Though Iceland is as big as the state of Ohio in the United States of America, three quarters of the land is uninhabitable. Most of the main cities and towns are clustered in the coastal areas throughout Iceland. Half of the population in Iceland lives in the capital city of Reykjavik, and the six municipalities in the Greater Reykjavik area are largely made up of small towns.
Álftanes This peninsula to the south of Reykjavik is an urban suburb of modern dwellings. Since it is a beautiful nature reserve, bird watching is a favorite pastime. Tourist agencies such as Farm Holidays , conduct bird watching excursions here, along with beach hiking.
Garðabær This is the sixth largest town in Iceland. Considered different from other municipalities because of its housing projects, Garðabær is fast becoming an urban hangout for most of the young people that stay there. Among the highlights are the countless music concerts and an annual jazz festival that draw crowds from all of Scandinavia. Accommodations, such as the Fell Guesthouse and Isafold are relatively inexpensive.
Hafnarfjörður A major town on the outskirts Reykjavik, it is the next best place to be in Iceland after the capital city. Cafes, tourist agencies ( Blue Biking , Mountain Taxi, Ishestar), restaurants ( A. Hansen ), and accommodation ( Guesthouse Helguhus , Vid Laekinn Guesthouse) are quickly getting Hafnarfjörður noticed on the map.
Kópavogur This mini city gets attention because of its active nightlife. Second to Reykjavik in population, Kópavogur is a nouveau-riche city, bustling with shopping arcades, art performances, restaurants, pubs, and other places of business and enjoyment. The sports facilities are considered the best in the country. Hotels such as Hotel Smari , guesthouses ( Guesthouse BB 44 ), and fastfood chains (TGI Fridays, Pizza Höllin) are in abundance here.
Mosfellsbær This place is nature's bounty within the Greater Reykjavik area. It's a great place for hiking, mountain biking and other recreational sports. Horseback tours (at Ferdahestar and Laxnes Horse Farm), and golf (at Hlíðavollur and Bakkakotsvollur) are major attractions here.
Seltjarnarnes This residential area is well known for its migratory birds. During high tide Seltjarnarnes gets separated from the mainland. The late summer sunset is one of the most spectacular sights in the world. The only astronomers' club in Iceland is situated here. Golfers can head to the Golf Club Nes .
From coffees to liqueurs, from the northern lights to flashing disco lights, Iceland's capital city seems to be abuzz with a certain vitality. The Viking spirit is definitely evident in the smorgasbord of cafes, bars and restaurants all over the city. Living large is definitely a done thing here! What's great is that Icelanders have the best excuse, the weather! You do need the good food to line your stomach and a few drinks to brave the freezing temperatures, don't you? And although Reykjavik prides itself on its fresh and pure ingredients, you tend to forget that when you are face to face with a charred and pickled lambs head!
Ég elska mitt kaffi! (I Love My Coffee!) If you are among those who go into joyous raptures with merely the smell of fresh coffee, you have definitely found your little piece of heaven. The cafe culture here is rampant to say the least. Little and not so little cafes dot the streets all over Reykjavik. The best way to warm up on a cold day, apart from the naughty of course, would be wrapping your fingers around a nice hot cup of coffee, and biting into freshly baked treats. You can watch the world go by or enjoy great conversations, at places like the Mokka Kaffi , which is the oldest cafe in Reykjavik, or somewhere livelier like Kaffi Brenslan , which serves good food and beer as well! When the sun is out, cafes provide outdoor seating to bask in the warmth.
Something Fishy Reykjavik is a Mecca for seafood. Restaurants here claim to serve fish so fresh that you would expect them to still be swimming in your plate. Aromatic herbs and fresh ingredients make these dishes melt in your mouth. Places like Tveir Fiskar offer sushi as well as other local and Japanese seafood dishes, all using organic ingredients. Restaurant Thor at Hafnarfjörður harbor is located on Iceland's most famous coastguard vessel 'Thor'. This restaurant/ museum is a kitschy, touristy alternative for fish lovers.
Authentic Iceland If you have traveled all the way up here and braved the arctic winds, it would be plain silly to go back without trying the wholesome traditional cuisine! From the classy, to the kind that is plain, although completely satiating, the food here is filling and brimming with flavors. The lamb is known for its distinctive taste and the cheese available here is world renowned. One of Hafnarfjörður's oldest and most esteemed restaurants, A. Hansen , is the place to splurge at on special occasions, for traditional and contemporary local cuisine. To visit Iceland is to enjoy its gorgeous scenery and a good way to combine local cuisine and the breathtaking sights, would be in restaurants like the Skíðaskálinn Hveradölum . This restaurant and chalet is located atop a ski slope and allows you to dine amongst nature. For something simple like fish soups, stews and sandwiches, Kaffivagninn is the place to go. Icelanders also seem to have a taste for the bizarre. A strong digestive system seems imperative if you want to enjoy cakes made of ram's testicles or chow down some rotten shark meat. If the sight doesn't get to you, the smell definitely will!
A spoonful from around the world! For more international taste buds, there are loads of Asian and Italian eateries. Restaurants like the Indókína offer Indonesian, Chinese and Vietnamese food, and it is easy on the wallet. For a bite of Italy step into the Madonna , and indulge in cheesy pastas, and other traditional Italian dishes. For a touch of spice, you could try one of the Mexican restaurants like the Creole & Mex Grill , which is also reasonably priced. Common favorites around the world like hot dogs, burgers, pizzas and other fast food, are available all over.
Fiery Nights Drinking in Reykjavik can take up the entire night; there are plenty of places to choose from! In fact dining and drinking seem to be synonymous here. Trendy restaurants like the Vegamot have great bars and often turn into discos as the stars twinkle on. Every weekend, sleet or snow, Reykjavik's party-goers, raise the temperature by a few notches. The night clubs get packed and getting in means getting there early. Clubs like the 22 , with its three different floors, are popular with the young and trendy.
Whether to beat the cold or not, good food, a little intoxication and groovy beats, never go out of style. Hot waffles sprinkled with golden honey or a plateful of fresh Icelandic seafood or a glass of something more sinful; go ahead choose your poison.