Reykjavík – The World’s Northernmost Capital City

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For a traveller looking to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life Reykjavic offers a relaxing sense of calm, as a European city one would imagine a more fast paced lifestyle but this destination boasts a population of only 120,000 giving it a freeing feeling of space where one can avoid the urgent pressure that other cities emit.

Reykjavík, known as the most Northerly Capital, is positively bursting with life, standing out amongst Iceland’s other more built up regions and is the home to two thirds of all Icelanders, leaving the rest of the country a little underpopulated.

Known for a high class of entertainment from world renowned museums to a buzzing metropolitan nightlife that has earned Reykjavik giving the locals a fast pace party lifestyle for as long as the Icelandic summer will allow,

The city has formed around the stunning Tjörnin Lake, dividing Raykjavic roughly down the middle and providing a beautiful central hub along the riverbank, teaming with wine bars and entertainment venues that lack the grand architecture found is many Nordic cities and laying low to the ground, protecting themselves from the harsh Scandinavian winters.

The entire city is sprawled out affront a backdrop of gigantic glaciers and jutting peaks, bringing with them nature that can be found in few cities worldwide including flocks of grey geese dive-bombing the city centre and sub-arctic animals can be found walking the street at night.

Fairly central to this beautiful city you can find the Hallgrímskirkja, a huge white concrete church towering over the low laying buildings that make up most of Reykjavík, and below this, a consumer’s heaven where the high class fast paced shops, bars and restaurants line the main street of Laugavegur. This is where the more high class and cultural collections can be found, highbrow museums and ancient relics to medieval sagas are at every turn, displays in the Þjóðminjasafn (National Museum), Þjóðmenningarhúsið (Culture House) and Saga Museum, bring the history of Iceland to life presented amongst works of Icelandic sculptures Ásmundur Sveinsson and Einar Jónsson.

When visiting the capital I would recommend venturing further afield to Greater Reykjavík and experience a more suburban Iceland, if this was possible. With signs of overspill from the city always an issue you can find hidden gems, such as the town of Hafnarfjörður, just large enough to be considered independent from neighbouring Reykjavík, Hafnarfjörður sports even more museums and a Icelandic style harbour but is best known for its traditional Viking feasts.

Not for you? Maybe try the island of Viðey, ten minutes by boat from Reykjavík this treeless and very flat island gives magnificent views of the main capital from and outsiders perspective, sporting hikes, forest trails and if you’re brave enough for the Icelandic waters, Scandinavian water sports!

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Travel Writer TraveleZe
Jack Van Toorn, International Travel Writer and Guide Editor, currently Island Hopping from Thailand to Micronesia.

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