Iceland's petite capital blends Scandinavian sophistication and an end-of-the-world vibe left over from the days when Iceland was a refuge for outcast Vikings (like Erik the Red). Thanks to a compact downtown and residents who almost universally speak English, Reykjavik is a very tourist-friendly city. Small ships can dock in the Old Harbor, but large vessels call at the larger cruise dock 2 miles from town. A free shuttle bus carries visitors to Reykjavik proper.
What We Love
The Music Scene: Björk is just the tip of an Icelandic musical iceberg that includes many talented and alternative artists who play the all-night clubs around Austurvöllur Square and elsewhere downtown.
Golfing Under the Midnight Sun: Keilir Golf Club and several other courses in the metro area offer that rare opportunity of playing a round of 18 in the middle of the night (summer only, of course).
Best Known For
Blue Lagoon: Iceland's renowned hot springs should be at the top of your to-do list. If you can, visit after sundown during summer "white nights," when an eerie blue twilight bathes the entire complex.
Glaciers and Geysers: Reykjavik is the jumping-off point for daytrips into an Icelandic wilderness spangled with glaciers and geyser fields, waterfalls, and live volcanoes.
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Who It's Best For
Foodies: Thanks to the rise of pioneering young Icelandic chefs, Reykjavik has graduated from culinary wasteland into one of Europe's restaurant stars.
Nature Lovers: Whether its hiking and horseback riding or more rugged pursuits like snowmobiling and sea kayaking, this is a great place to explore the great outdoors.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Bring a Jacket: Even in the middle of summer, the Icelandic capital is often damp and chilly — especially after dark.
Bargains Are Few and Far Between: Expect to pay more for meals, drinks, transportation, and souvenirs here than you would in other comparable cities.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.