I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I got to Iceland. I knew it would be cold, though manageable and that most of the population lived in Reykjavik. As I spent more and more time on the island country, I learned more about the Icelandic people and culture that I would not have expected. Here are five things no one tells you about Iceland.
It’s really windy
I checked the forecast for Reykjavik before packing my suitcase. The forecast called for highs of +8°C which was around the same temperature as Ottawa before I left. I soon learned that I was sorely mistaken thinking that temperature was something I could handle just in a spring coat. Though the temperature did reach +8°C most days, I did not factor in the windchill. I would have certainly needed a hat and mitts.
The babies in prams outside cafés
Luckily this one was explained to me before I discovered it on my own. Icelandic parents will leave their babies in their prams outside cafés or in the yards outside their homes. There are a few reasons for this. Icelanders feel very connected to the elements and the weather. By exposing their children at a young age to the cold will “toughen them up” and prepare them for a lifetime of extreme temperatures.
The outdoor cats
I did not expect to see outdoor cats. It’s totally normal for Icelanders to let their cats outside come and go as they please. Typical Icelandic homes don’t have cat doors so cats will use the open windows to come and go as they please. They’re also very friendly and may let you get close enough to pet them.
You can pay for almost everything with a credit card
Iceland is a very credit-friendly country. I paid for nearly everything with my credit card. Many stores also have the ever-convenient tap option. This is perfect if you don’t want to convert your currency to the Icelandic Króna and prefer to travel light when it comes to cash.
Reykjavik is really bike friendly
Due to the cold and harsh weather conditions, I was not expecting to see as much of a bicycle culture as I did. There were all levels of cyclists from casual commuters to fully decked out road cyclists! The one thing everyone had in common: exceptional warm cycling gear. There were a few places to rent bikes, too. So if cycling is your thing, seeing Reykjavik on two wheels is a great option!
Have you visited Iceland? What were some things that you did not expect?