How safe are tourists in Iceland? Well, Icelanders are around 360000 people, and despite the population being that of a small town in many countries, we do have our crimes like other nations.

However, Iceland is generally considered one of the safest countries in the world. It has been in first place on the Global Peace Index since 2008.

What do you have to have in mind?

Pickpocketing is not usually a problem in Iceland, even if it can happen. We recommend you don’t leave your belongings in restaurants, cafés and open areas because opportunistic thieves are around.

Violent crimes

In 2021, about 189 thousand cases involved some kind of law-breaking in Iceland. That translates to 518 cases per day or 22 cases per hour.

That sounds like Iceland is rife with crime, but it is worth noting that 62% of those cases were traffic violations. If we remove them from the equation, the police got about 82 cases per day.

We are not without violent crimes either. During the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence increased, a trend in many countries. And between 1999 and 2018, there were 37 murders committed. In only 8 cases, the persons didn’t know each other. In all other cases, the victims were spouses, former spouses, friends, or family.

Statistic: Rate of intentional homicides in Iceland from 2010 to 2019 (per 100,000 inhabitants) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

The murder rate was about 0.3 murders per 100,000 people in 2019, while it was about 0.9 per 100,000 in 2011.

Natural disasters

Storm, Reykjavík, Bad weather
Christian Bickel fingalo, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons

This is something we, of course, have no control over. Due to the island’s position on the planet, we get frequent storms here, and then there are, of course, earthquakes and eruptions.
Volcanic eruptions are pretty regular; there have been six just this century. Storms are also common, and a record amount of storm warnings were issued in February 2022 or 137.

It is usually not this bad, but it can happen. And it is essential to follow what the Icelandic Met Office and the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration say.

Check out our blog post on What to do in Bad Weather in Reykjavik.

Road safety

Remember when driving in Iceland to keep your headlights on, no matter the season, even in the summer. This is a safety issue. You are more likely to notice the headlights before the car itself.

It is also forbidden to drive off-road in Iceland. It’s mostly for protecting our fragile nature, but also your safety. Check out our blog on how to be a responsible tourist in Iceland.

Blind Hills

Icelandic roads are narrow and often old. They are also not necessarily straight and flat, and we have quite a few blind turns on the road and blind hills; this sign means, “Please keep to the far right side of the road. Another car could be coming the other way”.

It’s good etiquette to slow down and keep to the far right of the road since you will not see if someone is coming in the other direction. And no matter how beautiful the scenery is, do not stop atop the blind rise or just below it.

Single-lane bridges

Accidents have happened on and around single-lane bridges in Iceland. In 2022, there were still 32 single-lane bridges on the Ring Road, but the government has plans to reduce their numbers to 22 before 2025.
The rule is that the car closest to the bridge’s opening gets to go over.

Check out our blog on tips for driving in Iceland for more information.

Map of Tourist Deaths

Icelander Kristján Hlynur Ingólfsson has spent the last two years compiling all tourist deaths in Iceland into a map to show where the most dangerous places are.

Of course, tourists die in all countries in the world. Still, for Icelanders, this is all very new. Mass tourism only started about a decade ago, and this map shows in a very concise way where the most danger is. It possibly gives some idea of what can be done better to save people.

The Most Dangerous Areas

He realized quickly that there were three areas more dangerous than others: the area from Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach to the plane wreck on Sólheimasandur Sand, Þingvallavatn Lake, and the road from Vík to Vatnajökull Glacier.

The numbers are probably biased because more tourists travel in South and Southwest Iceland than to other places.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach has hazardous sneaker waves. Due to the composition of the sand and how rapidly the ocean can come onto land, the sneaker waves have unfortunately dragged people out to sea, some never to be seen again.

Another dangerous place is Þingvallavatn Lake. The water is icy and very deep, which makes it difficult to keep afloat if you accidentally land in the water.

The road from Vík to Vatnajökull is possibly not more dangerous than other roads, per se. It is possible people are more tired when driving it, get blinded by the sun, be mesmerized by the surroundings, and more in that vein. But sometimes, people simply do not drive according to road conditions. So, we always remind you to check the Icelandic Met Office and The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration before heading out on your trip. If there are weather warnings, do what the government recommends. There’s a reason for them.

We hope this blog on how safe tourists are in Iceland has helped you. The main thing is to respect nature and get rest. Iceland isn’t leaving, and if you don’t get a chance to visit all the places you have on your list, you can always come back.

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