Reykjavik Travel Guide
View of Reykjavik © Andreas Tille
Back in the first century AD, legendary Viking Ingolfur Arnarson named the settlement he founded on a south-western peninsula Reykjavik, meaning 'Smokey Bay'. The smoke he found wafting over the area, however, had nothing to do with pollution, but rather the bubbling, boiling natural geysers and geothermal springs that now underlie the modern capital of Iceland. This source of heat and water has ensured that Reykjavik has no need to burn fuels to warm its heart, and the crisp, clean air is delightful.
The sky is not always blue, however: Reykjavik receives more than its fair share of rainy weather blown in from the sea, and during the long, bleak winter its northern latitude ensures that the sun makes no more than a brief appearance every day.
Despite this, the capital of Iceland is definitely a hot spot, renowned for its lively pubs and clubs, which draw hundreds of merry-making visitors, particularly during the long, light, bright summer nights. Reykjavik's growing reputation as a fun tourist destination is enhanced by its fiery, friendly inhabitants, relaxed pace of life, many cultural attractions and dozens of opportunities for fascinating day trips, not to mention the novelty of bathing in one of the steamy public geothermal swimming baths.
Reykjavik's setting on the southwest corner of Iceland is another draw card. All around are panoramic views of the majestic Mount Esja, which rises up behind the bay, and vistas across the Atlantic as far, on a sunny day, as the crystalline Snaefellsjokull glacier to the west. The city is well positioned to act as a springboard for southern Iceland, and many of the country's most popular attractions are within easy reach.
Reykjavik has a small-town atmosphere, its centre easily explored on foot, the quaint whitewashed wooden buildings and colourful houses interspersed with plenty of open space.
Even those who come to indulge mainly in the hedonistic nightlife cannot fail to leave Reykjavik feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
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