Icelandic Culture
Practical info
9 April 2018

3 common misconceptions about Iceland

You’ve all heard rumours, seen memes or an exaggerated version of Iceland and Icelanders in TV shows or movies. We’re here to tell you that not all of it’s real! There are quite a few misconceptions about the country and Icelander’s way of life. We like to think we live our life fairly normally like other Europeans or people from Western countries.

Sure, we have more freedom and are more isolated, but we just, you know, eat pizza, go to work and sit at home binge-watching Netflix in the evenings. We don’t ride unicorns into the midnight sun, wearing our Viking helmets and reading sagas. We don’t chat with elves living in rocks, either. Let us tell you about 3 common misconceptions about Iceland we hear all the time:

You can see Northern Lights and Midnight Sun all year round

No, no, and no. You can see the Northern Lights during winter IF you’re lucky enough and the conditions are right. There are no guarantees! You can only experience the beauty of the midnight sun in late May until early July.

Oh, and one more thing. And yes, this is a common question. No, you can NOT see the Northern Lights and the Midnight sun at the same time. You need complete darkness to see the Northern Lights, and guess what? It’s not dark outside when the midnight sun is out.
 

Northern lights

 

It’s always cold in Iceland

It’s often cold, but the summers can be quite nice! On a nice and toasty summer day, it’s around 20–25 °C (68–77 °F) outside. You might not think that an average day in July is warm, it depends where you’re from, but we bet you that you´ll see an Icelander wearing shorts and a t-shirt if the sun is remotely peaking through the clouds. In fact, we saw one a couple of weeks ago in late February wearing shorts and a t-shirt. It was around 0 °C (32 °F). Go figure.


Iceland isn't always cold

 

Icelanders love to munch on sour whale meat and rotten shark

Euwww, no. Don’t believe the hype. This is mostly what we call “old people food” that’s “enjoyed” a couple of times a year by people who like to keep up the tradition. A normal Icelandic family doesn’t sit down at the dinner table once a week to eat shark, really. Burgers, yes. Lamb, yes. Pasta, yes.

If you have kids, think about it. It can be hard feeding them basic foods, so can you imagine all the crying and whining at the dinner table when you try offering them the weekly sour whale. C’mon…