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Dos and Don'ts in Iceland

Learn about dos and don'ts for traveling in Iceland

|May 20, 2022
Erika loves long walks in nature with great company and long, cozy evenings with good food and a marvel movie playing in the background.

While visiting Iceland is bound to be a fun experience, there are quite a few things you should do or avoid doing to keep yourself safe. Here's a list of things to avoid and things to do while visiting Iceland.


Icelandic tourism is at an all-time high, and the country's popularity is only growing. However, many people do not do enough research before traveling to Iceland and get into trouble there. It can significantly impact their once-in-a-lifetime trip, resulting in a vacation that isn't fulfilling. And it's all because of the lack of knowledge about the country they choose for their vacation.

We are here to help and make your dream vacation perfect by introducing you to a list of things to know when traveling to Iceland to ensure you are well prepared for your vacation.

Here's a list of Must-Dos in Iceland:

Do - think about what to wear in Iceland

Man Sitting at Laugahraun lava field

Man sitting in Laugahraun lava field near Landmannalaugar in Iceland

It is known that the weather in Iceland can change every 5 minutes. One minute the sun can be shining, and the other heavily snowing. It would help immensely if you were always prepared. The three-layer principle is always essential; layers are the only way to stay comfortable when temperatures change. Keep in mind that your coat and pants have to be waterproof. No one would want to climb a glacier in jeans! Leave your sneakers at home when traveling to Iceland, and bring good hiking shoes. An extra raincoat would save you many times too! To escape unpleasant situations, always check the forecast in advance to prepare well with proper clothing. 

You can find more information on what to expect and how to dress for each month in Iceland here.

Do - take the Icelandic weather seriously

Lighthouse during Winter Storm in Iceland

Lighthouse in Iceland during winter time

As you probably already know, it can get pretty cold in Iceland. Iceland is an island, so the weather can change very fast. There's a saying if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes! The Icelandic weather is unique and generates many beautiful waterfalls, bringing challenges like harsh storms, heavy rain, snow, and high wind. Iceland is one of those few countries where it's possible to experience all four seasons in one day!

You have to be careful while driving in bad weather conditions; it's better to stay inside. Follow weather forecasts, alter your plans accordingly, and stay safe.

Are you visiting Iceland for the first time and have no idea what to expect? Here's all about Icelandic weather.

Do - be prepared for a change of plans

Hallgrimskirkja Church from a Distance in Reykjavik

Hallgrimskirkja church and skyline of Reykjavik, Iceland

Be aware that sometimes you have to change your plans in Iceland. You never know when a storm could hit the country, no matter what time of the year it is. You wouldn't want to be somewhere exploring Iceland outside when the storm hits. It's unsafe. Always be well prepared and have a backup plan if a bad weather condition forces you to change your plans.

Here are some excellent tips on what to do in Iceland in bad weather!

Do - try the local Icelandic cuisine

Fermented Shark Tasting Dish in Iceland

Shark tasting dish in Iceland

If you try searching for traditional Icelandic food on the internet, you will find frightening-sounding dishes such as fermented shark, called Hakarl, boiled sheep's head, and dried fish. These are the top three of Icelandic culture etiquette and are for brave people to try!

Even if you never become a fan, the Icelandic Hákarl is something you should try if you visit Iceland. It is the most famous dish associated with the country, but it is also a fun activity to do with friends, family, or strangers you meet along the way! But don't get scared of the old Viking food. Modern Icelandic cuisine is known for its fresh ingredients and unique fresh fish and lamb dishes. One of the most remarkable things about traveling to Iceland is trying the local cuisine. Even the most ardent food enthusiasts will not be disappointed with Iceland's cuisine.

Here are the top ten Icelandic foods to try if you want to take your taste buds on an adventure.

Do - go on a guided tour

Woman Hiking on Glacier with Dog in Iceland

Arctic Adventures guide on Sólheimajökull glacier, Iceland

Is there a better way to learn about Iceland than with a local expert?

Guides are very knowledgeable, experienced, and passionate about their daily job. Those are the people to ensure your safety in certain activities where it is forbidden to go without a qualified person. Some activities require a deep understanding that an unqualified person has no idea about.

With a guide, you are sure to travel far off the beaten track and participate in activities that you wouldn't be able to do on your own (such as ice caving or a glacier hiking). So, please, do be a responsible traveler and travel safely with a local expert.

To see all the benefits, check out these guided tours in Iceland.

Do - be prepared for higher prices and plan your budget

Icelandic Krona Banknotes

Icelandic Krona

It's no secret that Iceland is one of the most expensive countries to visit. Remember this when planning your trip to Iceland, so later you won't be surprised by the high prices when you arrive.

Don't make this fact change your mind about visiting the country. There are many ways to plan your vacation in Iceland on a low budget. The main attraction in Iceland is its nature, and almost all of it is free of charge. The accommodations are diverse, which means you will be able to find something that will fit into your budget.

You can find more information about prices in Iceland here.

What Not to Do in Iceland:

Don't - stop to take pictures in the middle of the road

Man Standing on Road with Yellow Jacket

Man in the middle of the road in Iceland

We understand Iceland and its landscape are extremely beautiful, and many picturesque views make you want to pull over and take out your camera, but please, don't do it. This is what you should avoid doing in Iceland.

Stopping in the middle of the road takes the same amount of time for another car to appear and turn things around into an unsafe situation. Locate yourself in a safe area, park your car, enjoy the views, and take as many pictures as you like.

Here are more tips for driving in Iceland.

Don't - overschedule your day in Iceland

This is one of many things to avoid in Iceland. It's easy to overschedule your trip to Iceland in a desire to see everything. This is not the right way to enjoy Iceland. You wouldn't want to be rushing yourself from one location to another. Take the time and explore the area, walk around, and see what other Icelandic treasures you might discover.

Don't - purchase bottled water

Woman Hiking at Laugavegur Trail

Woman drinking water on a hike in Iceland

Iceland's tap water is among the purest water available anywhere globally! Don't be tricked into buying fancy packaged bottles. Fill your bottle and save some money. Traveling through Iceland, think about the environment and avoid unnecessary plastic bottles.

Don't - ignore warning signs

Warning Sign at Fjadrargljufur Canyon in Iceland

Warning sign at Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon in Iceland

While traveling in Iceland, it is very important to follow the signs. Watch the signs because, in short, you might put yourself into a dangerous situation, or you might die. The signs and warnings are there not just to be there but to inform people about danger and consequences.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is one of the world's most famous black sand beaches and is the most dangerous beach in Iceland because of the "sneaker waves." The waves at this beach are mighty, and as they pull back away from the beach, they are capable of dragging people with them. Never turn your back on a tide, and keep a safe distance.

Three people have drowned at the beach in the last ten years after being knocked down by powerful sneaker waves that swept them out to sea. Don't be "that" person; follow the signs, and be careful.

Don't - say Icelandic horses look like ponies

Man Petting an Icelandic Horse in Iceland

Man petting Icelandic horse, Iceland

It is a grave insult to Icelanders to call their unique horses ponies. So, be cautious! Icelandic horses are more miniature than those you are used to seeing, but they're not ponies. Iceland doesn't have many native animals; you could count them on the fingers of one hand. But they for sure have some charming animals that call Iceland home.

You can learn about Icelandic wildlife here.

Don't - forget to be a responsible traveler

Traveler Sitting on Car and Drinking Water in Iceland

Traveler drinking water in Iceland

Everyone who comes to Iceland impacts nature and society. Leave places in a better condition than you find them. Don't litter. Respect nature. Follow the rules, and be responsible and sustainable. Suppose there's a question about how to travel in Iceland. The answer is simple. The best type of traveling combines responsible traveling and sustainable traveling. 

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