The 64% City

Just over 340,000 live in Iceland.

Surprised? Then consider this…

A whopping two-thirds of them live in the capital city of Reykjavik. 

But there’s more to Reykjavik than the cold statistics of 64% of the country’s residents living here. Over the years, it has developed into one of the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world. Cleanest, because the city has virtually no pollution. Greenest, because it’s on its way to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040. Safest, because for the straight twelfth year running, the country has been ranked as the safest in the world.

With a markedly contemporary design and vibrant cultural scene, you can freely explore its lively nightlife, innovative museums, topnotch restaurants, galleries, shops, and bars immersion into all things Icelandic.

So, is there a darker side to Reykjavik you should know about? Well, certainly so. The Nordic city might make you depressed when you hear that it’s the only Western European capital to not have any McDonald’s or Starbucks. So much for globalization!

It has often been said that the topography of Iceland reflects its people, who despite their ruggedness, exude a strong feeling of friendliness. Surely enough, the area surrounding Reykjavik is covered with huge lava fields, wrinkled and tough, yet home to an extraordinary layer of spongy living moss. The Icelanders are akin to a large extended family, eager and strong to meet the challenge of the elements, but also peaceable and welcoming in nature.

No other attraction is probably as famous in the city as the Blue Lagoon, which has been dubbed as “a spa of the volcanic earth” where you can find the harmony of nature. The water here is milky-blue, soothing and nourishing to the skin, and unlike anywhere you’ve seen. Surrounding the region is a vast lava field, its blackness starkly contrasting with the green and grey moss that grows on it.

Strictly speaking, the lagoon is not in Reykjavik, but in Grindavík, a mere quarter of an hour driving distance from the Keflavik International Airport. Most tourists use it as either a first or a last stop on their itinerary, and the reason for that is its location. This natural lagoon stays at the Goldilocks zone of 102 degrees Fahrenheit all year-round, and so serves as a rejuvenating pit stop for travelers, a perfect foil to get in the water even during the brutal Icelandic winter. You can even hop in and out of the Golden Circle sightseeing tour from here, which lies close to the lagoon. However, if you’re not renting a car in Iceland, then to visit the place you do need to transfer with a tour company.

It’s good to know, however, that the lagoon isn’t quite a natural formation like most people think it to be. It’s true that Iceland has too many natural springs crammed into it, but the hot water here is powered by an adjacent geothermal plant, which uses the volcanic lands around it to generate this power. By the way, if this makes you change your mind to visit the lagoon, just remember that the water is indeed quite invigorating, not toxic as the thought that must have just cropped in your mind. Bottomline? You'll love it!

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