As one of the northernmost capital cities in the world, Reykjavik in the south west of Iceland is not your everyday city break. It’s a break with a little bit of sparkle and magic thrown in and the extraordinary volcanic landscape created by the forces of nature that give it the snowcapped mountains and miles of mysterious coastline is just part of the picture.
Reykjavik is a vibrant colourful city filled with stylish bars, top class restaurants and luxurious hotels, the seafaring history celebrated by the many cultural activities that make this lively destination stand out for all the right reasons.
If you want luxury then the Grand Hotel although favoured by business travellers is the place to stay, it is the little touches that make this hotel really rather special, the heated tile floors in the bathrooms and the extra sized beds are just small examples of the way that this hotel manages to stand out from the crowd.
If the gleaming tower façade of the Grand Hotel isn’t for you then try somewhere a little cosier, Leifur Eiriksson may not have the luxury factor but it has character and warmth which more than compensates for its lack of opulence, small and family run, this hotel is the perfect base for your city break with a much envied location on one of the most exclusive streets in the city.
The food in Reykjavik is best described as interesting, this isn’t to say that it isn’t delicious but if you want to eat the local specialities expect lots of dried and salted fish and an array of seabirds on the menu – if you’ve never considered trying puffin then this is your ideal opportunity. The Nordic influenced cuisine is always fresh and local but with the new breed of innovative chefs it has also found its place in the arena of fine dining.
Satt the showcase restaurant in the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura serves nothing but local organic produce lovingly prepared to give the diner the very best of Iceland on a plate, Satt translates as ‘true’ and it would be hard to find a more appropriate description of the dishes that are on offer in this top class restaurant.
One unexpected delight in Reykjavik is the array of excellent hot dogs that can be bought from the stands around the city, Baejarins Bestu is the stand where you will find all the locals waiting in line, order a hot dog, make sure to ask for it fully loaded and enjoy the taste sensation that comes from the simplest of pleasures.
If you are travelling from autumn through to spring then the one thing that you won’t want to miss is a trip in a 4 wheel drive vehicle that literally chases the northern lights, sightings are all down to clear skies and plenty of luck but taking a city break in Reykjavik is one sure way to improve your chances of seeing this once in a lifetime sight.
Many of the activities in Reykjavik involve the local scenery or wildlife and the two best day trips are no different, either take a trip out to see the whales, dolphins and porpoise that spend most of the summer months in and around the bay or take a boat trip to the island of Lundey to see the beloved puffins, the expert crews on both trip know all the best places to see the local wildlife in its natural habitat.
With 22 hours of daylight during the height of summer the days are long if not particularly warm and with a sub-polar climate the lower temperatures are to be expected, the highest temperature recorded reached a respectable 79F during July but this is unusual and temperatures of 55F are a much more common occurrence. The spring months tend to have the most sunshine particularly April and May making them good for sightseeing but again the temperatures rarely raise above 50F.
The winter months have exceedingly short hours of daylight and this along with the regular gales and temperatures that rarely rise above freezing make the winter months a time to avoid if you want to appreciate the true glory of the city.