Iceland, known as the land of fire and ice, was dubbed the most peaceful country in the world in 2013, and after a short visit it’s easy to see why these two labels are a point of pride for this incredible country. The capitol city of Reykjavik has a small town feel and it definitely lives up to its friendly reputation. This is a city full of artists, writers, musicians, adventurers and fishermen, all of whom add to the unique culture of Reykjavik.
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The city of Reykjavik is home to countless hot pools and geothermic spas. The ultimate in relaxation, this naturally-heated mineral water has many therapeutic benefits, and whether you are looking for a quiet place to relax in serenity or to blow off some steam on a hot-water slide, you can find it all there.
For something a little more unique, be sure to visit the famous Blue Lagoon, a large natural lagoon located just outside of the city. This geological wonder has been transformed into the ultimate natural spa, complete with in water spa treatments. For an even more natural feel, enjoy a day at the Golden Sand geothermal beach, a small cove right on the ocean where salt water meets geothermal spring water.
If swimming isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy this natural spectacle by visiting Geysir, a natural geothermic wonderland that is the namesake of geysers all over the world. Enjoy the show as geysers of all sizes spout hot water into the air.
Tour On Icelandic Horseback
Icelandic Horses play a vital role in the country’s history, and they can make your visit even more authentic. With a spirited temperament and more personality than could ever be expected from a pony-sized horse, these incredible animals are built for uneven terrain and offer a comfortable ride for even the most inexperienced riders. Icelandic Horses are noted for their ability to perform two distinctive gaits: the tölt, a comfortable and fast four-beat gait, and the skeið, flugskeið or "flying pace".
Ishestar offers tours around Reykjavik on these magnificent horses. Horseback tours offered with spectacular views of lava fields, the midnight sun or the northern lights. For the more adventurous there are tours that combine horseback riding with another iconic Iceland activity, such as snorkeling, whale watching, Geysir exploration or visiting the Blue Lagoon.
Enjoy Local Cuisine
Iceland cuisine is very meat-and-potatoes oriented. Fresh Atlantic fish, which is available all year round, is a staple in many Icelandic dishes, as is fresh lamb.
Icelandic Fish and Chips, a restaurant located on the harbour, is known for having the best fish and chips in the world. Using only organic ingredients, this bistro style restaurant prides itself on serving a healthy and balanced twist on this traditional favourite dish.
For a much more upscale dining experience, head up to Perlan, an iconic building built on top of five large hot water tanks in Öskjuhlíð, a centrally located wooded area. The revolving restaurant offers spectacular 360 degree views over the city of Reykjavik. This fantastic restaurant is home to some of the best chefs in Iceland. For a special treat be sure to ask for the lamb.
Stay Up All Night
Reykjavik has a reputation of having the best nightlife in Europe, not only according to the locals, but to travellers and celebrities alike. Some would say you haven’t partied until you’ve partied in Reykjavik.
The friendly locals are happy to show travellers the best bars, pubs and clubs that their city has to offer. Don’t expect to be in bed early when partying like an Icelander, the locals are known to party all night, and with some bars open until 5am, it is extremely easy to do so.
Live music and DJs are the norm, from rock shows at the Celtic Cross to the house and R&B music of Smiðjustíg, there is something to suit any taste.
Revel In History
With countless art galleries and museums in Reykjavik, culture is at the fingertips of every traveller.
Reykjavik Art Museum has three segments around the city named after the main artist exhibited: Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir and Asmundarsafn. The National Gallery of Iceland features a large collection of Icelandic artists from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as works by famous international artists, including Edvard Munsch and Picasso.
Located directly beside the University of Iceland campus, the National Museum of Iceland allows its visitors to take a trip through time, showing the country’s full history from the earliest settlers to modern day. For a more unique history lesson, the open air Reykjavik City Museum showcases buildings from early settlements that tell a story of how the city came to be. The building housing the Culture House was once the National Library, but it is now home to two very different and unique exhibitions. The ground floor is home to ancient manuscripts and important medieval documents, and the top floor showcases a completely interactive exhibit about the volcanic island of Surtsey.
Unique Shopping Experiences
For a taste of the local flair, head to Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavik. From coffee shops, bars and small restaurants to boutique stores showcasing Icelandic designers, this historic street has a little bit of everything in one centralized location. Even though the newer malls have stolen some of the limelight from this tree lined gem, Laugavegur still retains its charm.
If an eclectic and artsy experience is more preferred, Skólavörðustígur offers just that, and it’s the perfect place to find authentic Icelandic products that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
For a more modern shopping experience head to Smáralind, the largest commercial shopping mall in Iceland. With over 80 stores featuring Icelandic designers as well as international chains such as Hugo Boss and Zara, this is a mall that can take an entire day to explore.
There is no shortage of luxury accommodations in Reykjavik, most of which are located within walking distance of the city’s best attractions. Whether modern luxury or eclectic charm is in order, there is hotel to please every traveller.
Room With a View Luxury Apartments, located right on Laugavegur, offers modern rooms with the luxurious feeling of home. Offering one, two and three bedroom apartments that are well lit and beautifully decorated in bright colours, this gem of a hotel is not to be missed.
The art-deco inspired renovations of the 1930s’ building that is now the Hotel Borg only adds to this beautiful hotel’s historic charm. Hotel Borg is a landmark in Reykjavik. From the outside you can feel the 1930s’ charm, but inside you are transported to another world that mixes art-deco and period furniture for a comfortable feel.
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