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Iceland Tourist Guide

Iceland

Ocean cruises or expeditions to Iceland specialize in taking in the spectacular nature that Iceland has to offer. The capital city, Reykjavik, is modern and bustling, the only true city in the country, located on the southwestern coast. The city's old harbor is the landing point for cruise ships. Much of Iceland's popularity as a tourist destination is due to its stunning natural features, which include glaciers, hot springs, geysers, active volcanoes, portentous peaks and vast lava deserts.

In addition to its expansive landscape, Iceland has a rich history and folklore tradition. Reykjavik has a lively nightlife scene with hundreds of bars, clubs and restaurants and the streets can get very busy all through the night at weekends.

Two shopping malls, Kringland and Smáralind, provide the focus for retail therapy along with Laugavegur or Pool Road, one of the oldest shopping streets of the city center. One of the striking landmarks of the city is Perlan, a glass dome structure covering hot water storage tanks. The terrace offers a great view over the city and harbor, and there are shops, cafés and a museum devoted to Icelandic folklore and sagas inside. In the old part of town an archaeological museum tells the story of Viking expeditions in the north Atlantic.

The growth and prosperity of Reykjavik is owed in part to its occupation by American and British forces in the Second World War. One of the most bizarre tourist attractions is a small hotdog stand near the harbour, Bæjarins beztu (in English, "the best hotdogs"), where former President Bill Clinton was pictured enjoying an impromptu hotdog and soda.

For a city so far north - it's only just below the Arctic Circle - Reykjavik enjoys a moderate climate and less extreme cold weather than New York. This is because Iceland benefits from the relatively warm waters of the Gulf Stream. The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is a popular visitor attraction on the Reykjanes peninsula, about 6 miles from the capital. The naturally warm water is rich in minerals.

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