Iceland Customs – What to Know Before Your Trip to Iceland

Located off the coast of mainland Europe, Iceland is a popular tourist destination, particularly since it offers magnificent scenery and a range of outdoor activities. These activities include kayaking, dog sledding and whale-watching, which many adventurous tourists look forward to. Don’t forget that Iceland has an interesting culture, too, though. In fact, why not learn some basic Iceland customs before going there?

Just like in other European countries, you can greet other people in Iceland by shaking hands or saying ‘hello’. Aside from this, it is also one of the Iceland customs to kiss each other on the cheek when meeting. You can say ‘Sael’ or ‘Saell’, too, which denotes a wish of happiness.

Another Iceland custom is to take off your shoes in the hallway when you enter someone’s home. Also, don’t be surprised if someone asks you to be a guest in his or her house since Icelanders love to have guests. Just make sure you bring a bouquet of flowers or a similar token of appreciation when you show up.

More than likely, you will be asked to stay for lunch or dinner. Once at table, it will be good for you to know that you don’t need to say grace or any expressions or gratitude like ‘Bon Appetit’ or ‘Itadakimasu’. Simply eat the food you are served then express your gratitude to your host with a handshake when the meal is over.

Keep in mind, too, that believing in mysterious or ‘hidden’ beings such as elves and trolls is part of the traditions in Iceland, so don’t bring up the subject about them casually. Indeed, most of the unique and sometimes bizarre rock formations in Iceland is attributed to elves or trolls, Elf ‘habitats’ are protected, as well.

Tipping is not one of the Iceland customs, though, so don’t be afraid if you don’t have spare cash. In fact, it is best for you to save as much as you can, since prices are relatively steep in Iceland, especially when it comes to food and drink.

Iceland is also a nice destination for Christmas holidays. If you’re planning to spend an Icelandic Christmas, bear in mind that ‘Gleileg jol gott og fars!’ is ‘Merry Christmas’ in the local tongue. Don’t be surprised, either, if Christmas seems long, since it is one of the Iceland customs to have 26 days of Christmas and not just one, but 13 Santa Clauses!

Now that you know these basic Iceland customs, you can look forward to your trip to Iceland. While you are not required to follow them while you’re there, it is a good idea to do so, not just to show respect for others’ culture but also to have a fun and meaningful experience.