Once a more remote country, Iceland has transformed into a bonafide tourist destination—due in no small part to the creative work of Icelandair. But as relatively uncharted territory compared to the tourist hotbeds in Mexico or New York, Iceland still manages to hold that alluring air of mystery for the novice traveler. Enter travel pro The Points Guy, who recently chronicled the exciting and surprising events of his trip to Reykjavík, Iceland's beautiful capital. Look beyond the gorgeous waterfalls or the ever-popular Blue Lagoon; here's what you didn't know about the beautiful Nordic island nation:
It's uber environmentally-conscious.
Icelanders are pros at harnessing the natural forces of nature around them, including wind, steam, and melting glaciers. "In fact, there's an entire museum dedicated to educating the public and visitors alike about the importance and impact of using natural power," he explains. Consider checking out the Geothermal Energy Exhibition to see for yourself.
The water smells different, but it's safe to drink.
Reykjavík runs on geothermal power, and the water comes from a volcanic ground source, which gives the extremely refreshing water a mild sulfuric smell. With that said, "The smell is completely normal … [and] the tap water is perfectly drinkable—and free!"
It's safe enough to leave babies unattended.
It's common for locals to leave strollers outside unattended—with babies in them. "Fear not—this is a perfectly normal part of Icelandic society," he explains. "In fact, Icelanders believe that fresh air greatly benefits a child’s immune system, not to mention their babies sleep longer and more soundly outside."
Don't be afraid to visit during the winter.
The city of Reykjavík has actually invested in an underground heating system to keep its sidewalks and streets free of snow and ice. "Don't be caught off-guard by [snow's] almost instantaneous disappearance during your walk around town!" writes The Points Guy.
The seafood is inventive and fresh.
As a Nordic island nation, Icelanders typically fill up on seafood—including shark, puffin, whale meat, and fish soup. Some are viewed as traditional dishes, whereas others, like shark, are more of an exciting culinary challenge accepted by locals and tourists alike.
Have you visited Iceland? Share your unexpected travel tips in the comments below!