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Diane Geddie, Product & Short Break Specialist

"Reykjavik is full of surprises, from its geothermal beach with its warm lagoon waters to it trendy boutiques and colourful nightlife. Spend a day at the historic Hofsstaðir Park to learn about life in a Viking longhouse or travel further afield to the stunning countryside where you can visit streaming volcanic vents and hot springs."

Reykjavik at a glance

A spellbinding city, Reykjavik is famous for its incredible volcanic surroundings, wild nightlife and superb geothermic pools. With a rich and colourful tradition, the Icelandic people bring a well-balanced warmth and vibrancy to a city of extremes that endures long, dark winters and 24 hour light in the summers. The world’s northern-most capital, Reykjavik is a unique experience of culture, historic sights and a rugged landscape that will leave you breathless.

Built on the foundations of the first permanent settlement established in Iceland in 870 AD, Reykjavik remained an uncultivated frontier and trading post until the 18th century, which perhaps explains why it is one of the greenest and cleanest cities in the world. A rise in nationalism pushed the city to bid for countrywide independence in the early 1900’s and Iceland become an official sovereign country under the rule of Denmark soon after.

There are a number of museums and Icelandic art galleries in Reykjavik, charting the history of the Icelandic people through the ages. But it is really only after you get out into the dramatic landscape of volcanoes, fjords, meadows and ice fields that you truly begin to appreciate all that this part of the world has to offer.

Perfect if you’re looking for:

  • Picturesque setting
  • Art and culture
  • A peaceful short break

Getting around

Reykjavik is a great city to explore by foot with most of the popular sights of the city concentrated in its centre. 

A city bus network also operates throughout the city.

Dining in Reykjavik

At one time Reykjavik was limited to purely Icelandic cookery, but the city has experienced a culinary expansion in recent years, diversifying Reykjavik’s gastronomic offerings to a wide range of international cuisine.

Must-try local dishes:

  • Hangikjöt- smoked lamb, mutton or horse meat that has been boiled and is served hot or cold, often with potatoes in a roux sauce
  • Rúgbrauð – a sweet, dark rye bread often served with butter, smoked lamb or pickled herring
  • Kleina – a sweet fried pastry similar to a donut

Osprey Holidays top tips

The Fjörukráin Viking Village in the picturesque harbour town of Hafnarfjördur, 10-15 minutes by taxi/bus from Reykjavik. There is a museum, handicraft centre and two restaurants - one offering a Viking Feast and the other a more intimate dining experience with West Nordic fayre and live music at weekends.

Get your tailor-made city break itinerary

Osprey Holidays can create a fabulous short break to Reykjavik designed completely around you. We can arrange whatever you need, including:

  • All travel and transfers on days of your choice
  • Accommodation from our handpicked range of Reykjavik hotels, to suit your budget and requirements

Our award-winning team can provide expert advice and recommendations, from general questions to tiny details. Contact us for your tailor-made itinerary.

Customer reviews
Isobel, Edinburgh , October 2015

We had a wonderful trip to Iceland and many thanks for all your input. Hotel was excellent and staff were extremely helpful. Rooms were spacious and very well appointed. Great hotel location. Really pleased we took the shuttle transfer on your recommendation to and from airport!

Important information
Population 118,488
Languages Icelandic
Currency Euro
Visa Information No visa required for UK citizens
Average temperatures

(monthly highs °C)

Interesting facts

Visit the fascinating Fjorukrain Viking Village in the scenic harbour town of Hafnarfjordur, just 10-15 minutes from the city centre.

Distance from airports
Keflavik International 40 km

Things to do in Reykjavik

  • The Blue Lagoon: Iceland’s top attraction - a huge warm blue natural spa fed by mineral-rich heated seawater (between Keflavik airport and city) 
  • Perlan (The Pearl): this spectacular glass dome is home to a revolving restaurant, café and museum.  Set in the Öskjuhlíd woodland area in the heart of the city, The Pearl’s observation deck offers beautiful views of the city and beyond, and a man-made geyser imitates the real thing
  • National Museum of Iceland: The place where Iceland’s present meets its past.
  • Hallgrimskirkja Church: when he designed the church in 1937, architect Guðjón Samuel was inspired by Iceland’s rugged landscape.  Its tower rises high above the city and is one of Reykjavik’s main landmarks.  A notable feature is the massive 15m pipe organ which has been used in numerous recordings since its construction in 1992.
  • Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach: cold sea and hot geothermal waters come together in this man-made lagoon in the city.  It is a popular area for sea swimming, even during the winter, when the hot tubs and steam baths are a draw.  Admission is free of charge during the summer and there is a small charge in winter. 

Tours & Excursions

Reykjavik is a great base for experiencing all Iceland has to offer and tours can be added to any hotel or flight & hotel booking.

Golden Circle Tours

This popular tour takes in many of Iceland’s most stunning sights and dramatic landscapes in one day. Geysir geothermal area is home to the island’s most active geyser, Strokkur, which shoots a column of water 30m into the air at regular intervals in a thrilling display of nature’s force; Gullfoss waterfall tumbles spectacularly into a deep canyon of the river Hvítá, and Þingvellir National Park, formed on the tectonic plate boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, is one of the world’s most important geological wonders. The tour includes a visit to Friðheimar cultivation centre where tomatoes and cucumbers are grown with the aid of Iceland’s geothermal heat.  

If you’re pressed for time you may prefer to join the Golden Circle Direct Tour, an express tour that takes in the geyser, waterfall and national park.

Northern Lights Tours

No trip to Iceland would be complete without a search for the Aurora Borealis. This spectacular natural phenomenon, caused by charged particles from the sun reacting with the atmosphere, can regularly be seen dancing across the skies of northern-most Europe over the winter months. Sightings cannot be guaranteed, but your expert local guide will take you by coach to the best areas and you will be given the opportunity to join another tour should you fail to see the lights at the first attempt.                       

There is also an option for a more personal experience on a small group tour.     

Tours depart every night from late-August to mid-April and departure times vary depending on the time of year.

Blue Lagoon

Anyone who has visited Iceland will attest that the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is not to be missed. The mineral-rich waters average 37-39 degrees Celsius making it ideal for swimming and bathing all year round.

South Shore Adventure

Offering stunning views of black sand beaches, unusual rock formations and glaciers, this tour takes you along Iceland’s south coast and through the country’s most scenic region, to the charming village of Vík. The village is surrounded by high cliffs, a haven for wild birds. En route, you can walk behind the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall and see the impressive Skógafoss waterfall. A visit to Skógar Folk Museum is also included.

Lava Tunnel

Located just 30 minutes from Reykjavik, the Raufarholshellir lava tunnel is one of the biggest in Iceland, reaching 30 metres wide and 10 metres high at points. Enter another world and witness the inner workings of a volcanic eruption, walking the path where lava flowed thousands of years ago. Light filters in creating beautiful patterns and highlighting the amazing range of colours caused by the different minerals in the rocks.  

Langjökull Glacier & Ice Cave Experience

Travel from Reykjavik to the lush Husafell area, stopping at Deildartunguhver hot spring and the beautiful Hraunfossar lava waterfalls. After a break for lunch be ready to start the real adventure when you board a specially modified Monster Truck that will take you onto the glacier. The glacier tour will take you to a height of 200 metres for spectacular views and you will enter the magnificent ice cave.

Whale Watching

The seas around Iceland are home to humpback whales, dolphins and minke whales all year round, and within this area is a large seabird population including the icon puffin (between May and August). Tours are educational, interactive and comfortable with focus on respecting the animals and their environment.


Other tours are available. To discuss options with a member of out knowledgeable team or to book, please contact us on 0131 243 8098

Please be aware that we do not offer tours that include snowmobiling.