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  • The most interesting urban destinations in Iceland

    Reykjavik

    Reykjavik

    Iceland is already famous for its breath-taking natural scenery filled with glaciers, geysers, waterfalls and lava fields, and it has long been a perfect destination for active travelers who want to lose themselves in the middle of pristine, deserted landscapes.

    When it comes to hiking, walking, skiing and climbing, Iceland is simply one of the best places on earth. But the urban side of this cold country is nothing to scoff at either, and while Iceland might not have any sprawling metropolises, it has more than enough quaint cities and towns where you can immerse yourself in local life and culture.

    City life in Iceland is far from bleak, and even the small town are an explosion of color, activity and sights. Here are some of the most interesting urban destinations in Iceland for the curious traveler.

    Reykjavik

    The Icelandic capital is heart of the island, and its most important tourist hub as well. Most of the population of Iceland lives in Reykjavik, so if it’s Icelandic culture that you’re interested in, then you will find countless attractions in the city.

    One of the most striking things about Reykjavik are its multicolored buildings, and from afar the city looks like a toy town – even the rooftops come in bright colors! The city center is compact and walkable, so most sights can be accessed on foot. Visit the old town, Reykjavik cathedral, the City Hall and some of the many art and history museums.

    Akureyri

    Akureyri, photo by Andrea Schaffer on Flickr

    The capital of the Northern region is a small town by international standards (less than 20,000 inhabitants), but it is lively and packed with sights.

    Rent a bike and explore the winding streets, visit the art district (Grófargil) with its galleries and art shops, and go barhopping or watch a movie at the theater. Akureyri is a very pleasant destination for a day or two, and it is a great base for trips in the region.

    Egilsstaðir

    Egilsstaðir is one of the ‘youngest’ towns in Iceland, as it was established a less than sixty years ago, and it is small and very peaceful. There aren’t many traditional attractions to speak of in the town itself, but if you want to get away from the crowds (which, granted, are never a danger in Iceland) and enjoy the best weather in Iceland, then Egilsstaðir is worth a stop. For a nature outing take a walk through the nearby Hallormsstaðaskógur forest, the largest in Iceland.

    Hafnarfjörður

    Hafnarfjörður, photo by Gediminas Paulauskas on Flickr

    Hafnarfjörður is very close to the capital and is basically one of Reykjavik’s suburbs, but it has a personality of its own. The main draw of the town is its historic center, which is quite old in Icelandic terms.

    It is interesting to see how the town was built so as not to damage too much the lava field in which it was built, and in certain parts of the town you can see interesting lava formations left untouched.

    Stykkishólmur

    Most travelers stop by Stykkishólmur on their way to Iceland’s western islands, but this small town is definitely worth a tour too. There are many old (18th and 19th century) trading houses in Stykkishólmur, which give the town a very historic feel – they are a memento of the town’s past as a Danish trading outpost.

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