Reykjavik, there’s no other city like it. And that’s why we at Black Tomato are huge fans. It’s the city where Bjork heralds from, where Yoko Ono’s Peace Light beams into space and where Damon Albarn from Blur hid for a year and is rumoured to have opened a bar.
at a glance
Your first trip to Iceland is one you won’t ever forget and it begins from the moment you catch a peek of the island as you descend into Keflavik Airport. Iceland doesn’t bear many trees. The landscape is rugged and harsh, but there is a fresh and an unspeakably crisp feel to it. In winter, a blanket of snow covers the island from head to toe. Head there in summer and you’ll be greeted by an island basking in sunlight nearly 24hrs a day glowing in all shades of green.
After a quick waltz through immigration and a nifty transfer on the shuttle bus (its probably the most convenient airport transfer we’ve been on) you’ll find yourself in Reykjavik. There’s no denying that Reykjavik is a small city, but don’t be fooled as this city packs quite a punch. From stunning boutique hotels (101 and Borg Hotel to name a few) to contemporary fashion and a killer music scene, you’d be surprised by the wealth of culture this city holds.
what to see
Laugavegur Street is the main artery that runs through the city, and for once it’s a high street that doesn’t boast the same predictable stores (or traffic) as 5th Avenue or Oxford Street. By day it’s doors are open to quirky Icelandic boutiques, vintage stores and artsy cafes. Veer off any side street to be surprised by hidden record stores, walls awash with tongue-in-cheek graffiti or even the most grandeur modern gothic church. And cruising down this fashionable street, don’t expect Ferraris or Porsches but cars that can only be described to be on steroids – humongous 4x4s with gigantic tires you thought could only fit on a monster truck. For fine dining cuisine, Reykjavik holds some of the best. Seafood (of course) is top on the list and look no further than the Fish Company. But if you’re after a quick bite, then you need to get yourself (before the crowds do) to the hot dog stand near the port (seriously, New York city has nothing on these dogs).
When the clock strikes midnight, the city comes alive with party revellers. But this isn’t you’re average party scene. The artsy café where you had lunch has had its chairs and tables flung to the side to make way for a dance floor. But word of advice, nightlife here begins in the wee hours of the morning, so you may want to change that dinner reservation at 7pm to a later time or you’ll find yourself with enough time for a pre-party nap.
why we love it
All said and done, it’s the people of Iceland that get us coming back for more. Icelanders are a breath of fresh air. Laid back, full of creativity and, believe it or not, resemble nothing like their blonde Viking forefathers. They flick from Icelandic to English like a flip of a switch, and you can guarantee to find them soaking in a hot pool ready for a good natter.
This is only a taste of what’s to come, but be warned, once you’ve been you’ll keep going back.