Waking up next door to nature would ideally mean a cabin stay nestled in wooded mountains, overlooking a rustic green field, or sleeping under the stars on an untouched beach. Urban settings constructed and designed without removing or damaging nature, but rather honouring it, has become more rare than not in today’s man-made world, particularly in city centres and metropolitan areas. Reykjavik, however, proudly offers a perfect balance between engineering and nature; in fact there aren’t many places in the city where nature feels removed or non-present. Neighbourhoods and popular sceneries are either nestled by mountains, the sea or both, and many surrounded by vast lava fields.
Harpa, one of Reykjavik’s proud new architectural visions, poses in the city centre with the backdrop of mountains and sea. This is where Icelanders and visitors alike seek out concerts, conferences, and cuisine. With stunning views from within the distinctive windows looking out on the water, white-capped blue mountains and the harbour, Harpa has become one of the most incomparable venues of Northern Europe.
Before, after, or in the interim of any function at Harpa, it’s accessible to stroll along the harbour, viewing local fishermen coming to shore with their pristine catches of the day, and watching tour boats taking off with eager nature loving travellers hoping to catch glimpses of whales. The carved-like downtown coastline features a walking path along the Atlantic Ocean connecting nature and city life.
Reykjavik is structured with walking and hiking paths that are surrounded by nature’s presence, from lava fields to sea to mountains. Every year Reykjavik welcomes more visitors seeking our unspoiled natural wonders taking in the lunar view within and beyond the capital’s outskirts. Travellers also indulge in nature beyond observation, as our ever-evolving food scene continues to form new geographies with naturally sourced ingredients and new creations of old traditions.
Whenever nature is involved in the complete journey from visual and physical space to savour and sips, it’s really a different kind of experience. When fresh air and sea surround the somewhat raw land, everything is fresher and more real. It’s as if the life cycle of the land chooses the culinary direction and we simply follow it.
Iceland prides itself on its pristine seafood, wild grass-fed lamb, clean drinking water, fresh dairy, wild arctic herbs, and greenhouse grown produce. All of this sets the initial mood in our modern cuisine, run by talented chefs around the city and beyond. Though the culinary scene has been evolving for a while, it’s very recent that artisanal cocktails made with all Icelandic ingredients have become prevalent in our dining scene.
Our tranquil little Nordic country once again topped the safety index, being the most peaceful nation on earth. With all of our hot springs, natural pools and landscape wonders it’s not that surprising that we are a peaceful nation and being number one is never a problem for us. In fact, we pride ourselves for any per capita wins - including our Coca Cola drinking, which we might need to reconsider.
Icelanders are generally hard working and positive people. Being a small island nation between the United States and Europe, and somewhat influenced by both continents, we have our own unique qualities. One is that we think we can do anything, in spite of our size. Anything is possible if we put the work in. We also don’t believe that we should lack anything just because there are so few of us. We’re not afraid of large goals with short turn-arounds.
Anything from beating England in the Euro Cup and qualifying for the World Cup, to being number one on the technology index (published by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union), is solely built on a can-do attitude. We simply believe that we can do anything and there’s a lot credibility with that kind of attitude. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, there’s a thread of humour that comes with this attitude while enjoying surprising ourselves with our accomplishments.
Though the winter darkness can be trying, Icelanders are among the first in global measures of happiness. Families live close to each other and there’s a high quality of life in that when children grow up, they have the support of grandparents and other relatives. Somehow that support turns out to boost our independence, confidence and work ethic. The trust level is high in Icelanders, which is another boost in our can-do traits. It’s certainly a positive aspect to believe that people will deliver, and they do.
The Global Peace Index ranks nations based on domestic and international conflicts. Iceland is a military free country and the only NATO member without a standing army. Iceland has the lowest crime rate per capita and scores the lowest points for homicides and terror acts, as well as number of people in jail. Additional positive aspect: Iceland is an island and that means border disputes aren’t relevant.
Being a peaceful and safe nation, we let our babies sleep outside during daytime naps. Seeing a bundled up baby sleeping in a pram outside a shop unsupervised isn’t an uncommon scene in Reykjavik and throughout the country. This tradition goes way back and continues to awe visitors, but for us this is just a part of our daily lives.
What makes us so peaceful might have something to do with our progressive offerings such as health care, free education, geothermal energy, legalised gay marriage and our latest proud factor of being the first country in the world to end gender pay gaps. Our roughly 330,000 citizens have a lot to be thankful for, which keeps aggressiveness low and happiness high.
Sigurdur Valur Sigurdsson
Director of Marketing
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