Language in Iceland: English or Icelandic

When it comes to traveling to Iceland, understanding the local language in Iceland is important for effective communication and enhancing our overall experience. For those planning a trip to Iceland, it’s crucial to understand the primary language spoken in the country: English or Icelandic. In this article, we will explore the importance of language in Iceland and how it can enrich your travel experience.

Language in Iceland

Official Language in Iceland

Icelandic is the official language of Iceland. It is a captivating language with a diverse linguistic background. The Icelandic language has strong connections to Old Norse and has been well-preserved over the years, playing a crucial role in shaping Iceland’s cultural heritage.

By embracing the language in Iceland, you can fully engage with the rich heritage of the country and establish a deeper connection with the local community.

English Proficiency in Iceland

Luckily, you will discover that a significant number of individuals from Iceland possess a strong proficiency in the English language. English is commonly taught in schools, and people from Iceland typically have a strong command of the English language.

This is particularly relevant in popular tourist destinations, where English is widely spoken and comprehended. Whether you are looking for directions, placing an order, or having conversations, English is often a convenient language to use for communication.

Language in IcelandWhy do Icelanders Speak English?

Language in Iceland

To address this question, you need to learn several reasons behind it. These reasons can be taken into account as follows: 

TV and Broadcasting Communication 

Due to the advent of mass communication, the Icelanders, much like other Europeans, are influenced by English as most channels available on the satellite are echoed in English. This trend made the Icelanders learn English. 

Text Books and English Language 

The kids start learning English nowadays from the very beginning. So, they have familiarized themselves with speaking the English language in Iceland.

Touristic Operations and Entrepreneurs

Iceland has opened its doors to the enthusiasts of the touristic marvels in Iceland. The tourists in huge numbers visit Iceland every year. This tourist operation has opened up too wide global interaction. 

On the other hand, English is a global language. This fact has enormously contributed to making the Icelanders speak English.

So, suppose you do not know how to speak Icelandic and plan to visit Iceland. In that case, you will feel no difficulty because everyone in Iceland can communicate with you in English except for some exceptions in the far-flung areas. 

Education

The level of quality education is robust in Iceland. Due to this fact, young Icelanders are much more fluent in English. The final reason is that the Nordic Language has similarities with English. It is similar to English in many aspects. That is why the Icelanders are fluent in English.

Are there any Icelander who cannot speak English? 

Language in Iceland

Yes, there are two sorts of Icelanders who cannot speak English: 

Elderly People language in Iceland

A considerable number of the aged citizenry of Iceland cannot speak English. Due to their approach of the previous century, they are jammed to the Icelandic. So, you need to ask politely whether they can speak English or not. 

People of Farthest Areas language in Iceland

The Icelanders who live in the farthest areas cannot speak English. If you ask somebody to know about a phenomenon in English, you will find them answering with a sign no. Likewise, those Icelanders who live in non-touristic areas feel difficulty communicating in English. 

Use of English in Cities and Towns 

To know about the use of English, the divide between cities and towns is valuable. Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital, commercial hub, business center, and international city. You will find a lot of tourist destinations here in this capital city. On the other hand, the majority of Icelanders live in this city.

Around 132000 people live in Reykjavik. They all are very good at English communication. Likewise, the Icelanders living in towns speak the Icelandic language in their routine interaction. However, they too are very fluent in English and can answer you accordingly to all that you ask. 

Language in IcelandLanguage Expectations for Travelers

If you are planning to travel to Iceland, you will find it relatively easy to communicate in English. English is widely spoken in popular tourist destinations, businesses, and accommodations, which makes it convenient for communication. 

However, it is important to mention that smaller, more remote areas might have a lower level of English language skills. 

If you want to communicate effectively and show respect for the local culture, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with some Icelandic phrases. Learning and using Icelandic phrases can greatly enhance your travel experience by fostering deeper connections with the locals, who will appreciate your efforts.

1. Speaking English

When engaging in conversations with Icelanders, it’s polite to begin with a greeting in Icelandic, such as “Góðan daginn” (Good day). This demonstrates your willingness to embrace the local customs. Once you have exchanged greetings, you can comfortably switch to English for further communication. However, be mindful of the volume and tone of your voice, as Icelanders tend to appreciate a more reserved and soft-spoken approach.

2. Learning Icelandic Phrases

While English is widely spoken, taking the time to learn a few basic Icelandic phrases shows genuine interest in the local culture and language. Simple phrases like “Takk” (Thank you), “Já” (Yes), and “Nei” (No) can be incredibly helpful in day-to-day interactions. Locals will appreciate your effort, and it can serve as a conversation starter or icebreaker, leading to more meaningful connections.

3. Politeness and Respect

Icelanders value politeness and respect in their interactions. Using phrases like “Góðan daginn” (Good day) and “Góðan dag” (Goodbye) along with “Takk fyrir” (Thank you) shows appreciation and acknowledges the local customs. Additionally, addressing people with their appropriate titles, such as “Herra” (Mr.) or “Fru” (Mrs./Ms.), adds an extra touch of courtesy.

4. Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication also plays a significant role in Icelandic culture. Maintaining eye contact during conversations shows attentiveness and interest. It is customary to greet people with a firm handshake, and it is polite to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home. These small gestures contribute to creating a positive and respectful environment.

5. Embracing Icelandic Traditions

Participating in local traditions and customs can deepen your cultural experience. Attending events such as Þorrablót (a mid-winter festival) or joining in on traditional singing or dancing showcases your enthusiasm for Icelandic culture. You should engage with locals and immerse yourself in the customs will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.

Language Learning Resources in Iceland

If you are eager to explore the intricacies of the Icelandic language, there are plenty of resources at your disposal to help you along the way. If you are passionate about learning Icelandic, there are some great language-learning apps available, like Duolingo and Memrise. These apps make it easy to access Icelandic lessons right on your smartphone or tablet. 

For those interested in learning Icelandic grammar and vocabulary, there are various online courses and websites available that can be incredibly helpful resources.

Furthermore, if you are someone who enjoys a more engaging and hands-on approach to learning, you might want to think about enrolling in a nearby language school in Iceland. These schools provide Icelandic lessons that are specifically designed to meet your individual learning requirements.

For situations like these, having a phrasebook or language app can be extremely helpful for your basic communication needs. In order to effectively communicate and show respect for the local culture, it is advisable to familiarize oneself with a few Icelandic phrases.

Basic greetings such as “Góðan daginn” (Good day) or “Takk” (Thank you) can greatly contribute to building positive connections and making lasting memories.

Language in IcelandIs it Necessary to Speak English? 

There are two kinds of people living in Iceland; tourists and locals. If you move around the cities and towns and visit hotels, restaurants, bars, and tourist destinations, you will meet staff who can comprehensively speak English.

You can be conversant with them and find no awkwardness in this conversation. If you like to speak Icelandic with them, you can also opt for it. 

But, remember knowing Icelandic is not so easy as it is considered the most difficult language in Europe. As far as the locals are concerned, they too are inclined toward English because they know well that tourism is the backbone of the Icelandic economy.

Around two million tourists rush towards Iceland every year. So, they have to interact with these tourists. That is why they continue to improve speaking English. 

Conclusion

English is spoken and understood by many people in Iceland, in addition to Icelandic, which is the official language of the country and has great cultural importance. Bilingualism is a valuable skill that allows travelers to easily communicate with people from different cultures and languages. 

To enhance your interactions with the people of Iceland and appreciate the country’s language traditions, it is important to show respect for their culture and take the initiative to learn some Icelandic phrases. 

This will help you establish stronger connections with locals and develop a deeper understanding of Iceland’s linguistic heritage. Discover the captivating allure of the language in Iceland and the practicality of English as you embark on your exciting journey through Iceland.

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Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking

One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond.

Sea kayaking holidays in the humbling wilderness of Antarcticathe Arctic, and some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, are guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, absorbing the majestic scenery as it unfolds before you. 

In Antarctica, keep your camera on-hand for unforgettable encounters with penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, prepare to  paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large iceberg. 

Led by experienced guides, you and your small group of like-minded adventurers will paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Paddling is one of the best ways to access and intimately explore the beautiful coastlines we visit and therefore make the most of your time in the wild and remote destinations we visit

Top reasons to choose a Sea Kayaking holiday

Annotation 2023-04-28 030538

See wildlife unobtrusively

Kayaking is one of the best ways to spot rare wildlife, from penguins to puffins.

Annotation 2023-04-28 030913

Better access

Access intimate bays and coves that bigger crafts can’t reach.​

Annotation 2023-04-28 030939

Knowledgeable guides

Our experienced sea kayak guides will help bring your chosen destination to life.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031035

Become an expert

Hone your kayaking skills and gain a hobby for life!

Annotation 2023-04-28 031035

Make friends

Become lifelong friends with your small group of like-minded adventurers.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031119

Stay fit on your holiday

Being active every day on your holiday means you don’t have to feel guilty about being spoilt by our expert chefs!

Annotation 2023-04-28 031119

Enhance your experience

Add another layer to your once-in-a-lifetime holiday and make the most out of your time in some of the most remote places on earth.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031213

It's fun!

Have the time of your life exploring some of the wildest places on earth from the water.

FAQs

Our guide to paddler ratio is 1:10 and we provide an accompanying safety Zodiac. There are 26 places available in Antarctica and tropical voyages, 20 in temperate regions, South Georgia and all Arctic trips except in Franz Josef Land where the maximum is 16 kayakers.

Kayakers must be 14 or over.

Sea kayaking is offered in place of regular shore excursions. We aim to paddle as often as possible. Depending on the voyage, we generally aim to paddle twice per day.

We will give you a drybag for extra clothing, binoculars and anything that needs to be kept dry. You should also carry a water bottle. We recommend bringing a waterproof camera or phone, or ensuring you have a good quality waterproof case.

If the weather changes during our outing we will head back to the ship and perhaps join a shore excursion. The ship’s captain, expedition leader and kayak guide always maintain close contact to ensure a safe paddling experience. We do not attempt to paddle too far away from the ship. The emphasis is on experiencing the destination rather than travelling long distances.

The kayaks are made with a hard plastic and are easily paddled in swell and conducting shore landings, and through small patches of brash ice. We manoeuvre around the larger ice chunks and floes.

Polar regions

Kayaking in the poles offers a unique wildlife viewing experience. In Antarctica, we have many opportunities to encounter penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally we may even spot leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, we’ll paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large icebergs, however we maintain a safe distance from polar bears and walruses. Our guides carry rifles and flare guns in the Arctic to ensure your safety against polar bears.

Temperate regions

Kayakers in wild temperate regions will have a unique wildlife experience, with possible encounters with seals and basking sharks. You will have the opportunity to view some of the largest sea bird colonies in the northern hemisphere.

Tropical regions

The superb wildlife-viewing opportunities are endless in the astonishingly biodiverse nature reserves we visit. Kayaks offer a unique opportunity to view marine and land mammals, coral reefs, tropical fish, sea birds and an astonishing range of rainforest birds. We will bring our snorkelling gear with us during our paddles and take advantage of any opportunities to view marine life up close.

In the unlikely event of a capsize, your experienced guide will assist by righting the kayak, stabilising it then pumping it out. Paddlers will re-enter with the guide’s help, or with a support Zodiac. With drysuits and warm clothing underneath you will be comfortable in cold water for up to half an hour. Note that the kayaks have separate compartments with bulkheads, which means they will float after a capsize.

No. Each kayaking place is for one person only. Passengers are unable to share a kayaking place as we customise the kayaks and dry suits for each individual kayaker at the beginning of each voyage.

Contact Us

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Balcony Stateroom Superior

Deck: 4 & 6

Cabin and balcony combined size: 29.2m² – 35.2m² (314.3ft² – 378.9ft²)

Beds: 
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King bed

 
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Twin beds

Features

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Private en-suite (wheelchair accessible)

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Private balcony

Icon

Full size window

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Desk area

Icon

Closet space

Icon

Room-controlled thermostat

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Room safe

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42″ flat-screen TV

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Mini bar*

Cabin Inclusion

  • 1 x 3-in-1 polar jacket per person (polar voyages only)

Some of these rooms are equipped with wheelchair accessible bathrooms.

*Please note mini bar items are chargeable in all cabins except Junior Suite and Captain’s Suite

Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking

One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond.

Sea kayaking holidays in the humbling wilderness of Antarcticathe Arctic, and some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, are guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, absorbing the majestic scenery as it unfolds before you. 

In Antarctica, keep your camera on-hand for unforgettable encounters with penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, prepare to  paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large iceberg. 

Led by experienced guides, you and your small group of like-minded adventurers will paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Paddling is one of the best ways to access and intimately explore the beautiful coastlines we visit and therefore make the most of your time in the wild and remote destinations we visit

Top reasons to choose a Sea Kayaking holiday

Annotation 2023-04-28 030538

See wildlife unobtrusively

Kayaking is one of the best ways to spot rare wildlife, from penguins to puffins.

Annotation 2023-04-28 030913

Stay fit on your holiday

Being active every day on your holiday means you don’t have to feel guilty about being spoilt by our expert chefs!

Annotation 2023-04-28 030939

Knowledgeable guides

Our experienced sea kayak guides will help bring your chosen destination to life.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031035

Enhance your experience

Add another layer to your once-in-a-lifetime holiday and make the most out of your time in some of the most remote places on earth.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031035

Make friends

Become lifelong friends with your small group of like-minded adventurers.

Annotation 2023-04-28 031119

Better access

Access intimate bays and coves that bigger crafts can’t reach.​

Annotation 2023-04-28 031119

Become an expert

Hone your kayaking skills and gain a hobby for life!

Annotation 2023-04-28 031213

It's fun!

Have the time of your life exploring some of the wildest places on earth from the water.

FAQs

Our guide to paddler ratio is 1:10 and we provide an accompanying safety Zodiac. There are 26 places available in Antarctica and tropical voyages, 20 in temperate regions, South Georgia and all Arctic trips except in Franz Josef Land where the maximum is 16 kayakers.

Kayakers must be 14 or over.

Sea kayaking is offered in place of regular shore excursions. We aim to paddle as often as possible. Depending on the voyage, we generally aim to paddle twice per day.

Sea kayaking is offered in place of regular shore excursions. We aim to paddle as often as possible. Depending on the voyage, we generally aim to paddle twice per day.

If the weather changes during our outing we will head back to the ship and perhaps join a shore excursion. The ship’s captain, expedition leader and kayak guide always maintain close contact to ensure a safe paddling experience. We do not attempt to paddle too far away from the ship. The emphasis is on experiencing the destination rather than travelling long distances.

The kayaks are made with a hard plastic and are easily paddled in swell and conducting shore landings, and through small patches of brash ice. We manoeuvre around the larger ice chunks and floes.

Polar regions

Kayaking in the poles offers a unique wildlife viewing experience. In Antarctica, we have many opportunities to encounter penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally we may even spot leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, we’ll paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large icebergs, however we maintain a safe distance from polar bears and walruses. Our guides carry rifles and flare guns in the Arctic to ensure your safety against polar bears.

Temperate regions

Kayakers in wild temperate regions will have a unique wildlife experience, with possible encounters with seals and basking sharks. You will have the opportunity to view some of the largest sea bird colonies in the northern hemisphere.

Tropical regions

The superb wildlife-viewing opportunities are endless in the astonishingly biodiverse nature reserves we visit. Kayaks offer a unique opportunity to view marine and land mammals, coral reefs, tropical fish, sea birds and an astonishing range of rainforest birds. We will bring our snorkelling gear with us during our paddles and take advantage of any opportunities to view marine life up close.

In the unlikely event of a capsize, your experienced guide will assist by righting the kayak, stabilising it then pumping it out. Paddlers will re-enter with the guide’s help, or with a support Zodiac. With drysuits and warm clothing underneath you will be comfortable in cold water for up to half an hour. Note that the kayaks have separate compartments with bulkheads, which means they will float after a capsize.

No. Each kayaking place is for one person only. Passengers are unable to share a kayaking place as we customise the kayaks and dry suits for each individual kayaker at the beginning of each voyage.

Contact Us

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