Believe it or not, but these days, with global warming and carbon pollution rising to all-time levels, the desire to breathe clean, fresh air is becoming something that people are actually trying to make a business out of.
While visiting Iceland to breathe the air yourself is ideal, bringing a can of the stuff back home for those who couldn’t attend would be a nice gesture. While we don’t think you’d really be getting your money’s worth, it would be a much funnier gift than a “My Friend Went To…” t-shirt!
The Coolest Caves
One of the best things about all the cold weather in Iceland is that it creates a number of really amazing natural phenomena that make for some pretty spectacular sights. One of the coolest of these has to be the many ice caves that you’ll find around the country.
These are essentially rock ridges that have been frozen over with an icy ceiling which create these amazingly luminescent natural structures. You often have to hike to reach these though, so be prepared for an adventure!
The Last Cheeseburger
If you’re traveling to Iceland in the hopes of enjoying a traditional, Western-style fast-food meal, you’re not going to have much luck! While we might all enjoy a fast food snack from time to time, the small population in Iceland and their inherently traditional culture means that they don’t eat fast food much.
In fact, there are no operating McDonalds restaurants in the entire country and the last one was sold in 2009. So get used to eating the local food – or bring your own snacks!
Despite the harsh cold weather, Iceland did experience a significant rise in the brown rat population during the 19th and 20th century as boats would frequently bring them with shipments by accident.
The fishing ports had the highest concentration of this species and, as a result, the locals had to import cats to help control the mice population. Today, having cats as ‘professional’ mice catchers is still a tradition in Iceland and one that we hope continues for a while! Iceland is a cat-lover’s dream it seems.
Love Is Everywhere
As you can imagine, with all that cold weather, Icelandic people know how to keep it warm! As you can imagine, having all that cold weather and lack of direct sunlight can make people feel a little sad, drowsy, or isolated from time to time.
To show the people that they care (and have a great sense of creativity), the Icelandic government replaced all the red traffic lights with little red hearts to help brighten up your day if you’re in traffic and feel less disappointed about hitting a red light!
Mountain Of A Man
For fans of the show Game Of Thrones, they might recognize the man below. His name is Julius Bjornsson and just last year, he went on to win The World’s Strongest Man Competition proving that he really is as strong as a mountain!
The Icelandic resident has spent the majority of his life working out and focussing on bodybuilding. Even though he was born looking like a regular toddler, his immense height and girth came as a result of his intensive training and body sculpting.
One of the most surreal experiences in Iceland has to be the warm geothermal spas that you’ll find towards the southwestern parts of the country. These stunning natural phenomena will make you feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie.
Viewing the cold surroundings while being warmed by the fresh, mineral water from the hot spring is definitely an experience you’re not likely to forget! The water is warmed purely by geothermal energy and the mud at the base of the spa is incredibly good for your skin.
Save That For The Toilet!
The fact that someone would have to put up a sign like this might be a bit worrying to most of us, but it might be better to know where the landmines are sometimes! As you can imagine, having all that open space to yourself means that getting caught without a toilet at times can be a real issue.
Apparently, it seems as though there’s a high inclination for relieving yourself in the wilderness in Iceland, so be sure to read the signs or keep it for the bathroom!
Homes For Elves
These days, elves and other mystical creatures have become a popular subject in mainstream culture and with all the movies we’re exposed to regarding the topic, it’s nice to see someone taking the issue seriously!
Icelandic culture is based primarily on traditional Nordic values and folklore and as a result, elves are a prominent part of their culture. These days, it’s not uncommon to see tributes to them in Iceland, like these little elf homes, which are meant to be a good omen.
Puffins! Puffins Everywhere!
Puffins are easily one of the most spectacular birds in the animal kingdom and their uniquely colored beaks and patterns make them unique to any other species in the world. Puffins are considered to be one of the national birds of Iceland and are thought to have originated on the continent.
Puffins are known to migrate to a variety of different places in the world, including France, New York, Morrocco, and even Siberia. They spend their first few years at sea in order to get used to the cold.
As we mentioned earlier, the Icelandic aren’t big fans of Western-style fast food and sometimes even finding snacks that would be familiar to westerners can be a challenge depending on where you are on the continent.
In most cases, the locals tend to favor local dishes that they’ve known for hundreds of years and one of the most popular is known as Hákarl. This is essentially a large shark native to the waters and is enjoyed in cured fillets. Otherwise, there are loads of fruit and veg to munch on.
Because of the fact that the majority of Iceland is largely unpopulated, the people there are quite used to being unclothed! This is largely because there’s a lot more privacy in a place like that and the culture is just driven to be more open regarding the issue – especially in public places like gym bathrooms, spas, or saunas.
Even though the weather there is frequently below zero, for some reason, the people seem to be more eager about taking their clothes off. So as a warning, don’t say you weren’t warned.
Over the years, Iceland has tried a number of times to develop a train system for the country as part of their public transport initiative. There’s only one big problem – too few people and too many cars!
This means that you’re definitely going to be renting a car if you’re ever planning to travel around the country much and should always be sure to have spare fuel with you on hand, as running out of gas in a sub-zero snowstorm is definitely not an ideal way to spend a vacation!
Although Iceland is covered in ice and snow much of the year, many animals still manage to thrive in this environment. These horses are known as the Icelandic horse and you cannot find them anywhere else in the world because they are actually descended from the type of horse that lived during the Viking rule in the country.
They might look like your average horse, but they’re actually pretty different. They’re smaller than the average horse, they have furrier coats, and they have an unusual gait. Unlike most of the horses you know, they roam free!
Iceland is one of the few countries on the earth today that has really made a point out of harvesting cleaner, natural forms of energy. Today, roughly more than 85% of the homes in Iceland are powered by geothermal energy and the government makes up the additional need for energy largely with things like wind turbines and hydropower.
We really hope that the lessons made in Iceland can be used as a positive example of this kind of technological change to become more popular around the world.
Iceland is a culture that is simply obsessed with sauce. If anything, it’s probably the one thing that they have in their culture which most resembles the western diet and no dish is considered completed until the sauce is done!
In fact, there are a number of different dishes that are frequently served in the country which are generally paired with their own unique sauce. Some of the more popular ones include Bearnaise, Pylsusinnep (a sort of grainy mustard) and Remúlaði, a vinegary mayo that’s popular in Britain as well.
Sports are a big part of Icelandic culture and as you can imagine, when there’s not much to do in such a sparsely populated area, finding joy in entertainment is important.
While most countries around the world are used to showing support for their favorite sporting teams, Icelandic people are known to really get sports crazy and are dedicated supporters of their respective teams or national athletes. It’s not uncommon to see people showing their support in the streets during sports seasons or events.
Miss Universe Flight Attendant
Miss Universe is an annual pageant that is hosted in different countries around the world and is all about showcasing the glitzy, glamorous and most beautiful people from around the world.
In 2016, a flight attendant named Maria Leifsdóttir entered the competition as a representative for Iceland and wound up winning the competition! As a result, she has become one of the most famous models in Iceland and spends most of her time traveling. You’ll be sure to find some other really beautiful flight attendants on the way there, too!
Iceland is one of the few countries in the world that is known for having an incredibly low crime rate and in general, is regarded as one of the safest countries on Earth. So when you’re there, you can rest assured that you’re pretty safe over the course of your stay.
It also means that when you do encounter a cop there, they’re likely to be fun, friendly helpers rather than traditional authority figures and can even be quite fun if you get to meet the right ones!
Despite the fact that Iceland is largely regarded as one of the remotest places on Earth, in terms of geography they’re practically next door neighbors with North America.
Technically speaking, Iceland is split in half by the North-Atlantic ridge which means that the western side of the continent falls on the same tectonic plate as North America and the eastern side of the country, the Eurasian tectonic plate. In fact, scuba diving in the ridge between these two tectonic plates is a highly popular tourist activity.
One Giant Film Set
Iceland is one of the most surreal natural landscapes you’re likely to see in your lifetime, and in many ways, it looks as though the landscape hasn’t changed for thousands of years.
Because of this, artists and creatives have been drawn to the continent for many years and more recently, it has become a hotspot for international film and television productions on a large-scale. Star Wars, Game Of Thrones, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty are just some of the films that have been filmed in Iceland.
There is nothing better than a warm fire to keep the cold at bay and in Iceland, it’s a staple fixture of their everyday diet. During the summer times when the weather is a little more hospitable, natives are likely to be outside enjoying a warm BBQ in the traditional sense of the term with a few beers and good company to keep them warm.
So if you plan on staying, be prepared to enjoy a lot of fire-made food and outdoor merriment during the summer times.
Northern Lights On A Plane
Yet another one of the most amazing things that you’ll see in Iceland while you’re there and why so many make the journey to the continent is for the chance to have a really crisp and clear view of the Northern Lights.
These amazing phenomena are caused by the flux of magnetic radiation and the sun’s ultra-violet radiation being scattered on the Earth’s atmosphere at a high altitude, causing this stunning light show. Iceland Air has even incorporated them into their airplanes!
One of the great things about living in an area with such a thin atmosphere is that you get the chance to witness some incredible lighting conditions.
One of the strangest thing about the seasons in Iceland is that in winters, nighttime can last almost an entire day sometimes, and in summer, the sun only tends to set at midnight. As you can imagine, adjusting to this can be quite difficult so it’s best to make sure you have thick curtains or a blindfold to ensure you get enough rest.
Lots of Volcanoes
Because of the fact that Iceland is based on a major tectonic ridge, the continent is subjected to a lot of tremors from the shift of the underlying plates. As a result of this, Iceland has become a hotspot for the formation of powerful volcanoes, many of which are still active today.
In fact, every four years, a major volcano is said to erupt and it’s common to experience a volcano drill from time to time. If you have the courage, seeing one of these up close is definitely a good idea!