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
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
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 but 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
Reykjavik's setting on the southwest corner of
Iceland is another drawcard. Panoramic views surround the majestic
Mount Esja rising behind the bay, while vistas stretch as far as
the crystalline Snaefellsjokull Glacier to the west across the
Atlantic. 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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