chance, as a by-product of a geothermal power plant that not only generates electricity, but also supplies hot water to the community. It pumps up brackish water, a mixture of salt- and freshwater, with a temperature of 240°C from the depths of Svartsengi volcanic field.

    After flowing up through the power plant’s pipe, the water flooded the surrounding lava fields, producing a brilliant blue salt lake. The water contains a variety of mineral salts that are good for the skin. Today, the Blue Lagoon is a swimming pool with a clinic, a research center and its own hotel. In 2017, a luxury hotel and underwater spa grotto will also open there.

    Contact & Info

    Krauma
    Reykholt
    Tel. +354 555 6066
    krauma.is

    Blue Lagoon, reservation urgently recommended:
    Tel. +354 420 8800
    bluelagoon.com

    Strokkur geyser, which erupts roughly every ten minutes.
    Haukadalsvegur

    4000 years ago

    Sometimes, tramping across rough rocky terrain, lying in moss-like grass or sitting on the dark lava sands of a beach, surveying the landscape, downy mountains with a hint of color like a hesitantly painted water color … sometimes you get the feeling that the landscape is glowing from within – almost as though you could actually feel the lava bubbling far below. And you begin to wonder how it may look down there.

    There’s no need to picture the answer to that question because there are a number of spots where you can actually see it for yourself. Thrihnukagigur Volcano is one of them. It slumbers peacefully today, having last erupted 4000 years ago. A small lift takes visitors 120 meters down through a four-by-four-meter opening into the volcano’s belly, a crater large enough to hide the Statue of Liberty (an idea for a new Bond film perhaps?).

    Further inland, at Víðgelmir Cave not far from the Krauma geothermal swimming pool, Hörður Míó and his family have been running tours since May. Víðgelmir is a lava tube. A good way to understand how it was formed is to imagine the process of hot lead cooling after being dropped into cold water (as in the popular fortune-telling party game), except in reverse. A river of lava gushes over the landscape. The edges of the lava cool down and form a thin but hard skin, beneath which the molten rock continues to flow. Once the volcano stops erupting, the hot stream of lava dries up, leaving the solidified tube of lava behind. Víðgelmir is just under 1.6 kilometers long and measures 15.8 meters at its highest point, 16.5 meters at its widest, making it the largest lava cave in Iceland. Inside, the rock shimmers in a rainbow of colors from sulfurous yellow to gleaming iron red.

    Contact & Info

    Inside the Volcano
    Tel. +354 519 5609
    insidethevolcano.com

    The tour inside the volcano takes five to six hours and costs the equivalent of 320 euros. Children must be at least 12 years old.

    The Cave
    Fljótstunga
    Tel. +354 783 3600
    thecave.is

    A guided tour for beginners and parents with small children ages at least four (1.5 hours) costs 50 euros; a four-hour tour, 105 euros; minimum age, nine.

    Starting in 874 C.E.

    All Icelanders are related to each other and they all have practically the same names. That, at least, is the impression all those Guðrúns, Sigrids, Einars and Jóns tend to create – and to make things more complicated, given names are also surnames. Jonas’ daughter is called Guðrún Jonasdóttir, his son, Einar Jonasson. The Icelanders themselves even have an app that lets them check out whether the person they are flirting with is their cousin five times removed. The app, Islendinga (islendingaapp.is), conducts a search in a national database, Íslendingabók, in which all of the nation’s known relationship data is collected. This means that many of the approximately 320 000 Icelanders can trace their family tree back as far back as the 9th century, when the Vikings first landed on this wave-lashed volcanic splotch in the Atlantic. This is far less astonishing than it sounds because the settlement of Iceland was recorded in minute detail in a historical land register, the Landnámabók.

    The story of Iceland’s Book of Settlement and of life in those early days is told at the Landnámssetrið, the Settlement Center in Borgarnes. It is a part of the Icelandic saga and heritage trail that connects various of the country’s historical sites. These include Árbæjarsafn in Reykjavík, an open-air museum with authentically recreated buildings, and the Viking village in Hafnarfjörður, where you can indulge in a Viking feast of historic proportions at Fjörugarðurinn restaurant. There’s also Viking ship in Reykjavík harbour you may like to visit.

    Contact & Info

    Landnámssetrið
    Brákarbraut 13–15
    Borgarnes
    Tel. +354 437 1600
    landnam.is

    Árbæjarsafn
    Kistuhyl
    Reykjavík
    Tel. +354 411 6300
    http://borgarsogusafn.is/en/arbaer-open-air-museum

    Fjörugarðurinn
    Íþróttahúsið Strandgötu
    Hafnarfjörður
    Tel. +354 565 1213
    http://fjorukrain.is/en/fjorugardurinn/

    Other places of interest at sagatrail.is.

    Reykjavík Viking Adventure
    Ægisgarður
    Reykjavik
    Tel. +354 842 6660
    reykjavikvikingadventure.is

    Present

    “As a child, I used to run around and steal the eggs out of the nests of ducks and geese,” says Hákon. Today, he lives with Skuggi, his dog, not far from Reykjavík, on Traustsholtshólmi estate, which is on a small island in Þjórsá River. It has been in his family for generations. There isn’t much on the island, just a stone house and a windmill providing  shelter from the wild wind, but it’s the wind that generates the electricity for the mill. Hákon collects rainwater to drink and gathers herbs to flavor the salmon he pulls out of the Þjórsá – preferably in the evening, just before the sun sinks below the horizon. Sometimes, seals will come and keep him company for a while.

    In short: Hákon’s life is undisturbed, simple and traditional. Starting in June, he shares that life with tourists and invites up to ten strangers to his home for a day and takes them all over the island, showing them where he grows his vegetables and also the nests of the crows that are raising their young there. The subject of nature comes up in passing, and he talks about why we need it and what we have to do to preserve it. A day with Hákon is basically like a school trip: You learn much more than you realize – and still have the feeling you are just having fun.

    Contact & Info

    Traustholtshólmi
    Tel. +354 699 4256
    thh.is

    Enjoy

    Nightlife in Reykjavík

    ListMap

    Reykjavik punches above its weight when it comes to evening entertainment.

    Whether you’re looking for live music, a bar crawl or an all-night club, Icelanders can show you the way.

    Kaffibarinn

    Bergstadastraeti 1
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 510 1000
    Show on map

    It’s crowded, sweaty and on the dingy side of cosy, but this is possibly Reykjavik’s coolest bar.

    Café Rosenberg

    Klapparstigur 27
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Show on map

    The place to go for live music, this great bar has a jazz club vibe.

    B5

    Bankastræti 5
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Show on map

    Café and library by day, at night B5 becomes a popular bar with an extensive cocktail menu.

    Harpa

    Austurbakki 2
    101 Reykjavik
    Island
    Tel: +354 510 1000
    Show on map

    The city’s main concert hall is home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Icelandic Opera and Reykjavik Big Band.

    NASA

    Thorvaldsensstræti 2
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Show on map

    Reykjavik’s biggest club hosts DJs and live bands at weekends.

    Enjoy

    Restaurants in Reykjavík

    ListMap

    Iceland is well known for the quality of its seafood and lamb, and there are many fantastic places to try both in Reykjavik, plus much more besides.

    Fiskmarkaðurinn (Fish Market)

    Aðalstræti 16
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 411 6370
    Show on map

    Price: Expensive

    One of the city’s best restaurants serves fresh fish and meat dishes with a modern twist.

    Laekjarbrekka

    Bankastræti 2
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    Specialities such as mountain lamb, puffin and skyr, an Icelandic fresh cheese, are on the menu at this traditional restaurant in a restored 19th-century house.

    Caruso

    Þingholtsstræti 1
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Show on map

    Price: Moderate

    Italy comes to Iceland at this elegant three-storey Italian restaurant in the heart of town.

    Hamborgarabúllan

    Háaleiti S
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 510 1000
    Show on map

    Price: Cheap

    Tasty burgers in quirky surroundings courtesy of Iceland’s very own hamburger guru, Tommi Tómasson.

    Icelandic Fish & Chips

    Tryggvagata 11
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Show on map

    Price: Cheap

    Come here for organic, freshly caught fish of the day with oven-roasted wedges and dips made from skyr.

    Discover

    Calendar of events

    Reykjavik Arts Festival

    May – June 2016
    Website

    Venue: Various venues.

    Presenting a varied programme of cultural events, this annual festival is a real treat for locals and visitors, young and old alike. Many of the country’s most distinguished art establishments participate in the event, including the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the Icelandic Opera, the National Theatre of Iceland, the Reykjavik City Theatre, the Iceland Dance Company, the Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra and the Caput Ensemble. Held biennially since its inception in 1970, the festival became an annual event in 2004.

    National Day of Iceland

    17 June 2016

    Venue: Throughout the city.

    Reykjavik hosts various Independence Day parades and there is a whole lot of street theater, sideshows and dancing to keep everyone entertained.

    The Arctic Open

    22 – 25 June 2016
    Website

    Venue: Akureyri Golf Club.

    A game of midnight golf in Iceland is an unusual delight. The sun barely dips below the horizon and it’s possible to play golf round the clock. The Arctic Open is an international event which attracts over 100 players from around the world.

    Gay Pride

    August 2016
    Website

    Venue: Various venues.

    The biggest gay and lesbian event of the year, the city’s annual Gay Pride brings a carnival of colour and celebrations to the streets, bars and clubs of Reykjavik. Events take place at various venues and locations throughout the city as up to 50,000 revellers – including many straight people – attend parties, parades and club nights scheduled as part of the four-day festival. Parties begin early on Thursday night before the official Pride Opening Ceremony on Friday evening. On Saturday, a colourful and noisy parade makes its way down the Laugavegur main shopping street after which there is a fun open-air party that is open to all. On Sunday there is usually a well-supported sporting event before the fun comes to an end at the official Farwell Party in the evening.

    Reykjavik Cultural Night

    August 2016
    Website

    Venue: Various venues.

    An annual event in the city since 1996, Reykjavik Culture Night has become an essential part of cultural life in Iceland, with thousands of people strolling the streets of the city on a single night to enjoy a variety of activities ranging from guided tours, traditional shows and exhibitions to more unusual happenings. A number of galleries, shops, bars and restaurants open til late on the night.

    Reykjavik Marathon

    20 August 2016
    Website

    Venue: Various locations.

    Each year thousands of professional and amateur runners travel to the world’s most northerly capital to participate in the Reykjavik Marathon. Attracted by the pleasant climate, incredibly fresh air, great scenery and good running conditions, runners can choose to compete in the marathon, half-marathon, or the easier 10km and 5km fun runs. Marathon day was moved to coincide with the city’s popular Cultural Night (see separate entry) which provides runners with some great evening entertainment ranging from museum exhibitions and live music to city walks and culinary events.

    Tango on Iceland

    22 – 25 September 2016
    Website

    Venue: Various venues.

    Dedicated to the vibrant dance style that originated in 19th-century Argentina, Iceland’s annual Tango festival is a fun event that includes a live tango show, classes by international teachers, and tango bands. Also awaiting you are workshops, nightly milongas (a universal term for a tango club) and a whole host of other events that trumpet tango as not just a dance, but a way of life.

    Reykjavik International Film Festival

    29 September – 9 October 2016
    Website

    Venue: Various venues.

    First held in 2004, this festival has fast established itself as Iceland’s biggest and most important film festival. Visitors to the event are given the opportunity to see the cream of the latest releases from around the world as well as shorts and animations from up and coming directors from the international scene. Directors, cinematographers and producers are on hand to talk about their films at a series of seminars and workshops.

    Iceland Airwaves Music Festival

    2 – 6 November 2016
    Website

    Venue: Various venues.

    Hosted in disused warehouses, airplane hangars, clubs, bars and an assortment of other unusual venues around Reykjavik, this annual music festival has a cool urban flavour and is a popular event among the city’s young and trendy folk. Since it was first held in 1999, the event has grown from just being a stage for local DJs to become an international music festival that attracts bands and performers from all over the world. With performances, DJ sets and aftershow parties often continuing through until dawn, this is not a festival for the fainthearted.

    New Year's Eve fireworks

    December 2016

    Venue: Various venues.

    New Year’s Eve is traditionally a major excuse to party in the city. Shops and restaurants open in the morning and visitors can take a New Year’s Eve tour or make their way to one of the city’s large bonfires. Just before midnight, there is a spectacular fireworks display watched by huge crowds at Hallgrímskirkja church, Perlan (The Pearl) and Landakotskirkja church.

    Winter Lights Festival

    February 2017
    Website

    Venue: Various venues.

    Dedicated to the theme of light and energy, and really just to cheer everyone up after a long dark winter, the Winter Lights Festival is an exciting public festival centered around Laugardalur park in Reykjavik. It entails a mix of events celebrating arts and crafts, environment and history, sports and culture.

    Beer Day

    March 2017

    Venue: Various bars and restaurants.

    Beer Day in Iceland marks the abolition, on 1 March 1989, of a 75-year long prohibition of beer. Making up for lost time, the citizens of Reykjavik indulge in a beer spree on the same day each year. Highly festive celebrations are held at pubs, restaurants, and clubs all around Reykjavik and the festivities continue long into the night. A runtur (bar crawl) is a popular way of getting to know the various bars and beers in this city famous for its hedonistic nightlife. Many bars and nightclubs are open until 0400. Suggestions that 2 March should be declared National Hangover Day have apparently been strongly resisted. Icelandic beers include Viking Gylltur, a strong lager with a bitter taste, Viking Dimmur, Sterkur, Thule and Ice Bjor. Take your pick.

    Food and Fun Festival

    March 2017
    Website

    Venue: Various hotels and restaurants.

    A tantalising treat for the taste buds, this annual festival sees visiting chefs from around the world travel to Iceland for a programme of food and culinary events. Using locally sourced ingredients, local chefs team up with their international counterparts to create some gastronomic treats including traditional lamb dishes and seafood specialities.

    All information subject to change. Please check the dates on the relevant event organizer’s website.

    Enjoy

    Hotels in Reykjavík

    ListMap

    Reykjavik has plenty of accommodation options, from central big-name hotels to privately owned guesthouses.

    While rooms can be hard to find in the peak tourist seasons, outside these times you’ll likely grab a bargain.

    Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

    Myrargata 2
    101 Reykjavík
    Iceland
    Show on map

    Category: Expensive

    This funky design hotel has everything you need for an upmarket stay in the capital.

    CenterHotel Plaza

    Aðalstræti 4
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Tel: +354 411 6370
    Show on map

    Category: Moderate

    Stylish, comfortable rooms in a good location not far from the historic harbour and mid-town.

    Hilton Reykjavik Nordica

    Suðurlandsbraut 2
    108 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Show on map

    Category: Moderate

    At the eastern end of main shopping street Laugavegur, this offers Hilton’s usual slick comforts.

    Travel Inn Guesthouse

    Sóleyjargata 31
    101 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Show on map

    Category: Cheap

    This basic but comfortable two-star enjoys a leafy location in a residential district not far from town.

    Guesthouse Borgartun

    Borgartún 34
    105 Reykjavik
    Iceland
    Show on map

    Category: Cheap

    Run by a friendly couple, this place near the seafront has a home-from-home feel.

    Good to know

    Best time to visit

    Today: Tuesday, 06.12.2016 15:00 UTC

    cloudy

    temperature


    6°C


    wind direction

    north

    wind speed

    16.25 mph

    7 days forecast

    Wednesday

    07.12.2016

    6°C / 5°C

    Thursday

    08.12.2016

    5°C / 4°C

    Friday

    09.12.2016

    4°C / 3°C

    Saturday

    10.12.2016

    4°C / 2°C

    Sunday

    11.12.2016

    5°C / 1°C

    Monday

    12.12.2016

    7°C / 1°C

    Tuesday

    13.12.2016

    9°C / 6°C

    Climate & best time to visit Iceland

    Iceland’s climate is tempered by the Gulf Stream. Summers are mild and winters rather cold. The colourful Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are best seen between November and February. In June and July, there are nearly 24 hours of daylight in Reykjavík, while in the northern part of the country the sun barely sets at all.

    Winds can be strong and gusty at times and there is the occasional dust storm in the interior. Snow is not as common as the name of the country would seem to suggest and, in any case, does not lie for long in Reykjavík; it is only in northern Iceland that skiing conditions are reasonably certain. However, the weather is very changeable at all times of the year, and in Reykjavík there may be rain, sunshine, drizzle and snow in the same day. The air is clean and free of pollution.

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    10 °C

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    -7 °C

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    0 °C

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    1 °C

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    0 °C

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    -4 °C

    15 °C

    -10 °C

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    11 °C

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    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    75 mm

    71 mm

    81 mm

    58 mm

    43 mm

    50 mm

    51 mm

    61 mm

    66 mm

    85 mm

    72 mm

    78 mm

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    0 h

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    5 h

    5 h

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    0 h

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    78 %

    79 %

    77 %

    78 %

    76 %

    79 %

    81 %

    81 %

    79 %

    80 %

    79 %

    78 %

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

    5 °C

    5 °C

    5 °C

    6 °C

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    absolute maxabsolute minØ absolute minØ absolute minrelative humidityØ precipitationdays with deposit > 1mmsunshine duration
    Jan10 °C-19 °C1 °C-3 °C78 %75.6 mm13.30.9 h
    Feb10 °C-17 °C2 °C-2 °C79 %71.8 mm12.51.8 h
    Mar14 °C-16 °C3 °C-2 °C77 %81.8 mm14.43.6 h
    Apr15 °C-16 °C5 °C0 °C78 %58.3 mm12.24.7 h
    May20 °C-7 °C9 °C3 °C76 %43.8 mm9.86.2 h
    Jun20 °C0 °C11 °C6 °C79 %50 mm10.75.4 h
    Jul24 °C1 °C13 °C8 °C81 %51.8 mm105.5 h
    Aug21 °C0 °C13 °C7 °C81 %61.8 mm11.75.0 h
    Sep20 °C-4 °C10 °C5 °C79 %66.5 mm12.44.2 h
    Oct15 °C-10 °C6 °C2 °C80 %85.6 mm14.52.7 h
    Nov11 °C-12 °C3 °C-1 °C79 %72.5 mm12.51.3 h
    Dec11 °C-16 °C2 °C-2 °C78 %78.7 mm13.90.4 h
    year24 °C-19 °C7 °C1 °C79 %798.8 mm148.33.5 h
    Good to know

    Phone calls & Internet

    Telephone/Mobile Telephone

    Dialing code: +354

    Telephone

    Public telephones are increasingly hard to locate, but can be found at the post office in central Reykjavík as well as other roadside areas. Skype is a good option for calling abroad cheaply. The majority of Icelanders use mobile phones.

    Mobile Telephone

    Roaming agreements exist with many international companies. Coverage is good. Pre-paid GSM phonecards, which travellers can use with their own GSM phones, can be purchased at petrol stations around the country. GSM phones may also be rented at several locations.

    Internet

    Internet cafes can be found, especially in Reykjavík, and Wi-Fi is widely available in hotels and hostels throughout the country.

    Enjoy

    Shopping in Reykjavík

    Stadtführer, Lufthansa, Travelguide, Shopping, Einkaufen

    Key Areas

    The downtown streets of Laugarvegur and Skólavördustígur are home to many big name shops and designer boutiques. The area around the harbour throws up some interesting gift ideas including locally made jewellery, woollen products, leather goods and outdoor gear including Icelandic brand 66°North (Bankastraeti 9).

    Markets

    Open on weekends, the indoor Kolaportið flea market at the harbour (Tryggvagötu 19) sells antiques, vintage clothing and Icelandic delicacies such as dried fish and fresh liquorice.

    Shopping Centres

    If the winter chill is too much, head out of town to Kringlan, a mall with 150 shops. Back in town, Reykjavik’s oldest house hosts Kraum (Aðalstræti 10), a store selling the wares of over 70 Icelandic designers.

    Good to know

    Traveller etiquette

    Social Conventions

    Visitors will find Iceland is a classless society with a strong literary tradition. Handshaking is the normal form of greeting. An Icelander is called by his first name because his surname is made up of his father’s Christian name plus ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ (eg John, the son of Magnus, would be called John Magnusson, while John’s sister, Mary, would be known as Mary Magnusdóttir).

    People are addressed as Fru (Mrs) and Herra (Mr). Visitors will often be invited to homes, especially if on business, and normal courtesies should be observed. Icelanders pay careful attention to their appearance and, as for most Western countries, casual wear is widely acceptable although unsuitable for smart and social functions.

    Good to know

    Health

    Food & Drink

    Icelandic water is safe to drink and there is no need to buy bottled water. There are no specific food or drink risks in the country.

    Other Risks

    Weather and risky behaviour in unpredictable terrain is the largest health risk to the traveller in Iceland. Weather changes quickly and the temperatures can be more extreme than elsewhere in the world, so you must be prepared if embarking on hiking trails or extreme pursuits. Bring warm clothing, check weather reports and leave messages with your hotel or hostel about where you are going and when you expect to be back. Remote areas in the Highlands can have no mobile phone coverage and are not regularly visited so you must be prepared.

    Safe Travel (www.safetravel.is) allows you to leave travel plans online, suggests equipment lists and has road and weather information. If you plan to pursue extreme sports or outdoors activities in the country, be sure that your insurance covers them. If you have an accident, helicopter transport might be necessary to one of the country’s main hospitals in Reykjavík or Akureyri.

    The country is seismically active, but there is little risk to the traveller as long as local information is heeded. Hikers who disregarded warning information from the police about walking routes near active volcanoes in recent years have suffered the consequences. Volcanic activity is monitored closely and warnings are posted so it is very unlikely that you will encounter an entirely unexpected eruption. Be sure to stick to well-marked paths in volcanically active areas of national parks (and even in well-known tourist areas such as those around Geysir) as the unstable ground can be dangerous, and frequent small earthquakes can weaken ground substantially.

    Car crashes are the other serious threat to health in the country. Drive safely, obey all traffic laws and do not drink and drive. Be sure that you have read and understood the local traffic laws as many are posted on signs in Icelandic only; take a map with you as GPS can be unpredictable, and let people know where you are going and when you should be expected to arrive.

    Iceland’s animals do not present much risk; horses can bite but it is rare. In the summer, some areas including Myvatn in the north can suffer from midges. Cover up and take repellent to solve the problem.

    Good to know

    Visa & Immigration

    IATA Travel Centre

    The IATA Travel Centre delivers accurate passport, visa and health requirement information at a glance. It is a trusted, centralized source for the latest international travel requirements. The IATA Travel Centre is the most accurate source available because it is based on a comprehensive database used by virtually every airline, and information is gathered from official sources worldwide, such as immigration and police authorities.

    IATA Travel CentreIATA Travel Centre