I had never taken the time to consider visiting Iceland in the past. I had heard of it as a country and knew it was somewhere north of England. It just seemed a little too remote to consider it as a destination to visit.
When I was looking at options for travelling between Europe and America though it Iceland appeared as an option. While many airlines fly direct from Europe to America, Icelandic Air flys via Reykjavik. Surprisingly in the research Icelandic Air came up as the cheaper option for the flights I needed. As such, for the two flights from Europe to America that I needed to make I booked with Icelandic Air. For the second flight, I booked with three days to explore Reykjavik and the surrounding area.
I arrived into Reykjavik late yesterday afternoon, in many countries, this would be a bad thing. However, with sunset at around 10.30pm, there was still ample time to get out and explore some of the city. In fact, even when I went to bed around midnight it still was not entirely dark.
While the sun may be setting later in the evening, this does not, impact the temperature much. The current temperature on arrival at the hotel was a mere 3 degrees Celsius, or with windchill around -5 degrees celsius. As the evening progressed, this temperature only got cooler with a light snowfall through the night as well. As you can see below, I found the remanents of this snowfall still present the next morning.
Hallgrímskirkja (Church of Iceland)
First, on my list of places to visit today was a church by the name of Hallgrímskirkja (Church of Iceland). The construction started in 1945 and was finally completed in 1986. I think you would probably agree that the building does have quite a striking exterior. While the exterior in some ways stands out, the interior is extremely plain and minimalistic.
In fact, the most elaborate item within Hallgrímskirkja is the organ that is rather beautiful. In total, the organ has 5,200 pipes, with 72 voices and dominates the wall above the entrance way. My visit is just a little bit early in the year as from June they do have public performances.
The final aspect of the church which got me interested was the small fee to visit the top of the tower. I think it could just about be called the best view in Reykjavik. The church already sits on one of the higher points in the city, and the tower helps you get that bit higher.
Reykjavik Botanical Gardens
As with most cities, Reykjavik does have a Botanical Garden, even if it is not that large. The area is still a lovely spot to step away from the rest of the city and experience a little bit of green. A small waterway runs through the gardens, and there is also quite an interesting rock garden.
Since arriving in Europe, I have not gone out of my way to visit many museums. Primarily due to the size and time needed to explore them properly. Opting in favour to spend my time exploring the cities that I have been visiting. However, today I gave in a little and visited the Saga Museum, located in the Perlan Building in Reykjavik.
I believe part of the motivation may have been to find somewhere indoors that might be a little warmer. But also the museum is not too big and can be visited in about 30 minutes. An audio-guided tour is offered of the exhibits. The primary focus is the history of Iceland from the first settlement through the first few hundred years of Iceland’s history.
Below is the view from the top of the Perlan Building. Almost as good as the view from Hallgrímskirkja.
Close To Nature
Reykjavik as a city has a population of just over 100,000. For a capital city, this is quite small, and there were some things that I did not take into consideration. For one the city is fantastic to walk around, there is not much that is too far apart. You also find places like the below image not even one kilometre from the city centre.
Opera House Reykjavik
The last stop for the evening is a relatively new building, completed just last year. The Opera House Reykjavik is a rather impressive building constructed primarily of a glass exterior. However, you find when you visit the building that the glass walls act more like an exoskeleton that houses another building inside.
A Cold Day
The day in Reykjavik was very enjoyable, and I got to see a lot of the city. The weather report was that the temperature with wind chill got as low as -10 degrees Celsius. I am glad I had sufficient warm layers and did not let the weather dictate how I spent my day.
The weather is one thing that you always need to consider when travelling. If you let a little bit of cold keep you indoors there is little point in travelling; you may as well just stay home. You need to be able to take the predictions and identify when it is truly a dangerous situation to stay indoors. A little cold or rain should not stop you enjoying a destination.