What is the essence of Icelandic culture? How can you immerse yourself in Icelandic culture in a way that is authentic to the history of the people? Continue reading to learn about the culture and culture tours of this richly historic nation.
Over the millennium that they have existed, Icelandic people, isolated on a faraway polar isle, have created a fascinating and storied culture.
Folklore that has inspired fantasy franchises, such as the Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and the Elder Scrolls, originated in Iceland; the nation’s intrinsic value for literacy has created some the world’s greatest writers for centuries; and the country is becoming as world-renowned for its musicians, food and drink as it is for its volcanoes, landscapes and hot-springs.
Thankfully, as more and more people recognise Iceland for its art and history, more and more tours are emerging that allow you to immerse yourself in that department.
Today, you can take excursions to introduce you to the world of the medieval sagas; to learn how Reykjavík transformed from a sheep farm into a cultural capital; to eat and drink your way through an evening; and to walk through Westeros and the lands North of the Wall in many of the Game of Thrones shooting locations.
Iceland is unusual, nuanced and fascinating, so even if you are vacationing mainly for the adventure or nature, you should not overlook embarking on a culture-tour or finding another way to immerse yourself in the society during your stay.
Reykjavík City Culture Tours
Cities with less than 200,000 people in their metropolitan area are not usually internationally known or renowned, but as with many things in Iceland, Reykjavík is an exception. Its architecture, festivals, museums and cuisine draw an immense amount of visitors the world over.
Reykjavík, according to ‘the Book of Settlements’, which recorded the country’s earliest days, was the first place in the country to be permanently inhabited. When Ingólfur Arnarson, the first ever Icelander, tossed his High Chair Pillars off his ship, promising to settle wherever they washed ashore, he could not have depicted just how great his farm would become.
The city is now the host of the world’s longest-running, ongoing democracy; a concert hall with some of the best sound engineering on earth; and unmatched street art and murals for all to enjoy. Tours allow you to admire all of these features and more, and these come in many different forms.
A walking tour can also be useful for receiving a brief introduction to the city, allowing you to return to your favourite spots to make even more out of them.
If you have one or two full days to enjoy Reykjavík, a hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus tour may have more appeal. This way, you can travel around the city at your own leisure, spending as much time at each destination as possible, while still receiving fascinating tidbits of information in one of seven languages via headphones.
If this is your preferred method of immersing yourself in the culture of the capital, it may be a great idea to buy a Reykavík City Card. This will provide you unlimited access to almost all of the city’s museums, galleries, swimming-pools and sites for 24, 48 or 72 hours, as well as unlimited transport via city buses.
Reykjavík Food and Drink Tours
Considering Iceland is on the cusp of the Arctic Circle, its land is barren and volcanic, and its plant and animal life is unique but limited, you may think it’s cuisine would be narrow and basic; you would, however, be very wrong.Considering its winters are long, dark and cold, and its summers are endlessly light and full of energy, you would also probably think its drinking culture is thriving; this time, you would be absolutely right.
Pool Culture in Iceland
With geothermal energy and boiling water literally bursting from the ground all around Iceland, it is little wonder why bathing in hot tubs and heated pools is a national pastime and an intrinsic part of Icelandic culture.
Game of Thrones Culture Tours in Iceland
Very few television shows are as talked about, as controversial, as popular or as influential on culture as the HBO’s Game of Thrones, based off George R. R. Martin’s novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire. The series has not just been acclaimed for its nuanced direction, perfect casting, incredible acting and unpredictable story; it is also credited with having breathtaking, otherworldly cinematography.
Of Monsters and Men, GusGus, Sigur Rós, and, of course, Björk, are Icelandic bands and musicians internationally known. Iceland is a country that encourages its artists to express themselves, has many venues that will allow them to, and thus has a thriving musical culture that visitors can immerse themselves in.