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The city of Reykjavík has a fascinating history stretching back for over a thousand years, having first been inhabited in the eighth century by a band of hardy Norsemen. Since then Vikings, monks, sailors, musicians, fishermen, politicians, writers, artists and all manner of folk have played their part in shaping the rich history and culture that makes Iceland’s capital such a vibrant and fascinating place. Visitors leave Reykjavík with a renewed sense of vigour that can be attributed to Iceland’s pristine air and unique energy, which is evident all around the city - from the geothermal vents steaming in the midnight sunshine to the great open spaces that adorn the area with a stunning natural landscape along with the many year-round activities and events that can fill the diary of any interested traveller. Reykjavík is also home to the world’s oldest parliament - the Althing, which was founded in 930 AD - but today the city is the epitome of a modern European capital with a world-class infrastructure, excellent transport links to Europe and North America and 200,000 welcoming Icelanders helping you enjoy your stay. Renowned for its art scene, sight-seeing and nightlife, as well as the annual film and music festivals plus numerous shops, museums and restaurants, there’s no other city like the world’s most Northerly capital, which is situated a relatively-short distance from the Arctic Circle. Visitors from all round the globe also enjoy whale and wildlife watching, relaxing in one of the many thermally-heated spas and pools (such as the famous Blue Lagoon), viewing spectacular sights such as the Imagine Peace Tower (a spectacular tribute to John Lennon) or the Hallgrímskirkja church or touring the amazing countryside - all with the beautiful snow-covered Mount Esja in the background. Reykjavík is home to some superb hotels, guest houses and accommodation for visitors and information on tours, trips and things to do during your stay can be easily found in this brochure or at the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre. However long you stay you won’t be short of things to do in Reykjavík, surely one of the world’s most interesting and stunningly-located capital cities.
Reykjavík’s compact city centre is a friendly and colourful network of small streets with historic buildings, a wide selection of boutiques, designer shops, cafés and restaurants serving attractive dishes made of the freshest of ingredients. Find the perfect souvenir, enjoy a gourmet meal or lose track of time in a modern gallery. See below for the "Top 10" things to do. If you have more time on your hands we encourage you to go beyond the trendy “101” postcode of Reykjavík city centre and view some of the intriguing sites that the Reykjavík Capital Area offers, including Viking and elf territory, museums displaying both nature’s wonders and cultural icons, some excellent new thermal pool facilities and top bird watching sites.
While glaciers, geysers, hot springs and volcanoes are the exotic attractions that traditionally have made tourists want to come to Iceland. Its capital, Reykjavik, has recently become one of the world’s greatest weekend destinations and draws visitors from across the world. Reykjavik also offers splendid architecture, fantastic shopping and a raft of cultural delights with Iceland’s amazing natural wonders just around the corner.
Foodies will find plenty to keep them happy when wining and dining in the nation’s capital. Reykjavík has an astounding variety of restaurants, offering both traditional and international cuisine cooked using the freshest ingredients. Icelandic cuisine is characterised by an imaginative use of pure Icelandic ingredients such as fresh fish and seafood, organic lamb and wild game. Be sure not to miss the Icelandic hot dog. The highly acclaimed “city’s best” can be found at the “Bæjarins Beztu” hot dog stand on Tryggvagata near Reykjavík Harbour.
Reykjavík boasts a great café culture, with residents regularly meeting up with friends and family for coffee, cake and conversation and simple food at affordable prices. An Icelandic hot chocolate is a great way to warm those cold bones after a day spent exploring the city and many also host live music and entertainment.
Walking through Reykjavík city centre during the day, and after hours when the party is well under way, are two completely different experiences. Reykjavík is well known for its vibrant nightlife, with trendy bars and clubs open until the early hours of the morning. Whether you are interested in listening to live music or dancing the night away, you are sure to find something to your liking. Bars & Clubs - The distinction between cafés, pubs, bars and clubs is far from clear in Reykjavík, with many daytime cafés turning into tightly packed bars and clubs as the night goes on. Many are open until late (five in the morning) and it is not uncommon to spend all night on the town on Friday and Saturday nights. Most bars and clubs are in the compact downtown area which makes it easy to test many different places. Live Music - Reykjavík has a very eclectic music scene and it goes far beyond what you might have heard about Bjork and Sigur Ros. The scene is made up of a large number of genres, with everything from hardcore punk rock and indie to chamber music and hip-hop. You can take in a concert almost every night of the week. Read more:
Lovers of arts and culture are in for a real treat in Reykjavík. From the Icelandic sagas to contemporary art, Reykjavík has a buzzing culture scene. A constant flow of innovative musical happenings, theatrical performances and culture events keeps locals and visitors entertained all year round. The city’s lively and growing events calendar includes:
Reykjavíkers are known for their innovative design style. Walk up Laugavegur or Skólavördustígur, the city’s main shopping streets, and you’ll spot arts and crafts galleries, music and bookstores, jewellery shops with one-of-akind Icelandic designs that often incorporate local semi-precious stones or pieces of lava rock, and locally created fashion like a handbag made of fish skin or a delicate woollen top. On weekends, you will find the Flea Market (Kolaportið) by Reykjavík Harbour overflowing with bric-a-brac and Icelandic delicacies, such as fermented shark, dried fish, tons of liquorice and much more! You can also find electronics, camping equipment, book shops, record stores and gift shops around Reykjavík plus several shopping malls are handily located on the outskirts of the city.
Reykjavik is closer than you think. Flight time is 2-4 hours from Europe and 5-6 hours from east coast USA. For updated information on flights to Reykjavík. It is also a compact city which is easy to navigate, whether on your own two feet or by public transport. In addition, magnificent countryside awaits just minutes away from the city centre. Visit the Reykjavík Tourist Information Centre for help in planning your activities. When exploring Reykjavík, do not be afraid to stop and ask for directions, since people are very friendly and almost everyone speaks English.
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