Icelanders are proud of their unspoiled nature and want to keep it like that for as long as possible – preferably forever!

So before coming to Iceland, we ask you to take the Icelandic Pledge. Be a responsible tourist.

When I explore new places, I will leave them as I found them

Olga Ernst, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Much of our nature is fragile. The moss you see on the lava fields has been growing for centuries and, in some cases, only grows 1mm-1cm (0.4”) a year. Its root system is not deep, and it is easily killed.

A few years ago, tourists camping in Þingvellir National Park ripped up moss to insulate their tents. Please don’t do that. Also, it goes without saying to take all your trash with you. We want you and others to be able to enjoy our nature in good condition!

In the Icelandic Highlands

You will also find semi-deserts in Iceland, where vegetation is fighting for its existence. It is a great testament to nature’s tenacity. In an effort to help it, we tread carefully and try to disturb nature as little as possible.

I will take photos to die for, without dying for them

Iceland is, in many ways, more dangerous than many countries. We have an abundance of beautiful bird cliffs and waterfalls. Our beaches are also gorgeous but can be treacherous.

Two of the consistently dangerous places in Iceland are Látrabjarg, Europe’s largest bird cliff, and Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Its sneaker waves are hazardous and have sadly claimed many lives.

If you are mindful of your surroundings, you will be able to get that killer shot safely!

I will follow the road into the unknown but never venture off the road

It is illegal to drive off-road in Iceland. It is connected to the first point. Iceland’s nature is very fragile. Even seemingly black deserts, the tracks made by cars will stay there for decades. Some flowers are fighting to get a foothold in the desert, and driving and even walking might cause irreplaceable damage.
Go on guided wilderness tours if you want to explore something more closely. The guides know where you can go safely, and they will take you to some spectacular places!

And I will only park where I am supposed to

Stopping at the side of the Ring Road is dangerous and not allowed. You can use rest areas to stop, but quite a few accidents have happened when people stop on the side of the Ring Road. Just know that the rest areas aren’t always paved and sometimes not marked as such. Some look like they might be a part of a private road, but if they are, it is obvious because there is a road.

The road is full of bends and blind rise crescents, which aren’t always marked. Our country is beautiful, but we want everyone to be safe.

When I sleep out under the stars, I will stay at a campsite

By Icelandic law, you are not allowed to camp wherever you want. In most cases, you will have to camp at campsites. This also goes for camper vans and if you are sleeping in your car. You are not allowed to camp out in parking lots, for example. If you are on private land, you must ask for permission from the landowner.

Even if you are hiking in the highlands of Iceland, you might have to camp at designated areas. You should also know that it is only allowed to wild camp in a tent. For camping grounds in the highlands check out this site.

For further information on where you are allowed to camp and where not, check out the Environmental Agency of Iceland guidelines.

And when nature calls, I will not answer the call on nature

This one is a bit of a doozy. For Icelanders, there is no lack of toilets – because we know where and when we can use them. For the general traveler, toilets are few and far between. So, if you feel like you might need to answer the call of nature and you’re close to a gas station or museum, use that chance.

If you are in the highlands, well, that’s more difficult. The general rule is don’t leave anything behind. So, you will have to take with you all your trash. Even organic.

Each country has its own set of rules on how to behave. Icelanders have a pretty laid-back attitude, except when people don’t treat the country with the respect it deserves. So, please pledge to be a responsible tourist and ask your friends too!

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