Iceland is a curious and fascinating country to live in. Even if you come just to visit, you will quickly have a glimpse of the importance of one element here: the water. It is not just because the island is surrounded by water that it is that important, not only. The water is entirely part of the Icelandic culture, to drink, to bathe in, and much more that we are going to elaborate in this article.
The Icelandic tap water is very particular since it is one of the cleanest drinking water in the world being free of chlorine or calcium or nitrate. This natural spring water has been running and filtered through layers of lava and rocks for decades, making it so clean. So be sure when you visit Iceland not to buy plastic bottles in the stores since you can get it for free in any place in the country, even straight from rivers or glaciers. It is way better for the environment not to buy plastic bottles and this trip could be the occasion for you to invest in a glass or metal bottle to bring with you everywhere, on hikes or any adventure.
Indeed, it’s pretty common to see people filling their reusable bottles with river water. And if you have the chance to go on a glacier hike, for sure your guide will find a clear stream of water and show you how to taste one of the purest water you will get the chance to try out.
Inspired by Iceland created a marketing campaign just to raise the tourists’ awareness about the drinking water in Iceland. To reduce the consumption of plastic bottles, they made tourists taste tap water but branded as a special type of water and showed them in the end that the tap water is extremely tasty here.
Iceland is well known for its rough weather conditions so, as many Nordic countries, the heating system is rather important. However, one thing that you should know about the heating system here, is that it is almost completely geothermal. About 90% of the households in the land are heated with geothermal water or heated fresh water. In addition to this, up to 75% of the energy of the country is achieved through hydroelectric power.
In Reykjavik, around 80% of the households are heated through the geothermal activity nearby the city which gives this special “eggy” smell, sulfur smell to the hot water in the city. It might surprise you at first but you will get used to this with a little bit of time. It is not the same in all the cities in Iceland, for instance in Keflavik, the city where the international airport is located, you don’t have this sulfur smell since it is fresh water geothermically heated.
Before coming to Iceland, we have some tips for you related to the hot water. First of all, remove any jewelry you may have in silver otherwise the geothermal hot water most likely will destroy it by making it turn to black (grandma tips: you can manage to get them to what they were by cleaning them with toothpaste). Secondly, for cooking or drinking, always use the cold water, and boil it later if needed for the cooking because the hot water since it is coming from the geothermal areas, can make you a little sick in the belly. It is recommended to let the water run a few seconds before serving yourself a drink or so to make sure the hot water is out of the pipes.
It is no secret that the fishing industry is rather important in Iceland since it actually is an island with not so many resources to eat on land. The Icelanders survived thanks to the fishing industry partly and it is nowadays a big part of the Icelandic economy.
As explained just above, the geothermal hot water is used to heat and create energy in the country. It is by consequence used to heat the greenhouses to grow vegetables or fruits that would never be able to grow in Iceland otherwise. One of the famous spots our Golden Circle tours stop by is the Friðheimar Tomato Farm to give you an idea how this works.
One of the most traditional activities you should definitely experience in Iceland is to bathe in geothermal pools or hot springs. It is very typical to simply go to the swimming pools or natural hot springs you can find all across the country and to just relax there alone or with your friends or family. There are some very famous places such as the Blue Lagoon where you can experience this tradition. However, if you really want to experience the Icelandic culture, we really do recommend you to go a little bit out of the traditional tourist paths and go to typical swimming pools or natural hot springs that you can easily find on the internet or on your road across the country. We already mentioned some of them in our article “A Weekend in the Westfjords” or “Swimming pools in Reykjavik” if you want to check it out.
In any case, we put you here a video talking about the benefits from the Icelandic culture to dip in very hot water but also in very cold one.
TO DO MANY ACTIVITIES
Water is an essential element in the Icelandic lifestyle for all the reasons given above. In addition to those, there are so many activities you could do that are water related in all its forms and shapes. If you go to the South Coast of Iceland on tour with us, you would get the chance to see Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and even hike on top of a glacier. We also offer tours where you can explore an ice cave during the winter time and we promise you, this is worth it! Another activity, you could experience not so far from Reykjavik, in the Þingvellir national park, is snorkeling or scuba diving in Silfra. This is one of the clearest spots in the world. It is so clear that it happens divers get sick during the activity, having vertigo because it feels like you are flying above the ground and it can be a scary feeling for some travellers.