For nearly a decade, Iceland has been the darling of adventure travel, with travelers coming to its borders to witness its majestic waterfalls, glaciers, and fjords. Iceland is still one of the top 50 most popular places for American tourists, despite not being as popular as it once was. We’re confident that after you discover more about this stunning cold-weather country, it will be added to your list of must-see destinations!
There are many Iceland things to learn and much more to enjoy. Iceland has something for everyone, whether you enjoy mythology, language studies, or breathtaking nature.
Don’t be concerned if arranging travel preparations in another nation worries you. We’ve already put together a comprehensive Iceland travel guide to assist you in finding holiday rentals, planning your trip, and creating a vacation schedule. In the meantime, here are 15 interesting facts about Iceland that will inspire your next visit!
Iceland Was Settled By Vikings
Iceland is regarded to be a youthful European country. Vikings from Norway did not arrive in what is now known as Iceland until the 800s. Viking culture can still be found in the language, art, and even the soil. The Series Vikings mention this truth in the final season. You should watch it; it’s fantastic!
The Name Iceland Is Meant to Confuse
What was one of the first things the Vikings did in their new home? They gave it a name that was supposed to deter possible invaders.
You might have asked why Iceland and Greenland have such different names because Iceland is covered in vegetation and Greenland is coated in ice. This was done on purpose, believe it or not! The Vikings knew they would be pursued by opponents and believed that by causing confusion, their adversaries would flee to Greenland and leave them alone.
Iceland Is Home to Europe’s First Parliament
The Althing is Iceland’s national parliament and one of the world’s oldest parliaments. In fact, the Althing’s original location commemorates the earliest parliament grounds in European history.
The Icelandic parliament has evolved over time, particularly after Iceland’s unification with Norway. However, it is still operational today, and travelers can see the site of one of the world’s first democracies.
Iceland Offers a Unique Tectonic Plate View
The Althing is housed in Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, which also has significant geographical significance. It is one of only two spots on the earth where you can view the physical separation of two tectonic plates. To be more specific, you can see the North American and Eurasian plates colliding in the Atlantic Ocean at this position. More information: Underwater Diving in Silfra, Iceland
(Can you tell me where else you can see this phenomenon? You’ll come across it on your next vacation to Africa.)
Iceland Has Tons of Volcanoes
We don’t usually equate cold-weather countries with volcanoes, but Iceland has several. Iceland, in reality, has over 125 volcanoes distributed throughout the country.
Some of these volcanoes remain active, while others may erupt at any time. Much of Iceland is covered with lava fields, and at least one fresh eruption occurs every four years.
Cold Country, Hot Springs
Volcanic activity does not occur only above ground, where we can observe it. In Iceland, several types of volcanic activity occur underneath, which results in geothermal activity. As a result, Iceland has a fair number of hot springs where people can swim all year.
Be aware that some of the most well-known hot springs (such as the Blue Lagoon) are man-made, despite the fact that the water is naturally heated. If you want to swim in a natural hot spring, you’ll have to travel to the countryside. Check out: Is It Worth It to Visit Iceland’s Blue Lagoon?
Iceland Is One of the Most Eco-Friendly Countries In the World
Iceland is one of the world’s most environmentally friendly countries. They attain this low carbon impact almost by accident.
Iceland’s infrastructure is powered by an extremely small amount of fossil fuels. The volcanic activity and hot springs provide enough hydropower and geothermal energy to power an estimated 85% of the country.
Glaciers Play a Role in Iceland’s Unique Topography
You’ll notice the distinctive topography of Iceland no matter where you travel. Iceland has been influenced in great measure by frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity. Glacial activity is the third component that contributes to the stunning scenery!
Iceland Is Scarce on Trees
As you might expect, a terrain formed by volcanoes and glaciers can be a challenging setting for natural growth. As you travel around Iceland, you will note that there are no forests. Iceland has trees, and the country has expanded regeneration efforts in recent decades, but there are no old-growth woods to be seen.
(Added bonus! The paucity of woods in Iceland is not just due to harsh circumstances. When the Vikings colonized the country, it appears that they were a touch overzealous with their logging.)
Hate Mosquitos? Go to Iceland
In most nations, being outside in nature means being bitten by mosquitos. You don’t have to worry about those pests in Iceland since they just don’t exist.
Scientists believe that Iceland’s unusual weather patterns are to blame for the scarcity of mosquitos. Iceland sees three cycles of freezing and thawing throughout the year, making the temperatures unfavorable for mosquito existence.
What’s the bad news? Sand flies do exist in Iceland, so bring insect spray with you.
The Icelandic Language Has Barely Changed
The Icelandic language is most similar to the Norwegian and Danish languages. However, it is a distinct and well-preserved language in general.
The majority of languages evolve throughout time. For example, Shakespeare’s contemporaries’ English looks and sounds different than our English today. The Icelandic language, on the other hand, looks and sounds practically exactly how it did centuries ago.
Legends Abound and Blend With History
If you enjoy stories and folklore, Iceland is the place to go. Trolls and elves abound in Icelandic culture, and the stories you’ll hear are nothing short of enchanting. You might hear that big rock formations are frozen trolls or that some territory is left underdeveloped because elves live there.
It is unclear how many Icelandic people actually believe in elves and trolls. According to one survey, many Icelanders will neither affirm nor deny their existence because there is no proof either way—and we agree!
Iceland Is Great for Adventurous Eaters
Iceland is one of the few countries without a McDonald’s. Instead, you should sample some of their fascinating and unusual dishes!
Puffin, fermented shark, whale, sheep’s skull, and dried fish are some of the dishes you could find on an Icelandic restaurant’s menu. Don’t worry, vegetarians! Iceland is also a fantastic destination for vegan and vegetarian cuisine!
Beer Is a Big Deal in Iceland
If you’re familiar with American history, you’ve heard about Prohibition (the years when alcohol was banned in America). Something similar happened in Iceland, and it lasted a long period.
Between 1915 to the 1930s, all alcoholic beverages were prohibited in Iceland. From the 1930s through 1989, wine and spirits were available, but the beer was still illegal.
Iceland now has a plethora of microbreweries! In addition, to commemorate the legalization of alcohol, Iceland observes National Beer Day on March 1st each year.
Book Lovers Will Feel at Home in Iceland
Iceland has a huge number of published writers, in part because practically all Icelandic people value the written word! In fact, one of Iceland’s distinctive holiday customs occurs on Christmas Eve, when family members exchange books and spend the day reading.
If you enjoy reading, you’ll want to visit some of Iceland’s gorgeous bookstores. We highly recommend planning your vacation around the yearly Reykjavik International Literary Festival. Then, to round up your book-themed adventures, visit the turtle-shaped National Library of Iceland!
Go Beyond Iceland Facts and Experience the Sights for Yourself!
We hope that these fascinating facts about Iceland have piqued your interest and left you wanting more! Iceland is a breathtakingly gorgeous place that cannot be compared to anywhere else on the planet. Why not make Iceland your next big visit and see the attractions for yourself?
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