Dining in Iceland is an experience in itself. Most visitors are full of praises for Iceland's ocean-fresh seafood and mouthwatering mountain lamb, but these are only part of the local culinary experience. Traditional food is also served, made using the only preservation methods available when people had to store up for the winter in the days before refrigerators. Some is delicious, some is different, and is very good to boast about to your friends after you've finished it. Meat was commonly smoked, and the delicious hangikjöt (smoked lamb) is still popular today.
The nightlife is without comparison in the world and must be seen to be believed. If you go out on a Friday night, you are well within your rights to continue partying until 10 am. It happens. A lot.
Whether you want to dress to the nines and dance the night away, listen to live music, find a quiet corner to chat, or mix and mingle with the jet set of Iceland, you´ll find somewhere that suits you. Here´s a quick guide to how to spend the wee hours when in the city:
THE SHOPPER´S GUIDE
You already know that Iceland is a hot spot for nature lovers. But for shoppers too? Absolutely. Iceland has some of the best souvenirs in the world, with a different take: most of what you buy here you´ll use elsewhere. From warm woolens to beautifully crafted pottery and glass, to resilient outdoor wear, these are more than just keepsakes. ?And if you have a taste for the finer things, Iceland is also one of the best places to buy luxury. Not only is it one of the trendiest places in Europe, and therefore a hip spot for fashion, the haute couture here is reasonably priced, especially once you claim your 15% tourist rebate on purchases over ISK 4,000.
You know you need a memento of your holiday, and your family back home isn´t just looking forward to seeing you. Try some of the following for the best ideas in great purchases that avoid the traditional tourist kitsch:
If anyone knows how to make outdoor wear practical, durable and fashionable, it´s the Icelanders.
Ever since Iceland became inhabited history has been an essential part of our culture. Many of you may recognize the Sagas that are the foundation of our heritage. Due to the seclusion of the island it was more or less cut of from the mainland for centuries. Boat trips where few and far between. This meant that many of our characteristics remained untouched through centuries, our language, traditions and ways of life. Even our animals kept certain trades that are now lost to the rest of the world.
Iceland has the highest literacy rate in the world-100%. This is amazing in the sense that this is a relatively young nation and the literacy rate has always been high. When the Icelanders were living in turf houses and struggling with the harsh nature conditions of the country and living extreme poverty, reading was one of the favorite past-times.
Icelanders pride themselves on their Sagas that tell the historic tails of the first settlers and their families. The Sagas are not only remarkable for its contents but also in connection to the Icelandic language. The average Icelander today can relatively easily read the original scripts of the saga and get a full sense of it. That is how little the language has changed through the centuries.
Icelanders tend to hold on dearly to traditions of all sorts. Some traditions are familiar such as folk dancing but others are more foreign to visitors. First there is our traditional seasonal food. The desire to eat what might be considered damaged food, but really is food that has been processed for storage in the only way that was available centuries ago. Also in a poor country were food was not of plenty, it was essential to use everything eatable and available (which today is debatable.), those things include ram´s testicles, sheep´s heads, loins and basically the insides of the sheep, usually cooked together in sacks from the stomach or intestines and called Slátur, much like Haggis in many ways.
The Icelandic people are of Scandinavian origin, originally predominately Norwegian. Generally they are exceptionally friendly, highly educated, sophisticated, attractive, honest and very modern. They are outgoing and quick to adapt new trends and technology.
Icelanders welcome the opportunity to meet people from other cultures and countries so you shouldn't be shy about approaching them and strike up a conversation. They mostly welcome the opportunity. Most Icelanders speak fluent English and they are not shy about it. In fact, many speak more than one foreign language and appreciate the opportunity and practice.
Icelanders as a nation have a special bond with nature, it has formed the Icelandic society in so many ways through out the centuries. The ability to seize an opportunity and react on it can easily be tied to a simple thing as the weather. The weather changes fast and often in Iceland. This meant that the way of life was dependent on such basic knowledge as the bare elements
THE ICELANDIC HORSE
The history of the Icelandic Horse can be traced right back to the settlement of the country in the late 9th century. Viking settlers brought with them their best horses, from various origins, though mostly of Germanic descent. Some sources say that the Icelandic Horse is a descendant of a Northern European breed, “Equus Scandinavicus”, while others claim that the horse is closely related to the English Exmoor pony. Although the origin of the breed was mixed, today this is one of the most purebred horse breeds in the world, due to its isolation. The breed has remained pure for over a thousand years and thus today there is only one breed of horse in Iceland – The Icelandic Horse.