One of the questions we get asked all the time is “Why is Iceland called Iceland?”
The short version is that one day in the 9th century, a Norseman named Hrafna-Flóki hiked up a mountain in the Westfjords, saw a fjord full of ice and icebergs, and named the island “Iceland.” He wasn’t the most creative fellow….
Why Iceland is called Iceland - the other theories
The more colorful tale is that Iceland got its name when some clever settlers tried to trick their fellow Norsemen into staying away from this magical new land. When these first settlers saw the island’s beautiful green landscape, they wanted it all for themselves. To keep other settlers away, they called the island “Iceland,” because who in their right mind would want to go to a land of ice? By calling it Iceland, they kept away everyone except the most adventurous and strong Vikings, who weren’t afraid of a little ice! It’s that intrepid Viking DNA that makes Iceland what it is today.
Pretend you're Hrafna-Flóki
What would you call Iceland if you had discovered it? Do you have the same adventurous spirit as those Vikings who weren’t afraid of some cold? Take a hike in Hrafna-Flóki’s footsteps and see for yourself.
For your journey in the Westfjords, we recommend you take your Blue rental car and enjoy the nature reserve in Vatnsfjörður. The area is rocky, but birch wood covers the lowland, and ice-age glaciers shape the landscape. In Hrafna-Flóki’s area, you can experience Iceland the Viking way and end your day by taking a bath in one of the natural geothermal springs.
When you’re done, you’ll wonder why Iceland isn’t simply called “paradise.”