Is it truly possible to get to the heart of a city in just a few days? Probably not, but the fun part is trying – and the natural playground of Reykjavik in Iceland is a city that transcends belief. For such a small city, Reykjavik packs a punch. A cosmopolitan air lingers across striking architecture, colourful buildings and cool cafes and bars. Art, culture and historic wonder all co-exist with snow-capped mountains and the sea that surrounds it.
Head just a few hours of the city, though, and feel like you’re stepping onto a different planet – so intensely rich and diverse is the Icelandic landscape that it cannot fail to stir the inner depths of your soul. In winter, glistening ice and snow blankets every surface and turns it into a magical wonderland; in summer, verdant greens and brightly coloured flora envelop the changing scenery. If you’ve ever wondered why the land of fire and ice has been named so, then join us on a virtual tour of Iceland and Reykjavik and get a teaser of this must-visit destination and some of its best attractions.
What better way to see the city than from a birds-eye view from above. Explore every inch of the city with a brilliant 360° VR tour of Reykjavik. Soar above the skies and choose which part of the city you’d like to explore – from harbourside to the centre you search for different panoramas and get a sense of the city and its spaces. And if you want to see more, there are other regions to visit so you can get a comprehensive virtual tour of Iceland.
The views from the tower of one of Reykjavik’s most iconic buildings is pretty outstanding. Designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, Hallgrímskirkja church took 41 years to build and was completed in 1986. Created to represent the mountains and glaciers of Iceland, the world-famous structure can be seen up to 20km away and during the summer months, it is possible to hear choir and organ recitals. There is also an English service on the last Sunday of the month at 2.00pm.
The Blue Lagoon
So it may not be a natural lagoon and the water may not be blue – it is, in fact, a milky colour but when the sun hits the silica, an active ingredient in the water, it reflects a blue hue. That said, it’s still one of Iceland’s biggest attractions. The Blue Lagoon is open whatever the weather and swimming in the soothing geothermal pool is an experience to savour. But if you’ve wanted to get an idea of what it looks like then check out this video below – from entering the main entrance to the cafe, you can see it for yourselves.
Harpa Concert Hall
Its shimmering glass facade is hard to miss as you head down to Reykjavik’s waterfront and the Harpa cultural centre and concert hall is well worth a visit – even just to admire its intricate design. Marvel at the concave lattice glass panels, which, at night, sparkle like a huge giant switchboard. Inside, you can enjoy excellent shows (some of which are free) as well as grab a bite to eat at the cafe and browse designers shops – or even dine at the top-notch restaurant Kolabrautin.
Whales of Iceland
There are many whale watching companies that operate out of Reykjavik including Elding, where you can take a boat trip out and see these magnificent creatures for yourselves if you’re lucky. However, the Whales of Iceland exhibition is a fascinating insight into these marine creatures – and also great for families. Marvel at 23 giant life-sized models from an 84ft blue whale and sperm whale and discover interactive stands and educational videos.
The Golden Circle
A trip to Reykjavik wouldn’t be completed without getting out of the city and seeing some of Iceland’s most famous natural wonders – and The Golden Circle is the closest and most doable in a short weekend. Regardless of the fact that these are mega attractions, this 300km route will astound – from the thundering magnificence of Gullfoss, the staggering vastness of the Þingvellir, where tectonic plates meet, and the explosive power of Geysir, where water erupts over 100 times a day.
Reykjavik Maritime Museum
Situated in the Old Harbour, the Reykjavik Maritime Museum is based in a former fish-freezing plant and explores the role and importance of Iceland’s fishing history. Visitors can also tour a former coastguard ship Óðínn. But it’s the tragic story of the Milkmaid (Melckmeyt) which sunk to the bottom of the sea after a violent storm in 1659, that will enthral. The well-preserved shipwreck was discovered by divers in 1992 and maritime archaeologists from the National Museum of Iceland first investigated the site of the disaster a year later.
Not only can you discover its ill-fated story of Iceland’s oldest shipwreck, but experience the murky depths yourselves with special VR headsets – or this special video below.
Main image courtesy of Ting Dalton