Just over 1000 years ago, Viking explorers settled on a small island in the North Atlantic, now known as Iceland. The relatively young mass of land sits atop a continental rift, saddling America and Europe. The result of this is many varied and extreme landscapes—and cultures.
Melting snow and ice surges down from the lofty highlands, cascading over cliffs as spectacular waterfalls before charging out to sea. Impossibly green landscapes sparsely populated with colorful farmhouses lie in the shadows of mountains, powdered with sparkling snow. Mighty volcanoes, rumbling angrily underneath ancient and ever-shifting glaciers, overlook all of this.
Get the picture?
Traveling to Iceland promises adventure akin to those had by the explorers of the new world. Unless, however, you spend your entire trip in the capital city of Reykjavik, a small town with more culture than some large cities. It’s easy to forget about the mountains and glaciers waiting to be traversed as you duck in between live music venues and varying food institutions serving everything from vegan to whale.
Reykjavik serves as the gateway to this island, a quirky place bursting with history, creativity and an innovative culinary scene. Like the country itself, the culture of Reykjavik is a mix of American and European, and surprisingly cosmopolitan for its size. Welcome to the northernmost capital in the world.
James Taylor is a freelance writer who loves to venture off into the unknown, currently based in Reykjavik, Iceland.