Iceland maybe gloomy in the winter but its capital Reykjavik doesn’t succumb to the mood of the weather and season. All year round, this northernmost capital city in the world is always vibrant, thanks to the burst of colors of its cityscape.  Somehow it is a reflection of the admirable disposition of the Icelandic people.  Rain or shine, winter or summer, their mood is always sunny and vibrant, and so is their city.

Colorful Houses in Reykjavik, IcelandWe enjoyed walking aimlessly around the city streets and admired the charming homes and shops that are painted in bright and cheerful primary colors. Some of them looked like giant doll houses.

Colorful Houses in Reykjavik, IcelandThe houses are clad in corrugated iron, a cheap material that may look gritty somewhere else but not here. The locals lovingly paint them with colors that lighten up any given day.  They truly have a penchant for making anything gloomy look bright and sunny.

Colorful Houses in Reykjavik, IcelandCorrugated irons arrived in Reykjavik in the mid-1800’s when British ships that traveled to the city to buy sheeps also brought iron materials to sell.  The locals then quickly learned that the corrugated iron made for highly effective insulation and durable building material in the harsh Icelandic climate.  It also became a solution to the shortage of timber construction materials given that there is no forest in Iceland.

Colorful buildings in Reykjavik, IcelandStanding on the shore of Tjörnin Lake in the city center on a rainy day, we were delighted by the colorful structures that surrounded it.

Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik, IcelandStanding out amidst the colorful and low-rise structures of Rejkyavik is the bleak and tall structure of Hallgrimskirkja Church.  It’s very eclectic on the outside but its interior reflects Icelandic simplicity in design. But what’s great about this church is the spectacular view from its bell tower. For Kr700/US$6, you can climb to the tower and enjoy a  360 degree bird’s-eye view of Reykjavik.

Bird's Eyeview of Colorful Houses and Buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland from the top of Hallgrimskirkja ChurchFrom the bell tower, the houses look like Lego or Monopoly pieces. Don’t they make you cheerful?

Bird's Eyeview of Colorful Houses and Buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland


Bird's Eyeview of Colorful Houses and Buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland from the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church


Bird's Eyeview of Colorful Houses and Buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland from the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church


Bird's Eyeview of Colorful Houses and Buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland from the top of Hallgrimskirkja Church


Colorful Building at the Harbor at NIght in Reykjavik, IcelandEven at night, the colorful buildings still shine through like this structure by the harbor.

Colorful and brght Shops Rejkjavik at NIght, IcelandThe shopping streets pulsates with colorful energy even late at night.

Reykjavik may be small for a capital city, but what it lacks in size it makes up in its enormous, lively spirit. It may seem more of a village but its very cosmopolitan, very sassy, very artsy and, surprisingly, a city for foodie.  In a separate post, we will share with you our surprisingly delightful dining and wining experience in Reykjavik.

Linking to Travel Photo Thursday and Oh the Places I’ve Been.

Related posts:

About Marisol & Keith

Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

67 responses to “The Colorful Cityscape of Reykjavik

  1. Erica

    wow, I’m really surprised by all the colour combinations that they use and how beautifully it all comes together – the view from the bell tower really is so pretty!
    Erica recently posted..Wedding Flashback: PhotographyMy Profile

    • Hi Erica, I know, wouldn’t think of puttng together some of the color combination myself but they work pleasantly well here..

  2. Corinne

    I am planning a trip to Iceland this summer, so I’ll be perusing all your posts, Marisol…I love your photography. How much time do you think is needed to see the sights in Reykjavik?
    Corinne recently posted..TunisMy Profile

    • Hi Corinne, great to hear that you’re planning a trip to Iceland! I’m pretty sure you will have a wonderful time. It’s even more beautiful in the summer. You can see the sights within Reykjavik in about 2 days, that’s including museum visits. If you want to skip museums, a day should be fine.. I’m so excited for you! Let me know if you have other questions.

    • Hi Nancie, I wish we have some of those colors in NY too.. It would make the harsh winter a bit bearable.

  3. what a charming looking city. It certainly would be lovely to go for a wander along it’s streets. I thought at first look that was a “logo” city! I love the simplicity of the church.
    It has been a while since I have stopped by your blog. I hope all is well with you. Have a wonderful weekend ahead.

    • Hi Jill, everything’s well, thank you. You will enjoy roaming in this city with your family and your camera. So many lovely photo opportunities,

  4. We’ve had but a brief – and not welcoming stop at their airport (which I’ve related in earlier posts) – so can’t say we are inclined to return to this colorful city. That said, I love seeing photos of it from other’s perspectives and I had no idea that it was as colorful as it is. The view from the tower is my favorite.
    Jackie Smith recently posted..Cruising: Going Behind the Scenes “By Invitation Only”My Profile

    • Oh Jackie, so sorry to hear about your unpleasant airport experience. We only had wonderful experiences with the city and its people and we’re sorry about your experience.. I just hope it was one of those random incident and I hope you give it a second chance and hopefully you’ll have a much better memory.

  5. it really does look like a toy village. I wonder why! Do you think it is because the houses are tiny or because they are randomly coloured. It certainly looks an interesting town….one I’d love to explore.
    jenny@atasteoftravel recently posted..It’s Tulip Time at KeukenhofMy Profile

    • Hi Jenny, the houses are not tiny at all, I guess it’s because they are randomly colored. I’m pretty sure you will enjoy exploring this city.

    • Hi Michelle, it was a fun visit indeed. Like you, the church reminded us of the Shuttle space.

    • Hi Maria, Glad you enjoyed them. It really is a charming city.

  6. Leigh

    Two #TPThursday posts with an Iceland theme in a week is making me very jealous. Maybe I need to do something semi spontaneous next year when the price is right.
    I love your photos and very interesting that all the houses are made of iron and painted. I love how cheery it looks eve on a dull day.
    Leigh recently posted..A Winter Visit to the Mont Tremblant Area of QuebecMy Profile

    • Hi Leigh, a spontaneous trip is sometimes the best, especially for those destinations that has been on your wishlist for a long time. If you enjoyed the photos of the colorful houses you will enjoy it even more if you see them in person.

  7. Leigh

    Don’t know if my first comment went into outer space but in case it did I just want to say how beautiful your photos area and how insanely jealous I am of you and everyone else that has been to Iceland.
    Leigh recently posted..A Winter Visit to the Mont Tremblant Area of QuebecMy Profile

    • Hi Noel, it hard to deny that it’s colorful:) We highly recommend that you visit the church and bell tower when you visit.

    • Hi Jo, yes we felt like giants looking down at a miniature village when we were on top of the church tower. It was very fascinating.

  8. Carolyn

    Fabulous photos. I’ve wanted to visit Iceland for some time now and your post has inspired me even more. I love the European penchant for colorful buildings and these ones look like they are amongst the brightest and best!
    Carolyn recently posted..How to find affordable accommodation in EuropeMy Profile

    • Thanks Carolyn. I hope you make it Iceland soon and enjoy its colors.

    • Hi Agness, we also that you make it there soon. There are lots of peppermint buildings to thrill you!

  9. These houses look like dinky little play houses. The colorful outlook certainly would have an uplifting affect on the people’s mood. A fantastic idea. I hope to see these one day.
    budget jan recently posted..Is Turkey a Budget DestinationMy Profile

    • Hi Jan, they really uplift your mood. I hope you get to see them soon.

  10. Rajesh

    Beautiful shots of the place. Very colorful buildings.

  11. My husband and I have been dying to go to Iceland. What beautiful views of unique houses. Did you get to see the Northern lights?
    Erica Baker recently posted..Friendship and BirthdaysMy Profile

    • Hi Erica,
      You and your husband and your camera will love it in Iceland! The nights were rainy during our stay. We only saw the northern light fainly and briefly.

  12. ben

    Cant wait to visit Reykjavik soon together with my girlfriend. The place is awesome and cool! 😀

    • Hi Ben, Yes it’s really cool place. We’re sure you and your girlfriend will have an awesome time. Have a great trip!

  13. Molly S

    Wow – it looks so colourful and vibrant! I’d love to go to Iceland, both in the summer for trekking and in the winter for the Northern Lights, but Reykjavik looks like a great place to stay any time of year. Wonderful photos!
    Molly S recently posted..Backyard Travels: Durham CathedralMy Profile

    • Thanks Molly., I’m sure it’s lovely in the summer time. We look forward to going back ourselves in the summer. Yes, Reykjavik wonderful to stay and explore at anytime of the year.

  14. What a colorful post, I’v always found buildings made of corrugated iron sheets unappealing, but these ones look so beautiful.
    Rachel M recently posted..Fourteen FallsMy Profile

    • Hi Rachel, thanks. We also never thought that corrugated irons would look this appealing.

  15. Marisol – I love the new look of your site. And these photos are stunning! You should offer an online photography workshop. Jave has been wanting to visit Iceland for sometime and Reykjavik definitely looks like a bright, colorful city to explore.
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..And I’m Back…from EuropeMy Profile

    • Hi Dana, thanks. Glad you like our new look. Steph and Tony really did a great job. I’m pleased you enjoyed the photos. I like to take photos but I don’t think I’m qualified enough to give workshops.:) I hope you and Jave make it to Iceland sometime soon. It’s a beautiful country and we’re pretty sure you will enjoy it as much as we did.

  16. Marisol, beautiful photos as usual that really make Reykjavik pop! I’d actually say that the grey dreary weather does the city a favor as it makes everything else seem even more vibrant. It seems like everything in Iceland really is beautiful, not just the countryside but the cities too!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..How to Travel from Hue to Savannakhet by BusMy Profile

    • Thank you Steph! Glad you liked the photos. Yes, everything in Iceland really looked beautiful even during dreary winter days.

  17. Beautiful pics of Iceland – one of my favorite destinations! Just followed you on Twitter as well – Looking forward to connect! Torsten

  18. very beautiful and interesting bolg!
    thank you so much

  19. Divya

    Such a beautiful city…and such an inspiring post…. Loved it

  20. Janina

    I see a lot of interesting posts on your blog. You have to spend a lot of time
    writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is a tool that creates unique, google friendly
    articles in couple of minutes, just type in google – laranita’s free content source
    Janina recently posted..JaninaMy Profile

  21. news

    Every coastal area around the world is slowly becoming the hotspots for tourist
    destinations, not only for the scenic beauty but also
    they offer varied range of water adventures. This training course helps
    yourself to operate on your diving skill and much better them each day.

    The carp is a fish species surrounded in myth, legend,
    and lore.
    news recently posted..newsMy Profile

  22. Rabiya

    Dream World Amazing Lovee Itt Wnna GoO wItH My Man,,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge