There is no denying that Reykjavík has its charm. Over the past years, international media like CNN, travel magazines, and websites like Condé Nast and Lonely Planet have named Reykjavík everything from the best place to visit for Christmas or the best place to spend New Year’s Eve, to simply the most interesting city in the world to visit. It has the aura of a cosmopolitan centre packed into a tiny, sparkling clean town.


Here are a few things that make Reykjavík surprisingly awesome and interesting:

1) The Puffin Capital:
Reykjavík is the only capital city in the world that is home to a major puffin breeding colony! Iceland, of course, is home to the largest and most important nesting grounds of the Atlantic puffin—an estimated 60% of the entire world puffin population nests in Iceland. As many as 3 or 4 million pairs of puffins nest in Iceland each year.

2) Dogs were banned in Reykjavík:
Iceland in the 20th century was a curious country and Reykjavík was the capital city of this curious country! Chances are you have heard that beer was banned in Iceland between 1915 and 1989. But did you know that there were no TV broadcasts in July until 1985 and no TV on Thursdays until 1987? Or did you know that dogs were banned in Reykjavík from 1924 to 1984?
The thinking behind the ban was quite simple: A city is no place for a dog. Iceland was still predominantly a rural society and the overwhelming majority of people living in Reykjavík were either first or second generation migrants from the countryside. They considered dogs farm animals which really couldn’t adapt to urban life.

3) With no dogs, cats ruled!
Anyone visiting Reykjavík has noted that the city is full of cats. There are no official figures on the number of cats in Reykjavík, but the Icelandic Cat Protection Society, which operates a cat shelter, has estimated that there might be as many as 20,000 cats in the capital region or one cat for every ten people.

4) People in Reykjavík lived in turf houses into the 1960s
One of the first things foreign travellers notice when arriving in Iceland is the virtual absence of trees and forests. This meant that Icelanders could not build wooden houses. But neither could Icelanders build stone buildings. The reason was that no lime deposits had been found, meaning it was not possible to make mortar. This left turf as the only easily available domestic building material for houses.

5) Only Western European capital without a Starbucks or a McDonald’s
Reykjavík is the only Western European capital without a McDonald’s or a Starbucks. In fact, the only other European capital without a McDonald’s is Tirana, the capital of Albania, while Reykjavík shares the distinction of being Starbucks-free with Rome, the capital of espresso.

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