Exploring Iceland’s Culture and Traditions

Iceland offers a combination of intriguing landscapes from rugged coastlines, glaciers, and hot springs to geysers, volcanoes, and lava deserts. Eleven percent of the country is covered in glacial ice and is surrounded by water. The land is plateau with mountain peaks, and ice fields, with a coastline marked by fjords, which are deep inlets carved by glaciers. It’s no wonder that much of Iceland’s culture and traditions revolve around enjoy outdoor activities like swimming in hot springs, skiing, horseback riding, and of course–looking up to enjoy the spectacular aurora borealis—the Northern lights! Iceland also offers a rich literature tradition of poetry and sagas to enjoy cold winter nights. Much of the power and heat in this country is generated naturally—90% of Icelandic houses are heated by hot springs!

Study abroad in Iceland Host an Icelandic student in the U.S.


Icelandic People and Community

Teenagers in Iceland

Family in Iceland is especially important, as the country is so small. Icelandic families are often larger than other Northern European countries. Extended family members usually don’t live together but uncles, aunts, and grandparents often help with childcare. Since most people in Iceland have been there for a very long time, charting family history is a popular hobby for many Icelanders.

In Iceland culture and tradition, housework is shared by the whole family. Icelandic youth are taught to be self-sufficient and they are expected to clean their bedroom, change the linen, vacuum-clean or wash the floors, do the laundry, prepare meals and clean the kitchen after general use.

Language and Communication Style

Hot spring in Iceland

Icelandic is the language of Iceland. English and other Nordic languages like Danish and German are widely spoken.

Food in Iceland

 traditional Icelandic Lamb Soup in Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelanders eat a lot of seafood, cheese, and skyr, the local version of yogurt. The basics of the Icelandic diet include fish, lamb, and dairy products. Fresh fish is plentiful and includes such varieties as cod, haddock, halibut, plaice (a type of flounder), herring, salmon, and trout. A popular dish is hangikjöt (smoked mutton), the traditional meal on Christmas Day. Dinner is the most important meal of the day when the whole family gets together. Boiled potatoes accompany most meals. Thanks to Iceland’s many greenhouses, a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables are also available!

Explore the Programs Available in Iceland