Iceland: Marika CainBy Marika Cain
Managing Editor
Virtuoso Life

Yes, it’s cold (but not that cold between May and September, when average temperatures are in the 50s and 60s). Yes, it’s small (but not that small – about the size of England). There’s so much more, however, to this excellent little volcanic country. Below discover six things you didn’t know about Iceland:

1. It’s easy to get there.

Really, really easy. From North America, nearly as many direct flights serve Iceland as Sweden and Denmark combined. And with straight shots from Seattle (seven hours), New York and Boston (five and a half hours), and more on Icelandair, it’s supremely reachable.

Iceland: Blue Lagoon
Did you know that the famed Blue Lagoon is man-made?

2. Iceland is balanced on a fault.

The country straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – the meeting point of the mammoth North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This position is responsible for the island’s prolific volcanic activity (around 130 volcanic mountains dot the surface). The traveler’s takeaway? Sweeping hills, vast moss-covered lava fields, black-sand beaches, dramatic waterfalls, and, yes, active volcanoes.

3. The Blue Lagoon is man-made.

That ultimate Icelandic photo op is not happenstance, but runoff from the Svartsengi geothermal power plant. Leave the hazmat suit at home, though: Pure freshwater burbles up from 2,000 feet beneath the earth’s surface, completely replenishing the lagoon every 40 hours. The silica- and mineral-rich water – and the mud it creates – is reportedly great for complexions.

4. Every day is Talk Like a Viking Day.

Icelanders still speak the same Old Norse language their Viking ancestors spoke.

Iceland: horses
They may be petite, but these Icelandic horses are not ponies

5. Reykjavík has a great fashion scene.

Icelandic music is legendary, and rightfully so, but beyond Björk and Sigur Rós exports, a thriving fashion, art, and design community flourishes in walkable downtown Reykjavík.

6. Those are horses, not ponies.

Want to offend an Icelander? Call the Icelandic horse a pony. It’s considered an insult to these petite, surefooted species – direct descendants of the stock Vikings brought to the island in the ninth and tenth centuries. Among their legendary traits: pure breeding and five distinct gaits, including the four-beat tölt, unique to these horses.

Thinking of venturing to Iceland to discover more interesting tidbits about the country? Virtuoso has travel advisors that specialize in Iceland. They’ve traveled there, booked travel there and kept up to date on what’s new and interesting in the country.