Reykjavík features in Icelandic history from the very beginning. The Norwegian settler Ingólfur Arnarson is supposed to have thrown out a pair of wooden poles from aboard his ship, declaring that wherever these came on land, he would build his farm. This was in the 9th century and now, a little more than 1100 years later, the site of Ingólfur’s farm has grown into the hub of Iceland’s government and cultural life.
Make your way to Reykjavik’s first proper street, Aðalstræti (Main Street), and get an idea of life in the 9th century at the Settlement Exhibition, showcasing the remains of an excavated farm. As you stroll through the city center, the tallest building in town, Hallgrímskirkja, will stand out. The church’s shape draws inspiration from basalt rock in Iceland’s nature. Ascend the bell tower and get a view over the whole city and its surroundings, out into Faxaflói bay and over to the favorite hiking spot of the locals: the mountain Esja.