What is the capital of Iceland?

By Kimi Tayler

Sitting at 64° north is the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik. As the northernmost capital city in the world, it's is charming, quirky and cool. Iceland may be known for its breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, glaciers, waterfalls and incredible geothermal wonders, but Reykjavik could be the surprising city break you've been looking for.  

What is the capital of Iceland?

By Kimi Tayler

Sitting at 64° north is the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik. As the northernmost capital city in the world, it's is charming, quirky and cool. Iceland may be known for its breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, glaciers, waterfalls and incredible geothermal wonders, but Reykjavik could be the surprising city break you've been looking for.  

What is the capital of Iceland?

By Kimi Tayler

Sitting at 64° north is the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik. As the northernmost capital city in the world, it's is charming, quirky and cool. Iceland may be known for its breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, glaciers, waterfalls and incredible geothermal wonders, but Reykjavik could be the surprising city break you've been looking for.  

Just a 45 minutes drive from Keflavik international airport, and easily accessible by shuttle bus, Reykjavik is an ideal base from which to explore all that Iceland has to offer. However Reykjavik alone has a lot to offer and much to explore.

With the size and charm of a large town, but with all the historic and cultural benefits a capital city has to offer you won’t be short of things to see and do. There are plenty of accessible day tours to take from Reykjavik if you are itching to get into the countryside, but there is plenty on offer to occupy your time in Iceland’s capital.

Welcome to Smoky Bay!

The literal translation of Reykjavik, is Smoky Bay because of its proximity to many steaming hot springs. According to Iceland’s earliest recorded histories (The Book of Settlements written by Ari Þorgilsson in the late 11th or early 12th Century), it was named so by Ingólfur Arnason and Hallveig Fróðadóttir who were Iceland’s first permanent settlers establishing their home in Reykjavik in 874.

With over 60% of the countries 341,250 population living in the greater Reykjavik area, it is a bustling and lively place to be. There is a burgeoning bar and restaurant scene, and with numerous varying festivals taking place throughout the year, Reykjavik is a great city break or layover destination.

The downtown area itself is not large so it is very easy to negotiate on foot. Whether you’re walking along the seafront, checking out the harbour area or exploring the colourful houses of the old downtown, Iceland’s capital has a lot to offer if you are willing to scratch the surface. When the weather is kind, exploring the city is always a joy!

Here is our handy A-Z guide to all things Reykjavik, the Capital of Iceland!

What is the capital of Iceland? An A-Z of Reykjavik

AAlthingi

The name for the parliament in Iceland, Althingi is the oldest parliament in the world. Originally established in Thingvellir national park (which is one of the main stops on your Golden Circle tour) in 930AD, it was relocated to Reykjavik in 1844, where it still resides today. 

The current Parliament House, was built in 1880-81 and is located at Austurvöllur in the centre of the downtown area. The square in front is a very active protest point, and in good weather a lovely spot for a picnic. 

Airwaves

Taking place annually at the beginning of November, Airwaves is a cool boutique music festival, and the perfect antidote to the darker nights and colder days.

With plenty of big names in a number of venues, a ticket to the festival is a great way to explore the city in a different way. There are also plenty of off-venue concerts and DJ sets going on showcasing the best of the local underground music scene, so if you don’t have a ticket you can still enjoy the festive feel! 

Art museum

Reykjavik Art Museum is made up of not one, but three separate museums, all visitable on one ticket; Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir, and Ásmundarsafn. 

Hafnarhús, based within the old harbour warehouse houses a range of progressive and contemporary exhibitions across 6 gallery spaces. From international players, to key figures within the Icelandic art scene, Hafnarhús is at the centre of contemporary culture, with an exciting program of events and performances also taking place. 

Kjarvalsstaðir houses the collection of one of Iceland’s most important and influential painters, Jóhannes S. Kjarval. With a permanent collection and display of his works, the space regularly also shows work from the contemporary Icelandic art and design scene.  

Taking its name from sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson who lived and worked in this extraordinary space in the Laugardalur area of Reykjavik, is Ásmundarsafn. Sveinsson’s sculptural work is displayed both inside and outside the building, as well as playing host to exhibitions by international and Icelandic artists. 

BBreweries

Although beer has only been legal in Iceland since 1989, there is a burgeoning and rapidly expanding brewing culture in the country. Reykjavik houses a number of innovative micro craft breweries.

With adventurous combinations such as skyr and wild berry sours, ales brewed with arctic botanicals and milk stouts and a range of IPAs, there is something to be found in local bars to excite even the most seasoned of craft connoisseurs.

Look out for anything on tap by Reykjavik Brewery, Borg or relatively new players, the Lady Brewery.

Botanical gardens

It may surprise you that Reykjavik houses a Botanical garden with over 5000 plant species! Located in the Laugardalur area of the city, it is worth the detour off the Reykjavik tourist trail in the summer months for insight into Iceland’s unique horticulture, or for a wintery walk in the snowier part of the year.

Bíó Paradís cinema 

The Icelandic word for cinema is Bíó, and if you are a film buff you may want to check out the downtown arts picture house, Bio Paradis. This is a cosy place to catch the latest foreign language films or international indie movies, check out all the Icelandic independent cinema has to offer (often with English subtitles) or attend classic nostalgic screenings such as Spice World, Clueless or cult classic The Room. 

Recently saved from closure, Bio Paradis is a Reykjavik institution and at the centre of cultural goings on, inlacing the annual international film festival.

Bakeries

Reykjavik Bakery
photo by Kevin Pages

There is little as satisfying as a warm treat from an Icelandic bakery. Cinnamon buns are probably the most popular choice of Snúður (as they’re called),  and although they might have originated in Denmark, Icelanders certainly know how to put their own spin.

Whether covered in chocolate, or in an array of flavours from pistachio to blueberry and liquorice, there are many options if you don’t fancy cinnamon.

Also to be recommended are Kleina, which is the Icelandic equivalent of the donut!

CCats

Dominating the downtown area, cats are a huge part of the culture of the city and are widely loved and accepted as such. Whilst strolling the streets of Reykjavik it is not uncommon to be joined by a feline friend. There are even cats who regularly install themselves in the shops and bars of Laugarvegur and have become Instagram famous!

Reykjavik even has its own cat café, with all the cats who reside there eventually being adopted by customers and finding their fur-ever homes!

Culture night

The annual culture night known as Menningarnótt, is a highlight of the Reykjavik calendar and brings Icelandic summer to a close. With the last of the long days, this is a great time to plan your weekend break. 

With arts, music and entertainment events taking place across the city on live stages, free museum openings, and even free waffles there is a lot to keep all ages occupied.

DDining

Le Bistro Reykjavik Restaurant
photo by Kevin Pages

Reykjavik has a lively and ever evolving restaurant and cafe culture. With great local ingredients available and groundbreaking chefs, it’s certainly worth getting excited if you’re a foodie.

From geothermally grown crops, the freshest fish, and best quality lamb and incredible foraged produce, Iceland’s innovative food scene has an awareness of the importance of sustainability and sourcing locally. 

With options ranging from Iceland’s first and only Michelin starred restaurant Dill, incredible harbourside fish restaurants to cosy downtown cafes and street food.

Although Iceland may have a reputation for being an expensive place to dine, it is rightfully gaining a reputation as an exciting foodie destination with Reykjavik at its centre.   

Drag

Reykjavik Queer Life

It may come as a surprise that Reykjavik has an extremely vibrant  up and coming drag scene.

Always pushing the envelope of the artform, you can expect to see the best and most extravagant queens, kings, monarchs and monsters performing on a regular (often weekly!) basis in venues across the city. 

Check out the schedules for Kiki Queer Bar and Gaukurinn.

Districts

Reykjavik
photo by Kevin Pages

Although whilst visiting you may stick more within the central downtown and harbour areas, Reykjavik is in fact made of 10 districts. These are: 

  • Vesturbær (District 1) 
  • Miðborg (District 2, city centre and where you are most likely to spend your time)
  • Hlíðar (District 3)
  • Laugardalur (District 4)
  • Háaleiti og Bústaðir (District 5)
  • Breiðholt (District 6)
  • Árbær (District 7)
  • Grafarvogur (District 8)
  • Kjalarnes (District 9) (in the north)
  • Grafarholt og Úlfarsárdalur (District 10)

Do not discount exploring the other districts. Each neighbourhood has its own identity and often its own cafes and local shops.

You may also find yourself on the peninsula of Seltjarnarness to the west of Vesturbær, this small area is however not a part of Reykjavik despite its proximity and close ties with the city.

EEsjan

Esja Mountain Reykjavik
(Photo Credit: Kevin Pages)

Watching over the city across Faxi bay is the ever present and mighty mountain of Esja. It is an easy bus trip taking roughly 40 minutes on the 15 from Hlemmur to Háholt followed by the 57 to Esjurætur – Hiking Centre.

It is a 2-4 hour walk to the summit and back again depending on your ability and fitness levels, but it is a reasonably straightforward hike even for those with less experience. 

You will be rewarded with amazing views of Reykjavik should you make it to the top. Well worth the hike and a great way to get a new perspective on Iceland’s capital city.

FFish restaurants

Reykjavik Fish Restaurant
photo by Kevin Pages

You cannot stay in Reykjavik without sampling some of the best and freshest fish and seafood. 

Fishing is one of Iceland’s largest industries, with cod from its waters served worldwide. Being a peninsula you can’t ignore the impact of being surrounded by the ocean has on Reykjavik. 

It’s worth trying Icelandic classics such as Plokkfiskur or lobster soup as well sampling the countries’ take on fish and chips.

Fringe festival

Launched in 2018 and now a firm part of the cultural calendar, the Reykjavik Fringe Festival is a week of performance and events from both local and international artists.

Boasting comedy, theatre, dance, poetry and experimental performance art and more this is a festival that is not to be missed. 

Fashion

Geysir Reykjavik
photo by Kevin Pages

Favouring vintage and eccentric custom design over following fashion trends, young Icelanders who frequent the trendy bars of 101 certainly stand out from the crowd. 

If you want to mimic their style there are multiple vintage stores on Laugavegur and it is also worth stopping by the local Red Cross shops to find a bargain whilst doing your bit for a good cause. 

Top tip: teaming anything with an Icelandic sweater known as a lopapeysa will earn you fashion credentials.

G Grandi (Marshall House)

The Grandi area located close to the old harbour area boasts cool cafes, a nifty food hall, amazing Ice Cream and artist run spaces. 

Worth visiting for the Marshall House alone; a building of historic significance given its connection to the post war Marshall funding.

Beginning life as a fish meal factory it has been repurposed into a vibrant art space, housing 3 of the cities most important contemporary art spaces; The Living Art Museum, Kling and Bang and the Ólafur Elíasson Studio.  

Grótta lighthouse

Reykjavik Grotta Lighthouse
photo by Kevin Pages

Though technically not in Reykjavik, the Grótta lighthouse is just a stone’s throw away on the Seltjarnarnes peninsula. 

A great place to spot the northern lights due to its lack of streetlights, this is one of the darker places in the metropolitan area and at only 5 minutes drive from downtown Reykjavik. It is also a lovely walk on a sunny evening and known as a great place to watch the sun set. 

Grapevine

Reykjavik Grapevine

The city’s most important source for News and Culture in English, you can pick up free copies of the Reykjavik Grapevine newspaper in many cafes and shops.

They have their finger on the pulse of all the events going on at any given time, with special guides to all the major festivals going on, as well as the best the city has to offer on a weekly basis.

HHlemmur

Hlemmur is located at the centre of Laugavegur and is the home to the main bus terminal in central Reykjavik. You can connect to almost every bus route from here, and there is also a great food hall in the old terminal building. 

On the subject of buses, it is an idea to download the Straeto app if you are going to be spending a bit of time in the city, as buses do not take cards and only accept exact change. 

Harpa

Harpa concert Hall Reykjavik
photo by Kevin Pages

One of the architectural highlights of the city’s landscape is Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre. Aesthetically reflective of some of the island’s most miraculous geological wonders, Harpa has an impressive interior aspect designed by renowned Danish-Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson.

Taking a guided tour will allow you access to the whole building and give you insight into how this incredible structure came to be.

With a full schedule of live performance events- from classical to contemporary music, dance, theatre and international stand-up comedy, there is something for everyone but it’s worth booking in advance.

Hallgrimskirkja church

Hallgrimskirkja Reykjavik Church
Iceland's famous church, Hallgrímskirkja. (Photo Credit: Kevin Pages)

Visible from almost everywhere in the city, Hallgrimskirkja is probably the most iconic landmark of the Reykjavik skyline.

Like Harpa, the architecture is reflective of the landscape, taking on the aesthetics of the basalt columns that can be seen in locations such as Reynisfjara black sand beach.

The interior is a perfect space to take a quiet moment and serene in its simplicity. You may even be lucky enough to catch a choir or organ practice which is when the space really comes to life. 

You can also climb the height of the church where you will be rewarded with some of the best panoramic views of the capital.

IIce-cream

Reykjavik Ice Cream
photo by Kevin Pages

It may surprise you given the changeable weather but eating ice-cream might be considered a national pastime in Iceland. Whichever neighbourhood you’re staying in you won’t be far from an ice-cream shop. 

With multiple flavour options and an impressive array of chocolate, candy and sauce options, you can customise until your heart’s content. Bragðarefur or mix-in is to be recommended!

International film festival

Reykjavik international Film Festival

Reykjavik International Film Festival, or RIFF takes place in the city annually from the end of September into the beginning of October. With world premieres, special screenings, international industry guests and awards this is definitely a highlight of the cultural calendar.

Recent previous esteemed guests including Wernor Herzog, Mads Mikkleson, Darren Aronofsky and Claire Denis to name but a few. Offering masterclasses, workshops and q&a screenings. The festival offers an intimate opportunity to gain access and insight into the film industry.  

Top tip: look out for the swimming pool screenings, where you can bathe in one of the cities many naturally heated aquatic facilities whilst tuning in to a cult classic! 

JJazz Festival

Reykjavik Jazz Festival

The Reykjavik Jazz Festival takes place in venues across the city at the end of August. Showcasing not only local, but international talent, this is a prestigious event gaining recognition as one of the most exciting and innovative jazz festivals in the world.

Jaja Ding Dong

JAJADINGDONG

Iceland certainly has a unique relationship with the worlds greatest song contest.

With 2020 being Iceland’s year, yet sadly cancelled due to COVID-19 but following the success of the Eurovision movie, you may want to take a few of the sites from the film.

You may spot some familiar scenes down at the harbour, the old theatre and the university of Iceland. You can even pick yourself up an iconic Jaja Ding Dong in one of the downtown t-shirt shops. You will only want to wear Jaja Ding Dong!

KKolaportið Flea Market

Kolaportid Flea Market Reykjavik Iceland
photo by Kevin Pages

Open on weekends and a great place to hunt for an elusive bargain, Kolaportið has an eclectic mix of stalls.

From food stalls, to second-hand Icelandic sweaters, to decorative birds eggs, this fun flea market to have a browse around.

Kaffi house

Babalu Cafe Reykjavik
photo by Kevin Pages

If Iceland had a national beverage, it would be coffee. Always taking pride in the quality of you won’t find a bad brew in the city! There are cosy coffee houses on every corner. 

The perfect place to be on a wintery day.

LLaugavegur

Reykjavik Laugavegur Street
photo by Kevin Pages

The main shopping street in downtown Reykjavik, is called Laugavegur. The main part stretches from Hlemmur to Laekjargata  and houses the majority of the city’s bars and restaurants on and around the side-streets. Laugavegur is a bustling place to go for a night out, a bite to eat or perfect for a bit of shopping.  

MMeat soup

Although meat soup, traditionally made with lamb, is an Icelandic staple available all over the country, it is a perfect accompaniment to wintery city days.

Available in cafes and restaurants throughout the city- just don’t forget to ask for your free refill!

Museums

Icelandic Saga Museum
photo by Kevin Pages

For culture vultures and history buffs, there is an amazing trail of museums to suit all ages and interests in Reykjavik.

Amongst others the Saga Museum, the National Museum and the Settlement museum celebrate the rich history of Iceland; whilst Whales of Iceland and Perlan give insight into the magnificent natural wonders of the country.

And for those of a more adventurous disposition you might want to stop by the Punk Museum, or the notorious Phallological Museum!

NNew year

Reykjavik New Year
photo by Kevin Pages

One of the best times of year to spend in Reykjavik is the annual New Year celebrations.

Spectacular for the sheer volume of fireworks that traditionally start as soon as darkness falls and go on until the small hours of the morning, peaking at midnight. 

There are also bonfires lit at various locations across the city. Traditionally lit at 20:30 these events are attended by families between new years dinner and watching the annual satirical tv show called, Áramótaskaup. A huge percentage of the population watches every year, and in 2019 it was widely reported to be over 80% of all Icelanders tuned in. 

After the conclusion of the show people take to the streets to watch the peak of the fireworks. Although displays are throughout the city, Hallgrimskirkja is the focus of the official display.

Fireworks are bought in high volumes in readiness for the new year, with the proceeds of sales going to fund the Icelandic Rescue Team!

Northern lights

Northern Light Iceland
Northern Lights dancing in the sky. (Photo Credit: Kevin Pages)

Though you may think you’ll have more luck in the countryside, you might be surprised with how well you can see the Aurora Borealis in the city. There are many places around the harbour area and out towards the Grotta lighthouse that have less light pollution and with the right conditions and activity you won’t have to travel far.

If you do wish to get out into the countryside you can also take northern lights from Reykjavik often with the possibility of pickups available directly from your hotel.

OOld town and harbour

Reykjavik Harbour
photo by Kevin Pages

Located towards the west part of the city is the old town. With the most vibrant and colourful houses, with good weather on your side strolling the streets is a wonderful way to while away an afternoon in the city. Comprising some of the oldest houses, with Aðalstræti 10 being the earliest, dating back to 1772. 

The harbour is also a great historic city location for a walk. With an array of boats, tours, cafes, restaurants and even a very quirky cinema, this is a vibrant and thriving area to visit whilst spending time in the city. 

PPylsur

Bill Clinton Hot dog Iceland

Widely available throughout the country, is the most exalted of all Icelandic snack food, the pylsur better known as the hotdog. The most famed place to pick one up is Bæjarins Beztu in the heart  of downtown Reykjavik.

Asking for one with everything is the most popular iteration and you can expect sweet onions, crunchy onions, ketchup, remoulade and sweet brown mustard- and it’s a taste sensation!

Famous fans of the Icelandic hotdog include Bill Clinton who, during his time in Iceland, ordered his with only mustard, which then became known as ‘The Clinton’.

Perlan

Perlan Reykjavik Iceland
photo by Kevin Pages

Another prominent landmark, originally a cluster of hot water tanks, Perlan was converted to a public building in 1991. 

Now an exhibition centre, featuring an indoor ice-tunnel, a replica of the Latrabjarg sea bird cliff and a planetarium. If you get caught in bad weather you need not miss out on the Wonders of Iceland!

There is also a restaurant with panoramic views across Iceland.

QQueer life

Reykjavik Kiki Bar
photo by Kevin Pages

Reykjavik is a city with a vibrant queer culture, from the favourite night spot of Kiki to the annual Pride Festival held in August. Iceland is consistently progressive when it comes to LGBTQI+ rights and it is considered to be a safe place for queer travellers.

RRecords

Reykjavik record Shop
photo by Kevin Pages

Iceland has a thriving music scene which is reflected within its wonderful record stores. Both Lucky Records and Reykjavik Records deserve their cult status. Selling vintage and fresh cuts, you might get lost in a library of genres available.

Raincoats

Rain Coat Iceland
photo by Kevin Pages

A raincoat is definitely something you could find yourself requiring all year round as Reykjavik is notoriously changeable in its weather conditions. The city has an average of  213 days a year with 0.1mm rainfall, or per month that is an average of  17.8 days with a quantity of rain, sleet and or snow. 

Scooters

Hopp Scooter Reykjavik Iceland
photo by Kevin Pages

Given Reykjavik’s relatively small size, a practical way to get around town, and accessible through the apps Hopp and Zolo, are hireable electric scooters. Though relatively new, they have become a fairly prominent feature of the city’s landscape and the number of cycle lines makes scooting an efficient way to travel.

Swimming pools

A cheaper and some might say more authentic Icelandic bathing experience, Reykjavik boasts seven pools, three of which are in or close to the downtown area. Offering a combination of hot and cold pots, sauna and steam rooms and swimming pools. 

Pool culture is a very important part of Icelandic life, not just for the comfort and warmth of the water in the colder months- it is an important social action. With all age ranges and social groups meeting at the pool, it is not uncommon to hear politics and current affairs discussed heatedly in the heat of the hot pot! 

Sun Voyager

Sun Voyager Reykjavik
photo by Kevin Pages

A short walk from town, the Sun Voyager, or Sólfar as it is called in Icelandic, is a popular spot located on the seafront close to Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre. In a perfect and picturesque position overlooking Faxi bay and pointing towards Esja, this steel sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason forms the skeleton of a boat.

Resembling a viking longboat, but realised as a contemporary structure, the Sun Voyager gestures to the past and the future of the city and island itself. The name alludes to its position, this really is a wonderful spot to take in a sunset when you are staying in the city.

Tours (walking)

Hallgrimskirkja Reykjavik
Skólavörðustígur Reykjavik - Photo by Kevin Pages

There are a number of tours available in the city that can give you an insight into the history and culture of the city. From free walking tours, to food tours and brewery tours, there are so many ways to explore that don’t involve bus or boat trips.

Tjörnin

Situated in the centre of Reykjavik, Tjörnin means lake or pond. With the city hall overlooking it and museums, theatres and a very pretty church surrounding it this is a picturesque location. 

This is a favoured spot for feeding the ducks and swans, and in winter it regularly freezes over completely.

Traditional food

Although there is plenty on offer gastronomically in the city, you may want to try the traditional Icelandic foods and you have plenty of options in Reykjavik. 

With meat soups, lamb and fish high on the list. If you are a little more adventurous, there are restaurants that serve platters of smoked puffin and whale meat- or you may even be brave enough to try the fermented shark! But you may need a shot of Brennavin (the Icelandic equivalent of vodka) to wash it down.

UUppistand

The Icelandic word for stand-up comedy, uppistand has a small but growing scene in Reykjavik. There are regular comedy nights taking place in a number of different venues and theatres across the city; from superstar international comedians selling out Harpa to local open mics.

With the arrival of the first dedicated comedy club opening in Reykjavik in 2018, English speaking stand-up has taken off. With a number of regular Icelandic and international comedians, being joined by visiting guests, there is a  guaranteed diverse line-up if you’re up for a laugh. 

University

The University of Iceland is another prominent landmark in the city. With around 14,000 students, and programs in Icelandic and English, Reykjavik has a vibrant and diverse university community.

The on campus Student Cellar also hosts a calendar of regular entertainment events and often plays live sport.

VViðey

A small island reachable by ferry, Viðey is a beautiful place to visit, and also houses some incredible contemporary art. As well as the imposing sculptural columns of Richard Serra, Viðey  is home to Yoko Ono’s IMAGINE PEACE TOWER. 

Forming a column of light piercing the night sky, the tower is lit ceremonially on 8th October on John Lennon’s birthday and stays lit through winter.

WWhale Watching

Whale watching Iceland
photo by Kevin Pages

Running tours throughout the season the waters around the capital area are rich with life. We are lucky enough to have a variety of whale species within our waters including Minkes and Humpbacks. You will also see a range of bird species- and perhaps even some dolphins will come to play!

With tours from the old harbour and warm waterproof layers you can experience whale watching from the heart of the city.

Wool

Icelandic Sheep
A flock of sheep in Iceland. (Photo Credit: Kevin Pages)

Icelandic wool is used to create the warmest and most practical item, the Icelandic sweater. Known as a lopapeysa, you can not only buy premade authentic products from the Handknitting Association, if you are handy with a pair of needles you can buy the raw ingredient in a variety of gorgeous colours and make one yourself!

XXmas

Reykjavik Christmas shop Iceland
photo by Kevin Pages

Christmas is a magical time to visit Iceland’s capital. What better way to spend the festive season than in the northernmost capital in the world. Once the cosy lights go up and the nights draw in we prepare to celebrate the holidays. With ice-skating in the centre of downtown and the promise of the aurora, Christmas is the perfect time to visit.  

Christmas is celebrated on 24th December in Iceland.

YYule cat

Speaking of Christmas, if you do visit at this time of year you can inspect to run into the most imposing of all Icelandic felines, the Christmas cat!

Based on Laekjagata he is gigantic, a tiny bit terrifying and lit up every year to watch over the people of Reykjavik during the festive season. 

It is said that if you do not have new clothes for Christmas then the Cat will eat you! So it’s lucky there is an H&M close by. No need to fret!

Yule lads

Joining the Christmas Cat are the Icelandic Yule Lads, who are projected all over the city during Christmas time. 

The Icelandic equivalent Santa Claus, there are 13 of them, who deliver presents to the shoes of Icelandic Children, if they behave*, from 12th December. 

*usually receiving a potato if they do not. 

Unpredictable and mischievous, watch out for Sheep-Cote Clod, Skyr Gobbler, Door-Slammer, Candle Stealer, Window Peeper and the rest of the gang!

ZZoo

Tucked away in the Laugardalur valley in the east of the city is a small animal park. The Reykjavik Family Park and zoo is home to Icelandic farm animals, reindeer, harbour seals and arctic foxes. There are also a range of birds, and a small number of foreign reptiles.

With small rides and suitable entertainment for all ages this is a fun place for all the family.

And that's not all!

Bubble Iceland Northern Light

Reykjavik is the perfect place to begin or end your self-drive or guided tour given its close proximity to the countryside and our 5 million Star Hotel.

Our handy guide is just the tip of the iceberg, you’ll find so much more to love about the capital of Iceland upon your visit. Smokey Bay and all she has to offer awaits you!