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Cheap city breaks to Reykjavik

Back in the first century AD, legendary Viking Ingolfur Arnarson named the settlement he founded on a northerly Atlantic 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.

Although a beautiful, cosmopolitan, vibrant and charming city, many of Iceland's best tourist attractions are actually located outside of its capital, Reykjavik. However, luckily for visitors, Iceland is a small country and none of the tourist attractions mentioned here require a significant amount of travelling to get to.

As far as attractions in Reykjavik are concerned, don't miss the Botanical Gardens, which are full of interesting indigenous plants and trees; the Einar Jónsson Museum, displaying works by Iceland's greatest sculptor; Hallgrimskirkja, one of the weirdest, most grandiose churches on the planet; and, to satisfy your Viking curiosity, the National Museum, Saga Museum and the Reykjavik City Museum (which features live actors and historical re-enactments).

Outside of Reykjavik - as one enters the remarkable hinterland - the real tourist gems can be found, and luckily the south of the country is home to most of Iceland's top tourist attractions. Be sure to check out the Blue Lagoon, a man-made geothermal spring and spa; Geysir, the world's original hot spring; the truly transcendent Gullfoss Falls; Thingvellir National Park, with its incredible hiking trails; and Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon full of eerie, luminous-blue ice bergs.

No matter what you decide you to see and do in the 'Land of Fire and Ice', one thing is for sure: don't forget to take a camera along with you, as Iceland is a country uniquely full of sights that beggar belief. Travellers should also consider arming themselves with the Reykjavik City Card, which gives discounts on tourist attractions and restaurants, and allows unlimited bus transport.

Food in Reykjavik

Although the national diet is quickly diversifying, fish and lamb are still consumed in great quantities in Iceland - and, reportedly, it can be quite hard always to find a vegetarian option on restaurant menus. Despite this, however, Reykjavik's restaurant scene is exciting and becoming increasingly cosmopolitan, as restaurateurs rush to embrace fusion cooking, and attempt to offer fresh interpretations of international dishes using local ingredients.

Traditional fare, available everywhere, but probably only tempting for the more gastronomically adventurous, includes harðfiskur (dried fish-meat, eaten with butter); svið (singed sheep's head); slátur (sausage made from blood and offal, like black pudding); hrútspungar (pickled ram's testicles); and hákarl (putrefied shark-meat). There is also, controversially for some, the option of eating whale-meat while in Iceland. And if you really want to push the boat out, you can get it with some grated puffin on the side.

Those with tamer appetites will be relieved to know that a staple of the Icelandic diet is the pylsa, a good, old-fashioned hot dog, served with fried onions, ketchup and mustard.

Information & Facts


Despite its extreme north Atlantic situation, Reykjavik's temperate subpolar oceanic climate is not as cold as might be expected, its average mid-winter temperatures being no lower than those in New York City. Winter temperatures average between 28°F (-2°C) and 38°F (3°C). This is because the Icelandic coastal weather is tempered by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. The city's coastal location does, however, also mean it is prone to wind, and gales are common in winter. Summer temperatures in July, the warmest month, peak at around 59°F (15°C).

Bolholt Hotel Unrated
The establishment offers 14 apartments of different sizes, bright and some offering a view of the bay, equipped with kitchenette, ensuite bathroom, fridge, microwave and other amenities. Ideal for families, couples or business clients.
The Reykjavik Peace Center is a luxury guesthouse in Reykjavik featuring spacious rooms and apartments. The Reykjavik Peace Center offers several lounges, reading areas, computer, TV and Free Wireless Internet Convenient central location in a peaceful..
Facilities and services include reception open 24 hrs, a restaurant, wireless internet throughout the hotel, safety box at the reception and parking. The rooms feature TV, heating, desk, iron and ironing board (at Reception). * Important - note that there..
Facilities and services include reception open 24 hrs, a restaurant, wireless internet throughout the hotel, safety box at the reception and parking. The rooms feature TV, heating, desk, iron and ironing board (at Reception). * Important - note that there..
The Capital-Inn is a small and friendly hotel on the outside of Reykjavik city centre. It is located close by to one of the most popular attractions in Reykjavik the Perlan building. It boasts a 25m high dome building with an observation deck with views..
Property Location With a stay at Bolholt Apartments, you'll be centrally located in Reykjavik, convenient to Kjarvalsstadir and Hallgrimskirkja. This family-friendly apartment is within close proximity of Laugardalsholl and Laugardalsvollur.Rooms Make..
Capital Inn is a spacious 2* budget hostel located in central Reykjavik offering both dorm and private rooms. This hostel is the ideal choice for both independent and groups of travellers alike. --Dorm rooms have shared bathroom facilities and washbasins..
Capital inn reykjavik is a small, privately run property located just outside reykjavik's city centre and next to one of the main landmarks - the pearl. Although the accommodation is offered at the hotel is fairly simple in standard all rooms are very..
Property Location With a stay at Hostel B47, you'll be centrally located in Reykjavik, steps from Sundhollin and minutes from Hallgrimskirkja. This hostel is within close proximity of ASI Art Museum and Einar Jonsson Museum. Rooms Make yourself at home..
Hotel 66 is an ideal choice for guests looking for budget hotel to explore the sights of Reykjavik city. Reykjavik¿s activity park in Laugardalur is located nearby and has many attractions to enjoy a day out including a family zoo, botanical gardens,..
The Hallgrimskirkja landmark church, the tallest building in Iceland, dominates the city from its highest point and is visible on a sunny day from up to 10 miles (16km) away. Named after the 17th-century Icelandic poet, hymn composer and clergyman,..
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