Have you been enjoying the History Channel’s epic Vikings Series?

At the moment, the saga is focused on the discovery of Iceland and whilst the silver screen tends to glamourise historical events, Viking’s creator Michael Hirst has said that he has tried to stay as true to the historical discourse as possible.

The show certainly does a good job of portraying the first Vikings to discover Iceland, so if you’re more into TV dramas than blogs give it a watch. You will have to wait until Season 5 to get there though, so it might be a bit quicker to read this article to discover how Iceland got its name!

You can’t imagine the amount of times we get asked why Iceland is called Iceland. We don’t mind, of course; in fact, we love answering all your questions! But, to make things easier, we figured we should just tell you all now. That makes more sense, right?

The Story

Our little country is said to have got its name from the Viking Hrafna-Flóki, who sailed to our shores from Norway. He bought his whole life with him, including his family and animals, and was ready to settle down and make a new home in this foreign land.

As the story goes, Hrafna-Flóki shored up in Vatnsfjörður Fjord, which is the South shore on the West Fjords. He made his grand arrival around mid 800AD – so a pretty long time ago! The area was full of fish and seemed the perfect place to live. So perfect, that the new settlers didn’t prepare themselves or their livestock for winter which was, of course, a huge mistake.

When winter arrived, the animals died and the settlers struggled to live through the bitter cold and harsh conditions. When spring rolled around, they quite sensibly decided it was probably time to leave. Before making their departure, Hrafna-Flóki took a little hike up the mountains and saw a whole lot of pack ice, which he used to conjure the name Iceland. That’s the story!

Of course, though, the land he saw was only a small section of Iceland, which is actually far more lush and green than the name Hrafnaflóki gave it makes out.

This is where the irony comes in…

cycling in Iceland

The Irony of Iceland and Greenland

A lot of people think that Iceland was named strategically with Greenland so that people would stay away from what they thought would be a remote, cold land and head instead towards what they imagined would be the rolling, beautiful fields of Greenland. Of course, this isn’t how it was named, but the two are hilariously ironic. Greenland is full of ice and Iceland is full of green – funny, right?

If you want to come and explore our land in all its ice and green glory, check out our base camp and adventure tours here at Midgard. We know all there is to know about Iceland, including the best places to visit and the little-known secrets that most tourists will never discover and we can’t wait to share it all with you!

Get in touch with our Iceland experts if you have any questions or need help planning your trip – we want to be there to make your experience truly sensational.