Landmarks For a Reykjavik Holiday
Article by Vikki Beale
On a city break to Reykjavik you are sure to enjoy the city’s unique architecture and landmarks that reflect the distinctive landscape that you’ll explore on your Iceland holidays. Reykjavik has historic and modern buildings to visit, all of which have a style that is uniquely Icelandic.
One landmark that you will always be aware of on your city break to Reykjavik is the striking tower of Hallgrimskirkja Church. As one of the tallest buildings you’ll see on your Reykjavik holiday, reaching a height of 73 metres, it is an unmistakeable presence. The church, which is mostly white, has an unusual design with a skirt that cascades down from the spire merging into the ribbed walls. This has the effect of making the church resemble a space shuttle about to launch, although the intent of the designer was to emulate the texture of the basalt lava fields that you can see throughout the country. Whatever you make of it, the views of the city from the top are unrivalled, and you may be lucky enough to catch one of the classical concerts that are occasionally held here. If you like the sound of the Hallgrimskirkja, one of Reykjavik’s hotels called ‘Adam’ is just next door.
A less assuming building, but just as important, is the Hofdi House. The house is a hundred years old, with white wooden facia, and distinctive gables, a look that strikes a balance between respectability and quaintness. This was the venue for the historic summit of Ronald Regan and Mikhail Gorbachev where in 1986 they set about ending the Cold War, and it is not open to the public because it is still used for the municipal business of Reykjavik. Holidaymakers should still take a look, however; a millionaire from Japan thought it so pretty that he had a copy of it made for his own use.
If you enjoy the atmosphere of official buildings, the City Hall is worth a visit too. You can access this building all week and make use of the cafe and see the art exhibitions. The City Hall, where the Mayor of Reykjavik does his nine to five, is set on the edge of Lake Tjornin, and is another example of interesting architecture. The water seems to rise up to meet the glass walls, as do the swans and ducks, which you can see paddling around the walkways and the curved modern building. One of the halls contains a map worth looking at as you begin your holidays: Iceland and Reykjavik modelled in large scale so you can walk around it and give yourself a sense of the island’s shape.If you like the City Hall’s glassy and shiny design, you might do well to choose the 4th Floor Hotel from the Reykjavik hotels available. It has a similar contemporary feel with modern styled interior.
But you shouldn’t spend too much time inside on your holiday in Reykjavik, indeed a city break to Reykjavik need not be restricted to the urban areas. Mount Esja hangs in the distance across the water, and since the city has relatively few tall buildings, the mountain imposes itself on the horizon. Mount Esja is a popular place to walk and the routes are forgiving in terms of difficulty, rewarding hikers with amazing views of the countryside.
The Laugardalur Valley, where the city keeps its sports fields and stadium, zoo and botanical gardens is another place to take in nature while on your city break to Reykjavik. A popular feature is the outdoor hot spring pool where you can swim throughout the seasons in the comfort of naturally heated water. The Reykjavik Art Museum is located here, another idiosyncratic construction of minimalist white domes, blocks and sloped walls.
No matter which of the quality Reykjavik hotels you choose, there will be dramatic landmarks to see nearby. Be sure to take a walk in the city to soak up the local character and culture on your Reykjavik and Iceland holidays.
About the Author
Vikki Beale is a holiday expert for iceland2go, a specialist operator providing a selection of itineraries for the best Reykjavik holiday Iceland can provide. We arrange luxury tailor-made holidays to Iceland, Reykjavik and Greenland, with sights including glaciers, geysers, fjords, and the Northern Lights.