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What to see in the Capital, Reykjavik

This lively capital has something for everyone. Famous for its wide range of restaurants, energetic nightlife, and range of historic sights, the city of Reykjavík is a lovely place to spend the day on your trip to Iceland.

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Alþingi, the Icelandic Parliament

Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, was founded in the year 930 and it is the oldest establishment in Iceland, whilst also being the oldest parliament in the world. The parliamentary meetings used to be held at Þingvellir, one of the national parks, and one of the places you can see the North-Atlantic Ridge. Nowadays it is situated in the city center, where it has been located since 1844.

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Hallgrímskirkja church

Hallgrímskirkja church is Reykjavík's main landmark and its towering spire can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. It was designed by the late Guðjón Samuel in 1937, who was often inspired in his designs by the fascinating shapes and forms created when lava cools into basalt rock. Standing directly in front of the church, and predating it by 15 years, is a fine statue of Leifur Eiriksson (c. 970 – c. 1020) – the first European to discover America, and one of Iceland´s many great explorers.

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Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa is a stunning concert hall and conference center on the Reykjavik harbour. It is home to the National Symphony Orchestra and the National Opera, and hosts many events each week. It is also home to a fine dining restaurant and other facilities. This stunning piece of modern architecture was designed and carried out by the Danish-Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson and the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects, and was opened on May 4th 2011 with a concert from the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra.

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Laugavegur main shopping street

Laugavegur is a street situated in Reykjavík city center, with plenty of stores, restaurants, and more. There are some interesting stores exclusive to this area, with many shops selling souvenirs and Icelandic products. The area is also very pedestrian friendly, so feel free to take a wander and explore what the city has to offer.

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Perlan Landmark And Museum

Perlan, meaning the Pearl, is a famous landmark of Reykjavik. It was named Perlan because of the glass dome placed on the top of the building, which has stunning views of the city. At Perlan the latest science and the best museum artists have joined forces to create an amazing exhibition. Visitors can see, feel, and live Iceland’s natural wonders all in one place. Including: Ice cave, water in Icelandic nature exhibit, and an observation deck. Arora, the first ever 8K northern lights planetarium show. It’s a journey through the unique landscape of Iceland, to observe Northern lights as you’ve never seen them before. On the fourth floor of Perlan a large observation deck lies on the top of the hot water tanks and encircles the entire dome to give an amazing 360° view of Reykjavik and the surrounding area.

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Reykjavik Bar scene

You could blame it on those long winter nights or perhaps the endless summer days, maybe it has something to do with the exceptional quality of the locally produced beer and Icelandic schnapps; but whatever the reason behind Reykjavík’s legendary nightlife or "jammið" as the locals refer to it, it’s certainly gaining a reputation for being one of the hottest places to party in the world today! Many of the bars are located around Austurstræti and Hafnarstræti, and you will often find many hip locals in the area, as well as other tourists.

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The Imagine Peace Tower

The Imagine Peace Tower is a work of art representing world peace, conceived by the legendary artist, musician and peace advocate, Yoko Ono. It is located in the island of Viðey, just off the coast of Reykjavík Sundahöfn harbor. The beam of light, designed in memory of John Lennon, is lit every night and can be seen from many areas of the capital, and even in areas on the outskirts of the city.

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Tjornin Pond

Tjornin is a large pond in the city center, surrounded by many interesting sights, such as the City Hall, the National Gallery, and the University of Iceland. It is a lovely place to sit and unwind after walking around the city.

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Viðey Island

Viðey island. Enjoy a short trip with the Elding ferry service to the lovely island of Viðey, situated in Kollafjörður just off the coast of Reykjavík. The island can be explored via the many cycle and hiking trails. Like many other parts of Iceland, this island has a rich history, having been home to settlers since 900AD. A visit to Viðey is ideal for a trip into nature so close to the city of Reykjavík.

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Þjóðminjasafn National Museum

Þjóðminjasafn offers a variety of fascinating exhibitions and one permanent display, "Making of a Nation," lavishly illustrating the story of Iceland’s past, from the medieval days of Viking settlements to the current contemporary culture. The main exhibition has over 2,000 artefacts discovered in various parts of the country. In pride of place amongst the museum’s many treasures is the Valthjófsstaður door, an intricately designed church door.

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