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As most people know, Iceland lies in the middle of the north Atlantic, distanced from it’s Nordic countries and cultures. So it’s not surprising that Iceland have developed a few quirks and cultural oddities (not odd here). We compiled a list with 30 facts many new visitors finds odd but fun (in most cases). Enjoy!

1. Iceland got the newest land on earth when Surtsey erupted in 1963 and created an island but we have the oldest parliamentary institution in the world.

2. Vatnajökull is Europe’s biggest glacier.

3. Beer was illegal here for 73 years but became legal again on the 1st of March, 1989.

4. Iceland is one of the few countries in the world that has black sand beaches.

5. Icelandic is one of the oldest languages in the world.

6. Iceland has the longest work week in Europe.

7. People in Iceland don’t say “You are welcome” as a response to “Thanks for dinner”. They say “Verði þér að góðu” which can be translated to “Hope the food will do you well”.

8. Icelandic horses which are transported abroad are never allowed to enter the country again.

9. The geothermal water which are used to heat up houses here, must be cooled down before entering the heating systems.

10. When looking up people in a phone directory, names are sorted by their first name, not their surname.

14. Iceland has around 120 active volcanoes.

11. When babies are given names, the names has to be approved by a special naming committee.

12. Icelanders like to drown any food in sauces. Fish, meat, poultry, desert. Anything that goes into the mouth can be drenched in sauce!

13. 100% of Icelanders have Internet.

14. There is an Icelandic anti-incest app to prevent relatives from dating each other.

15. Leif the lucky, son of Erik the red, arrived to North America some 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

16. Professional boxing is forbidden in Iceland.

17. In marriage, women do not take their husband’s last name. (rarely)

18. The last Icelanders who lived in caves left the caves in 1922 to live in Reykjavik.

19. The alphabet in Iceland has 32 characters and has a lot of vowels: a, á, e, é, i, í, o, ó, u, ú, y, ý, æ and ö. The letters c, q, w are not used. Z was used back in the day.

20. You can drink from any tap in Iceland. (don’t waste money on bottled water)

21. There are no trains in Iceland but that might change in the near future with a high speed train going between Keflavik and Reykjavik.

22. There is no army in Iceland and the police force are unarmed.

23. About 85% of the houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal heat.

24. There are 13 Yule lads (Santa Claus) in Iceland and they are all bad.

25. The eruption of Laki volcano between 1783 to 1784 is believed to have triggered the French revolution.

26. The colors in the Icelandic flag symbols fire and ice. The meaning of the blue color is not clear. Some say the ocean, some the sky and others it’s the blueish tint mountains in the distance can create.

27. For many years, Iceland had the biggest banana plantation in Europe.

28. 65% of Icelandic children are born outside marriage.

29. When you arrive at BSÍ bus station in Reykjavik, you can order Kjammi og Kók which is half a sheep’s head and a Coca Cola.

30. Iceland has 5 prisons and two of them has no guards and criminals are put on a waiting list to serve their time in prison because there aren’t enough available jail cells.

Which of these facts did you not have a clue about?

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Hot dogs are so ubiquitous and beloved in Iceland, they're practically the national dish. They're sold at every gas station and most convenience stores, at hot dog stands inside malls and at ferry landings, and even at the airport, but the most popular place to get one is in Reykjavik at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (which translates to “best hot dogs in town”). Seventy percent of the country’s 300,000 residents have eaten at the harborside hot dog stand, which has been open since 1937 and has fed famous visitors like Bill Clinton and members of Metallica. Icelandic hot dogs have a different flavor than their American counterparts because they’re made mostly from Icelandic lamb, along with a bit of pork and beef. Additionally, Iceland doesn’t allow the import of any live animals, so the lamb eaten today, which is free-range, grass-fed, organic and hormone-free is just like the lamb eaten hundreds of years ago.


Do: Bring small bills and pay in cash. While credit cards are widely accepted, cash still reigns for smaller purchases (Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur doesn’t take credit). Most pylsur cost less than 350–380 ISK, around $3.

Don’t: Dawdle over your decision. There are hungry people waiting in line. If you’re unsure, just opt for one with everything, which is what the hot dog slinger is going to give you if you hesitate.

Do: Be prepared for a queue at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur any time of day, but especially in the evenings; the queue is at its longest on Friday and Saturday nights as club-goers head home, but it moves quickly.

Don’t: Leave a tip. Contrary to the rumor that Icelanders find tips offensive, tipping is appreciated—but not required—at finer restaurants. However, there’s no need to tip at a hot dog stand.

Do: Order two. You’re going to want a second one, and they’re cheap enough you can order multiple without a dent in your budget.

Bon Appetit!😉
Follow Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur on instagram: @icelandic_hot_dog

Follow us to know more: @vikings_is

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The puffin has become one of Iceland's main attractions and there are places all over the country where you can see the birds in the natural habitat:

- Dyrhólaey, the promontory and southernmost point of mainland Iceland, is only a two and a half hour drive east of Reykavík.

- Heimaey island, in Vestmannaeyjar, has been the puffin capital of Iceland through centuries.

- Ingólfshöfði is the next stop, a one and a half hour drive east of Dyrhólaey. A great location in the shadow of Iceland’s highest mountain, Öræfajökull.

- Papey island, just off Djúpivogur, East Iceland, and 600 km (360 miles) from Reykjavík, is one of the greatest places to see puffins up close and personal.

- Borgarfjörður eystri, is another East Iceland location to spot puffins. The best place is by the harbor, south of the village.

- Grímsey island, north of Iceland, and the only place which touches the Arctic circle in Iceland, is another spot with large puffin colonies.

- Látrabjarg cliff, in the West Fjords, and the westernmost point of Europe, is another great location to see this beautiful bird, only a seven hour drive from Reykjavík.

So cute, isn't it? 😉
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Welcome to Iceland!

Here is a list of things that should be in your backpack:

1. Waterproof hiking boots
But don’t bother with packing them, just wear them because they are likely the only shoes you’ll need unless you want to sample the nightlife in Reykjavik.

2. Hiking socks
Wool or synthetic blends — cotton traps the moisture and your feet will get cold.

3. Quick-dry hiking pants
Don’t pack jeans, they are heavy and will just make you cold if they get wet.

4. Waterproof rain jacket with a hood
If you plan on visiting the waterfalls, the spray from the falls will drench you head to toe. A good waterproof jacket with a hood that fits snuggly around your face is essential.

5. Waterproof rain pants
It is a good idea to bring them along on glacier walks too, just in case it starts to rain while you are out on the glacier.

6. Long-sleeve shirts (thin and/or thermal)
The temperatures are going to vary, as will the weather. It is best to be prepared with a selection of long-sleeve shirts.

7. Fleece and/or weather-resistant shell
In Iceland, it is all about layering and options. You can either layer up with a fleece or weather/wind-resistant shell on top or have a fleece for the warmer days and a warmer jacket for the chilly days.

8. Swimsuit
If you plan on taking advantage of any hot springs, public geothermally-heated pools, or hot tubs, don’t forget your swimsuit!

9. Flip flops
Again, if you are visiting any hot springs or pools, a pair of flip-flops will come in handy.

10. Sleep mask — Icelanders are prepared for constant summer daylight with blackout shades in bedrooms, but it still might come in handy to get to sleep when it is bright as day outside.

Have a nice trip!

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Being a vegetarian in Iceland

Often times traveling and vegetarianism don’t mesh well. Fortunately, Reykjavík is extremely accommodating to those of who don’t eat meat! The food tourism industry here likes to boast about their unusual meats - including whale, puffin, and the infamous rotten shark. However, most all menus will have a specific vegetarian course, if not options scattered throughout the whole menu. There are a few restaurants devoted just to vegetarians and vegans.

When you’re looking for food on the go, a fast and easy option for all travelers is one of the many convenience stores around the city center, such as 10-11 or Bonus. I was pleasantly surprised to find that these stores don’t only sell ham sandwiches and chips, but also veggie wraps, bulgur salads, and other inventive veggie and carb combos.

It’s quite common to run into Icelandic locals who’ve been vegetarian for years. I’ve never received a look of confusion from a waiter when I asked about options for a vegetarian or requested a meal without the meat. It’s the little things, but they come as quite a relief after being viewed as a kook in other countries.


First and foremost, try the Skyr. It is a deliciously creamy yogurt that is high in protein for your morning boost. Or maybe it’s actually categorized as a cheese. I have yet to gain clarity on this question. Regardless, it’s delicious and nutritious.

Secondly, a reliable go-to is soup. You’ll find a vegetarian soup at many of the cafes and ADDED BONUS it’s almost always the cheapest option on the menu. My money savvy ways have discovered the best options for optimizing taste + cost + level of fullness. The mostly vegetarian menu at Gló serves a delicious bowl of soup with a free refill. Order it without the salads and load up the slice of bread you’re given with hummus. You’ll be quite full without breaking the bank. Also, at the restaurant Svarta Kaffiđ, the menu consists of only two items—both of which are soup in a bread bowl. But one of those soups is always vegetarian, and after consuming soup plus a whole bread bowl without shame, you’ll be merrily waddling out of their with your pant button undone. The last to keep in mind is the vegetable bowl from The Noodle Station. It’s one of the cheapest and fastest meals in town and is perfectly warming on a snowy winter night.

Thirdly, you’ll most likely be cooking some homemade meals while visiting to save money, so buy your groceries at a Bonus store. They offer the best prices. And on top of that, many vegetarian staples are quite cheap! You can buy quinoa and nuts for a better price than many other popular travel destinations. I moved here from New Zealand where I’d come to accept that I couldn’t afford these vegetarian delicacies, but have put them back on the grocery list.

This is not the time to skimp on nutrients. So when you enter a cute café in Reykjavik, call on your mighty willpower and choose the veggie option. As I mentioned above, many cafes offer a vegetarian soup, including Stofan, Café Babalú and The Laundromat Café. You can also frequently find vegetarian sandwiches; I highly recommend Kaffibrennslan’s mozzarella, tomato, lettuce and pesto grilled sandwich. You might end up forking out a bit more for the purchase, but remember that these are the sacrifices we make for our moral decisions.

If you only remember one thing that I write, this is the most important information. Kaffi Vínyl is your best friend. They have a full vegan menu that could convert even your friends who swear by bacon. The vibes are top notch, with records playing all day and attractive hipster dudes rolling in and out. I haven’t disliked one thing I’ve tried on their menu (and I’ve been there quite a few times now). And to top it all off, you can choose from either oat, soy, almond, or coconut milk in your coffee. Options galore! Kaffi Vínyl is open for all three meals, so you could technically stay here all day. And I wouldn’t judge you for it.

Without a doubt, you won’t have a hard time satisfying your vegetarian dietary needs in Reykjavik. There are more options than the frontal lobe of your brain wants to deal with. Cheers to the Icelandic Tofu Gods.
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What is the Blue Lagoon?

It’s basically a large manmade, geo-thermal spa in western Iceland. The water of the Blue Lagoon is a mixture of both underground, geo-thermal water and fresh water and it is full of minerals, algae and silica. The mineral content of the Blue Lagoon water is allegedly very good for the lifting and toning of your skin. Because the water comes from 2000 meters below the earth’s surface, the water temperature can naturally vary between 98 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The Blue Lagoon was named because the water of the lagoon looks blue when reflected from the sun but in actuality, the water is a milky white color. And don’t worry about the smell, the sulfur has been removed so there is no funky smell at all anymore.

Where is the Blue Lagoon and how do you get there?

The Blue Lagoon is located in the town of Grindavik, approximately 12 miles from Keflavik Airport (20 mins by car) and 24 miles from the city of Reykjavik (50 mins by car). If you are coming from the airport, you might be tempted to hire a taxi but I don’t recommend it as taxis are incredibly expensive in Iceland. You’re much better off renting a car or purchasing a transfer from any of the local tour companies at the airport. Both Grayline and Flybus have transportation accommodations for visiting the Blue Lagoon from the airport and their counters are located just after customs. If you are coming from the airport and need to store your luggage, there is a luggage storage office at the Blue Lagoon for a nominal fee. If you are coming from the city, you can purchase a round trip shuttle transfer from your hotel tour desk or any of the store-front tour companies around the city centre. Or rent a car and drive. That’s my recommendation.

Know before visiting the Blue Lagoon.

Visiting the Blue Lagoon requires pre-booking. You can’t just show up and expect to get in. Tickets can be bought from any tour company or directly from the Blue Lagoon website. It’s a pretty popular place so entry into the facility is controlled by hourly time slots. You must purchase your tickets in advance and they will be cheaper the further out in advance you book them. But what about traffic or flight delays that causes you to be late for your time slot? There is a grace period of 45 minutes so if you select a time slot for 9:00 AM, you technically have until 9:45 AM to get in. And once you are in, you can stay as long as you like. Most people stay for about 2 to 3 hours. Visiting the Blue Lagoon can be enjoyed any time of day or night, rain or shine, so don’t worry if you have a 7:00 PM slot. It’s not like you’re gonna be laying out in the sun during the daytime anyways. The space is well-lit and beautiful any time of day. Due to its chemical composition, it is not recommend that you wear any jewelry in the lagoon and don’t bother with swim goggles. It’s completely cloudy underwater and you won’t be able to see a few inches in front of you. The lagoon water also dries out your skin and hair so be mindful of staying hydrated at all times and using conditioner before and after the lagoon to nourish your hair. Pack your GoPro, waterproof camera or waterproof case for your cell phone. It’s a beautiful space and you will definitely want to take some pictures. If you don’t have a waterproof case for your cell phone, they do sell them on-site.
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Considered Iceland’s most popular hiking trail, the Laugavegur Trek (or Laugavegurinn) spans 55km from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk (Thorsmork). It passes through a very colorful, varied landscape: from rainbow-colored hills to black volcanic deserts, neon green valleys to ice caves. This is not a trek for wildlife spotting or tree hugging – nope, just wide open landscapes that seem to have sprung from another world.
There are only 2-3 months out of the year where it’s possible to hike the Laugavegur Trek. Outside of mid-June through mid-September, the roads leading to and from the trail are impassible and buses do not run. Depending on weather, i.e. how heinous the winter was, there may be too much residual snow to make the trek in June. We highly recommend playing it safe and planning your Laugavegur Trek for somewhere in the mid-July to mid-September range.
One thing you won’t have to worry about is water. As long as you are equipped with water bottles and/or a camelbak pack, you can easily refill with clean water each day at the huts along the trek. Food, on the other hand, you’ll have to carry in with you. What you bring depends on your dietary needs and preferences, but in general you’ll want to pack food that is filling and light in weight. Consider these tips:
-For easy munching during the day while you’re on the trail, pack trail mix or protein bars. (we brought a bag of homemade trail mix from NYC, far cheaper than buying the ingredients in Reykjavik and more filling than bars)
- Cheese and meats should still be good to eat, so take advantage while you can! (We brought pitas, salami, and cheese to make sandwiches for lunch)
-The most satisfying, easy, nonperishable meal we’ve come up with for camping trips and treks? Chili! Grab cans of kidney beans, chickpeas, and some other bean with chili sauce, throw it all in a pot, and warm it up. The cans hold a lot of weight, so you might want to make chili earlier on in the trek to lose the weight in your pack.
-Tuna’s another great nonperishable yet filling food.
-Pasta is a no-brainer for an easy meal – but instead of toting along a big jar of tomato sauce, bring a tiny jar of pesto to put on it.
Weather is very unpredictable in Iceland. You should go into the Laugavegur Trek expecting to encounter rain, wind, and hail, and then consider yourself lucky if you’re not met with all three!
In addition to the obvious jacket and wool layers, be sure to include these must-pack items in your backpack for the trek:
-Comfortable, broken-in hiking boots
-A comfortable, well-fitting backpack
-Rain jacket and rain pants
-Wool socks
-Water bottles
P.S. We can plan this trip together!
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Go find your tour in Iceland!
Plan your trip with Ice Vikings!

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7 gorgeous places to enjoy nature in North Iceland
Gorgeus nature is no less in North Iceland than in South Iceland. Here’s a list of some of the most stunning places to enjoy nature in North Iceland. The lists starts with places in the North East and leads on to the North West. Most of them are easily accessible by car and close to the main roads.
Many of the places listed here are not well known to the common traveler in Iceland, a great way to enjoy nature in peace and quiet.
1. Rauðanes
Rauðanes in Þistilfjörður is a little known jewel of nature, known for stunning rock formations and a great view from the edge of the peninsula. There are high cliffs, columnar basalt and all this inhabited by large flocks of birds. There is a beautiful 7 km path to hike around the area, just keep in mind that there are no shops along the way so bring your own bottle of water.
2. Dettifoss
Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe, taking int account the water flow times its fall distance. The power and sheer beauty make it a must see destination in North East Iceland.
3. Víti
Víti is a caldera in Krafla volcano, a short distance from Lake Mývatn. It’s very picturesque with an opaque greenish lake at the bottom of it. It’s lovely to hike around the crater. It takes around 30 minutes but take care as the path can be slippery when wet.
4. Goðafoss
Goðafoss is located just by the nr.1 ring road, 50 km east of Akureyri. It’s one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland and it’s nothing short of stunning. Goðafoss is very large and you can see how it has moulded the earth around it, creating a canyon and what looks like beautiful carvings in the rock.
5. Tröllaskagi
Instead of driving the nr. 1 highway it’s a lot more interesting to drive north from Akureyri and drive around Tröllaskagi peninsula. There are a lot of little towns along the coast which are fun to visit, where you can find a beer spa, take the ferry to Hrísey Island, visit a gallery/workshop with avant garde art and so on. Many of these placees have great ski slopes if you are passing in winter. This is also one of the best places in Iceland to go heliskiing. The area is known for mountains and cliffs (tröll means troll or giant) and the road of the northern part of the peninsula is high up in places, which makes for a stunning view.
6. Drangey
Drangey island is Skagafjörður’s most famous landmark. The island is basically one giant rock fortress with steep cliffs, covered in birds. The stories associated with the island are numerous, some of the centuries old. There are tours that allow you to visit the island and others where you can sail around it and the other islands of the fjord. The latter more suitable for those who are afraid of heights as the climb up Drangey island is no joke.
7. Hvítserkur
Hvítserkur is without a doubt one of the most picturesque cliffs in North East Iceland, very popular to visit both in summer and in winter, bathed in the Northern Lights. Hvítserkur is 15m high and located just off the beach. It has been sculpted by the sea over the years and has two holes in it, giving it the appearance of a drinking dragon or a rhino.
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||The Stone Carvings of Páll Guðmundsson||

Artist and rock carver Páll Guðmundsson uses the stones of his native Iceland to create a legacy of neo-primitive works including a stone xylophone that has actually been used in concert with some major Icelandic musicians.

Working out of his hometown (which he has never moved away from) of Húsafell, Guðmundsson works mainly in sculpture chiseled out of native rock. The artist has two major installations around his home, one at a site called the “Ghost Fold,” and another collection of carvings in the valley of Bæjargil. The work in the Ghost Fold is based on the local story of a priest who was able to put 18 ghosts to rest at the site. Guðmundsson installed 18 stone ghost heads being forced back into the ground to reference the legend.

His stone faces carved into the rocks in the valley of Bæjargil are more broadly representative of the primitive sculpture style. Consisting of a handful of stony visages of varying size, this collection harkens back to Iceland’s Nordic art tradition.

Guðmundsson also famously created a working stone xylophone (technically an idiophone) that was featured in collaboration with Icelandic band, Sigur Ros. While the instrument is not on public display, videos of it playing can be found online.
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