Iceland is known for its natural wonders. But that’s just the beginning. The country has stories, beliefs, practices, and more that are uniquely its own and worthy to be shared with the rest of the world.
Whether they are curious, intriguing, funny, or useful for your trip to Iceland someday, here are some fascinating things from the land of fire and ice.
1. Family History
Icelanders can look up their genealogical roots at www.islendingabok.is. The database is like a modern update to the book of the same name, which translates to Book of Icelanders, written by Ari Thorgilsson. Interestingly, young people belonging to the 21-30 age group have been found to use the database the most. Access to the website, however, is for Icelandic citizens/legal residents only.
2. A “Non-Dating” App
Relatedly, Icelandic university students created an app aiming to prevent someone from inadvertently dating a relative. The app taps the records of the Islendingabok database and probably wants to prove the point that everyone in Iceland is related. While it’s been a few years since the app’s creation, its novelty makes it relevant to be included in lists such as this.
3. Ice Cream
It’s not just hot dogs that are a must-try in Iceland; ice cream is also a national favorite. Icelanders love their ice cream and don’t mind driving to get this sweet craving. This ice cream road trip, or ísbíltúr, is a pastime in Iceland. One of the best stops of this sweet adventure is Ísbúð Vesturbæjar, which has been serving Icelandic ice cream since 1971.
4. Iceland in a Day?
They say you can drive around Iceland in 17 hours. That is if you go by Route 1, or more familiarly known as the Ring Road. The circular road presents easy access to many of Iceland’s attractions. The weather and road conditions must also cooperate.
It’s more worthwhile to allot at least seven days for your road trip. This gives you more time to enjoy everything, the view, the beaches, waterfalls, mountains, and so on. You can pick a campervan because it’s more equipped for longer travels. Find the best camper to explore Iceland today.
5. An Elf School
Located in Reykjavik, The Elfschool takes students to the fascinating world of mythical beings living in Iceland. The school offers lectures, guided tours to an elfin place, and books. Students who can include foreign tourists learn about hidden people, elves, and creatures in Icelandic folklore. If you can’t attend the school, read the legends and tales posted on the website.
6. Hidden People
The hidden people or Huldufólk figure in a lot of Icelandic tales and legends. One origin story goes that Eve hid her unwashed children from God, who in turn hid them from men. These invisible beings are “just like us” although they live in rocks and interact with humans one way or another. While Icelanders know of their existence ever since, the story of a supposedly elf church has recently brought international attention to the Huldufólk.
7. Thirteen Santa Claus(es)
Iceland has not one but 13 Santa Clauses. Just like Santa, Jólasveinar or the Yule Lads bestow gifts based on one’s behavior. Legend requires one to leave a shoe on a window sill (and keep it) 13 days before Christmas eve. Each lad’s visit can also be marked by mischief, being true to their trollish nature. Their names like Spoon Licker, Door Slammer, Sausage Swiper, and Candle Stealer are a giveaway.
There’s more to Iceland that meets the eye. Hopefully, you can visit the country someday and learn more amazing stories about Iceland.