Everyone knows Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is a really ‘cool’ city – quite literally, in fact. But what do we really know about it? Reykjavik Sightseeing is hoping to raise the destination’s profile among Canadian travellers with tours that highlight the beauty and culture of the city and its surrounding area. In this week’s Take Five, we sit down with Arnar Steinn Thorsteinsson, Sales & Marketing Manager for Reykjavik Sightseeing and Airport Direct, to discuss Reykjavik’s vast appeal and why, with easy and convenient flights from Canada, it doesn’t have to be just a bucket-list destination.
- Can you tell us a little about Reykjavik Sightseeing?
Reykjavik Sightseeing was founded in 2016 by a group of veteran pioneers of the Icelandic tourism industry. Since then, the company has grown and matured, but the basic vision remains the same: We want to offer the highest quality day tours from Reykjavik at the best prices, every day of the year. Furthermore, we wanted to offer our tours in multiple languages, so we created an audio guide in 10 different languages, available to all our guests on a Wi-Fi connected tablet when they board our coaches.
At the moment, we offer more than 20 tours, most of which focus on the most popular routes such as the Golden Circle and the South Coast of Iceland, as well as Northern Lights tours in the winter season. All the tours we offer are day tours, ranging from 4-13 hours and these are often combo tours, like the Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon for instance.
- In your opinion, when is the best time to visit Reykjavik?
As an Icelander, I love Reykjavik in the summer. The long arctic summer nights when the sun hardly sets are incredibly energizing and indescribably beautiful. On the other hand, I think visiting Reykjavik in the winter is a great time for travellers, as accommodation prices tend to be lower than during the high season (June-August) and people have the chance to see the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights. For many, it´s a once in a lifetime experience, so spending a few nights in Reykjavik in the wintertime is definitely a great choice!
- Reykjavik is often regarded as just a home base for other sightseeing elsewhere in Iceland. What do you want travellers to know about the city so that they see it as a standalone destination?
We often say that Reykjavik may very well be the smallest big city in the world. It´s a place of music, culture and what often surprises people the most: amazing food! There are several micro-breweries in the downtown area which reflect the locals´ love for ale and there are plenty of venues for live music on any given night.
But there are two things that make it a brilliant standalone option. The swimming pool culture, for one. Iceland has almost endless geothermally heated hot water, and we love it! There are swimming pools filled with hot water in essentially every corner of the city. That´s where you´ll find the locals, sitting in hot tubs, discussing world events and the weather, of course!
The other major thing is that all around Reykjavik, there is unspoiled nature and amazing places to go hiking, biking and simply enjoying. Mountains, lava fields, hot springs, you name it, all just a stone’s throw away!
- What’s new in Reykjavik for winter 2022/2023?
We´ve had two volcanic eruptions in the near vicinity of Reykjavik in just over a year, and there´s no doubt that we have entered a new period of volcanic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula that will keep surprising us in the months and years to come, offering visitors the chance to see a live volcano up, close, and personal.
Last year we had the new Sky Lagoon geothermal spa open up, which is only a 10-minute drive from the city center. Just last month, a new nature resort and hot spring concept opened up in Hvammsvík, which is about a 30-minute drive from the city. So this winter is all about wellness, great food and the ever enchanting Northern Lights, creating long lasting memories with your special someone.
- What’s your key message to travel agents?
Reykjavik is a great option as standalone destination, all year round, but also as a stopover on the way over to Europe, as Icelandair offers stopovers in Iceland up to seven days at no additional charge.
One of the best aspects of travelling in Iceland is that it´s safe for travellers. Iceland has consistently been rated one of the safest and most peaceful destinations in the world.
In addition, having mind-blowing adventures is so easy and accessible from Reykjavik. In one day, you can see some of the most iconic waterfalls in all the country, dormant volcanoes, hot springs and spouting geysers, black sand beaches with stunning sea cliff formations where thundering waves of the North Atlantic Ocean come crashing in. And those are just the sights. Then you can couple your day tour with an assortment of activities, from adrenaline-pumping ATV rides on the black sand beaches, snowmobiling on the glaciers and horseback riding, to returning to Reykjavik to visit either the Blue Lagoon or the new Sky Lagoon for a relaxing soak in the geothermal waters and finally world-class dining afterwards. Just a perfect day really!
For more information go to https://www.reykjaviksightseeing.is.