10 minute read29 Jun 2016

So, you are wondering about the city of Reykjavík? I was born there a while ago. It’s not bad, despite its very northern location, and the fact that winter can be quite frustrating, what with the darkness and everything, and the wet, snow, wet, snow, wind – weather that just can’t make up it’s mind. Luckily some geniuses a while back created a solution for darkness and the cold: electricity. Sweet friend, how dearly I appreciate you in winter time. In summer time I have other things to be thankful for such as curtains to get away from the 24 hours sunlight to get some peace from the sun’s rays while sleeping.

Let’s get down to a few facts: Reykjavík is the capital of Iceland, has a latitude of 64°08′ N, and is the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is believed to be the first permanent settlement in Iceland, the settler being Ingólfur Arnarson. You could say that the climate of Reykjavík is in general milder comparing to the rest of the country. However, that is not always true, as weather wise, we never know what to expect and which part of the country gets what kind of weather. Like the winter of 2015, we had probably more than a 100 full blown storms (at least it felt like kittens would start raining from the sky and that the apocalypse was near). Once we were forbid from leaving the house one evening in December (that almost NEVER happens in Reykjavík). Sometimes the summers in the East are simply the best, while in the South we get much fewer days of sun and more cold. In winter, you might imagine that Reykjavík is always snowy, but it is not so, the North and East usually get more snow. Since about 1995 the winters have been warmer, and more rainy. Although not everyone agrees, I would prefer having the snow, since it makes the city brighter, and keeps us safer from the winter darkness. Plus, the city of Reykjavík is surrounded by mountains, so you only need to drive for 30 minutes to find the next ski-slope.

In 1901, the population of Reykjavík was 6.321 people. Today, with all the surrounding municipalities, it is 208.752 people (bear in mind, the total is 330.000 people). Reykjavík is among the cleanest, greenest, and safest city in the world. Until the 19th century there was no urban development, although the city was officially founded in 1786. Reykjavík is the heart of most things, related to commerce, to the 2/3rds of all the people in Iceland, culture and governmental activity. Although the rest of the country has some very good points, such as hundreds of outlet glaciers, endless mountain ranges, good people (but fewer people), and amazing rivers, most of the stuff that happens, indeed happens in Reykjavík.

Image from bundesarchiv

The house next to Hallgrímskirkja in downtown Reykjavík, in the year 1925. You can see there are almost no houses in Reykjavík at that point, despite the central location.

So what do we do in the city?

You might perhaps know that Iceland (or Reykjavík) has an active music scene, with world famous artists such as Björk and Sigur Rós, and more recently famous, Ásgeir Trausti, Of Monsters and Men and Kaleo. However, this is only the tip of the ice-berg and we do have many more amazing artists, that play more often in Reykjavík at gigs we city-dwellers are likely to attend. Here one might mention the rock band Agent Fresco, the reggae band Hjálmar, the glimmer diva Páll Óskar, and the ever so smooth and poetic Moses Hightower.

As mentioned, surrounding the city there are mountains and nature. In winter, we might go to Bláfjöll and go skiing. In summer we might hike up many of the surrounding mountains, the classics being Mt. Esja, Helgfell and Vífilsfell. If you are feeling laid back you can also go trekking in Heiðmörk, where it’s beautiful but also more flat. Some people also do sea kayaking in the bay.

Image of reykjavik here.

In recent years happy hour has become a bigger thing, with the app from Grapevine called ”appy hour” leading us to new places and drinking beer for lower prices.

We love family and friends. So hanging out with them, no matter what you are doing is always a popular activity. We also love going to the movies, buying popcorn and coke or staying in and watching episodes or movies (especially during winter)

Many people have summerhouses in the vicinity. Usually they have a hot tub. It’s amazing both in winter and in summer, since in winter you might catch the northern lights, and in summer it’s always bright. Lovely, and a nice break from the ”big” city.

For you, as a traveller there are many reasons to visit Reykjavík. Not only is it safe and cozy, but also fun, and interesting despite it’s smallness. As a bonus, if you get tired of the city it’s easy for you to leave it, and go hiking on a glacier, ice-caving or sightseeing some of the amazing waterfalls.

Reykjavik Sightseeing

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