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Travel Review: Reykjavík, Iceland

Adina Oditt

Known as the world’s northernmost capital, Reykjavik is located in the center of the volcanically and geologically active nation of Iceland. A sparsely-populated North Atlantic island, Iceland is famous for its hot springs, geysers, and active volcanoes. However, most of the action is settled in the vibrant capital, which offers a sizzling combination of village innocence and big-city zeal. In summer, the streets are washed by 22 hours of daylight; in winter, they’re scoured by blizzards and exposed to never-ending nights. Reykjavík is a city that treasures its Viking past but certainly holds a tight grip on the future.


Airlines/Travel: There is a wide selection of international flights to Iceland, both from Europe and the United States. Its main airport, Reykjavík-Keflavík Airport, which is named after the famous explorer Leif Ericson, is the largest airport in Iceland and the country’s main hub for international transportation. The main carriers at Keflavik are Icelandair and Iceland Express, which fly directly to and from JFK International Airport. The best time to travel to Iceland depends on which seasons you want to endure because each season offers a unique experience. The winter, for example, is “off-season,” and flights to Iceland are less expensive; it would also be interesting to experience the snow-covered landscapes and to witness the Polar Lights in the sky.


Hotels/Lodging: There are hotels and guesthouses to suit all tastes and budgets, from the most luxurious to the simple and sufficient. Summerhouses are also ideal an economical choice for small groups and families. Some of the most popular hotels in the center of Reykjavik include Hotel Borg, Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, and Radisson Blue Saga Hotel. Be sure to expect warm hospitality, clean air and great security since Iceland is one of the safest nations in the world.


Sightseeing/Attractions: The Icelandic capital is surrounded by a beautiful landscape, which adds to the activities offered to visitors. For example, there is the “Blue Lagoon,” Iceland’s famous geothermal spa, where guests relax in seawater heated by Mother Nature. It is a heated pool (104°F) that is surrounded by piles of snow all year round. In addition, the shopping is endless, as one can browse through Scandinavian designer stores in the famous Kringlan shopping mall, a hub of social activity in Reykjavik. Fur clothes are a particular Icelandic specialty; they are found at many markets. For an exciting sea adventure, try one of the many whale-watching tours that are available from Reykjavik. The ocean around the city is a natural habitat for many types of whales and dolphins. Reykjavik museums offer a great combination of fun and learning for the whole family. The National Museum and Saga Museum, for example, allow the children to experience how the Vikings fought and feasted in an interactive way. Additionally, Reykjavik’s Videy Island is a unique site that combines history, culture and nature and is only a few minutes away by boat. There are hiking paths around the island, which is renowned for its varied bird life. Reykjavik is surrounded by the ocean, and the waterfront paths are perfect for a relaxing stroll, some jogging, cycling or rollerblading. The city’s northern waterfront is a popular area, with a view of Reykjavik’s landmark mountain, Mt. Esja.


Cuisine/Dining: Despite high prices in Iceland, it is possible to eat on a smaller budget, especially in Reykjavik, where you’ll have many more options for cheap eats. Try Icelandic fish and chips, super-fresh fish battered in barley and with a variety of dips. Sixty percent of Iceland’s national income comes from fish, and tasting it explains why. Almost any restaurant will serve a creature that was swimming a few hours earlier in cool, clean waters, and cosmopolitan chefs do much of the cooking. Icelandic hotdogs are among the best in the world and are made of locally-raised lamb and covered with fried and raw onions, a kind of gravy, and mustard. If you are looking to pick a “unique” choice of meal, try Icelandic pizza with an upscale edge: shrimp and scallop toppings. Either way, you are bound to find a restaurant and meal in Iceland that will certainly suit both your taste buds and budget.

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