Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall (Sprengisandsleið) – located 6 ½ hours northwest of Reykjavik, this waterfall is only 20 meters in height. Yet, the ballast columns that frame it, and the water’s powdery blue color (confirming its glacial origins) make this natural site a worthy destination for many eco-tourists and nature lovers. Visitors who go through the moonscape-like terrain to reach this waterfall, will see that it belongs to the river Skjálfandafljót on the northern end of the Sprengisandur 4wd road.
Austur (Austurstraeti 7) – located at one of Reykjavik’s major shopping streets, this is a popular nightclub among both locals and visitors. Unlike some of the capital’s nightspots, which are casual (with drinking being the main activity), this is a full-fledged nightclub, with live DJs and a dress code that matches Austur’s sleek interior. International celebrities that pass through Reykjavik, like Hollywood actor Jim Carrey, are known to frequent this nightspot.
Argentina Steakhouse (Barónsstíg 11, Reykjavik) –– Argentina Steakhouse has been a classic with Icelander´s since 1989 when the restaurant opened its doors. Being in downtown Reykjavik, Argentina Steakhouse is conveniently located for all visiting the Icelandic capital. Meat and fish, grilled Argentinean style using wooden coal, is the restaurants main fare. The outstanding skill and creativity of the chefs emerge in their presentation as well as in the wide selection of starters and desserts.
Argentina Steakhouse was the first restaurant in Iceland to offer steaks by weight and the main courses on the menu have been unchanged from the beginning. Icelandic ingredients prevail and only Icelandic beef of superior quality is on offer. The Icelandic ox has remained unchanged since the time of the settlers, over 1000 years ago.
Kringlan (Kringlunni 4-12, Reykjavik) — this is the largest shopping mall in Iceland, with over 180 stores (along with restaurants and other amenities usually found in such shopping centers). Unlike its competitor (Smaralind) – which is toward the city’s outskirts, Kringlan is located in the heart of Reykjavik. Retailers found there include: Adidas, Benetton, Ecco, Hugo Boss, Joe Boxer, L’Occitane, Levi’s, Timberland, Topshop, and Zara (along with various local and regional stores).
Akureyri Museum (Adalstraeti 58, Akureyri) – this museum, located in the north central part of the country (almost 5 hours northeast of Reykjavik) offers two permanent exhibitions depicting the history of the area from settlement to modern times: “Eyjafjorður from Early Times” and “Akureyri – the Town on the Bay”.
Many interesting and unique artifacts can be found in the exhibitions relating to the Viking period, the Middle Ages, religion and everyday life in Eyjafjörður and Akureyri in the past. All exhibition texts are in English but also available in German and Danish. The surrounding museum garden is an idyllic picnic spot and the 19th Century church is well worth a visit as well as Nonni’s House, which also belongs to the museum. The Museum also hosts a number of events throughout the year. Admission: ISK 900. Hours vary. Visit the museum’s website for more info: www.minjasafnid.is
Iceland, a once-unpopulated country, was first settled by Norwegian Vikings, with a settlement in the country’s capital (Reykjavik) established back in 870 AD. Since then, Iceland has been subjected to rule from both Norway, as well as by fellow Scandinavian power Denmark — including the 17th century, when Denmark and Norway were under a political union until the early 1800s. One significant event that occurred in Iceland was the eruption of Laki volcano in 1783, which killed most of the island’s livestock, along with 9,000 locals. The climate change that occurred in Iceland during that period triggered starvation (killing a quarter of Iceland’s population). Another period of harsh climactic conditions overwhelmed Iceland in the 19th century — which contributed to another wave of outward migrations (particularly into Canada).
By the end of World War I (1918), Denmark granted Iceland full sovereignty (the Kingdom of Iceland). By 1926, Iceland’s population reached 100,000 for the first time. Iceland’s independence was interrupted during World War II, when the British occupied it for strategic purposes (control of the north Atlantic). When circumstances within the UK prevented the British forces from fully protecting Iceland from the Germans, up to 40,000 U.S. troops assumed responsibility for the defense of that country. With Iceland enjoying economic prosperity during the WWII years, it joined NATO in 1949, which resulted in a long-term U.S. military presence there.
Iceland is using its air links to both North America and Western Europe to expand its tourism sector, resulting in it taking up 6% of the country’s GDP (2010). This has been driven in part by Iceland promoting itself as an eco-tourist destination (which includes whale watching, as well as exploration of its volcanoes and glaciers). In 2012, Iceland received about 673,000 visitors, which was more than twice the country’s entire population (of just 317,000).