15 interesting facts about Iceland

15 interesting facts about Iceland


Iceland has been the darling of adventure travel for nearly a decade. Tourists flock to its limits to see its mighty waterfalls, glaciers, and fjords. Although not quite as popular as it used to be, Iceland is still one of the most popular Top 50 most popular travel destinations for American tourists. We are sure that when you learn more about this beautiful cold-weather country, it will be on your must-see list!

There are many facts to learn and even more to love about Iceland. Whether you love folklore, language learning or breathtaking scenery, Iceland has something for you.

Facts about Iceland

Don’t worry if preparing to travel to another country is stressful for you. We have already put together a comprehensive Iceland travel guide to help you find holiday apartments, plan routes and put together a vacation route. In the meantime, let’s start with 15 cool facts about Iceland that will inspire your next vacation!

1. Iceland was settled by Vikings

Fact Island settled by Vikings

For a European country, Iceland is considered relatively young. It wasn’t until the 800s that Vikings came from Norway to colonize what we now know as Iceland. Viking culture is still reflected in the language, art, and even the land itself. Fun fact The Vikings series touched on that fact last season. You should see it, it’s great!

2. The name Iceland is meant to be confusing

Island Fact Name is meant to be confusing

What was one of the first things the Vikings did when they came to their new land? They gave it a name – and one that would ward off potential intruders.

You may have wondered why Iceland and Greenland have the names they have when Iceland is covered in foliage and Greenland is covered in ice. Believe it or not, it was done on purpose! The Vikings knew that enemies would follow them and hoped that this confusion would send their enemies to Greenland and leave them in peace.

3. Iceland is home to Europe’s first parliament

The Althing is Iceland’s national parliament and one of the longest-running parliaments in the world. In fact, the original location of the Althing is the first parliamentary site in European history.

The Icelandic parliament has changed over the years, especially after Iceland was united with Norway. However, it is still functional today and tourists can see the place where one of the earliest democracies took shape.

4. Iceland offers a unique view of the tectonic plate

Tectonic plates in Iceland

Ingvellir National Park is home to the Althing, but it also has serious geographic significance. It is one of only two places on the planet where you can physically see the rift between two tectonic plates. More precisely, this is where you can get a glimpse of the North American and Eurasian plates, where they meet in the Atlantic Ocean. Read more: Diving in Silfra – Iceland underwater

(Where is the other place you can see this phenomenon? You will find it on your next trip to Africa.)

5. Iceland has tons of volcanoes

Volcanoes in Iceland

We don’t tend to associate cold-weather countries with volcanoes, but Iceland is full of them. In fact, Iceland has over 125 volcanoes spread across the country.

Some of these volcanoes are still active while others could awaken at any time. Much of Iceland is covered in lava fields, and the nation experiences at least one new eruption roughly every four years. Read more: Iceland – Experience the land of fire and ice

6. Cold land, hot springs

Blue Lagoon hot springs in Iceland

Volcanic activity doesn’t just take place above the earth where we can see it. There are all kinds of underground volcanic activity in Iceland that turns into geothermal activity. As a result, Iceland has a fair share of hot springs that people enjoy swimming in all year round.

Note that some of the most famous hot springs (e.g. the Blue Lagoon) were actually man-made – although the water is naturally heated. If you want to splash around in a natural hot spring, you have to venture out into the great outdoors. Check out: How to visit the Blue Lagoon in Iceland – is it worth it?

7. Iceland is one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world

Iceland is environmentally friendly

Iceland is one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world. In a way, they achieve this low carbon footprint by default.

Iceland relies on an exceptionally small amount of fossil fuels to power its infrastructure. Hydropower and geothermal energy are obtained from volcanic activity and hot springs to be valued 85% of the nation. Read On: Mighty Icelandic Waterfalls You Must See To Believe

8. Glaciers play a role in Iceland’s unique topography

Glacier in Iceland

No matter where you go in Iceland, you will find how unique the topography is. Much of Iceland is characterized by frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity. The third element that adds to the beautiful landscape is glacier activity!

9. Iceland is short of trees

Iceland is short of trees

As you can imagine, a landscape shaped by volcanoes and glaciers can be a harsh environment for natural growth. When you travel around Iceland you will find that you will not come across any forests. There are certainly trees in Iceland and the country has increased afforestation in recent decades, but there are no ancient forests.

(Bonus fact! It wasn’t just the harsh conditions that contributed to the lack of forests in Iceland. When the Vikings settled the land, it seems that they have become a bit cumbersome with their logging.)

10. Do you hate mosquitos? Go to Iceland

Iceland has no mosquitoes

In most countries, being in nature means getting bitten by mosquitos. In Iceland, you don’t have to worry about these particular pests as they simply don’t have any.

Scientists believe that this shortage of mosquitoes is caused by Iceland strange weather patterns. Throughout the year Iceland experiences three cycles of freezing and thawing, making temperatures unsuitable for mosquitoes to live on.

The bad news? Iceland has sand flies, so you’ll still need to pack your bug spray.

11. The Icelandic language has hardly changed

Icelandic language

The Icelandic language can best be compared to the Norwegian and Danish languages. However, it remains a unique and well-preserved language overall.

Most languages ​​change over time. For example, the English of Shakespeare’s contemporaries looks and sounds different from the English we use today. The Icelandic language, on the other hand, still looks and sounds almost identical to what was spoken centuries ago.

12. Legends abound and merge with history

Legends in Iceland

If you love legends and folklore, you will have great fun in Iceland. Trolls and elves are abundant in Icelandic folklore and the stories you hear are just delightful. For example, you can hear that large rock formations are frozen trolls or that some land is left undeveloped because it is home to elves.

There is some confusion about how many Icelanders really believe in elves and trolls. A survey found that many people in Iceland neither confirm nor deny their existence because there is no evidence either way – and we agree!

13. Iceland is great for adventurous eaters

Iceland is one of those rare countries where you won’t find a McDonald’s. Instead, be sure to try some of their exciting and unusual dishes!

Some things you might find on an Icelandic restaurant’s menu are puffins, fermented shark, whale, sheep’s head, and dried fish. Don’t worry, non-meat eaters! Iceland is also a great place for vegan and vegetarian food!

14. Beer is a big thing in Iceland

Beer is great in Iceland

If you’re familiar with American history, you will know all about Prohibition (the years when alcohol was banned in America). Something similar happened in Iceland – and it took a long time.

All alcohol was illegal in Iceland between 1915 and the 1930s. Then, from the 1930s to 1989, there was wine and spirits, but beer was still not legal.

Now you can find many microbreweries in Iceland! To celebrate the legalization of beer, Iceland celebrates National Beer Day on March 1st each year.

15. Book lovers will feel right at home in Iceland

Iceland is home to a large number of published writers, in part because the written word is highly valued by almost all Icelanders! In fact, one of Iceland’s unique vacation traditions falls on Christmas Eve, when family members exchange books and spend the day reading.

If you are an avid reader, check out some of Iceland’s lovely bookstores. We also recommend planning your vacation properly so you can go to the annual Reykjavik International Literature Festival. Then head to the turtle-shaped National Library of Iceland to round out your book-themed trips!

Go beyond the facts about Iceland and see the sights firsthand

Top sights in Iceland

We hope that these interesting facts about Iceland have made you curious and want more! Iceland is a beautiful country that cannot be compared to any other country in the world. Why not see the sights of Iceland firsthand by making it your next major travel destination?

Here at Planet D, our goal is to make traveling easier and more enjoyable for everyone. We offer travel guides, useful tips and interesting information for planning your vacation.

Not sure where to go next? Enter any location in our destination finder and get to know it today.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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