Home to mystical fjords, glacier-carved valleys and majestic mountains, Iceland is one of the most breathtaking nature havens in the world.
While cameos in Game of Thrones, Interstellar and Batman Begins have put Iceland on the map, this Nordic island is still a somewhat mysterious faraway land for many.
Steeped in Viking traditions, Iceland is a country of somewhat ultra unorthodox combinations. By this we mean, bathing in the buff in public pools is completely acceptable, while drinking beer was banned until 1989 and owning a dog only became legal in 2006.
Intrigued? Read on for more bizarre things to look out for when travelling the land of fire and ice.
You’ll Need To Drive With Caution Due To Elf Homes On The Roads
Planning to self-drive from Reykjavík? There’s no better way to see the northernmost capital city in the world, but be warned, driving in Iceland can be risky business—and it’s not just due to the country’s icy roads when the weather goes south.
Errant boulders are known to roll onto roads and drivers are expected to dodge the inconveniently placed rocks since many locals believe that the boulders are homes to elves.
Legend has it that it’s bad luck to move an elf’s dwelling, with unbelieving culprits reporting inflicted injuries, such as sprained ankles and broken arms soon after. A coincidence? Sounds like elf magic.
You’ll Feast On Puffins and Other Strange Delicacies That You’d Never Thought To Try
From puffins, súr hvalur (whale blubber) to hákarl (fermented shark), Icelandic cuisine is full of surprises.
While the unofficial national food of Iceland is the hot dog. You’ll find this budget-friendly meal everywhere from service stations and food stands to the poshest of eateries. Be sure to make a pit-stop at Beztu Pylsur whose hot dogs are widely regarded as the best in the country.
You’ll Get Plenty of R&R Hopping From Beer Spa To Geothermal Pool
While the luxurious Blue Lagoon needs little introduction, there are more venues to unwind than this famous geothermal spa. Iceland has the highest swimming pool-to-human ratio in the world, which means even if you’re not to prepared to fork out 6100 Icelandic Kronas on entry, there are plenty free swimming spots to soak up good-for-you minerals.
And just when you that sounds like pure bliss, it gets even better. At Bjorbodin Spa you can submerge yourself in a spa filled with beer. And since the experience claims to be “cleansing for the skin” and is to “have a very positive health effect” due to the spring water from the Sólarfjall mountain used in the brews, it’s definitely our kind of spa.
You’ll Struggle To Find A Strip Club In The Entire Country But There Is A Penis Museum
Banned since 2010, Iceland is probably not the best destination for a blow-out bucks party, but the capital does boast a penis museum – although not the seedy establishment that may come to mind.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum lays claim to a collection of more than 215 penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals that can be found in the country.
You’ll Enjoy Sun At Midnight In Summer
Forget the weather-contingent Northern Lights – we’re obviously still bitter about missing out – the 24-hour daylight is natural phenomenon that you’re guaranteed to see when visiting between June and August.
With the sun shining around the clock and more favourable weather conditions, adventure-thirsty travellers can hike more off-the-path trails at whatever you please.
Photographers, too, can take advantage of the golden hour, which in the Icelandic summer lasts well into the early hours of the morning and beyond.
You’ll See The Edge of the Eurasian and North American Tectonic Plates
While most tectonic plate boundaries lie underwater, Iceland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Listed site, Thingvellir National Park, is where you can see the two plates from the Mid-Atlantic ridge above ground.
Every year, the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates drift roughly two centimetres apart causing the Silfra fissure, the deep watery crack to further rip apart.
Want to be at two places at once? Dive the Silfra and you can even touch the two continents as you swim in some of the most pristine waters in the world.