Icelandic food in general is based on lamb and
fish, as well as owing much to Scandinavian and
European influences. Fishing is Iceland’s most significant
export, accounting for some 80 % of the country’s Gross National
Product. There is also a heavy importance on vegetables grown in
greenhouses heated by the natural steam from geysers. There have
been some welcome additions to the selection of eating places in
Reykjavík and there is now a small but striking choice of
restaurants to cater for all pockets with new tourist menus.
Bars in Iceland have table and / or counter
service, and will serve coffee as well as alcohol. Beer was prohibited
in Iceland for 75 years and was ultimately legalised in March 1989.
Alcohol is usually expensive (a small beer costs approximately US
$8). In coffee shops you pay for the 1st cup then help yourself
to subsequent cups. There is large selection of European spirits
National specialities include
salmon, a great delicacy of Iceland, served in many forms, 1 of
the most popular being gravlax, a form of marinating. Hangikjot
(which is smoked lamb), Harðfiskur (which is dried fish) and
Skyr (curds) are also specialities. Icelandic sild (herring marinated
in assorted flavours) and Slátur, which is for the more adventurous
and literally means slaughter and is similar to Haggis. An Icelantic
delicacy not for the squeamish is rotten shark, cured by burying
and washed down with a shot of Black Death Schnapps.
drinks include Brennivin (which is a potent variation of
aquavit made from potatoes), a local drink.
There are many nightclubs, bars,
cafes and cinemas in Iceland,
the majority of them in the capital. Reykjavík is known as
1 of Europe's hottest nightspots where the friendly pubs and nightlife
scene lasts through the night. Icelandic nightlife is predominantly
vibrant from June to August when there is nearly 24 hours of perpetual
daylight (Icelanders call this period the ‘White Nights’).
Leading theatres are the National Theatre and the
Reykjavík City Theatre, closed in summer, however during
the tourist season there is an attractive light entertainment show
in English called ‘Light Nights’ with traditional Icelandic
stories and folk songs. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra gives concerts
Iceland also has its own opera company, performing
in the smallest (400 seat) and most northernmost opera house in
the world. Performances run during the winter. Iceland has an exciting
music scene that has produced, amongst others, the internationally
acclaimed artist Björk and, reportedly, Brad Pitt's favourite
band Sigur Rós. This has, in turn, attracted numerous British
and American pop stars to Iceland, such as Damon Albarn from the
British band Blur, who opened his own cafe, the Kaffibarinn, in
Fluffy, earth coloured Lopi wool blankets and jackets, coats, hats
and handknits are synonymous with Iceland. Many local potters handthrow
earthenware containers in natural colours. Crushed lava is a common
addition to highly glazed ceramic pieces, which are trendy as souvenirs.
The duty free shop at Keflavík Airport sells all of these
gifts. Laugavegur is Reykjavík's major shopping street.
The shops along Skolavordustigur are great for
art lovers. Kringlan is Reykjavík's world class shopping
mall. Bargain hunters should visit the indoor market in Reykjavík
called Kolaportid, held every weekend from 11.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Brilliant buys on handmade Icelandic jumpers, food and toys can
hours are Monday to Friday from 10.00 am to 6.00
pm, Saturday 10.00 am to 2.00 pm, with variations from shop to shop.
Shopping malls are open Monday to Wednesday 10.00 am to 6.30, Thursday
10.00 am to 9.00 pm, Friday 10.00 am to 7.00 pm, Saturday 10.00
am to 4.00 pm and Sunday 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm. On the 1st Saturday
of the month, shops open 10.00 am to 6.00 pm.
Service charges are generally included in bills and extra tips are