11 Mistakes That Tourists Make in Iceland | ViaHero

11 Mistakes That Tourists Make in Iceland

ViaHero · May 17, 2018

It's no secret that Iceland is an absolutely incredible travel destination. That being said, there are definitely some things to do—and not to do—if you want to experience Iceland like a local. Read on for a helpful list of things to avoid doing in Iceland; when you're done, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to message us!

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11. Stopping in the middle of the road to take pictures 

Everyone understands that Iceland is very beautiful, and you’re going to want to take a many pictures.  However, stopping in the middle of the road to take a picture is never okay. At the very least, it is annoying, and at the worst, it can be very dangerous - most roads are not wide enough for cars to pass, and you risk getting hit by standing in the road.

10. Trying to tip at bars and restaurants

Gratuity, tax, and cost are all included in the prices in Iceland, and it is not necessary to tip. If something is priced at $9, it really is $9. Use your discretion if you had a really excellent experience with a tour guide.  

9. Trying to buy alcohol just anywhere

Liquor is strictly controlled by the government in Iceland, so don’t expect to be able to walk into any shop and pick up some booze.  Many suggest getting your alcohol duty free at the airport before entering the country.

 8. Trying to use an umbrella

Even though rain is common in Iceland, no one uses an umbrella - it would be destroyed by the wind. Instead, wear thermal layers and a nice rain jacket. The rain is usually just a light drizzle, and doesn’t require special gear.

7. Trying to avoid showering naked before getting in a hot spring

It is understandable to be self-conscious about getting naked in a public shower, but in Iceland it is absolutely mandatory in most public baths and spas for guests to completely strip down and scrub before entering the pool. As a visitor to the country, it is important to be respectful of these customs, and while it may feel unnatural, the locals are not paying attention to you.

6. Taking out a lot of cash

Iceland is a country that mostly uses credit and debit cards.  While it is always important to keep some cash on you for safety reasons, it is not necessary to take out a week’s worth of cash.  If you have too much, you may find it difficult to convert back at the end of your trip.

5. Camping outside of campsites

There are over 150 registered camping grounds in Iceland, so it is completely unnecessary to camp outside of one. By camping outside of official areas, you run the risk of fines, or harming the beautiful nature of the country.  

4. Not using common sense

Follow signs, don’t lean over cliffs, and don’t drive off the roads! In Iceland, they give visitors the benefit of the doubt in terms of common sense and expect you won’t do anything stupid.  While there are signs across the country, there aren’t a ton of fences - use your brain!

3. Having a bad attitude

Iceland is a beautiful country with friendly, kind people.  It is important to treat anyone you meet in the country with respect and trust the fact they are doing their best to assist you.  Stay positive and enjoy your trip - there is no need to bring negative energy to Iceland!

 2. Wearing hiking clothes in bars and restaurants

Icelanders appreciate the natural beauty of their country and definitely advise everyone to dress appropriately when out in the elements. However, this does not extend to restaurants and bars. As a country, Iceland is very fashion forward.  When exploring urban areas like Reykjavik, it is important to wear proper street clothes.  

1. Leaving anything behind in nature

As a general rule, it is always important to leave a place better than you found it.  The recent influx of tourists in Iceland have not been heeding this advice, and are leaving behind trash, graffiti, tracks, and even human waste at national landmarks and camping sites.  Pick up after yourself, do not graffiti, and if you have to relieve yourself in nature, be sure to completely clean up after yourself - no waste or toilet paper left behind.  

Have more questions about Iceland? Here is a list of local Iceland Travel Experts who can help you or you can message us any questions you have. And before your trip, make sure to check out:

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