Icelanders have been voted the friendliest people in the world! Perhaps it's because the sun has finally graced us with its presence for more than just a few hours a day... but maybe it also goes a bit beyond that.
Our ever so friendly (sometimes too friendly) ducks and swans at the Reykjavík pond surely help and give you a sense of friendliness in Iceland. They'll be your best friend ever if you just give them a bit of bread. Until the bread is over, then it's off to the next...
To some foreigners it may come as no surprise but to a lot of Icelanders it does. You see, just a few decades ago Icelanders were considered especially cold and introverted. Our island is small and our population tiny compared to our fellow nordic countries. Everyone knows each other and if they don't they know someone who does. Prying into each others private lives is easy and gossip spreads quickly. So it's not surprising that that back in the day when tourism wasn't as common as it is now people just kept to themselves, afraid to say or ask too much.
The staff didn't smile at restaurants or cafes and store clerks were incredibly uninvolved in the whole "finding that perfect (insert apparel)". All in all, we weren't considered polite or well mannered at all, especially not compared to the always friendly and extremely welcoming Americans.
But looking back it shouldn't be so shocking at all. A lot of elderly people here never learned English properly unless they were working closely with the British or Americans and not even that was proper English, just slang and a few words from here and there.
Now English is mandatory in all schools in Iceland from the age of 8-9 and all the way until 20 in some schools. So it goes to show that now, with all the English speakers chatting to foreigners comfortably in a language all parties understand it's easier for the people our little nation to let down their guard and not worry about making complete fools of themselves.
The Icelandic economy relies heavily on tourism as well so it's not as surprising to see people of all ethnicities walking down the Laugavegur or enjoying an afternoon in the local pool/hot tub.
With familiarity comes friendliness and Icelanders are now more than happy to welcome all the curious and excited tourists who make the effort of visiting our beautiful little island!
*A sweet and friendly acquaintance of mine hanging outside Manía, a local boutique with the loveliest staff!
Here are some tours that'll get you involved with the locals and aid you in seeing the beautiful sights our island has to offer:
A trip to Akureyri - our second largest city. And also some amazing sights to see!
And last but not least, some of our friendliest natives; whales and dolphins. Combine that with a Golden Circle tour and you will surely experience the time of your life. Every Icelander has done it at least a few times and it never gets old :)
Please feel free to contact me if there is anything I can help you with in Iceland! Apparently I´m one of those friendly Icelanders ;)