Five Things You Might Not Know About Iceland

Reykjavik Burger Stand

Like many visitors to Iceland, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the country and learned a lot about its history while touring around. Also like many tourists, there were quite a few facts that surprised me, including these that I bet you haven’t heard before.

1. No McDonald’s, 7-11 or even Starbucks I think that as a frequent traveler I get used to certain staples. In particular I’m used to seeing Starbucks and McDonald’s almost anywhere I go, whether or not I actually patronize them. An interesting fact about Iceland though is that it doesn’t have a single McDonald’s, 7-11 or even a Starbucks. Actually, until just a few years ago Iceland did have McDonald’s; three of them in fact. Following the 2009 financial crisis though, the fast food giant pulled its stores with no plans to return citing the “unique operational complexity” of doing business in an isolated nation with a population of just 300,000. Iceland seems to do just fine without these giants of the consumer world, offering instead its own unique brands. There are plenty of restaurants around Reykjavik that offer quick bites, with hot dogs and hamburgers as particular favorites. Instead of 7-11, the massively popular chain 10-11 dominates the Icelandic scene and there’s definitely no need for Starbucks, coffee shops abound in Iceland, as does a robust coffee culture. So while Iceland may not have some of the signature brands we find all over the world, that’s definitely not a bad thing.

Reykjavik, Iceland

2. Experiencing one of the fastest economic recoveries in the world – In 2008, the global financial crisis hit the world with incredible force and speed, particularly in the small country of Iceland. When the global credit markets seized, the government was unable to bail out its financial sector that had grown to an incredible ten times the gross domestic product of the country. The result was massive inflation, unemployment and currency collapse. Iceland came dangerously close to total disaster. Just a few years later though, while things aren’t perfect, they’re much better than they used to be. Walking around town I could believe that unemployment is now at an impressive 6% and that the IMF has predicted a 2.5% growth in Iceland’s economy this year. Just look around the rest of the world and you won’t see anything quite so amazing. Sure, the relative small size of the country and its population helps, but so does the mindset of the populace. Icelanders were (and are) pissed off over what happened to them and are determined to rectify the mess and make sure it never happens again. Well done Iceland, well done. Reykjavik, Iceland

3. Temperatures aren’t extreme – When you hear the word “Iceland” and note its northerly position on a map, it’s hard not to imagine a frozen tundra, buried in snow and frigid temperatures. I know I was surprised when I learned the truth though, that Iceland doesn’t really experience any extremes in temperature. Because of the warm North Atlantic Current, temperatures are generally mild in the winter and cool and pleasant in the summer. The highest recorded temperature in Reykjavik was in 2004 when the thermometer hit 24.8°C (76.6°F) and the chilliest day was in 1918 with a decidedly brisk -24.5°C (-12.1°F). On average though, the winter temperatures range from a low of 28°F/24°F (-2°C/-4°C) degrees and in the summer it’s a comfortable high of 55°F /65°F (12°C/18°C). So while extreme temperatures can happen, they usually don’t and instead the visitor typically has very pleasant conditions in which to enjoy the country. Thingvelir

4. Wasn’t independent until 1944 – Even though Iceland was settled in the 9th century and is home to the oldest parliament in the world, it wasn’t independent in the modern era until 1944. Iceland has changed hands a number of times throughout it’s history, but following the Napoleonic wars it became a dependency of Denmark. Denmark granted Iceland home rule in the 1870s, but what really changed the country’s political status was World War II. During the war Denmark was occupied by German forces, but Iceland was used as a base for British and then American soldiers. It was during this time that Iceland declared independence and established the Republic of Iceland, even while Denmark was still under German control. This political evolution was a long process and one that Denmark encouraged, but it’s remarkable that such an old country is still so politically young. Blue Lagoon Iceland

5. More than just the Blue Lagoon, there are hundreds of thermal pools – Because of a unique set of geological phenomena, Iceland is home to hundreds of geysers and thermal pools, although most visitors are familiar with only its most famous: the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s top attraction, visited by hundreds of thousands of people a year and created through the generation of geothermal energy at a nearby power plant. But all around Iceland there are plenty of other spots to take the waters and enjoy both the psychological as well as medicinal benefits of the soak. Icelanders are well familiar with the benefits of thermal spas, on average every resident of the country visits a thermal pool six times a year. I just wish we had those kinds of resources here in the US; there’s really nothing better than a leisurely soak in a natural thermal spa.

These are just a few of the cool qualities that make Iceland unique – what are some of your favorite Iceland facts?

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

49 Responses

  1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    No Starbucks!!?!!!!??!?!!

    Reply
    • Vile

      Are you so addicted to Starbucks that you can’t live without it?

      Reply
  2. Katie

    Iceland looks beautiful but how can you say that an average temp over the year between 24*F and 65*F isn’t freezing?!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      well, to put it into context we were in Banff in January where the low was -30F. So while Iceland does get cold, it doesn’t get absolutely frigid.

      Reply
      • Sheryl

        The temperatures may be “nice” but the wind chill is what makes it so cold.

    • Heather

      LOL gotta agree. I am from Miami, FL and live in San Diego, CA. 76 is cool weather for me!

      Reply
  3. Jessica

    Whats 7-11? We dont have those either!! Greece also doesn’t have that many McDonalds either, they have their own burger chain which is more popular. I didnt actually know anything about Iceland…apart from it might have rain deer!

    Reply
  4. charu

    I’m actually glad to hear it doesn’t get that cold. I’ve heard Greenland is colder than Iceland. And yes, thank heavens for the swift recovery of Iceland from near bankruptcy—that was seriously nerve wracking. Good points, thanks Matt.

    Reply
  5. Cristina (@thetravolution)

    Really, No Mc’D’s in Iceland??! I don’t think we need more of them anyway. It gives you a reason to try the local cuisine and appreciate something out of the ordinary!

    Reply
  6. Gio

    My favorite fact about Iceland is that beer was outlawed until 1989. ’89! Iceland has a fascinating (and tumultuous) history with beer, wine, and spirits. I recommend this brewery tour: http://www.grayline.is/tour/Day_Tours/AH150_Taste_the_Saga/Iceland.is to learn more about Iceland’s prohibition.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Yes, that’s another great and surprising fact!

      Reply
  7. Vicky

    Love this article! Especially photo number 3 – I want to do that when I go next year 🙂

    Reply
  8. Lucy

    That’s pretty amazing there’s no MaccyDs and Starbucks – what about the other big chains? And does it have all the high street clothes stores, or do they have their own unique shops too?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Well I’m not completely sure, but everything I saw was definitely based in Iceland. They have chains, but not many international ones.

      Reply
      • Ashley

        They have subway chain sandwiches !!!! But almost allllll restraints close about 10-11pm… It’s hard to find something to eat at 1am when it’s still light outside(and after a few drinks)

      • Ashley

        And I also saw Taco Bell!!!!

      • Keith

        The chains that we saw were Subway, KFC, Dominos Pizza and Taco Bell. While they don’t have a Starbucks they do have several “Ti and Kaffe” chains. In addition, if you just absolutely, positively need products from the US, there is a Costco/Sams Club “like” store called Kostur where you can get all your US staples. Our family spent 10 days in Iceland last summer and it was absolutely awesome 🙂

    • Tara - @Gr82chat

      I recently moved here from Australia. They have both label and unique clothing. In place of McDonalds they have Metro which is so close to McDonalds that it may as well be. It operates out of the old McDonalds store. Their Big Mac equivalent translates as a citizen burger. I love that the people of Iceland are not without a sense of humor. Great country with lovely people. VERY VERY SAFE. Kids catch bus anywhere without any worry. I am only here for another year or so.. but could easily move here permanently.

      Reply
      • Jaanika

        Hey, would you have any other recommendations as to what not to miss in Iceland? Anything out of the ordinary or unique that you wouldn’t find normally?

    • Barbara

      When we were there in March there were Subway’s sandwiches and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

      Reply
      • Matt Long

        Right, but no McDonalds, 7-11 or Starbucks 🙂

  9. Travelwriticus

    Another interesting detail re 4): Iceland has no army of its own. Until 2006 there were US forces stationed.

    Reply
  10. Carol Margolis

    I was amazed at the beautiful home of the Iceland Symphony. The 1800-seat Reykjavík Concert and Conference Center (Harpa) opened in spring 2011.

    Reply
  11. iris tsang

    I am going to iceland in coming june for 10 days and just cannot wait after seeing the hot pool next to the sea. Is is located in specific area? Any suggestion for places that one should go??

    Reply
  12. Karen

    All is not lost!! If I remember correctly, Reykjavik does boast a Subway sandwich shop! (Or there was one back in 2001 when I was there.) But truly, the hot dogs are fantastic. They are not skinless, like American hot dogs, so they require a bit more effort on the first bite. Try one “with everything” – a combination of mustard, catsup and raw and french-fried onions. Delicious!

    Reply
  13. Barbara

    There are plenty of restaurants we know. There is Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken and several others you can eat at..,but why would you want to when there are so much local culture to absorb??

    Reply
    • stephanie

      Agreed!

      Reply
  14. Andy

    Here in Norway we have resisted Starbucks too but finally gave in last year. There’s only one so far mind, at the main airport. Norwegians are some of the biggest coffee drinkers in the world and have so many coffee houses that it’s put off outsiders, but no longer. Iceland looks great, am planning to go for the first time in the Spring.

    Reply
  15. chinamatt

    I needed this. I’m headed to Iceland next month and still trying to plan what I’ll do. Not that I like those fast food chains, but they’re good for a quick cup of coffee when desperate (and 7-11 is great for a quick beer in some countries).

    Reply
  16. Down-Easter

    Just returned to Maine after a five-day mid-December first visit to Iceland. Matt Long’s observations reflect my own. Wonderful, down-to-earth, pleasant people, unlike some of those encountered in other European capitals, who exhibit standoffishness or downright anti-American hostility. I found myself getting wrapped in understanding the fiscal crisis. Wonderful that they’re pissed off and getting back on track in fine fashion after getting caught up in the psychology of easy-credit bubbles. I suspect their experience has much to teach the world. I, for one, will continue to keep my sights on Iceland via this website and others. If I’m lucky, I’ll get back there one day to take in the natural wonders we were unable to visit on this trip.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Thanks for the comments and I feel the same way you do. I HAVE to get back and see more of this wonderful place.

      Reply
  17. Explorista

    Have you ever seen a 7-11 outside of the USA? I have never, so I wouldn’t be surprised that it isn’t in Iceland. But I might be mistaken. Anyways, Iceland is definitely on the wish list!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      7-11s are HUGE in Asia, huge. On every block in Bangkok for example. It’s actually the world’s largest licensor of convenience stores.

      Reply
    • stephanie

      Canada has 7-11

      Reply
  18. stephanie

    Just returning from Iceland today actually and its July 5th. They may not have McDonalds, Starbucks or 7-11, but they do have KFC, taco bell , subway, quizno sub, dominos pizza and pizza hut to name a few. We never ate at them but there is american style fast food for those that really want to eat it.

    Reply
  19. Jester of Evil

    Iceland also has healthiest diet in world mmmmmmm wonder why.

    Reply
  20. Douglas McLaughlin

    As a nearly two-year resident of Iceland from the States, I welcome the lauditory comments about it, because Iceland really is a great place to live. But please! Check your facts! One, 10-11 does´t massively dominate the Icelandic scene. Unknowing tourists use it, but Icelanders generally view it as a very expensive place to shop. Two, while Icelanders were (and still are) pissed off over what happened to them during the Financial Crisis, my readings of post-Crisis autopsies do not indicate there is a clear picture of what happened and why. Did not a famous person write and I paraphrase, If you don’t get it, you’ll probably do it again! And three, the British and American forces invaded and occupied Iceland without its sovereign permission. Admittedly, Iceland became better off, but facts is facts.

    Reply
    • Howie

      Don’t be absurd, British forces went to Iceland with the tacit consent of the Government of Denmark to prevent Iceland from being invaded by Germany. In the aftermath of WW2 the cultural and financial elites were tripping over themselves to ensure that the US maintained a base on Iceland. These events were brilliantly opened to a wider audience by Noble Literature laureate Halldor Laxness in his wonderful novel “The Atom Station”

      As for your claim that Icelandic people do not really understand what truly occurred when the arrogance of bankers, with the collusion of the usual corrupt self seeking political elites, allowed their personal greed to put in jeopardy the entire fabric of Icelandic society, this is clearly made nonsensical by the briefest examination of the facts. The people of Iceland were the only sovereign population to stand up to their government and refuse to do their bidding by accepting responsibility for debts run up to enrich the narrow interests of elites, both old established and new arrival.

      The protests and direct actions of the people, who demanded that politicians looked after the interests of the ordinary citizen instead of bailing out the banks, greatly reduced the long term pain that Icelanders would have faced had the big banks won.

      Reply
  21. Mark Alexander

    Here on Martha’s Vineyard we have 100,000 residents and tourists in summer, and we have NO McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, or Subway stores. Also, Iceland has traffic lights, but not here on the Vineyard. For one thing all six towns here forbid the use of polystyrene for take-out or serving. That pretty well stops the chain stores.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      ok…

      Reply
    • Howie

      Hmmn. how quaintly retro to remember polystyrene food containers featuring as a major component of fast food delivery. In the backward looking UK the big fast food operators have been using recyclable materials for a very long time indeed. Probably the main reason for the lack of penetration of the majors in Martha’s Vineyard is a cultural one, It is a famously snobbish resort, and Americans do snobbish even better than the British. So its not hard to see why these outlets do not feature, it is as simple as this. Regardless of how much the denizens of the area might like to eat the offerings of the majors, clearly indicated by the extravagantly nourished frames they possess, they fear being shunned by others if seen leaving the premises or carrying and consuming the wares that the majors purvey.

      Reply
  22. Howie

    Back to Iceland, I have a friend in Iceland, somebody that has lived in Copenhagen, Texas and San Francisco, who admits that her life has been mostly cherries in a bowl who sums up neatly and sincerely why Iceland beats everywhere else. Despite having a scarcity of a lot of the elements that make survival of human beings manageable, Icelanders are blessed with ingenuity and a sense of belonging to a large national family. Everyone in Iceland believes that they are equal to all and inferior to none. Hence none of this king and queen nonsense that infects other societies. Until very recently Icelanders wishing to enjoy their youth with a little normal debauchery and high spirited silliness would have to go overseas for the vital ingredient in this rite of passage “Beer”. Most of them returned, brimming with fresh ideas that they adapted to suit the unique situation that exists in their beloved country of birth. This means that Icelanders are truly cosmopolitan because most of them travel when young and interact with local people often at the humblest of levels. Unlike the gilded youth of much of the civilised world that, although they often claim the opposite, do gaps years where they perform spurious works of social utility to polish a CV that will allow them to travel like latter day Nabobs in later life.

    Reply
  23. Heidi

    I have truly enjoyed all of the comments on this site ~~ my son is leaving today for a trip to Iceland ! We are all ( his family ) sure that once he comes back we will all want to go at some point ~~ thank you all for your information and insights ! It sounds like a place to fall in love with .

    Reply
  24. anne

    Im planning a trip to Iceland end of October…thanks for all the info…i learn something new every day. As Im coming from Ireland that continuously gets mixed up with Iceland it will be interesting to see our not too distant neighbours. And no McDonalds is a blessing.

    Reply
  25. Tony

    Five Things You Might Not Know About Iceland..!
    What do you mean???
    There is no McDonald’s..! it’s much better we don’t have it 🙂
    There is no Pizza hut..! but there’s much better than Pizza hut 😉
    There is no Starbucks..! Test the taste of other coffee and tea, much delicious 😉

    Reykjavik Burger Stand

    Like many visitors to Iceland, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the country and learned a lot about its history while touring around. Also like many tourists, there were quite a few facts that surprised me, including these that I bet you haven’t heard before.

    1. No McDonald’s, 7-11 or even Starbucks – I think that as a frequent traveler I get used to certain staples. In particular I’m used to seeing Starbucks and McDonald’s almost anywhere I go, whether or not I actually patronize them. An interesting fact about Iceland though is that it doesn’t have a single McDonald’s, 7-11 or even a Starbucks. Actually, until just a few years ago Iceland did have McDonald’s; three of them in fact. Following the 2009 financial crisis though, the fast food giant pulled its stores with no plans to return citing the “unique operational complexity” of doing business in an isolated nation with a population of just 300,000. Iceland seems to do just fine without these giants of the consumer world, offering instead its own unique brands. There are plenty of restaurants around Reykjavik that offer quick bites, with hot dogs and hamburgers as particular favorites. Instead of 7-11, the massively popular chain 10-11 dominates the Icelandic scene and there’s definitely no need for Starbucks, coffee shops abound in Iceland, as does a robust coffee culture. So while Iceland may not have some of the signature brands we find all over the world, that’s definitely not a bad thing.

    Reykjavik, Iceland

    2. Experiencing one of the fastest economic recoveries in the world – In 2008, the global financial crisis hit the world with incredible force and speed, particularly in the small country of Iceland. When the global credit markets seized, the government was unable to bail out its financial sector that had grown to an incredible ten times the gross domestic product of the country. The result was massive inflation, unemployment and currency collapse. Iceland came dangerously close to total disaster. Just a few years later though, while things aren’t perfect, they’re much better than they used to be. Walking around town I could believe that unemployment is now at an impressive 6% and that the IMF has predicted a 2.5% growth in Iceland’s economy this year. Just look around the rest of the world and you won’t see anything quite so amazing. Sure, the relative small size of the country and its population helps, but so does the mindset of the populace. Icelanders were (and are) pissed off over what happened to them and are determined to rectify the mess and make sure it never happens again. Well done Iceland, well done.

    Reykjavik, Iceland

    3. Temperatures aren’t extreme – When you hear the word “Iceland” and note its northerly position on a map, it’s hard not to imagine a frozen tundra, buried in snow and frigid temperatures. I know I was surprised when I learned the truth though, that Iceland doesn’t really experience any extremes in temperature. Because of the warm North Atlantic Current, temperatures are generally mild in the winter and cool and pleasant in the summer. The highest recorded temperature in Reykjavik was in 2004 when the thermometer hit 24.8°C (76.6°F) and the chilliest day was in 1918 with a decidedly brisk -24.5°C (-12.1°F). On average though, the winter temperatures range from a low of 28°F/24°F (-2°C/-4°C) degrees and in the summer it’s a comfortable high of 55°F /65°F (12°C/18°C). So while extreme temperatures can happen, they usually don’t and instead the visitor typically has very pleasant conditions in which to enjoy the country.

    Thingvelir

    4. Wasn’t independent until 1944 – Even though Iceland was settled in the 9th century and is home to the oldest parliament in the world, it wasn’t independent in the modern era until 1944. Iceland has changed hands a number of times throughout it’s history, but following the Napoleonic wars it became a dependency of Denmark. Denmark granted Iceland home rule in the 1870s, but what really changed the country’s political status was World War II. During the war Denmark was occupied by German forces, but Iceland was used as a base for British and then American soldiers. It was during this time that Iceland declared independence and established the Republic of Iceland, even while Denmark was still under German control. This political evolution was a long process and one that Denmark encouraged, but it’s remarkable that such an old country is still so politically young.

    Blue Lagoon Iceland

    5. More than just the Blue Lagoon, there are hundreds of thermal pools – Because of a unique set of geological phenomena, Iceland is home to hundreds of geysers and thermal pools, although most visitors are familiar with only its most famous: the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s top attraction, visited by hundreds of thousands of people a year and created through the generation of geothermal energy at a nearby power plant. But all around Iceland there are plenty of other spots to take the waters and enjoy both the psychological as well as medicinal benefits of the soak. Icelanders are well familiar with the benefits of thermal spas, on average every resident of the country visits a thermal pool six times a year. I just wish we had those kinds of resources here in the US; there’s really nothing better than a leisurely soak in a natural thermal spa.

    These are just a few of the cool qualities that make Iceland unique – what are some of your favorite Iceland facts?

    Tags: blogsherpa, iceland, Reykjavik
    Subscribe and get my free ebook!
    Subscribe to the LandLopers newsletter and get a free copy of my new book, “My Favorite 50 Travel Photos.”
    By: Matt Long
    Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.
    44 Responses

    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures
    April 11, 2012

    No Starbucks!!?!!!!??!?!!
    Reply
    Vile
    December 23, 2013

    Are you so addicted to Starbucks that you can’t live without it?
    Reply
    Katie
    April 11, 2012

    Iceland looks beautiful but how can you say that an average temp over the year between 24*F and 65*F isn’t freezing?!
    Reply
    Matt Long
    April 11, 2012

    well, to put it into context we were in Banff in January where the low was -30F. So while Iceland does get cold, it doesn’t get absolutely frigid.
    Reply
    Sheryl
    April 12, 2012

    The temperatures may be “nice” but the wind chill is what makes it so cold.
    Heather
    August 23, 2013

    LOL gotta agree. I am from Miami, FL and live in San Diego, CA. 76 is cool weather for me!
    Reply
    Jessica
    April 11, 2012

    Whats 7-11? We dont have those either!! Greece also doesn’t have that many McDonalds either, they have their own burger chain which is more popular. I didnt actually know anything about Iceland…apart from it might have rain deer!
    Reply
    charu
    April 11, 2012

    I’m actually glad to hear it doesn’t get that cold. I’ve heard Greenland is colder than Iceland. And yes, thank heavens for the swift recovery of Iceland from near bankruptcy—that was seriously nerve wracking. Good points, thanks Matt.
    Reply
    Cristina (@thetravolution)
    April 11, 2012

    Really, No Mc’D’s in Iceland??! I don’t think we need more of them anyway. It gives you a reason to try the local cuisine and appreciate something out of the ordinary!
    Reply
    Gio
    April 11, 2012

    My favorite fact about Iceland is that beer was outlawed until 1989. ’89! Iceland has a fascinating (and tumultuous) history with beer, wine, and spirits. I recommend this brewery tour: http://www.grayline.is/tour/Day_Tours/AH150_Taste_the_Saga/Iceland.is to learn more about Iceland’s prohibition.
    Reply
    Matt Long
    April 11, 2012

    Yes, that’s another great and surprising fact!
    Reply
    Vicky
    April 11, 2012

    Love this article! Especially photo number 3 – I want to do that when I go next year 🙂
    Reply
    Matt Long
    April 11, 2012

    Thanks!
    Reply
    Lucy
    April 11, 2012

    That’s pretty amazing there’s no MaccyDs and Starbucks – what about the other big chains? And does it have all the high street clothes stores, or do they have their own unique shops too?
    Reply
    Matt Long
    April 11, 2012

    Well I’m not completely sure, but everything I saw was definitely based in Iceland. They have chains, but not many international ones.
    Reply
    Ashley
    July 22, 2015

    They have subway chain sandwiches !!!! But almost allllll restraints close about 10-11pm… It’s hard to find something to eat at 1am when it’s still light outside(and after a few drinks)
    Ashley
    July 22, 2015

    And I also saw Taco Bell!!!!
    Tara – @Gr82chat
    April 12, 2012

    I recently moved here from Australia. They have both label and unique clothing. In place of McDonalds they have Metro which is so close to McDonalds that it may as well be. It operates out of the old McDonalds store. Their Big Mac equivalent translates as a citizen burger. I love that the people of Iceland are not without a sense of humor. Great country with lovely people. VERY VERY SAFE. Kids catch bus anywhere without any worry. I am only here for another year or so.. but could easily move here permanently.
    Reply
    Barbara
    December 4, 2012

    When we were there in March there were Subway’s sandwiches and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
    Reply
    Matt Long
    December 5, 2012

    Right, but no McDonalds, 7-11 or Starbucks 🙂
    Travelwriticus
    April 12, 2012

    Another interesting detail re 4): Iceland has no army of its own. Until 2006 there were US forces stationed.
    Reply
    Carol Margolis
    April 15, 2012

    I was amazed at the beautiful home of the Iceland Symphony. The 1800-seat Reykjavík Concert and Conference Center (Harpa) opened in spring 2011.
    Reply
    iris tsang
    April 15, 2012

    I am going to iceland in coming june for 10 days and just cannot wait after seeing the hot pool next to the sea. Is is located in specific area? Any suggestion for places that one should go??
    Reply
    Karen
    April 20, 2012

    All is not lost!! If I remember correctly, Reykjavik does boast a Subway sandwich shop! (Or there was one back in 2001 when I was there.) But truly, the hot dogs are fantastic. They are not skinless, like American hot dogs, so they require a bit more effort on the first bite. Try one “with everything” – a combination of mustard, catsup and raw and french-fried onions. Delicious!
    Reply
    Barbara
    November 8, 2012

    There are plenty of restaurants we know. There is Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken and several others you can eat at..,but why would you want to when there are so much local culture to absorb??
    Reply
    stephanie
    July 5, 2014

    Agreed!
    Reply
    Andy
    November 27, 2012

    Here in Norway we have resisted Starbucks too but finally gave in last year. There’s only one so far mind, at the main airport. Norwegians are some of the biggest coffee drinkers in the world and have so many coffee houses that it’s put off outsiders, but no longer. Iceland looks great, am planning to go for the first time in the Spring.
    Reply
    chinamatt
    December 13, 2012

    I needed this. I’m headed to Iceland next month and still trying to plan what I’ll do. Not that I like those fast food chains, but they’re good for a quick cup of coffee when desperate (and 7-11 is great for a quick beer in some countries).
    Reply
    Down-Easter
    January 4, 2013

    Just returned to Maine after a five-day mid-December first visit to Iceland. Matt Long’s observations reflect my own. Wonderful, down-to-earth, pleasant people, unlike some of those encountered in other European capitals, who exhibit standoffishness or downright anti-American hostility. I found myself getting wrapped in understanding the fiscal crisis. Wonderful that they’re pissed off and getting back on track in fine fashion after getting caught up in the psychology of easy-credit bubbles. I suspect their experience has much to teach the world. I, for one, will continue to keep my sights on Iceland via this website and others. If I’m lucky, I’ll get back there one day to take in the natural wonders we were unable to visit on this trip.
    Reply
    Matt Long
    January 7, 2013

    Thanks for the comments and I feel the same way you do. I HAVE to get back and see more of this wonderful place.
    Reply
    Explorista
    August 24, 2013

    Have you ever seen a 7-11 outside of the USA? I have never, so I wouldn’t be surprised that it isn’t in Iceland. But I might be mistaken. Anyways, Iceland is definitely on the wish list!
    Reply
    Matt Long
    August 24, 2013

    7-11s are HUGE in Asia, huge. On every block in Bangkok for example. It’s actually the world’s largest licensor of convenience stores.
    Reply
    stephanie
    July 5, 2014

    Canada has 7-11
    Reply
    stephanie
    July 5, 2014

    Just returning from Iceland today actually and its July 5th. They may not have McDonalds, Starbucks or 7-11, but they do have KFC, taco bell , subway, quizno sub, dominos pizza and pizza hut to name a few. We never ate at them but there is american style fast food for those that really want to eat it.
    Reply
    Jester of Evil
    February 6, 2015

    Iceland also has healthiest diet in world mmmmmmm wonder why.
    Reply
    Matt Long
    February 9, 2015

    LOL
    Reply
    Douglas McLaughlin
    May 13, 2015

    As a nearly two-year resident of Iceland from the States, I welcome the lauditory comments about it, because Iceland really is a great place to live. But please! Check your facts! One, 10-11 does´t massively dominate the Icelandic scene. Unknowing tourists use it, but Icelanders generally view it as a very expensive place to shop. Two, while Icelanders were (and still are) pissed off over what happened to them during the Financial Crisis, my readings of post-Crisis autopsies do not indicate there is a clear picture of what happened and why. Did not a famous person write and I paraphrase, If you don’t get it, you’ll probably do it again! And three, the British and American forces invaded and occupied Iceland without its sovereign permission. Admittedly, Iceland became better off, but facts is facts.
    Reply
    Howie
    August 24, 2015

    Don’t be absurd, British forces went to Iceland with the tacit consent of the Government of Denmark to prevent Iceland from being invaded by Germany. In the aftermath of WW2 the cultural and financial elites were tripping over themselves to ensure that the US maintained a base on Iceland. These events were brilliantly opened to a wider audience by Noble Literature laureate Halldor Laxness in his wonderful novel “The Atom Station”

    As for your claim that Icelandic people do not really understand what truly occurred when the arrogance of bankers, with the collusion of the usual corrupt self seeking political elites, allowed their personal greed to put in jeopardy the entire fabric of Icelandic society, this is clearly made nonsensical by the briefest examination of the facts. The people of Iceland were the only sovereign population to stand up to their government and refuse to do their bidding by accepting responsibility for debts run up to enrich the narrow interests of elites, both old established and new arrival.

    The protests and direct actions of the people, who demanded that politicians looked after the interests of the ordinary citizen instead of bailing out the banks, greatly reduced the long term pain that Icelanders would have faced had the big banks won.
    Reply
    Mark Alexander
    June 14, 2015

    Here on Martha’s Vineyard we have 100,000 residents and tourists in summer, and we have NO McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, or Subway stores. Also, Iceland has traffic lights, but not here on the Vineyard. For one thing all six towns here forbid the use of polystyrene for take-out or serving. That pretty well stops the chain stores.
    Reply
    Matt Long
    June 14, 2015

    ok…
    Reply
    Howie
    August 24, 2015

    Hmmn. how quaintly retro to remember polystyrene food containers featuring as a major component of fast food delivery. In the backward looking UK the big fast food operators have been using recyclable materials for a very long time indeed. Probably the main reason for the lack of penetration of the majors in Martha’s Vineyard is a cultural one, It is a famously snobbish resort, and Americans do snobbish even better than the British. So its not hard to see why these outlets do not feature, it is as simple as this. Regardless of how much the denizens of the area might like to eat the offerings of the majors, clearly indicated by the extravagantly nourished frames they possess, they fear being shunned by others if seen leaving the premises or carrying and consuming the wares that the majors purvey.
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    Howie
    August 24, 2015

    Back to Iceland, I have a friend in Iceland, somebody that has lived in Copenhagen, Texas and San Francisco, who admits that her life has been mostly cherries in a bowl who sums up neatly and sincerely why Iceland beats everywhere else. Despite having a scarcity of a lot of the elements that make survival of human beings manageable, Icelanders are blessed with ingenuity and a sense of belonging to a large national family. Everyone in Iceland believes that they are equal to all and inferior to none. Hence none of this king and queen nonsense that infects other societies. Until very recently Icelanders wishing to enjoy their youth with a little normal debauchery and high spirited silliness would have to go overseas for the vital ingredient in this rite of passage “Beer”. Most of them returned, brimming with fresh ideas that they adapted to suit the unique situation that exists in their beloved country of birth. This means that Icelanders are truly cosmopolitan because most of them travel when young and interact with local people often at the humblest of levels. Unlike the gilded youth of much of the civilised world that, although they often claim the opposite, do gaps years where they perform spurious works of social utility to polish a CV that will allow them to travel like latter day Nabobs in later life.
    Reply
    Heidi
    September 1, 2015

    I have truly enjoyed all of the comments on this site ~~ my son is leaving today for a trip to Iceland ! We are all ( his family ) sure that once he comes back we will all want to go at some point ~~ thank you all for your information and insights ! It sounds like a place to fall in love with .
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    anne
    September 30, 2015

    Im planning a trip to Iceland end of October…thanks for all the info…i learn something new every day. As Im coming from Ireland that continuously gets mixed up with Iceland it will be interesting to see our not too distant neighbours. And no McDonalds is a blessing.
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  26. Melinda

    I noticed, in the part about hot springs you say something to the effect that you wish we had these resources here in the States and I wanted to let you know that MANY states, have hot springs. I just Googled it and it’s quite impressive.

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