The world’s most northerly capital, Reykjavík is a tiny town by any European city’s standards. Yet with 200,000 inhabitants, it actually encompasses more than half of the entire population of Iceland and carries with it a quirky, cultural punch unlike anywhere else on earth. Within Reykjavík’s seven municipalities is an abundance of space, clean air, natural green energy, charming colorful homes, cozy cafes, and state-of-the-art architectural landmarks, the combination of which make it feel as if you are experiencing a quaint, innocent village and a modern, 21st-century European city, simultaneously wrapped into one.

Reykjavík is perhaps most famous for its music scene and world-class museums, and the best way to experience them is at either one of the legendary citywide Friday night pub-crawls, a performance in the brand new Ólafur Elíasson designed Harpa Concert Hall, or Iceland’s most popular festival, Reykjavík Culture Night, an annual summer gathering of 100,000 guests and 600 events to signal the beginning of the city’s cultural calendar. Add to this creative liveliness a ton of public geothermal pools, a defiant location on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and oceans, and traditional culinary delicacies of fermented shark, Black Death schnapps, langoustine, and Icelandic pancakes, and you’ll agree that most other cities pale in comparison.

Mere minutes outside of the lively city center, Iceland’s legendary landscapes emerge and bring forth a plethora of must-see panoramas. It is worth taking a day to hike across the lava fields of Bláfjöll Mountain to the dormant Thrihnukagigur Volcano, the only place in the world where you can descend directly into a volcano’s magma chamber. Another popular landmark is the beautiful Blue Lagoon, a unique, mineral rich geothermal pool located in the middle of an Icelandic lava field. Many opt to stop for a bath or swim in the relaxing and exotic waters before heading to the airport on the way out of town, an ideal way to say farewell to this remarkable region.