Things that may surprise you about Iceland

I returned from my solo female trip to Iceland a few days ago, and there are a few things that people seem to be surprised to hear when I tell them. If you’ve visited the country, or done some research then you might be familiar with these things – let me know in the comments, I would love to know!

1. The sulphur smell across Iceland

While I was fully expecting to experience a strong smell of sulphur at the Blue Lagoon, and around the geothermal hot springs, I was surprised to find this interesting smell in other places. Honestly, the smell is so similar to that of rotten eggs that it’s easy to be caught off guard if you’re not expecting it. The thing I was least prepared for, was the hot water in the hotel to smell like sulphur. It makes perfect sense when you consider that many of the buildings across Iceland are heated by underground hot springs, but I hadn’t realised that even the shower would smell like sulphur! Luckily, it only takes a moment to adjust to the smell, so by the time you step into the shower, you don’t notice, and can simply enjoy the fact that the earth has provided the hot water for your shower!

2. Reykjavik is sleepy

Unlike other popular European capital cities, Reykjavik is very sleepy. While there is undeniably a great bar and drinking scene across the city, it’s small. The city boasts just two main streets, and the length of these can be walked in under ten minutes. Much of the time, the city is used as a base for hikers, explorers, and thrill seekers, meaning that the day times in Reykjavik often feel quieter than the evenings, as this is when visitors are off on excursions before returning to indulge in a little of the city’s drinking culture.

3. The darkness

It’s quite well known that Iceland (amongst other very Northerly places) experiences very few hours of daylight during the winter months, but you don’t really appreciate just how dark the city is until you experience it. I was fully aware that the sun wouldn’t rise until after 9am and would set shortly after 4pm on my trip, but the darkness that quickly cloaked the city was unbelievable. At home, I am used to being able to see when I look out of my window at night, thanks to moon and star light, and distant street lamps. In Iceland, the darkness feels much more all-consuming, and it’s wonderful if you’re trying to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights!

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