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!

26 thoughts on “10 mistakes to avoid when traveling to Iceland!”

  1. I work in a clothing store in Scotland, and we regularly have Icelandic customers come over in massve groups and spend hundreds upon hundreds of pounds on clothes. The return flgiht, the stay in Glasgow and the hundreds on pounds they spend on their yearly wardrobe is cheaper than just shopping in Iceland! haa. I woud: LOVE to go to Iceland but yeah I would need to save ALOT! Good advice about changing money at the airport as in most places that is a big no no! Coolpost!

    1. Yes, the prices in Iceland are through the roof! However, it is so worth it since it has such beautiful landscapes!

        1. I run out of money at about 7.30 pm and I haven’t tried banks because it was too late. However, didn’t see too many banks in the city center.

  2. thanks for sharing these tips! I am going to Iceland this summer so I’m looking for all the tips I can get – I hadn’t heard about exchanging money already… so I’m gonna look in to that!

    1. I have some other articles about Iceland if you want to check them out 🙂 I loved Iceland so much! Enjoy your trip!

  3. I went to Iceland at the end of October and the weather was similar, just above freezing. It’s not as cold as people think because of the Gulf Stream. Good to know it’s worthwhile going in December too – I hadn’t thought about planning to arrive at sights at sunrise, good idea.

    Iceland is so beautiful, and it would be a crime not to explore it – I would have missed out on so much staying in Reykjavik! But it’s definitely not a place for fancy meals and lots of alcohol.. 🙂

  4. These are great things to avoid! I’ve never been to Iceland but I knew a lot of this already as it’s somewhere I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. Eventually, I’ll make it there! My only concern with driving would be going in treacherous conditions and something happening haha.

  5. Oh wow- though I think I’ll pass on winter (sorry, Northern Lights!) I hadn’t thought twice about renting a car in Iceland until I read this. I just assumed public transport was like in Europe- efficient & affordable, but there’s a few of us- so tthough I’m no math whiz- you are right! Thanks for these insights!

    1. There is no public transport outside Reykjavik but only paid tours which are very expensive. You are welcome 🙂

      1. There is public transport but not necessarily suitable for a short visit. Good for anyone wishing to travel a distance to start their activity. Bus information available from info centres or Central Bus Station, which isn’t that central! It’s near the National Hospital (Landspitalin) out towards the airport where the airport buses come in.

  6. Iceland is on the bucket list to visit. I usually don’t like cold weather, but may consider visiting Iceland during winter! Looks like it will be fun for a road trip around Iceland. Thank you for sharing the tips.

    1. The gas prices are the same as the ones in Europe. I found them affordable. 🙂 Have fun and enjoy your trip!

  7. I had no idea about them money! My friend is going to Iceland in May so I’m going to send her this so she’s well aware and doesn’t run out of money!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *