Icelandic Greeting Etiquette: A Cultural Guide

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Are you planning a trip to Iceland? Then you should definitely learn about the greeting etiquette to have a smooth travel experience. The Scandinavian country has a unique culture, and knowing how to greet people is an essential part of it. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about the greeting etiquette in Iceland.

Why is greeting etiquette important in Iceland?

Greeting etiquette is an essential aspect of any culture. In Iceland, people take their greetings seriously, and knowing how to greet someone can help you establish a good relationship with the locals. The locals are friendly and accommodating, but being aware of their customs and traditions can make a significant difference.

How do Icelanders greet each other?

Icelanders have different ways of greeting each other, depending on the situation. The most common form of greeting is a handshake. A firm handshake shows respect and confidence. But be careful, Icelanders do not appreciate a bone-crushing grip, so make sure it is firm, but gentle.

Another popular way of greeting in Iceland is the hug. Hugs are a common way of greeting friends and family, and they demonstrate warmth and familiarity. However, this is not the case when it comes to business settings, so refrain from hugging your business associates or people you just met.

Finally, kissing on the cheek is also a familiar way of greeting. In Iceland, people only kiss on the cheek if they know each other well, so if you are meeting someone for the first time, it is best to stick to a handshake.

What to say when greeting someone in Iceland?

When greeting someone, Icelanders usually say “Góðan daginn”, which means good day, or “Gott kvöld”, which means good evening. If you want to be more formal, you can say “Sæll” for males and “Sæl” for females. It is also polite to introduce yourself after the initial greeting.

If you are meeting someone for the first time, it is customary to use their first name and their patronymic (i.e., their father’s name plus -son if they are male, or -dóttir if they are female). For example, if you are introduced to someone named Jón whose father’s name is Hafsteinn, you would address him as Jón Hafsteinsson.

What to avoid when greeting someone in Iceland?

There are a few things to avoid when greeting someone in Iceland. First, do not use titles such as Mr. or Mrs. The Icelanders are not fond of formalities, and they prefer to use first names. Second, avoid using the phrase “How are you?” as it is considered too personal and invasive. Finally, do not address someone by their first name without permission, as it is seen as disrespectful.


Knowing the greeting etiquette in Iceland is essential to have a positive travel experience. Remember to have a firm handshake, refrain from hugging in business settings, and use the appropriate greeting depending on the situation. Saying “Góðan daginn” or “Gott kvöld” and introducing yourself will go a long way in establishing a good relationship with the locals.

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