Icelandic Language Blog

Starter pack for living in Iceland. Posted by on Nov 24, 2016 in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs

Remember the post that I made some months ago where I put together an Icelandic language starter pack? I thought it a fun idea to make another starter pack for those who dream of moving, or perhaps plan already to one day move to Iceland.


Fly Away by Andrés Nieto Porras at Flickr.

What is Iceland?

Iceland compass explores different areas of Iceland and gives an idea of how the island looks, because scenery on, say, Sprengisandur is radically different from scenery on Snæfellsnes.

6 things Iceland doesn’t have – but you’d totally think it does! You might also want to take a look at the five culture shocks you’ll likely have.

Independently Icelandic was written for the national day, what makes Iceland so, well, Icelandic?

Talking about that, one thing that sure made Iceland Iceland was volcanic activity. I mean literally made the island that’s now called Iceland.


Bárðarbunga Volcano, September 4 2014 by Peter Hartree at Flickr.

How to get along with Icelanders?

5 points to reading Icelanders right is an important one to know before you come over, because not knowing the basics might cause unhappy misunderstandings. Icelanders have their own little quirks and are generally harmless, but some of their habits may still give you a jump if you’re not expecting it. 😀

You’ll mispronounce a lot in the beginning and worse, you won’t understand why the locals say words the way they do. Check Lost in Reykjavík for the most typical things that may go wrong in pronunciation.

Learn to simply accept the weirdness that is gender in Icelandic language. When women are men and men women looks into this one.

Obviously, you’ll need to check 10 steps to becoming an Icelanderþetta reddast.


Iceland: Aurora Borealis by Victor Montol at Flickr.

What should I know about Icelandic culture?

First of all, our politicians are often criticized and always for a good reason. Check f.ex. the Prime minister scandal. He’s also been the target of attempted blackmail, the story borders on tragicomedy

Icelanders drive with more enthusiasm than skill. Other drivers is one of the four reasons I listed as the most dangerous things when driving in Iceland.

Iceland has had some pretty strange laws in the past, including a ban on dogs and beer, no tv in July and a law that allowed people to kill all Basque people they came across (the last one was in effect until 2015).

Christmas is fast approaching, and in Iceland this means you better watch out, you better not cry… because one wrong move and the Christmas Cat makes a meal out of you. But wait, there are ways of surviving the season alive: check 8 Icelandic Christmas facts and live to see 2017!


Forgotten milk; shops closing soon by Simon Matzinger at Flickr.

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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!


  1. Angela Falconbridge:

    Hi I have been reading your brilliant blog for over a year now. We are Britsh immigrants from London. And some of this was funny. The red tape has been like’ bashing your head against a brick wall’. But yes as soon as you see someone it is all sorted.
    We just need to learn Icelandic and that is proving the most difficult, as we are a family of chronically ill people. Any ideas?
    We even bought TALK NOW CDrom and we can read our shopping list now. lol.
    We brought over 4 rabbits and that was hair raising, as it is home quarantine for them. The visiting civil servant was nervous and demanded all these tests when there was nothing wrong with our rabbits, which they found out. Cost us a lot.
    I like Iceland as my personaltiy seems to fit right in. Even the lateness. lol.

    • hulda:

      @Angela Falconbridge Welcome to the Icelandic blog, nice to meet you! For Icelandic studies I could recommend Icelandic Online, a free language course by the University of Iceland.

      Another one is Learn Icelandic Online by Transparent Language, which is available for 14 days free trial period!

      You have ALL my sympathy for the pets’ quarantine… Iceland is extremely strict about bringing any animal into the country, while some are refused entry entirely (horses, snakes) those that are allowed will have to go through a long and expensive quarantine. I guess it comes with trying to keep an island ecosystem as free of foreign species as possible. Still, I feel like the process could at least be made a little bit simpler.

      The lateness part was really difficult one for me at first since as a Finn I tend to be 15 min early instead. Eventually it took hold though, and now I’m a complete nightmare back in my home country. “Whaaaat, it was just half an hour, that’s not even late is it?” 😀