Reykjavik, “the bay of smoke” is the capital of Iceland and believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in the country (around AD 870 by Norsemen). Ingólfr Arnarson, the first settler, reportedly cast his wooden seat posts into the water at the first site of land and settled where the posts came to shore. Reykjavik came to thrive on agriculture and fishing. Stockfish is unsalted fish, left to dry out for preservation. Preserved stockfish (mostly cod) has been feeding Iceland for centuries. The city is fairly new considering there was no urban development until the city was founded in 1786. Reykjavik is among the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world.
How do you get there? There are plenty of options for getting to Reykjavik from the airport, such as car rentals, shuttles, taxis, and buses. It takes 45 minutes to get to Reykjavik. We rented a car from Avis/Budget ($90/day including GPS & no insurance). In some countries you need a special license to rent a car, but in Iceland you can use your American drivers license without any problem. We also waived the multiple insurance options for the rental car and instead utilized our pre-existing credit card insurance. Check with your credit card company to see if you have rental car insurance. Google Map it.
Why should you go? If you’re yearning to see the natural beauty of Iceland, Reykjavik is a must. It’s a great place to stay if traveling the southern half of Iceland. For it’s size, the city has an overwhelming amount of diversity in entertainment and food. If you’re staying in Reykjavik, you should take the South Iceland Tour (Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Dyrhólaey, Reynisdrangar, and Vik) and the Golden Circle Tour (Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss). Renting a car is the way to go if you want to have the freedom of being on your own time schedule and avoiding the crowds.
How much time should be spent here? The city is small and walkable. You could see most of the attractions within a few days. However, with the amount of history, art, food, entertainment, and surrounding natural beauty, one could easily spend a week marveling within the city limits.
Want to read about our trip to Iceland?