Want to avoid feeling out-of-place in Reykjavik? Never mind eating sheep testicles in an attempt to fit in — here are the important everyday customs you’ll really need to become a true Friend of Iceland.
Take off your shoes
If you’re lucky enough to get invited into the home of a genuine Icelandic person (yes, it has been known to happen) make sure you take your shoes off at the door. Walking wet sludge all over their brand new parquet flooring is considered bad manners. And watch out – the same rule applies at some swimming pools, doctor’s offices, and other public areas.
Whatever you do, don’t say hello to anybody
Never say “hi” to anybody you recognise. Not even if they spent the whole of last night propping up the bar with you, relaying their life-story. People don’t greet each other here until after they’ve had at least two beers — then you’re free to hug / laugh / cry / get married, whatever.
Eat everything with your cutlery
Icelanders haven’t yet realised that burgers are served between two pieces of bread precisely so you don’t need to use a knife and fork to eat them.
Don’t be a push-over
Don’t feel offended if you get shoved to the floor in bars. It’s not that Icelanders are rude, it’s just that you’re in their way. We advise you to smile brightly and push right back. You might make a friend that won’t say “hi” later.
Icelanders are notoriously hygienic. You must shower naked before you swim, paying special attention to your special areas. If you’re not sure which parts we mean exactly, refer to the classic Naked Androgynous Diagram.
You seem to have right-of-way
Don’t be surprised when cars slow down to let you cross in front of them; even if you never wanted to cross in the first place. It just gives everybody a chance to get a better look at you.
No Icelandic word for ‘please’
Say takk a lot to make up for it.