Facts About Iceland (Interesting & Fun)

Iceland, a Nordic gem, is a captivating destination known for its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and unique characteristics. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or foodie, Iceland has something for everyone to enjoy. Let’s dive into some fascinating facts about this enchanting country.

facts about iceland

Key Takeaways:

  • Iceland offers breathtaking natural wonders, including glaciers, volcanoes, and geothermal hot springs.
  • The country’s rich cultural heritage can be traced back to its ancient Viking roots and strong literary tradition.
  • Icelandic cuisine is a blend of traditional Nordic dishes and unique local flavors, with interesting delicacies like fermented shark.
  • The Northern Lights illuminate Iceland’s night sky, providing a mesmerizing spectacle for visitors.
  • Iceland’s commitment to safety and equality creates a welcoming and secure environment for travelers.

Iceland’s Unique Natural Wonders

Iceland is a land of extraordinary natural wonders that never fail to captivate visitors. From towering glaciers to rejuvenating hot springs, the country’s geography is truly awe-inspiring.

One of the most remarkable natural wonders in Iceland is Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. Covering 8% of the country’s landmass, Vatnajökull is a stunning icy expanse that showcases the raw power and beauty of nature.

Another popular natural wonder in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa renowned for its healing properties. Surrounded by volcanic landscapes, this otherworldly hot spring offers a surreal experience unlike any other.

Iceland’s diverse geography extends beyond its glaciers and hot springs. The country is home to numerous volcanoes, creating dramatic landscapes and geological formations. Visitors can marvel at the otherworldly lava fields and volcanic craters that dot the Icelandic countryside.

The majestic waterfalls of Iceland are also iconic natural wonders. From the mighty Gullfoss, known as the “Golden Falls,” to the mesmerizing Seljalandsfoss, where visitors can walk behind the cascading water, these waterfalls showcase the country’s abundant natural beauty.

Whether it’s the rugged beauty of untouched landscapes or the soothing tranquility of geothermal pools, Iceland’s natural wonders offer an escape like no other. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery and discover the magic of this Nordic gem.

Icelandic Natural Wonders

Natural Wonder Description
Vatnajökull Glacier The largest glacier in Europe, covering 8% of Iceland’s landmass.
Blue Lagoon A geothermal spa known for its rejuvenating properties.
Volcanoes Dramatic landscapes shaped by volcanic activity.
Waterfalls Majestic cascades, including Gullfoss and Seljalandsfoss.

Iceland’s Rich Cultural Heritage

Iceland is a country with a rich cultural heritage that spans centuries. Its history is filled with fascinating facts and traditions that have shaped the nation into what it is today. Let’s explore some key aspects of Iceland’s cultural heritage, including its history, language, and beliefs.

The Oldest Democracy in the World

In 930 CE, Iceland established the Alþingi, its national parliament, making it one of the oldest democracies in the world. This early form of government allowed Icelanders to gather and discuss important matters, ensuring the participation of the entire population in decision-making processes. The Alþingi continues to exist today, reflecting Iceland’s commitment to democratic principles.

A Language Rooted in Old Norse

The Icelandic language is deeply rooted in Old Norse, the language of the Vikings. Despite the influence of modern English, Icelandic has remained remarkably similar to its ancient predecessor, making it one of the best-preserved Nordic languages. This linguistic connection to the past gives Icelanders a strong sense of cultural identity.

Belief in Mythical Creatures

“Icelanders still believe in mythical creatures like elves and trolls.”

Icelanders have a unique belief in mythical creatures that has been carried through generations. Elves and trolls are an integral part of Icelandic folklore and are believed to inhabit the mountains, rocks, and hidden corners of the country. This belief in hidden realms adds to the enchantment and mystery of Iceland’s landscapes.

A Nation of Book Lovers

Despite its small population, Icelanders have a strong literary tradition. In fact, they publish more books per capita than any other nation in the world. The written word holds a significant place in Icelandic culture, with a deep appreciation for literature and storytelling. Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in recognition of its literary heritage.

Key Cultural Aspects Details
Establishment of the Alþingi One of the oldest democracies in the world, founded in 930 CE
Linguistic Connection Icelandic language rooted in Old Norse, the language of the Vikings
Belief in Mythical Creatures Icelanders have a belief in elves and trolls, adding to their folklore
Literary Tradition Icelanders publish more books per capita than any other nation

Through its rich cultural heritage, Iceland offers a captivating blend of history, language, and beliefs. The traditions passed down through generations, the political foundations laid in the early days, and the love for literature are all testament to the unique identity of the Icelandic people. Embracing its past while looking towards the future, Iceland continues to uphold its cultural heritage and enthrall visitors with its unique charm.

Quirky Icelandic Beliefs and Traditions

One of the fascinating aspects of Icelandic culture is the belief in elves and hidden people. Between 30 and 40% of Icelanders believe in the existence of these mythical creatures, and Icelandic folklore is filled with stories about them.

The Icelandic language is also unique, with over 100 words to describe wind and numerous tongue-twisting words. It reflects the close connection between Icelanders and their environment, capturing the nuances of the country’s landscapes and weather patterns.

Icelanders have interesting traditions like the Yule Lads, 13 mischievous characters who visit children in the lead-up to Christmas. Each Yule Lad has a distinct personality and is known for playing pranks on the residents. They have names like “Spoon-Licker,” “Door-Slammer,” and “Sausage-Swiper,” making them a delightful and quirky part of Icelandic holiday celebrations.

“Icelandic culture is deeply rooted in our traditions and the stories of our ancestors. The belief in elves and hidden people is passed down through generations, and it adds an air of mystery and enchantment to our everyday lives,” says Sigridur Jonsdottir, a cultural anthropologist from Reykjavik.

Icelandic Folklore

Icelandic folklore is a treasure trove of enchanting tales that have been passed down for centuries. From ancient sagas to stories of mythical creatures, Icelandic folklore provides a wealth of insight into the country’s history and cultural identity. The hidden people, or “huldufólk” as they are known in Icelandic, are believed to be supernatural beings that coexist with humans, dwelling in rocks and hidden places across the landscape.

The stories of hidden people often depict them as mischievous but also protective of their environment. Icelanders have a deep respect for nature and believe that disturbing the homes of hidden people can bring misfortune. It is not uncommon to see construction plans altered or roads redirected to avoid intruding on their dwellings.

The Icelandic Language

The Icelandic language is a linguistic marvel, closely related to Old Norse and largely unchanged for centuries. It is the closest living relative to the language spoken by the Vikings over a thousand years ago. This linguistic purity has been preserved through Iceland’s isolation and the country’s commitment to language preservation.

One of the most distinctive features of the Icelandic language is its abundance of words to describe wind. With its exposed landscapes and volatile weather patterns, Iceland has developed a rich vocabulary to capture the nuances of different wind types. From “háur” (gentle breeze) to “högla” (strong gust) and “eldföll” (volcanic ash-laden gust), these words help Icelanders navigate and appreciate the ever-changing weather.

Word Translation
Andvari Water-sprite
Huldra Forest guardian
Dvergur Dwarf
Trollkona Troll woman

“The Icelandic language is a true reflection of our connection to our land and our history. It embodies the essence of our culture and traditions, and it’s something we take great pride in,” explains Jón Árnason, a linguist and professor at the University of Iceland.

Iceland’s Culinary Delights

Icelandic cuisine offers a unique fusion of traditional Nordic dishes and distinct local flavors. The country’s culinary landscape is shaped by its geographical location and rich cultural heritage. Here are some interesting facts about Icelandic cuisine and its delicious offerings:

The Perfect First Date: Ice Cream

When it comes to dating in Iceland, ice cream holds a special place. In Icelandic culture, it’s considered customary to go on an ice cream date as a first outing. Ice cream shops are popular gathering spots, where people can enjoy a sweet treat while getting to know each other. This charming tradition showcases the importance of simple pleasures in Icelandic society.

Unique Delicacy: Fermented Shark

A culinary curiosity in Iceland is hákarl, which is fermented shark meat. This traditional dish has a strong ammonia smell and a distinct taste that might take some getting used to. Although hákarl is not commonly consumed by locals, it has gained international attention as a must-try delicacy. Brave adventurers seeking unique gastronomic experiences often give hákarl a taste.

Traditional Ingredients and Flavors

Traditional Icelandic dishes feature ingredients sourced from the pristine natural environment of the country. With its fertile volcanic soil and abundant fishing grounds, Iceland offers a bounty of high-quality ingredients. Lamb is a staple in many dishes, showcasing the country’s rich pastoral traditions. Seafood, such as cod and salmon, is also prominent in Icelandic cuisine. Dairy products, including skyr (a creamy yogurt-like specialty) and various types of cheese, add richness to many recipes.

The use of herbs and spices is generally minimal, allowing the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine. This commitment to simplicity and quality makes Icelandic cuisine a delightful experience for food enthusiasts.

In summary, Icelandic cuisine is a delightful blend of traditional Nordic dishes, locally sourced ingredients, and unique flavors. Whether you’re indulging in an ice cream date, daringly trying fermented shark, or savoring the wholesome flavors of lamb and seafood, Icelandic food offers a culinary adventure that reflects the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Iceland’s Stunning Northern Lights

Iceland is renowned for offering a mesmerizing opportunity to witness the enchanting natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. The dance of vibrant colors across the night sky is an experience unlike any other, attracting countless visitors to this Nordic wonderland.

The best time to witness the Northern Lights in Iceland is from September to March, when the long winter nights and clear skies provide optimal conditions for viewing this celestial spectacle. As darkness falls and the solar particles from the sun interact with the Earth’s magnetic field, a symphony of vivid greens, blues, and purples illuminates the heavens, creating an awe-inspiring display.

The Northern Lights’ ever-changing patterns and intensity make each sighting a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you witness the ethereal lights from the comfort of a cozy cabin, out in the untamed wilderness, or on a guided tour, the beauty and magic of this natural phenomenon are sure to leave a lasting impression.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Iceland during the winter months, be sure to experience the Northern Lights for yourself. It’s an extraordinary event that will forever be etched in your memory.

Aurora Borealis: Nature’s Dazzling Light Show

“The Northern Lights are a constant reminder of the breathtaking beauty and mysterious wonders that our world has to offer.” – Jane Johnson, Travel Enthusiast

Icelandic Volcanoes and Glaciers

Iceland, known as the land of fire and ice, is home to a captivating array of volcanoes and glaciers. With over 30 active volcanic regions, this Nordic gem boasts a dynamic geological landscape that is both awe-inspiring and powerful. In addition, Iceland is home to Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, which covers a significant portion of the country’s landmass.

The volcanic activity in Iceland has shaped its landscapes over millions of years, creating dramatic mountains, sprawling lava fields, and rugged coastlines. These natural wonders provide visitors with a unique opportunity to witness the forces of nature at work and explore the raw beauty of the country.

Famous Icelandic Landmarks

Iceland is renowned for its famous landmarks that captivate travelers from around the world. These iconic attractions showcase the country’s natural beauty and provide unforgettable experiences for visitors. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or an avid adventurer, Iceland offers a plethora of breathtaking sights.

Icelandic Waterfalls

Among the famous Icelandic landmarks are the magnificent waterfalls that dot the country’s landscape. Two notable examples are:

  • Gullfoss: Known as the “Golden Waterfall,” Gullfoss is a stunning two-tiered waterfall located in the Hvítá River canyon. Its powerful cascades and breathtaking beauty make it a popular tourist attraction.
  • Seljalandsfoss: A unique feature of Seljalandsfoss is the path that allows visitors to walk behind the cascading water. This immersive experience offers a unique perspective and creates unforgettable memories.

Reynisfjara Beach

Reynisfjara is a picturesque black sand beach located on Iceland’s South Coast. With its dramatic basalt columns, towering cliffs, and powerful waves, it’s a truly awe-inspiring sight. Visitors can explore the striking beauty of this beach while taking in the untamed beauty of the Atlantic Ocean.

Hvítserkur Rock Formation

The unique rock formation known as Hvítserkur is a mesmerizing landmark on Iceland’s northern coast. Shaped like a dragon drinking from the sea, this natural marvel attracts photographers and nature lovers alike. The contrast between the dark cliffs and the colossal rock formation is simply breathtaking.

Famous Icelandic Landmarks Table

Landmark Description
Gullfoss A magnificent two-tiered waterfall in the Hvítá River canyon.
Seljalandsfoss A waterfall with a unique walking path behind the cascading water.
Reynisfjara Beach A picturesque black sand beach with dramatic basalt columns and powerful waves.
Hvítserkur A distinctive rock formation resembling a dragon drinking from the sea.

These famous Icelandic landmarks represent just a glimpse of the country’s natural wonders. Exploring these breathtaking attractions is a must for any traveler seeking to immerse themselves in Iceland’s remarkable beauty.

Safety and Sense of Equality in Iceland

Iceland has gained a reputation as one of the safest countries in the world, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking peace of mind and security. With a low crime rate and a strong social structure, Iceland has created a safe environment that allows visitors to explore and enjoy the country’s breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture without worry.

What sets Iceland apart as a safe haven is its unique sense of equality. The country places a strong emphasis on equal rights for all individuals, regardless of gender, race, or social background. Iceland consistently ranks high on gender equality indexes, earning a spot as a global leader in promoting women’s rights and gender parity.

This commitment to equality extends beyond gender. Icelanders value inclusivity and fairness, creating a society where everyone feels respected and supported. The country’s small population and close-knit communities contribute to a sense of unity and trust among its residents, fostering a genuine connection that transcends social barriers.

Visitors to Iceland often remark on the welcoming and inclusive nature of the Icelandic people. Whether you’re exploring the vibrant streets of Reykjavik or venturing into the serene landscapes of the countryside, you’ll encounter a warm and friendly atmosphere that makes you feel like part of the community.

The sense of safety and equality in Iceland extends to all aspects of life, including access to healthcare, education, and social services. Iceland’s comprehensive welfare system ensures that everyone has equal opportunities and support, creating a society where individuals can thrive and pursue their dreams.

Experience Iceland’s commitment to safety and equality firsthand, and embark on a journey to a country that values and embraces diversity.

Icelandic Quirks and Traditions

Iceland is a country that is known for its unique and quirky traditions, adding to its charm and making it a truly distinctive destination. Here are some interesting facts about Icelandic quirks that you may find fascinating:

Asking for “10 More Drops”

When in Iceland, if you want a little more of a drink, it is customary to ask for “10 more drops.” This request signifies a desire for just a small amount more, emphasizing the Icelandic value of moderation and appreciation for what you already have.

Swimming Outside No Matter the Weather

One of the cherished traditions in Iceland is swimming in geothermal pools, no matter the weather. Icelanders believe that swimming is not only a way to relax and rejuvenate but also a way to connect with nature. A dip in the warm waters of a geothermal pool is a must-do experience in Iceland, even if there’s snow on the ground!

Casual Encounters with Famous Icelanders

Due to its small population, Iceland offers a unique opportunity for casual encounters with famous Icelanders. Whether it’s a chance encounter with a renowned musician at a local café or spotting a famous actor walking down the street, the close-knit community in Iceland often allows for unexpected and delightful interactions with well-known individuals.

These quirks and traditions are just a glimpse into the rich cultural tapestry of Iceland. They showcase the warmth, hospitality, and individuality of the Icelandic people, making a visit to Iceland a truly memorable experience.

Quirks and Traditions Description
Asking for “10 More Drops” A request for a little more of a drink, emphasizing moderation
Swimming Outside No Matter the Weather A tradition of enjoying geothermal pools, regardless of the weather
Casual Encounters with Famous Icelanders Opportunities to meet famous Icelanders due to the small population


In conclusion, Iceland is a country that captivates with its breathtaking natural wonders and rich cultural heritage. From the towering glaciers and cascading waterfalls to the enchanting Northern Lights dancing across the sky, Iceland offers a truly unforgettable experience for travelers.

Immerse yourself in the country’s unique traditions and beliefs, from the fascinating folklore of hidden people to the literary prowess of its people. Explore the volcanic landscapes and soak in geothermal pools, embracing the Icelandic way of life.

With its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and friendly people, Iceland is a destination that will leave you in awe. So, plan your trip and embark on a journey to discover the wonders of this extraordinary country. Prepare to be amazed by the facts and stories that make Iceland truly one-of-a-kind.


What are some interesting facts about Iceland’s geography?

Iceland is home to the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull, which covers 8% of the country’s landmass. The country also has diverse geographical features, including volcanoes, waterfalls, and dramatic landscapes.

What is the cultural heritage of Iceland?

Iceland has a rich cultural heritage that dates back centuries. It is one of the oldest democracies, with its national parliament, Alþingi, established in 930 CE. The Icelandic language is deeply rooted in Old Norse, and the country has a strong literary tradition.

Is it true that Icelanders believe in mythical creatures like elves and trolls?

Yes, between 30 and 40% of Icelanders believe in the existence of mythical creatures like elves and trolls. Icelandic folklore is filled with stories about these creatures.

What are some interesting aspects of Icelandic culture and traditions?

Icelandic culture has unique characteristics like a language with over 100 words to describe wind, interesting traditions like the Yule Lads who visit children before Christmas, and the tradition of swimming outside in geothermal pools no matter the weather.

What are some interesting facts about Icelandic cuisine?

Icelandic cuisine is a blend of traditional Nordic dishes and unique local flavors. Interesting facts include Icelanders’ love for ice cream, which is considered the perfect first date, and the consumption of fermented shark known as hákarl. Traditional Icelandic dishes often feature ingredients like lamb, seafood, and dairy products.

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland?

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is from September to March. This captivating natural phenomenon is also known as the Aurora Borealis and is created by solar particles interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field.

How many volcanoes and glaciers are in Iceland?

Iceland is characterized by its numerous volcanoes and glaciers. The country has over 30 active volcanic regions and is home to Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull.

What are some famous landmarks in Iceland?

Iceland is dotted with iconic landmarks, including the stunning waterfalls Gullfoss and Seljalandsfoss, the picturesque black sand beach of Reynisfjara, and the unique rock formation at Hvítserkur. These landmarks showcase the country’s natural beauty.

Is Iceland a safe country to visit?

Yes, Iceland consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world. It has a low crime rate and is the only NATO member without a standing army. The sense of safety is fostered by a strong sense of equality within the population and a small, close-knit community.

What are some quirky traditions and customs in Iceland?

Iceland has several quirky traditions, such as asking for “10 more drops” if you want a little more of a drink, the tradition of swimming outside in geothermal pools regardless of the weather, and the casual encounters with famous Icelanders due to the small population.

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