Reykjavik is an unusual colourful city. It is surrounded by the ocean, ice capped mountains and ancient black lava fields. Due to the lack of trees corrugated iron (along with concrete and plaster) is used as the main building material. This has now been replaced by corrugated steel or aluminum sheets. Each house is painted a different colour which makes then very cute. It gives the city a very individual look.
Reykjavik - Ingolfstorg Square
Ingolfstorg Square is in the centre of Reykjavik. This is where you will find the tourist information shop along with restaurants and souvenir shops. Look out for the thermal vents. They are a stark reminder that the whole island is on top of a volcanic hot spot.
Reykjavik - Icelandic Parliament - Alpingi
By other countries standards the Icelandic parliament building looks more like a European village town hall. Iceland was the first country to hold a parliament . It was called a Thing.
Soviet President Gorbachev and American President Reagan started the negotiations that ended the Cold War in this buiding in 1986. It is called Hordi House and is on a road called Saebraut
In the heart of old Reykjavik is a pretty water feature called lake Tjornin. It is a relaxing place to sit and watch or feed the ducks and geese. It is very near the City Hall and the harbour. On the West side of Lake Tjorn is the small National Gallery of Iceland (Frikirkjuvegi 7, Reykjavik www.listasafn.is) housing Icelandic works of Art
If you like seafood you are in for a treat. Fish is normally the cheapest thing on most menus Icelandic menus as it's economy is based on fishing. They sell their catch to the rest of Europe and the US and a large part of the country's wealth comes from this trade. This is why if you are walking around Reykjavik in the early morning you may notice a smell of fish coming from the harbour as the fishing fleet unload its catch. Look out for the restaurants that offer all-you-can-eat seafood buffets for a set price. It is a good deal as the fish is straight from the sea.
Reykjavik the Pearl
A restaurant has been built on top of some geothermal water storage tanks. It is called the pearl because of the shape. It has a reflective mirror/glass construction that houses the Saga Museum and hosts various art shows. There is a cheaper snack restaurant for tourists on the 4th floor and the more luxury restaurant which is only open in the evenings on the 5th floor. Both you have great view on over the city on clear days.
There is a fountain that simulates a Geyser on sublevel 1. Its water jet gets as high as the 4th floor. The artificial Geyser outside the building complex uses warmer water. There is a great viewing deck. If you would like to see some of the original documents that contain some of the Icelandic Viking sagas visit the Cultural House, (Hverfisgata 15, Reykjavik www.thjodmenning.is )It also displays a collection of the medieval manuscripts.