Reykjavik. UNESCO City of Literature.


I’m just back from a visit to Iceland. And just to be clear, the country not the supermarket.

Reykjavik is a UNESCO City of Literature; the first non-native English speaking city to receive this. Get chatting to the locals and it’s clear that literary heritage is at the core of the nation’s identity. As well as being home to some of the world’s most important medieval literature there’s a buzzing contemporary scene.

On a trip to the Golden Circle, Jonas Hallgrimsson’s home was pointed out to me, tucked away in the almost lunar landscape. He wrote Independent People which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955. Outsiders view it as a grim tale of Icelandic life, however I was assured Icelanders find it darkly humorous.

There are so many events that take place, I can’t possibly mention them all. You can download free apps for different genres of guided literary walks around the city. There is also a writing retreat which attracts people in from all over the world. The prices in Iceland are purse-pillaging, so it’s handy to know they do a bursary. You can find out more details about the retreat at

And keep your eyes peeled for the Harpa Concert Hall. Although it caused outrage being built during the financial collapse in 2008 (Iceland is still trying to recover from this) it is an astonishing piece of architecture.