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"Two kinds of smell in Reykjavík." Top 5 Page for this destination Reykjavík Local Custom Tip by Regina1965

Reykjavík Local Customs: 71 reviews and 177 photos

  I in a geothermal area.
by Regina1965

There are two kinds of distinct smell in Reykjavík, the hot-spring smell (hveralykt) and the money smell (peningalykt). I put this tip it under customs as this is quite characteristic to Iceland.

Our hot water is geothermal water straight from the earth and it has quite a distinct smell of sulphur, some say it smells like rotten eggs, but we all know what sulphur smells like. I would say it smells like a fart as I have never encountered the smell of rotten eggs. But that is what you get when you turn off the hot water tap. I had never noticed it until foreigners started talking about it. It started bothering me a bit when I got a sulphur poisoning after visiting a geothermal area in the North of Iceland during a strong wind which blew the fumes straight into my lungs. After a while you get used to the smell of the water and don't notice it anymore. But some days the smell of geothermal water is very strong in Reykjavík, so much that we have to close our windows. But the good thing about geothermal water is that you can stay in the shower for a long time and the water never runs out. I have heard the insult that Icelanders smell of sulphur from the water, but that is not true.

The other smell - on certain days - we call "peningalykt" or money smell. That smell is a very strong fish smell, coming from factories extracting fish oil from capelin. Because although the smell is strong - strong, but not offensive - I would say, then this means that we are making money from export of the fish-oil. Now these factories have closed.

So be warned - sometimes there is a rotten-egg smell in Reykjavík and sometimes there is a fish-smell here as well. But this is only from time to time :)

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  • Updated Mar 27, 2011
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“Bon Voyage :)”

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