Iceland is a country home to some of the world’s most sunning and unreal nature. It’s also one of the safest, sparsely populated countries in the world, and though it’s become a bit of an annoying stock phrase: Iceland is kind of… weird — but not a bad weird, a good quirky, interesting weird.
There are the number of reasons for this: the alien terrain, geothermal lagoons, northern lights, strange food (fermented shark, whale jerky, raw puffin heart), the isolation, and the fact that nearly everyone’s related—there’s even an incest prevention app. And although labels like “weird” and “strange” are relative terms, I think it’s fair to assume that by most people’s standards Iceland is kind of weird. But it’s a good thing.
Here are a few ways you can sample Iceland’s weird charm:
1. SEARCH FOR ELUSIVE ELVES
Not all Icelanders believe in elves. But it’s safe to say there is a higher than average number of Icelanders who do believe. To give you an idea of how pervasive the belief is, sometimes road crews in Iceland will hire a folklore expert to determine if any of the rocks they’re about to move elf homes, because if they are they’ll work around them.
There is even a school dedicated to the education of these hidden elf people, as well as supernatural fauna, fairies, trolls, and gnomes. The school is primarily for long-term students, but they do offer a special five-hour class for curious travelers, and you’ll even receive a diploma at the end of your studies — you know, to help boost the resume. Even if you don’t find an elf, at least you’ll get to see more of Iceland’s beautiful, untouched nature.
2. VISIT THE PHALLOLOGICAL (penis) MUSEUM
Iceland’s Phallological Museum in Reykjavík promotes itself as “probably the only museum in the world to contain a collection of phallic specimens belonging to all the various types of mammals found in a single country.” This museum contains 283 penises, including a few legally attained human penises. The museum doesn’t merely aspire to titillate, they also aim to examine how male genitalia has influenced history, art, literature, and psychology.
3. STAY UP FOR 24 HOURS (if you’re visiting during the bright summer months)
For most people in the world, having 24 hours of daylight will be something completely novel and perhaps slightly disorienting. Make the most of it and see what you can accomplish with all that daylight. Just make sure to be safe, check up-to-date travel information, and never underestimate the unforgiving power of the land of fire and ice.