Iceland Mag

14 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Lifestyle

Meet the friends of Iceland!

By Staff

  • Landmannalaugar nature reserve Located in the south central highlands, is a popular spot to visit What made all of these people want to come here? Maybe they were all watching David Bowie when he declared “Iceland is hot!” in an interview on MTV in the early 90s. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

By Kári Gunnarsson

“Íslandsvinur” is a term you will be familiar with if you’re Icelandic. It means “friend of Iceland” and basically applies to anyone who visits Iceland more than once. Unless you’re a famous celebrity; then you only need to visit once to classify as an ‘Íslandsvinur’.

It’s not too long ago that Reykjavik was just a small, grey city that didn’t get too many visitors. The city had only one café and beer was prohibited. Richard Nixon called it a “godforsaken country”. That was in the 70s and the ‘Íslandsvinir’ were few and scarce. Fast-forward to 2016 and that has all changed, radically. Now, when walking down Laugavegur street in downtown Reykjavík, you’ll hear an international rainbow of languages, from Spanish and German to Chinese.

What made all these people want to come here?
The city’s restaurant quota is approaching the limit, according to the city’s development plans. The airlines continue to add new destinations. New hotels are being built to accommodate the increasing number of visitors. Thanks to its unique nature and cultural soft power Iceland has become a bucket list-destination for people from all over the world. Since the year 2000 the number of foreign visitors to Iceland has more than tripled with a projected 1.6 million visitors in 2016. Consequentially, tourism has become one of the main pillars of the local economy.

What made all of these people want to come here? Maybe they were all watching David Bowie when he declared “Iceland is hot!” in an interview on MTV in the early 90s. But let’s be honest: the weather here is awful; we don’t score well on the Big Mac index (the price level of basic commodities is high); and, well, you haven’t been able to get a Big Mac here since 2009.

This begs the question: What makes all these foreigners want to come to Iceland? To find out, we thought “who better to ask than some real Íslandsvinir?” So we found some friends of Iceland and interviewed them about what made them want to come back to Iceland. 

Krissie: Friends of Iceland: "The landscape is not like anything on the planet you have ever seen"

Chris: Friends of Iceland: "Iceland is one of the most beautiful locations in the world"

Kasper: Friends of Iceland: "If the world was going to end, I would go to Iceland"

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