The capital city of Iceland and the most northerly capital in the world, Reykjavík is spread out along a small peninsula, surrounded by the blue waters of Faxaflói Bay and the majestic Mt Esja. It is located in the south west of Iceland, has a population of approximately 170,000 people, and is the country’s hub of economic, government, and cultural activity.
Although small by the standards of other capital cities, Reykjavík is lively and vibrant, offering a great deal to see and do. It would be difficult for locals or visitors to get bored here. For a start, the city’s setting is superb. On clear days, the view over Faxaflói Bay to the Snæfellsjökull glacier on the west, with its distinctive ice cap, is simply spectacular. One can sit by the harbor on summer nights and watch the midnight sun slip slightly beneath the horizon, only to reappear again shortly afterwards. It is easy to get totally immersed in the country’s culture with the array of excellent museums and galleries, an opera, captivating art, plenty fine dining options, quirky bars and cafes, and wild night life where bars and clubs are packed with young people. It is a place that combines superb design, colorful buildings, trendy people, buzzing nightlife, quirkiness, and refined culture to great effect. Somehow, Reykjavík manages to blend modern cosmopolitanism with a sense of community where everyone knows their neighbor.
Despite its modishness and vibrancy, Reykjavík has a rich and unique history that is evident everywhere. The city was founded in 1786 when it became an official trading town and, over the following decades, it grew steadily as it developed into a national center of government and commercial activity. It is believed to be the site of Iceland’s first permanent settlement, said to have been established in approximately 870 AD by Ingólfur Arnarson. Today, Reykjavík is considered one of the world’s safest, greenest, and cleanest cities.