Insider's guide to Reykjavik

What's the weather like now, and where are the locals hanging out?

What's the weather like now?

Reykjavik has enjoyed a mild winter this year, with very little snow and ice. Equally unusual has been the lack of the storm-force winds that tend to lash the capital during the dark winter months. But it's windy here ­ no two public clocks in Reykjavik tell the same time because of the differing gusts throughout the city. Currently, it's considered warm, at around 7C.

What are the locals complaining about?

The location of the city airport. Originally built by the British when they occupied Iceland during the Second World War, the airport today is considered to be too small and too close to the city centre. Debate is raging about whether to up sticks and relocate to Keflavik, the international airport 30 miles west of the capital at the tip of the Reykjanes peninsula, where Nato has a base.

Who's the talk of the town?

The Egyptian-born British fiancée of President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. Following the death of his wife from cancer, the President struck up a relationship with the jewellery designer and Tatler journalist Dorrit Moussaieff, whom the Icelanders refer to as Dorrit M. The couple became engaged last May. Her efforts to learn Icelandic, an impenetrable language barely changed since the time of the Vikings, has endeared her to even the most hard-hearted ocean-going fisherman.

What's the cool drink?

Beer, beer and yet more beer. As prices continue to fall, it's now possible to buy a large beer in Reykjavik for about £2.50 (only a couple of years ago it would have cost more than twice that amount). Reykjavikers seem to consume more and more of the stuff – including yours if you leave it unattended for too long.

What are people eating?

At this time of year the delicious combination of cod liver and cod roe is a firm favourite. Simply purchase some from your fishmonger. But be careful to check your Icelandic phrase-book before ordering because just announcing "cod" will cause offence – calling someone a cod is an insult. Boil your fish in a pan and serve it with fried potatoes.

What's the most outrageous stuff on TV?

Gone are the days when Icelandic television was so strictly regulated that it didn't even broadcast every night of the week in order to allow people to take part in cultural activities, such as singing in choirs. Today Reykjavikers are glued to a channel that has just started broadcasting, Skjar 1, which shows programmes on everything from the sex lives of the Icelanders to the best way to prepare a haddock.

Where wouldn't the locals dream of going?

The swankiest hotel in Reykjavik, Hotel Saga, is normally packed full of visitors and conference delegates dashing up the stairs to admire the view or the majestic snowy mountain-tops which encircle the Icelandic capital. Not only is rubbing shoulders with tourists in glitzy hotels most definitely not cool but also no Icelander would dream of paying more than £6 for a large beer, which is the price charged here.

Where are the locals going that tourists don't know about?

Swimming pools are to the Icelanders what pubs are to the British. This is where people come to socialise and catch up on local gossip. The Sundhollin Pool in Reykjavik is a favourite among the city's inhabitants: here trawlermen rub shoulders with politicians to soak in the outdoor hotpots filled with geothermally heated water or, on a bright day, to catch a few rays on the sun terraces attached to the pool. There are also hydro-massages and concerts on offer.

Where are the chic people shopping?

Kringlan shopping centre on the outskirts of Reykjavik is the place to go to stock up on your designer gear. The Hugo Boss store is a particular favourite among Reykjavikers, who know that, contrary to what many visitors believe, the cost of designer clothes in Iceland is much less than elsewhere in Europe.

What's the trendy place to escape to for the weekend?

Akureyri. Iceland's second town enjoys a stunning setting on the very edge of the Arctic Circle overlooking the icy waters of the country's longest fjord, Eyjaforour. Over recent years the bar and restaurant scene in town has expanded fast, making it an attractive destination for a weekend break for city slickers from Reykjavik. Akureyri is also home to that most unIcelandic of things – the forest. In a barren, windswept land it's easy to forget just how exciting to an Icelander a humble tree can be.

James Proctor is co-author of 'The Rough Guide to Iceland'.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Dennis Rodman has confirmed he is not going to the Middle East to 'talk to with the leaders of Isis' as claimed in a recent satirical report
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam