What’s Doing in Reykjavik, Iceland

View from the new Fosshotel Reykjavík

By Jesse Sokolow on 28 September 2015
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Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital, has been steadily increasing in popularity as a tourist destination, in no small means thanks to an offer by the country’s flag carrier, Icelandair, for a free stopover when flying from the United States before continuing on to the European continent.

Over one-third of Iceland’s population lives in the capital and two-thirds live in Höfuðborgarsvæðið, the Capital Region. The country has been through a banking collapse that crippled the economy in 2008 followed by the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajokull, which crippled air travel across the Atlantic in 2010.

Visitors come for the natural beauty, to admire Harpa, the city’s impressive new concert hall, to view the aurora borealis lighting up the night sky, and to get a taste of life as a Viking.

Harpa, the city's new concert hall

Harpa, the city’s new concert hall

In and near the city are dramatic volcanic landscapes, geothermal hot springs, geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, and black sand beaches.

Reykjavik offers a gateway to traditional Icelandic cuisine, Icelandic literature, and the Íslendingasögur, the sagas of Icelanders, a literary phenomenon of the 13th and 14th centuries, start with the settlement of Iceland in 870 and continue through the mid-eleventh century when the first bishop in the country founded a church at Skálaholt.

One of the sagas, Egils saga, is believed to have been written by historian and poet Snorri Sturluson, a descendant of the saga’s hero, whose hot bath, Snorralaug, is a popular tourist attraction. Indeed, today, approximately 85% of Iceland’s primary energy supply comes from domestically produced renewable energy sources including geothermal energy, hydropower, and wind.

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