What are the dos and don’ts of visiting Iceland?

Visiting Iceland is a wondrous experience. We are on many people’s bucket lists, whether for our spectacular nature or for our friendly, fun-loving people. But to truly enjoy your trip to Iceland, you should make sure to understand what you can and can’t do. These are not all hard and fast rules. There are some recommendations, and others are how to manage expectations. 

Your Friend in Reykjavik wants to make sure that you make the most of your trip to Iceland! So, in no particular order, here’s our list of dos and don’ts.

Do be careful driving

Many visitors rent cars so that they can explore our fantastic island at their own pace. That is great, but we do want you to get back safely, so please watch the roads. And do not go off-road. Even if you think your vehicle can handle it. We don’t want you to ruin your rental or for you to accidentally damage the countryside. Drive carefully and enjoy the view! And if you discover a great photo-op, please pull over first before stopping for your Insta moment. You don’t want to start a traffic jam or cause a fender bender.

Don’t forget to check sunrise and sunset

Visiting Iceland
Watch the road, and the road signs, if you’re going to drive in Iceland.

We are in a unique position in the world. Literally. That means that sometimes we get four hours of daylight, sometimes we get almost 24 hours of daylight. It all depends on the time of year you visit. This may impact your plans when you get here. You may not want to go on an eight-hour hike if you spend most of it in the dark. Then again, you may want to stay out to enjoy the Northern Lights.

Do watch your budget

While it would be nice to have a magic wallet that refills with money when you’re visiting Iceland, we know that travel often means keeping to a budget. Unfortunately, some things can be pricey in Iceland, especially food and drink. You probably don’t want to drink tap water your whole visit (although you can if you want!), you can check for deals at local restaurants. Or you may want to try your hand at the local markets.

Don’t buy bottled water when visiting Iceland

A little addendum to the previous section. Our tap water is perfectly fine to drink, and you can refill your bottle at many places. So you can save your money, and the environment, by avoiding necessary bottle water purchases!

Don’t let the weather surprise you

Yes, it does get cold here. And yes, it is colder in the winter and less cold in the summer. However, we are on an island, so sometimes weather conditions can change. Especially when it comes to wind and rain. So, check the weather forecast and dress appropriately.

Do dress appropriately

Like we said, the weather can be, well, mercurial, so you want to be prepared. Layers are always a good idea. And if you are heading out on a hike, you’ll want to make sure to have an extra layer or two of weatherproof gear in case it does rain or snow. You don’t want to try climbing a glacier in just jeans and sneakers and bare hands. A little common sense will go a long way for a much better time.

Don’t litter when visiting Iceland

This probably goes without saying, but we just want to reiterate this. We are very proud of our beautiful country, and we want to keep our pristine nature, well, pristine. It only takes a minute to find a nearby trash receptacle, or, if you’re out on a hike, take your trash with you. (If you have a look around, you may see people picking up after less considerate visitors.)

Do follow the rules at the pools

A must-try experience for visitors is a dip in one of our many geothermal pools or natural hot springs. We do it all year round! But there are rules we expect everyone to follow. If you’re not sure, please ask someone. We want to make sure to keep our natural pools as hygienic as possible, so you should understand if we want you to shower with soap before changing into your swimsuit. We all do it!

Visiting Iceland
The water is perfect! Just make sure to shower first!!

Do have an ice cream (or two!) or try some local specialities

It may be cold outside, but here in Iceland, it is always time for ice cream. We even have our own special creation, Bragðarefur, that you won’t want to miss. It is full of toppings and sauces and sweetness. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, then try an Icelandic hot dog. Or, if you’re adventurous, there’s fermented shark and other local delicacies you might want to try.

Do stay up late!

Many of us are night owls, especially when enjoying a night out clubbing or dancing. Even nature lovers will want to stay up for either the Northern Lights or the Midnight Sun, depending on the time of year. You can catch up on your sleep the next day. Or when you get home!

Do take a tour with Your Friend in Reykjavik!

What better way to get acclimated and accustomed to Iceland than being shown around by a local expert? Your Friend in Reykjavik offers a wide range of walking tours that are perfect to show you the most popular spots and highlights as well as some hidden gems and secrets all over our favorite city! Walk with a Viking and make new friends or arrange for a Private Foodie Tour and eat your way around Reykjavik. Contact us today to find the tour that suits you best!

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