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What is Iceland known for? Interesting facts about Iceland

Iceland is a stunning part of the Scandinavian region, best known for extreme geological contrast, and beautiful sights. 

Visitors will find some of the largest glaciers in Europe in Iceland, situated alongside active volcanoes, and of course, the Northern Lights. 

With so much fantastic diversity to discover, you might be left wondering, what is Iceland known for? Or even, what are the best things about Iceland?

Today, we’re going to introduce you to some of the most famous components of Icelandic culture. 

We’ll be looking at everything from the region’s incredible natural landscapes, to its musical talents and even bizarre foods. 

Here’s your guide to interesting facts about Iceland, and just some of the things that make this location so unique.

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A traditional Icelandic meal including fermented shark and an alcohol called “The Black Death”

What is Iceland known for? Brennivin and fermented shark

Let’s start with a look at Iceland’s odd eating habits. 

Fermented shark is a common meal in Icelandic restaurants — and something you won’t find in most other regions worldwide. 

The shark here isn’t rotten, like some people think, although it does have a flavor that’s similar to a very strong blue cheese. 

Most Icelandic locals don’t snack on shark every day, but it’s common to eat the food at least once per year. 

There’s also Brennivin to mention too. This is a kind of unsweetened alcoholic drink — and it’s Iceland’s signature beverage. 

While some people love Brennivin, others find the taste to be much too strong — with potent caraway seeds as fkavir. In certain regions, this clear liquid still has the name “Black Death.” 

Traditionally, like fermented shark, this drink appears most commonly during the mid-winter feast of  Þorrablót.

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Group of Puffins

What is Iceland known for? The amazing wildlife

Iceland is a wonderful place to visit if you’re looking for a chance to get closer to nature. Wild mammals include everything from reindeer and rabbits to the arctic fox and polar bears. 

One of the most famous animals is the Icelandic horse — a unique creature that comes from the horses the Vikings brought during early settlement times

Though Icelandic horses are a little shorter than other breeds, they’re compelling and well-suited to the harsh landscapes of the region. You can even ride one of these majestic beasts on a visit to Iceland. 

Another popular animal in Iceland is the puffin. This almost comical breed, with its multi-colored beak, is a must-see in Iceland. You can see the birds in the summer, although they spend most of their time out at sea. 

When you’re visiting Iceland, consider going on a wildlife tour as part of your visit so you can make the most of all the amazing sights the space has to offer. 

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Ice Cave – Breidamerkurjokull

What is Iceland known for? The incredible landscape

The Icelandic landscape is one of the most breath-taking in the world. There are countless mountains to explore, complete with beautiful waterfalls that look as though they came straight from a fantasy novel. 

Whether they’re trapped in ice or surrounded by nature, these waterfalls are an amazing sight. 

Glaciers are another must-see in Iceland’s selection of beautiful sights. 11% of the country is covered in glaciers, and the space is also home to Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajokull. 

Visitors can take walking tours around the glaciers, go ice-climbing, and more. 

Iceland also happens to be home to the first-known geyser in the world. The Geysir in Iceland gave all other geyser’s their name. 

This natural marvel has been up and running for over 10,000 years, though it’s unlikely that you’ll see it erupt anymore. 

If you want a grand tour of some Iceland’s best natural spaces, it’s worth taking a trip around the Golden Circle. This is the country’s most popular day tour, and it covers everything from the magnificent Pingvellir to the Geysir. 

You also get a chance to check out the Gullfoss waterfall.

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What is Iceland known for? Northern Lights and volcanoes

It’s impossible to write an article on things to know about Iceland without mentioning the Northern Lights. These phenomenal natural lights transform the sky in winter throughout the Scandinavian region. 

Although you can find the lights in various Nordic spaces, Iceland is one of the best places to book a tour

The Northern Lights aren’t the most reliable attraction in Iceland because you can only see them at certain times when the clouds are sparse. You’re also more likely to see these lights during the colder months of winter. 

If you want something a little more reliable to see in Iceland, then you can check out the volcanoes

The country sits on top of a rift between two tectonic plates, and a geological hot spot. This small island generally has an eruption every five years or so. 

Some volcanos still spew significant amounts of ash and lava for months at a time. 

The geothermal heat in Iceland is also responsible for a range of other great natural attractions, such as hot springs and natural hot pools.

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What is Iceland known for? Amazing culture

It’s not just the beautiful landscapes and amazing sights that draw people to Iceland. The culture is also incredibly vibrant, creative, and unique. 

Most people have heard of countless acts from Iceland, including Bjork and Sigur Ros. There are also bands like Of Monsters and Men. Every year, new musicians appear in the spotlight. 

Iceland’s culture is one of happiness, creativity, and freedom of expression. You’ll find plenty of amazing people here, even if you don’t go searching for celebrities. 

Like many Scandinavian locations, Iceland stands out as one of the most joyful spots in the world. 

Iceland is also a great place to go for comfort. The region created the woolen sweater of Lopapeysa, which is a world-renowned garment, excellent for keeping your warm, while preventing the rain from getting in. 

The jumper or sweater comes from Icelandic’s amazing sheep, which have two different kinds of fiber in its wool

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What is Iceland known for? Female empowerment

Ever wondered what Icelandic women are like?

If you’re wondering, “What is so special about Iceland?” then its female leaders are a great place to start searching for answers. 

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was the fourth president in Iceland in 1980, she served as the head of the state for 16 years and was the first democratically elected female president in the world. 

She was also the longest-serving female head of state globally too. 

While other female presidents already existed around the globe, they didn’t get democratically elected into their position. Iceland was also home to an all-female political party. 

Not long after the female president came to power, the country founded an all-female party in 1983.

Although it’s difficult to know exactly when the first all-female party emerged worldwide, Iceland still stands out as one of the innovators of female empowerment. 

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War of Independence Victory Column in Tallinn, Estonia

What is Iceland known for? Baltic independence

Finally, In 1990 and 1991, Iceland became the first country to fully recognise the independence of the Baltic States, which were formerly held by the USSR. 

These countries, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were striking out on their own for the first time. 

To celebrate the independence of the region, the square just in front of the Estonian Foreign Ministry in the capital of Tallin is called Iceland Square. 

An inscription on the stones says that Iceland “dared while others remained silent”. 

Iceland was also the first to recognize the independence of various other Caucasus countries, including Georgia and Armenia. The country also became the first Western state that recognized Palestine during 2011. 

It seems that Iceland is one of the few countries that’s willing to step up and support countries going solo.

Things to know about Iceland

There are a lot of incredible things to know about Iceland. This beautiful region has a powerful reputation worldwide for its stunning landscapes, amazing artists, and other amazing natural elements. 

The items that Iceland is known for are constantly evolving, covering everything from famous drinks, to fermented shark snacks. 

Of course, the best way to get the answer to the question “What is so special about Iceland?” is to visit the country itself. 

A trip to Iceland is the ultimate opportunity to come face-to-face with the amazing people, locations, and things that make this country so wonderful. 

And if you need a place to stay for your visit, there are hotels across Iceland, from Reykjavík to Akureyri, Selfoss to Keflavík and Borgarnes. You’ll be spoilt for choice!

Check out our other articles about Iceland for more insights into interesting facts about Iceland. 

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