24-hours in Reykjavik- pampering, adventuring and Northern Lights
The history of Iceland is full legends and magical thinking. Why wouldn’t people who lived with months of darkness want to tell stories full of eternal fires, gods, and fierce battles? The world’s northernmost capital had been founded in a very passionate way when a settler named Ingólfur Arnason threw his chieftan’s pillars––kind of like staffs and a symbol of his power––into the sea. He decided to settle where they landed, discovered a place dotted with steaming hot springs and named it Reykjavík, or Smoky Bay.
Only a about a seven-mile drive out of the city, get ready for some serious relaxation with swims in impossibly blue water, one of the 25 natural wonders of the world. The healing properties of the naturally heated geothermal mineral water is legendary and kept at a constant temperature between 34 and 39 degrees Celsius. Unique in-water massages will rub all those stiff muscles away and even has been rumored to clarify the skin so totally that ailments disappear, improving the skin’s texture and giving it life-long, lasting health benefits. There is nothing more amazing than spotting the Northern Lights from the Blue Lagoon.
Maybe you aren’t a water person. We’ve got you covered. On the half an hour drive out of Reykjavik, prepare for the thrill of venturing inside the Thrihnukagigur volcano. Uh, huh, inside. From early summer to mid-October, an easy 45-minute hike finds you exploring a whole new world on a journey to the center of the earth. The last time the volcano erupted was 4,000 years ago, but Iceland remains one of the world’s most active volcanic regions. The name of the volcano translates to Three Peaks Crater, and comes from Árni B. Stefánsson the first explorer of the vault––one of them, the size of the Statue of Liberty.
For the more adventurous, drive one hour outside of Reykjavik and dive or snorkel the Silfa fissure––one of the world’s top dive spots, a crack between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Silfra is easily accessed in Pingvellir National Park, which is most likely unlike any other park you’ve been to in the world because it will seem like you are in the middle of nowhere. But don’t turn around, just keep going straight until you see the Silfra Meeting Point. Then enjoy the dive of your life.
Touring the city
After all that adventure you are going to want a wonderful lunch or dinner for the rest of your touring. No one does fish like Iceland and no one does seaside seafood quite like Sægreifinn. The atmosphere isn’t luxurious but the food is impeccable. Go ahead and order the lobster soup with your fish skewer. After lunch, enjoy the sights of the city including the Whales of Iceland exhibition full of life-sized models and lots of interactive information. Check out one of the most unique churches in the world Hallgrimskirka, the tallest church in Iceland, which stuns with an otherworldly profile and architecture based on the lava flows of the Icelandic landscape.
Enjoy nighttime in the city with the best free show on the planet where the Aurora Borealis is the star. During the winter, just head out with a driver away from the city lights and stop when its pitch black. Then sit back and enjoy the show. Best drive-in ever. Professional photographer tours can be arranged for shutterbugs.