There’s a heartbeat to Iceland’s capital city that metronomes out across the world at a wholly disproportionate rate to its size and isolated location. If you’ve ever been you’ll have picked up on the vibrancy of the town’s performing arts, energy of the nightlife, easy-street ambiance, wilderness setting and calm nature of its residents.
Even if you haven’t been, the chances are this most northerly of world capitals will have crossed your consciousness at some stage. Quite apart from its engaging history of the early Norsemen settlers, through the Viking Years (800-1066) and more lately Danish rulers and subsequent rise in nationalism, the fairy-tale magic and mythology involving elves, trolls, ghosts, dragons, griffins and yule-lads have seeped into global entertainment. Not to mention the success of the city’s national football team.
Reykjavik has played host to many a movie mogul over the years. With, to name but a few, ‘Star Trek’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ casting the idiosyncratic Icelandic landscape and light out towards film lovers across the world.
Economically, Reykjavik has bounced along at a different heartrate to the rest of the world. It has seen off the obstacles of the old-time Cod War and banking crisis with a verve matched by its ability to lead on global political issues. From hosting Cold War summits between Ronald Regan and Mikhail Gorbachev, to passing a law this month making it illegal to pay men more than women – a world first.
Throw in the charm of a capital city exuding the friendliness of a rural town, almost zero violent crime and year-round fresh air and you have a ‘must visit’ metropolis. I love it and under the guidance of my cousin Virginia, who lives there, managed to embrace it for all it’s worth.
As these photos show, Reykjavik’s wholly unique character is a combination of the town’s stunning setting (surrounded by achingly beautiful wilderness), gentle street-scene (with colour around every corner), and artistic architecture (see the glass Harpa Concert Hall, grass roofs and hologram-esque Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral).
Although not cheap locally, Iceland is accessible though a host of low-cost airlines and is a perfect venue for either a quick weekend escape, or longer holiday trip.
Staying in town you have daily access to some of the island’s most exciting exhibits, as well as legendary nightlife. On the way back to the hotel check out the night sky dominated by crystal clear constellations and the ever-impressive Aurora borealis (northern lights). Keeping warm shouldn’t be an issue either, as the city boasts 24/7 geo-thermal hot water pumping through the water system.
Highly recommended and a guaranteed heart racer.