Things to Know Before Visiting Iceland
After spending 3 jam packed days in Iceland, listening to tour guides and reading guidebooks, Nicola Shonick went home with some completely random new knowledge and interesting facts about the land of fire and ice. If you are planning to travel to Iceland, which we highly recommend doing at least once in your life if you can, or you love to impress people with random and sometimes pointless knowledge at a pub quiz, make sure you jot these things down.
1. Hot water smells like rotting eggs
In Iceland hot water sometimes smells of sulphur due to its geothermal origins but it is completely safe to wash in. Islandic water is some of the cleanest drinking water in the world.
2. Credit/debit card payments are preferred
There is no question about it, Iceland is EXPENSIVE so it’s no surprise that the preferred method of payment in Iceland is debit or credit card and not cash.
3. Icelandic ponies aren’t ponies
Although they look like ponies they are in fact horses. Icelandic horses are protected but can be sold for millions abroad. Once they leave Iceland they can’t return to protect the other horses from diseases.
4. 100% renewable energy sources
Iceland is the only country in the world which gets 100% of its electricity and heat from renewable sources.
5. The Blue Lagoon is man-made
Although listed as a Natural Wonder of the world, the Blue Lagoon is entirely man-made and was built in 1976.
6. It has been named the most peaceful country in the world
According to the Global Peace Index Iceland has been officially named the most peaceful country in the world a number of times.
7. Unusual geothermal greenhouses
Geothermal heated greenhouses in Iceland allow the country to grow it’s own produce despite being as close as they are to the Arctic Circle. However, most products are imported.
8. It has become a tourist hotspot in recent years
In 2016 1.5 million tourists visited Iceland, in the year 2000 there were only around 300,000 which is close to the population of the country.
9. Icelandic people love Coca-cola
People in Iceland drink more Coca-Cola per head of population than any other country in the world!
10. The 1st March is Beer Day
Beer was illegal for 75 years in Iceland but the prohibition was overturned on 1st March 1989 so to celebrate each year the country has a day dedicated to drinking beer.
11. It is one of the few countries in the world that still allows commercial whaling
Fishing is Iceland’s main industry, and although controversial the nation remains one of just a few in the world that still allows commercial whaling.
12. There are no McDonalds in Iceland
The countries financial crisis made it too expensive to run its franchise. The last McDonalds burger to be sold in 2009 was revealed 6 years later to still have no mould on it.
13. There was once no TV allowed on a Thursday
Until the 1980s there was no TV aired on a Thursday because the government thought people should be doing something other than watching TV at least once a week.
14. Iceland is also the land of light and darkness
Long summer days with nearly 24-hours of sunshine soon change to short winter days with only few hours of daylight.
15. It has a small population of 330,000 people
The entire country of Iceland only holds a population of a little over 330,000. It is ranked 175th in the world. Almost two thirds of the population live in Reykjavik and surrounding areas.
16. There are no polar bears in Iceland
Polar bears are seen as unwanted guests in Iceland and are viewed as a threat. In the past 10 years 7 polar bears have tried to enter Iceland but have been shot on arrival.
17. Iceland is home to many active and inactive volcanos
Approximately 130 altogether! The country has around 30 active volcanic systems.
Iceland is absolutely beautiful and makes you feel like you are in a different world. Wrap up and go for yourself and see!
By Nicola Shonick