Many people are attracted to Reykjavik in winter as a base for seeing the Northern Lights, but the city is well worth visiting in the summer too.
Reykjavik has become an extremely popular short break destination for people who want to see the Northern Lights or “Aurora Borealis”, the spectacular natural phenomenon which is often seen as waves of brilliantly coloured light dancing across the sky. The Northern Lights season runs from the start of autumn through to mid spring. The chance of seeing the Northern Lights has certainly made Iceland in general and Reykjavik in particular a very popular attraction but Reykjavik also has a great deal to offer the tourist at other times of year.
The city lies in a very attractive position on the coast in the south-west of Iceland, within easy reach of some of the island’s impressive natural wonders. The city itself is well worth exploring. It is a small city and the centre can easily be covered on foot. You should take a stroll down the main shopping street, home to the city’s coolest shops and bars. Prices are high but you don’t need to buy anything to enjoy the experience of window shopping – everything is displayed in such an elegant way.
Take a walk up to the Hallgrímskirkja to enjoy an excellent view of the city. This church is Reykjavík’s most notable landmark and its tower can be seen from almost everywhere in the city.
It’s also well worth heading down to the waterfront to enjoy the views across the bay and to see the sculpture, the “ Sun Voyager “ (Sólfar in Icelandic). This sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason was built of stainless steel to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the city of Reykjavík. The sculpture was unveiled on Sæbraut on August 18th, 1990. It represents a dreamboat, an ode to the sun, containing a promise of undiscovered territory.
Reykjavik is the starting point for a number of excursions including the Golden Circle Tour which features some of Iceland’s most famous attractions. These include Þingvellir National Park, where the first Icelandic parliament was held and where you can also see the effects of the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates drifting apart. This is probably the only place on earth where this phenomenon can easily be observed above sea level. On the same excursion you visit beautiful sites such as Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir Hot Spring area including Strokkur, the incredible geyser which sends a plume of water 30 metres into the air at every few minutes.
Another popular excursion from Reykjavik is to the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa – just a short distance from the city. Visitors can relax and swim in the milky coloured warm waters of the Lagoon and wonder at its stunning location, surrounded by dark volcanic rocks.
It is far better to take these excursions during the summer months when the days are warmer and the daylight hours are so much longer. In fact – Reykjavik warrants a visit in the summer and the winter months!