International Urban Legends: Iceland

Before we head for the continent, we’ll head north from the U.K. first and make landfall in Iceland. Clever marketing that by the Vikings. Name the habitable land Iceland and name the big chunk of ice-covered land Greenland so no one will try to move in. But given that huldufólk, hidden people or elves, are said to inhabit Iceland, maybe the Vikings choose poorly.


We told you they were small.

Iceland has homes for elves.

If you travel about Iceland you’ll probably encounter a small wooden house. And by small I mean small. Even a toddler would find it cramped to move about in. That is because these houses have been constructed for elves and it is said elves do live in them.

There is even a church or two built for them. The Church welcomes all no matter their size, but no word on if any have converted or not.

Huldufólk Holidays

If you are planning a trip to Iceland, best go on New Year’s Eve, Twelfth Night, Midsummer or Christmas. It is said that eleves will host parties and some of the locals will host bonfires for the elves in return on New Year’s Eve.

On Christmas, the custom is to clean your house and leave food out for the elves while Midsummer Night sees many take station on a crossroads and wait for the elves to offer you gifts. Pro tip: No matter what the first offer is, turn it down. Legend says you will receive an even greater gift instead.

Trolls of Vík

Vik is known for its black sand beach. And it trolls. And yes, you can see the trolls.

Go out and stand on the black sand and gaze upon the Reynisdragnar, a formation of basalt rocks just off the shore line. Legend says they were once trolls. It seems they wandered out to attack ships and got caught in the sunlight and turned into stone.

Sea Monsters of Iceland

Monsters are said to swim off the shore and the locals call them skrimsli. While you may scoff, the locals are quite convinced that they exist.

And since you’re most likely to travel to and from Iceland by boat, you should probably keep and eye out on those waters. Just in case.

About the author

Richard Paolinelli