It may not be summer yet, but it’s certainly starting to feel that way in the world’s northernmost capital city. Thanks to its extreme latitude, Reykjavik enjoys 24 hours of daylight by the time the summer equinox rolls around in late June, with plenty of long days in May, too.
What does that mean for you? Well, you can plan to enjoy Reykjavik and the surrounding countryside much like the locals do—a bit short on sleep but with endless hours to pack in all of the food, culture and adventure that Iceland has to offer. The city is quickly gaining recognition as a dream wedding and honeymoon destination, known for its widespread use of English, LGBT-friendly businesses and day trips that work for the whole wedding party. Here are our top tips to making the most of this surreal and beautiful place.
Dining: Reykjavik is a fishing hub, which becomes evident the minute you step into any number of quaint restaurants in town. With menus filled with everything from fish pies to lobster pizzas, the city is a seafood lover’s dream. If you’re keen on dabbling, head over to the waterside Tapashouse restaurant for a fresh spin on small plates, Icelandic style. Not to worry if fish isn’t your thing—Reykjavik’s most popular ‘restaurant’ is actually a hot dog stand called “Baejarins Beztu,” which has been featured on countless Food Network shows and has a line down the block come lunch or dinner rush.
Shopping: Like its Nordic neighbors, Iceland is known for its meticulously-crafted fashion and design. As a walkable city with only a few main shopping streets, you can knock out most of your shopping ambitions within a day or two. Be sure to stock up on Icelandic wool sweaters—a favorite for their warmth and durability. The city is also filled with unique finds at the weekend flea market by the harbor, brimming with locally-made treasures and artisan crafts.
Nightlife: Blame it on the midnight sun if you want, but be warned that a good night out in Reykjavik starts quite late. Most locals head out well after 2 AM, and some bars don’t fully pick up until three or four. Regardless of their chosen profession, most local residents have some music creds under their belt, so you can expect to see that barista who made your fresh coffee in the morning as the star DJ at Kaffibarinn later that night. Though the city is notably LGBT-friendly, Kiki Queer Bar and Dolly are known to cater to LGBT travelers with late night dancing and drag.
Excursions: While Reykjavik is a worthy destination in its own right, most travelers op to explore the beautiful countryside that gives the island its nickname of “Land of Fire and Ice.” A worthwhile trip is to the Golden Circle, a region to the south of the capital that’s known for its expansive national park, geysers, hot springs and thundering waterfalls. If you’re looking to go off-the-grid, the western coast is desolate—and indescribably beautiful—though it usually requires a couple of days to explore in full. When you’ve exhausted your expedition, head to the Blue Lagoon. It’s on the way to the airport, and you can squeeze in some spa time Iceland-style in the geothermal hot springs.