Reykjavik: The World’s Northernmost Capital City in Iceland


When it comes to the most famous city in Iceland, it’s the capital, Reykjavik. Reykjavik is known as the northernmost capital in the world, and nearly two-thirds of Iceland’s population live in the city. Iceland is also considered the safest country in the world, making it a popular destination for international travelers. During your travels, you are likely to use Reykjavik as a base. In this article, I’ll introduce the characteristics of Reykjavik, the heart of Iceland, as well as some of its main attractions.

Reykjavik is the Capital of Iceland

Iceland is the only Nordic country that is an island nation in the North Atlantic, and with its vast glaciers and rugged terrain, it is known for its unspoiled natural beauty. Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is a port city located on the Reykjanes Peninsula in the southwest of the country. In Icelandic, the name Reykjavik means “smoky bay.” This name originates from the misconception of the first settlers that the steam from the hot springs was smoke from a fire. 

Reykjavik, at 64°8′ north latitude, is also known as the northernmost capital city in the world. Despite its high latitude, Iceland has a relatively mild climate due to its active volcanic activity and the warm currents that flow around the island.

How to Explore Reykjavik City

Iceland has a population of about 300,000, and about 70% of them live in Reykjavik. As a result, the city has a wide range of accommodations and commercial facilities, so you won’t feel inconvenienced during your stay. However, due to Iceland’s rugged terrain, there are no trains or railways, including in Reykjavik. Therefore, buses are the main means of transportation when exploring Reykjavik. 

However, Reykjavik is a very compact city and can be easily explored on foot. Enjoy the colorful, storybook-like cityscape at a leisurely pace. Reykjavik is also the starting point for Iceland’s Ring Road (Highway 1), which circles the entire island. If you plan to travel outside of Reykjavik, it is recommended to rent a car in the city.

Introducing Main Spots in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is the center of Icelandic culture, history, and art, and there are many attractions throughout the city. The city itself is compact, so you can visit most of the tourist spots in just a few days. Below are some of the attractions in Reykjavik.



Hallgrimskirkja is a Lutheran church built on a hill in Reykjavik, overlooking the city. The church was completed in 1986 after a 41-year construction period. The design of the church is inspired by the columnar basalt, a type of volcanic rock found in Iceland, and its magnificent exterior is its main feature. Hallgrimskirkja is 74.5 meters long, making it one of the tallest buildings in Reykjavik. 

Its beautiful exterior can be seen from various points throughout the city, making it a symbolic presence in Reykjavik. The interior is simple and modest, with a pipe organ installed. The church offers free admission, and services are held every Sunday.

In addition, the top of the tower attached to the church serves as an observation deck, offering a popular panoramic view of Reykjavik. There is an admission fee for the observation deck, but it is highly recommended if you visit Reykjavik.

Hallgrímskirkja: Iceland's largest church in ReykjavikIn Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, there is one building that you will always see. It is called Hallgrímskirkja, and it is the tallest church in Iceland. It is so well-known that it can be called the symbol of Reykjavik and is a popular spot for travelers visiting Iceland. In this article, I would like to explain the main features and history of Hallgrímskirkja....


Another notable facility is Harpa, a modern building with an all-glass exterior. Harpa is a multifunctional arts center that includes a concert hall and various other facilities. Its official name is “Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall & Conference Center.” The architect behind Harpa is Henning Larsen, a Danish architect known as the master of light. 

Designed with Icelandic basalt in mind, Harpa stands out among the more subdued buildings in Reykjavik and has a strong presence. During the day, Harpa reflects sunlight and provides a bright, shimmering view. At night, lights embedded in the glass illuminate the building, creating a magical illumination. 

Concerts by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and international artists are regularly held in the concert hall, so be sure to check if there is an event during your visit.

Harpa: A Glass Concert Hall in ReykjavikLocated on the harbor of Reykjavik, Iceland facing the vast Atlantic Ocean, there is a shimmering glass building that stands out in the city's skyline. This building is the Harpa Concert Hall, nicknamed "Harpa," and it opened in 2011. In this article, I will introduce the Harpa, which has a unique presence in the city of Reykjavik. If you are planning to visit Reykjavik, be sure to check it out!...

Hofdi House

Hofdi House, built in 1909 as the French consulate, is a simple building standing alone on the shores of Reykjavik. It is also famous as the venue for the 1986 Reykjavik Summit, where US President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev held talks that led to the end of the Cold War. Although it is a simple building, it is actually one of Reykjavik’s most significant historical structures.

Hofdi House: A historic building in Iceland where a meeting to end the Cold War was heldHofdi House is a white building located in the heart of Reykjavik, Iceland. This elegant building played a significant role in the Cold War between East and West. In this article, I will introduce the historical Hofdi House....


In this article, I have discussed Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Although it is the largest city in Iceland, Reykjavik has a compact scale and few high-rise buildings like those found in other Nordic cities. Instead, the city is a condensed representation of Iceland’s charm, with rustic, colorful houses, beautiful natural scenery, and modern architectural designs.