If you arrive in Reykjavík from Keflavík airport, it’s hard to miss the space-age-looking grey container tanks that sit at the top of the wooded hill, Öskjuhlíð, immediately south of Kjarvalsstaðir, across Miklabraut and southeast along Bústaðavegur. Each is capable of holding four thousand litres of water at 80°C for use in the capital’s homes, offices and swimming pools; it’s also from here that water has traditionally been pumped, via a network of specially constructed pipes, underneath Reykjavík’s pavements to keep them ice- and snow-free during winter. The whole thing is topped by a revolving restaurant. The structure is one of Reykjavík’s best-known landmarks and is the best place for a 360-degree panoramic view of the entire city; simply take the lift to the fourth floor and step outside. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Snæfellsjökull glacier at the tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, as well as the entirety of Reykjavík. Before leaving, make sure you see the artificial indoor geyser simulator that erupts every few minutes from the basement, shooting a powerful jet of water all the way to the fourth floor: it’s a good taste of what’s to come if you’re heading out to the real thing at Geysir.

Öskjuhlíð itself was also an important landmark in the days when the only mode of long-distance transport was the horse, as it stood out for many kilometres across the barren surrounding plains – and more recently served as a military base for the British army during World War II. Today, though, it’s a popular recreation area for Reykjavíkers who, unused to being surrounded by expanses of woodland, flock here by foot and with mountain bikes to explore the paths that crisscross its slopes. In fact, Öskjuhlíð has only been wooded since 1950, when an extensive forestation programme began after soil erosion had left the area barren and desolate. Today the western and southern flanks of the hill are covered with birch, spruce, poplar and pine.

 

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Iceland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Hot tub happiness: the dos and don'ts of Icelandic spas

Hot tub happiness: the dos and don'ts of Icelandic spas

Going for a spa in Iceland can feel wonderfully alien. Against a backdrop of barren moonscapes and denuded hills, the waters are so preternaturally blue, so exa…

24 Nov 2016 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Reykjavík

A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Reykjavík

Reykjavík, a bustling port and the world’s most northerly capital, draws visitors from across the globe in record-breaking numbers – and its popularity sho…

12 May 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
360° video: up close and personal with Iceland's Strokkur geyser

360° video: up close and personal with Iceland's Strokkur geyser

Feeling far away from the natural wonders of Iceland? You're about to feel a lot closer. Welcome to 360° virtual reality, where you can look where you wan…

14 Oct 2015 • Colt St. George videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month