5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Iceland

The very moment that someone learns of your experience in Iceland, you can expect one of two responses: 1.) a barrage of questions, or 2.) a barrage of partially accurate trivia tid-bits. Today I’m going to share with you the most common questions I’ve been asked when it comes to travel in Iceland:

  • Q1: What side of the road do they drive on?
    • Curiously, I get this question more than any other. Icelanders drive on the right-hand side of the road (same as us!). However, be prepared for tailgating, six-rotaries in a row, super jeeps, sheep, horses, and one lane bridges.

      That’s a super jeep behind us!


  • Q2: What is the weather like? Is it cold all the time? 
    • The weather is highly variable and sometimes the forecast depends what part of the country you are in or even which direction you happen to be looking! One day we were driving on the Ring Road and observed completely different weather on each side of the car: looking out of the driver side window was torrential downpour and looking out of the passenger side window was sun and blue skies.
      Iceland is located right in the whirling path of the Gulf Stream and subsequently the country experiences fairly mild winters and comfortable summers. Dressing in layers during any season is the smart way to go!♦Check out the weather before you go!

      Here we have sun peaking through the clouds on the southern coast. On the other side of the car was torrential rain.
  • Q3: What language do they speak?
    • The official language of Iceland is Icelandic, but English is widely spoken as well. Many of the infographics around the country are posted in multiple languages:.

      The legend behind Godafoss is explained here in Icelandic, English, German, Norwegian, and French.
  • Q4: What is the food like?
    • So first of all, the food is just flippin’ incredible. It’s unaltered, organic, local, fresh, homegrown…all that good stuff. Iceland has an impressive variety of restaurants so you can find something that will please the most selective vegan or the most adventurous carnivore. One can easily find perfectly familiar fare just about anywhere whether you’re in the capital or venturing through the countryside.
      For travelers who are feeling feisty, Iceland serves up some unique culinary adventures that are not for the feint of heart. For example, fermented shark fin or Svið (singed lambs head)!
      Iceland has about a three month growing season, so having a prolific outdoor tomato garden is unlikely. However, they are able to provide fresh produce throughout the year by growing food in enormous green houses!

      Greenhouse in Iceland
  • Q5: What do you do in Iceland? Is it just hiking and stuff?
    • The remote and unspoiled landscape is a huge draw for many visitors, but there are so many things to do, see, or eat that just about anyone will find something that floats their boat:
      • For the outdoor enthusiast: glacier climbing, venture inside a volcano, whale watching, bathe in the hot springs, visit a glacier lagoon, horseback riding, swim (or walk) between the continental divide, visit the geysirs, hunt for the Northern Lights

        Visit Thingvellir National Park and walk in between the European and American continents.
      • Experience history and culture: walking tours of the city, photography/art/culture/history/wildlife museums, catch a performance at Harpa in Reykjavik, attend a music festival, visit Hallgrímskirkja church and listen to the 25-ton organ.

        The organ in Hallgrimskirkja church has over 5000 pipes and weighs 25 tons!
      • Foodies: Participate in a food tour or take your pick of over 300+ restaurants in Reykjavik alone. Yes, even Chuck Norris has his own restaurant in Reykjavik (as if there was any doubt).

        Chuck Norris even has a restaurant in Reykjavik!

This is just a teeny tiny sample of the potential adventures! Not bad for a country that is just a little bit larger than Maine!



Photo credit: Erin Kane | erin.dowling@maine.edu
Maine/Iceland map: ifitweremyhome.com