Iceland is becoming an increasingly popular travel destination and for good reason. It has amazing waterfalls, glaciers but also volcanoes and it is the perfect place for unforgettable road trips. With all those amazing places to see, it is easy not to get informed about the dos and don’ts. Below is a list of 10 mistakes to avoid when traveling to Iceland.
1. Not checking the prices out before booking your tickets!
Considering the fact that I live in Europe, I was pretty sure that the prices in Iceland were going to be similar to other countries I have visited. Well, not really.
A few weeks before departing, when I’ve checked the internet for food prices I almost had a mini heart-attack. You would not expect to pay 30 euros for a one person meal, right?
Now, that I think about it, it’s not that expensive considering that Icelandic people have to import almost all the food because of the weather conditions. If you are on a budget, you can ask the owner of your hostel or somebody at the hotel you are staying at, where you can find cheap supermarkets. I ended up spending a total of 50 euros for food for a 4 day trip. That is pretty cheap, right?
2. Not changing all the money you need in the airport!
Usually, when traveling, I change money in the city, not in the airport because the exchange rates tend to be better. Well, Iceland is different. The only place where you can change money in the city is the Tourist Information center which closes pretty early. Therefore, when in Iceland, change all the money you need at the airport or consider using ATMs.
3. Unintentionally harming the nature
Iceland’s nature is just amazing and it would be a shame to ruin it. Always follow the signs, do not drive off the roads, do not leave any garbage behind you and do not camp outside camping spots. With the high influx of tourists coming to Iceland, the negative effects on nature are already visible. Do not contribute to this!
4. Spend all your vacation in Reikjavik
Yes, Reykjavik is a beautiful city and it has a lot to offer: beautiful architecture, awesome food, friendly people, great sights but staying only in Reykjavik is like buying a pizza and eating only the mushrooms!
You will get the real taste of Iceland only by visiting all its natural wonders like waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes and beaches. Iceland is well know for its unique landscape and not seeing any of it would be a shame. Click here to see the top 5 must visit places in Iceland.
5. Not renting a car!
Maybe not all of you will agree, but visiting Iceland with guided tours is a mistake and I’ll tell you why (this applies only if you are 2 persons or more. When traveling solo, it’s cheaper and more convenient to take a tour)
- Reason no 1: The price. For example, a Golden Circle tour can get you to 150 euros per person. If you will rent a car, the price will be about 120 euros in total (renting plus gas). If you are a group of 2 persons or more, well, you do the math…
- Reason no 2: You can make your own schedule. Maybe you don’t want to see a certain attraction or monument or maybe you would like to spend a bit more time in a certain place. You can do all that when renting a car.
- Reason no 3: Weather conditions. When renting a car, you can change your itinerary according to weather conditions (don’t trust weather forecasts. In Iceland you never know).
6. Avoid visiting Iceland during winter
Many people don’t visit Iceland during winter because either the day is too short or the temperatures are too low.
I have visited Iceland in December and the day was long enough to explore the tourist attractions outside Reikjavik. If you wake up early and drive to your point of interest during night, you will get there just in time to enjoy it. Keep in mind that we drove from Reikjavik to Jokulsarlon and back in only one day.
In what concerns the temperatures, believe me: I’ve seen worse in Europe. In December the temperatures were between 0 and 5 degrees Celsius, which I find quite acceptable.
Regardless of day length and temperatures, I think that the best argument for visiting Iceland during winter are the Northern Lights! Click here to read my Northern Lights guide.
7. Buy bottled water
Buying bottled water in Iceland is a big no-no because tap and bottled water are basically the same. Iceland has one of the purest water in the world. Don’t waste your money on buying water when you can enjoy the same quality from the tap.
8. Get too close to the waves at Vik Beach
In the past few years tragedies have happened due to sneacker waves at Vik Beach and still, people don’t seem to understand that getting to close to the waves is very dangerous. Even though at a first glance it might not seem dangerous, you can get swept into the sea. Watch the video below to see what I am talking about.
9. Avoid taking a shower before entering a swimming pool
Swimming pool etiquette in Iceland requires that everyone should take a shower before entering the pool area. This might not seem like a lot to ask but what nobody mentions is that there are few places with private showers. This means that you will have to shower together with a bunch of strangers. I know it seems a bit weird and uncomfortable but trust me, everyone is used to this and nobody will stare at you.
10. Argue the existence of elves
It is said that as much as 50% of the Icelandic population still believes in the existence of elves. What is even more interesting is that roads have been diverted around places where elves are believed to live. I think it is pretty clear that Icelandic people take elves very seriously. This is why you should never ever say to an Icelandic person that elves do not exist. If you want to read more about elves in Iceland, click here.
Iceland is a wonderful country and is definitely worth visiting. Just make sure to do your research and avoid the 10 mistakes mentioned above and you will have an amazing trip. The land of fire and ice will leave you speechless and with a strong desire to come back!
May the travel bug bite you!