General Information 

 

Looking for some helpful information about Iceland? Here you will find an insightful look into the history, nature, culture, art, shopping and more. The Icelandic travel information available here will give you all of the facts you need to know on visiting Iceland. This helpful information about Iceland provides resources on where to eat, shop and do all of the things necessary when visiting this beautiful country. When traveling around the island, knowing some Icelandic information will make your trip all the more pleasurable and fulfilled.


Hotels in Iceland


Basic Icelandic Folklore

There is a long tradition in Iceland of respecting nature and the elements. The Viking age settlers of Iceland came to the rugged island in the hopes of creating for themselves a better life, what they faced was a continuous struggle against the awesome powers of Mother Nature. Their reaction was to personify these forces, to give the elements human-like characteristics which could be “reasoned” with. Or at least communicated with on some level. 

Beaches in Iceland

There are many beautiful beaches in Iceland
Because the coastline is so varied and sometimes the beaches lie close to towns and villages while in other places these are gems you may happen uppoin while driving on the road in Iceland. 
Most of the beaches in Iceland are madr from black sand, making for amazing sights and striking contrasts to the blue sky and green grass around them.

Before you go to Iceland

Before you to go to Iceland it’s important that you prepare yourself with practical information. Here you will find a range of topics that will hopefully answer some of the questions on your mind. Whether you are travelling on your own or in a group, the information will hopefully make it easier for you before you go to Iceland.

Climate in Iceland

Considering the northerly location of Iceland, its climate is much milder than might be expected, especially in winter. 

Dog Sledding in Iceland

Experience the thrill and excitement of touring Iceland’s incredible scenery while dog sledding in Iceland. Share the beautiful sites and open spaces as a dog sled team guides you in a great adventure. It is both a chance to travel old school style and also to experience a form of travel that brings you into contact with nature in a unique and picturesque way. Dog power has been utilized for hunting and travel for hundreds of years. As far back as the 10th century these dogs have contributed to human culture.

Dog Sledding Tours

There is nothing like the thrill and excitement of touring Iceland’s incredible scenery on a dog sleigh
If you are looking for an activity for your Holiday in Iceland why not share the beautiful sites and open spaces on the ride of a lifetime as a dog sled team guides you in a great adventure.
 

Downtown Shopping in Reykjavik

Laugavegur is the main shopping street in downtown Reykjavik. 

Economic collapse

The 2008–2011 Icelandic financial crisis was a major economic and political crisis in Iceland that involved the collapse of all three of the country's major privately owned commercial banks, following their difficulties in refinancing their short-term debt and a run on deposits in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom connected to the infamous ICESAVE accounts. Relative to the size of its economy, Iceland’s systemic banking collapse is the largest suffered by any country in economic history. 

Economy of Iceland

Due to the fact that Iceland is a small island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean the economy of Icelandis equally small and is therefore subject to high volatility. 
Iceland has despite this seen genuine economic prosperity and the standard of living is quite high. In 2011, gross domestic product was US$12.3bn, or $38,000 per capita, based on purchasing power parity (PPP) estimates.

Elves and Hidden people

Throughout modern day Scandinavia, Ireland, Britain, Iceland and the Faroe Islands there can still be found a great many legends and myths about what may be collectively called “hidden people”. These are the supernatural human like creatures who exist alongside the human population but are for all intents and purposes, invisible to our eyes. In Iceland the term huldufólk could easily be translated as ‘Hidden people‘.

Elves on Christmas Night

There are four Icelandic holidays considered to have a special connection with the Icelandic elves, Hulufólk or hidden people. These are New Year’s EveJanuary 6thMidsummer night and Christmas night. 
Christmas night on December 24th is the main night of the Icelandic Christmas celebration. That is the time people get together and share a Christmas meal, then they open presents. 

Elves on Midsummer Night

There are four Icelandic holidays considered to have a special connection with the Icelandic elves, Hulufólk or hidden people. These are New Year’s EveJanuary 6thMidsummer night and Christmas night.  This is the longest day of the year. The sun barely sets before rising again and the sky is blue for 24 hours. People stay up, often camping, drinking and having a good time throughout the never- ending night.

Elves on New Year's Eve

There are four Icelandic holidays considered to have a special connection with the Icelandic elves, Hulufólk or hidden people. These are New Year’s EveJanuary 6thMidsummer night and Christmas night.  
The magic of New Year’s Eve in Iceland is of course legendary. The Northern lights light up almost every night during winter and people admire them all around Iceland but this is probably the only night during the dark months of winter in Iceland when people really don’t care if the lights are due to make and appearance or not. 

Fish Spa

Fish Spa Iceland
In 2012 we discovered the Garra rufa and then the Fish Pedicure. Given the potential and benefits of this practice, we decided to use our expertise to start the first Fish Spa in Iceland. We are able to offer this innovative treatment in an environment always sterile and free of any harmful bacterial form. To do this, we have equipment which sterilizes the water continuously, always keeping the environment perfectly healthy.
The Garra rufa are small freshwater fish , very popular and loved all over the world for their delicate micromassages, which make the skin incredibly soft and smooth, in addition to being highly effective anti-stress treatments.

Fjords in Iceland

Given the range of geography in Iceland there are many places in Iceland that people wouldn’t think to explore. The Fjords in Iceland are among those places. The Icelandic fjords carry a mystery beyond the typical Icelandic landmarks that one has to see for themselves.

Flea Market Shopping

The Kolaportid flea market is located in the old harbor area, a few minutes from the city center. It is indoors and open every weekend from 11am – 5pm. 

Founding of the Republic

The establishment of the Republic of Iceland formally took place at Þingvellir (Thingvellir) on June 171944. At 13:30, the prime minister, Björn Þórðarson, officially set the celebrations, after which a Christian mass was held. The new Icelandic flag of the Republic of Iceland was raised, and the members ofAlthingi (parliament) rose from their seats, as church bells rang. 

Geographical statistics of Iceland

Hvannadalshnjukur is the tallest mountain in Iceland, 2119 m, Vatnajokull is the largest glacier, 8300 km2, Þjorsa the longest river, 230 km.

Geography of Iceland

Iceland is an island of 103.000 km2 (39,756 sq.miles), with an average height of 500 m above sea level.  Its highest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur, rises to 2.119 m and over 11 per cent of the country is covered by glaciers, including Vatnajökull, the largest in Europe.

Geothermal Swimming pools

There is a great number of high quality swimming pools in Iceland, mostly due to the wealth of geothermal heat. Most of the pools not located in geothermal areas are indoors. The number of open air pools is far greater and those can be found all over the country.  They are open year-round, regardless of weather.

Getting Around

There are many ways to get around the country to experience all that Iceland has to offer. Whether you are walking, driving around the countryside or staying in town, this list of options will help you in figuring out what will work best for you.

History of Icelandic Cuisine

The roots of Icelandic cuisine can be found in the very oldest cooking traditions of Scandinavian cuisine, tracing its origins back to the Vikings and the first settlers of Iceland. Products made from the various Icelandic animals dominate Icelandic cuisine today as they have for centuries. Fresh lamb meat for example remains extremely popular in Icelandic cuisine.

History of Language in Iceland

Icelandic is, and has been, spoken in Iceland since the time of the first settlers. It is a North Germanic language, related to Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian, but unlike them retains the full set of conjugations and declensions that Old Norse had. Its stubborn resistance to change and its lack of Latinate words make it a difficult language for English speakers to comprehend and learn.

Hvannadalshnjukur: The Highest mountain in Iceland

Hvannadalshnjukur, the highest peak in Icleand, stands at 2110 meters (6900 feet). Located in the southeast of Iceland on the north-western rim of the Oraefajokull volcano, the peak is part of Vatnajokull National Park.

Hvita river

From its magnificent sources in the glacier lake known in Icelandic as 'the white river lake' or Hvitarvatn the glacier river Hvita flows from Langjokull glacier high up in the highlands of Iceland and makes its way through the Icelandic nature swaying in curves and dropping in stunning waterfalls from far up in the hills and down into the lowlands where it has cut it's way to the sea.

Iceland Top Places to visit

A list of the most interesting places in Iceland to visit. Iceland's main attraction is its nature

Iceland Weather

When traveling in Iceland you need to be aware of the ever changing weather conditions in Iceland. Iceland weather is typically better than the geological location would imply but there are many things to consider about the weather in Iceland.

Icelandic alphabet

Traveling to Iceland will leave you in awe of the spectacular nature, the clean air, the fresh water, the lack of insects and perhaps also the Icelandic Language. 
Icelandic may, at first glance, look very formidable to an outsider. The Icelandic language has strange characters such as "Æ" or "þ" and "ð" in addition to the many accented vowels which can leave a native English speaker at a loss. However, once some of the basic rules have been cleared up, pronunciation is fairly straightforward.

Icelandic Economy

Iceland's Scandinavian-type social-market economy combines a capitalist structure and free-market principles with an extensive welfare system. The economy is heavily dependent upon fishing. Despite effort to diversify, particularly into the travel industry, seafood exports continue to account for nearly three-quarters of merchandise exports and approximately half of all foreign exchange earnings. 

Icelandic Elves on January 6th

There are four Icelandic holidays connected to the Icelandic elves, Hulufólk or hidden people. These are New Year’s EveJanuary 6thMidsummer night and Christmas night.
In Iceland a special elf related festival is held on the twelfth night of Christmas or the night of January 6th. This is when legends say the Queen of the elves traditionally rides through the countryside and it is particularly perilous to be out alone on this night.

Icelandic Nature

Geologically speaking, Iceland is a very young country; its creation began less than 20 million years ago and is still progressing today.  Iceland’s wildlife reflects the youth of the country. There are relatively few insect species and only a handful of wild mammal

Icelandic Presidents

Five people have held the office of president of Iceland since Iceland gained independence from Denmark in 1944. Sveinn Björnsson was the only President to die in office. Ásgeir Ásgeirsson was the first President elected by popular vote. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was the first elected female president in the world. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson was former populist politician who became president and is the only president to use the authorization to force a national referendum on a law from Althingi the Icelandic parliament.

Icelandic Sheep Dog

The Icelandic Sheepdog is the only native dog of Iceland. It is descended from the ancient Nordic Spitzdogs and was taken to Iceland by the Vikings, together with their sheep and horses, more than 1,100 years ago. The Icelandic Sheepdog and its method of working adapted to the local terrain, farming methods and the hard struggle for survival of the Icelandic people over the centuries, making it indispensable in the rounding up of livestock on the farms. The dogs were of vital use to the Icelandic people, thus demanding the utmost in character, frugality and health in their breeding. 

Icelandic Sheep in General

The modern Icelandic Sheep is a direct descendant of the sheep brought to the island by the early Viking settlers, in the ninth and tenth century. The Icelandic sheep are of medium size with mature ewes weighing 150-160 lbs. and rams 200-220 lbs. They are fine boned with open face and legs and udders. Similar to that ofmountain sheep, the breed has both polled and horned individual of both sexes but it is primarily horned. Very few attempts have been made to change the Icelandic sheep through the centuries with outside crossings. 

Landsbanki

This Icelandic bank was established by the Icelandic parliament in hopes that it would boost monetary transactions and encourage the country’s early industries. At first the bank's operations were restricted by its limited financial capacity, but following the turn of the 20th century Icelandic society progressed and prospered.Landsbanki grew and developed with the nation.

Longest river in Iceland

Thjorsa, Iceland’s longest river, sources from the icelandic glacier Hofsjokull.
At 230 km (143 mi), it flows out through narrow gorges in the highlands of Iceland. Before it enters the lowlands, it meets the Tungnaa River before passing the valley of Thjorsardalur.

Museums & art galleries

Museums & Art galleries Iceland's rich heritage consists of great museums and art galleries all over Iceland. All of which are worth visiting, ranging from present-day back to the early days of Iceland's first settlement. 

Night Life

As with Reykjavik the best spots to start socializing are bars and pubs, as well as some of the cafes that turn into bars after 6pm. Some of the bars listed below are attached to restaurants but you can always drink without eating.

Nordura River

The Nordura River or the ‘Northern river’ runs through the Borgarfjordur region in the central west of Iceland. The region is home to some of the most stunning scenery in Iceland with everything from flat grassy fields to high mountains which make for some excellent day hikes. It has many beautiful waterfalls, valleys, inactive volcanoes, volcanic fields, forests and lakes. These hidden pearls of Borgarfjordur are easily accessible from the main road the Ring road or highway nr 1 which runs right through it and there are easy to follow signs to help guide you along.

Online Shopping

Even if you can't be in Iceland, you can still find some of the nation's finest products through several online shops. If you want an online store that carries a diverse range of goods you should try www.nordicstore.net  to find everything you could possibly want or need. 

President of Iceland

The President of Iceland is elected by direct popular vote for a term of four years, with no term limit. 
The Icelandic constitution is very similar to the Danish constitution and some articles have even been copied and translated over to Icelandic. 

Rettir - Sheep Roundup

If you’re visiting Iceland in the fall, catching the annual sheep roundup or “réttir, “is one activity in Icelandyou do not want to miss. During the month of September famers in Iceland come together in a joint effort to round up sheep from the mountains. The annual event is one that has been handed down as a tradition among the Icelanders for ages.

Reynisfjara Beach

One of the most beautiful places to visit in South Iceland is an Icelandic beach called Reynisfjara. Nestled away near the town of Vik, you’ll find a black sand and pebble beach intertwined with caves and pyramid structures that’ll leave any guest in awe. 

Rivers in Iceland

There are many fascinating and incredible rivers in Iceland that are well worth seeing on your trip to Iceland. In fact no vacation in Iceland is complete until you have witnessed the awesome power of at least one major river in Iceland. The rivers of Iceland run through some of the most spectacular scenic landscapes you will come across and the waterfalls hidden in Icelandic nature are like nothing else.

Shopping Malls

Malls in Reykjavik - Malls in Iceland. There are two large centrally located shopping malls in the Reykjavík area. One of them, Kringlan, is located within walking distance of several of the city's main hotels. Smaralind, a new and popular shopping mall that opened in November 2000, is located somewhat further from downtown Reykjavik, in the adjoining town of Kopavogur. Both of these shopping malls are easily accessible by bus from the old city center and have ample free parking.

Surviving Iceland

Fallout from the Askja volcano of 1875 devastated the Icelandic economy and caused widespread famine. Over the next quarter century, 20% of the island's population emigrated, mostly to Canada and the US.

Taking a dog to Iceland

Flying with pets can be a daunting task. 
Flying with dogs can be even more difficult.  Bringing your dog to Iceland is be quite complicated and can take an immense amount of planning and preparation work. Requirements for taking your dog to Iceland can be quite strict and include several forms, an import application fee, and four weeks of quarantine. No exceptions are made and this should not be done on a whim. Also, completion of these various vaccinations and forms can take several months, so if you want to take your dog to Iceland, plan early.

Tax-Free Shopping

VAT (Value Added Tax) on most goods in Iceland is 25.5%. A VAT refund when you leave allows you to recover taxes you originally paid when shopping. 

The bases of Icelandic Cuisine

Icelandic cuisine, as you would experience it today on a holiday in Iceland, has changed dramatically from what it used to be. Throughout the ages the people of Iceland have had to deal with the elements and Icelands unpredictable natural forces all the while trying to produce enough food to last through an often very hard winter. Icelandic people no longer worry about the coming winter and preserving food is now a matter of popping it in the freezer.

The Geysers

The Great Geyser is considered one of the greatest natural attraction in Iceland. In the 19th century the Geyser would shoot up 80-meters in the air, but today it has to be triggered by man.  It used to erupt every 60 minutes until the early 1900s when it became dormant. 

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra gave its first concert in 1950 and recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

The Icelandic Dance Company

The Iceland Dance Company, ID, is the national institution of Iceland responsible for developing, creating and nurturing contemporary dance and choreography.

The Icelandic History

The Icelandic history starts eleven hundred years ago when the Vikings settled the island.  The Icelandic nation has survived the harsh sub-arctic climate and has today become one of the most modern societies in the world.   

The Icelandic Krona

The word króna, meaning "crown", is related to those of other Nordic currencies (such as the Danish krone, Swedish krona and Norwegian krone) and to the Latin word corona ("crown"). The name "Icelandic crown" is sometimes used, for example in the financial markets. 

The Icelandic language

Icelandic is the national language and is believed to have changed very little from the original tongue spoken by the Norse settlers.

The Icelandic Nation

The population of Iceland is about 306,000, growing at the rate of 0,74% per year. About  20,7% of people are under 20 years old, and life expectancy is 80,7 years. Most Icelanders (81%) belong to the National  Lutheran Church of Iceland.

Top 10 Things to do in Iceland

Although there are a myriad of things to do and see when you come to Iceland, there are certain things that one must do before exiting the country. If you only have a limited amount of time, or want to see the best of the country, check out these sites and activities to help you in your planning.

Tourist Information Center

To assist you with any questions you may have, visit the official Tourist Information Center, conveniently located in the downtown square.

Useful Icelandic Expressions

Learning a few useful Icelandic phrases or words can go a long way to making your stay or visit in Iceland more enjoyable. 

Uses of the Icelandic sheep

Even though the Icelandic wool counts for little of the income from sheep in Iceland (less than 15%) it is the wool for which they are known. The Icelandic fleece has an inner and outer coat typical of the more primitive breeds with the fine undercoat being called Thel, and the long, coarser outer coat called Tog. 

Vigdis Finnbogad├│ttir

In the Icelandic presidential elections in 1980 Vigdis Vinnbogadottir faced three well-known male opponents. It certainly was an uphill battle for the first woman ever to become a candidate for the Icelandic presidency. 

Volcanic activity

Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland is a hot spot of volcanic and geothermal activity: 30 post-glacial volcanoes have erupted in the past two centuries.  Over the past 500 years, Iceland's volcanoes have erupted a third of the total global lava output. 

Wildlife in Iceland

Iceland's wildlife consist mainly of birds and marine mammals. Whalewatching is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland.