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What to avoid doing in Iceland?

Iceland is a beautiful country that will leave you speechless once you arrive here. But remember that even if you are not in your country, you still have rules to follow and respect.

Before travelling to a new country, check the general and particular rules. There will not be the same rules as in your nation; hence, you must check them before coming to Iceland.

From the beginning, you should know that Icelanders protect their nature and expect the tourists to do the same.

In this blog, you will find some general mistakes that tourists have made throughout the years in Iceland. 

Iceland written on a wooden sign.

The most common mistakes people make in Iceland are: 

Not respecting the safety signs 

This is one of the most important things you must know in Iceland. As beautiful as nature is here, as dangerous it is.
Some chains on the cliffs mark the limit you should not cross.

The edge of the cliffs can be slippery because of the moss that covers them, and in many parts of Iceland, puffins are digging holes into the cliffs to lay eggs in them. So please respect the signs and do not risk your life.

You will also see safety signs on the famous Black Sand Beach, one of Iceland’s most dangerous beaches. Many people lost their lives there because they got too close to the deadly waves. The ocean currents are so strong there that you will have no chance to escape if you go too close to the shore. 

Also, if the ocean is wavy, do not go into the cave on the Black Sand Beach. 

In the Western part of Iceland, you will find many hot springs and rivers with hot water. Being a volcanic island, there are many places like that; everyone can use some of them, but some are dangerous as the water temperature goes up to 90℃. When you see such signs, please do not put yourself in danger. 

Photo source: Getlocal.is

Not respecting the weather alerts and road closures

Iceland’s weather is something you must keep in mind since you are starting to plan your trip. There is no joke when it comes to the weather here.

It would be best if you prepared for our unique, temperamental, and unpredictable weather. The last thing you need is to be caught in a bad storm during your holidays. 

Read more about the Weather in Iceland and How to be safe while travelling in Iceland.

Truck stuck in extreme winter snow storm.
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Weather in Iceland

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How to be safe while travelling in Iceland?

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Not dressing according to the weather

As I already mentioned, the weather in Iceland should be taken seriously. And dressing according to the weather is very important. Depending on the season you come, you need warm layers or waterproof clothing.

Check out blogs about What to wear in Iceland during winter? and What to wear during summer in Iceland? 

What to wear in Iceland during winter?

What to wear in Iceland during winter?

Guide for paking for your winter trip

What to wear during summer in Iceland?

What to wear during summer in Iceland?

Tips for what to pack with you in Iceland

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Not respecting the private propriety

Many natural landmarks can be found on private proprieties, and most of them are open to the public in exchange for a small (parking) fee that the owners take to maintain the place. 

You have to respect the signs when they say private etiquette, and if you want to check the place, you have to ask for permission from the owner. 

Not cleaning up after camping or stopping for lunch in designated places

Not only do you have to do this in Iceland, but here, more than everywhere, you have to be careful and clean up after yourself. Do not let litter on nature; keep it with you until you find a recycling bin. 

Not stopping and camping in designated places

This particular thing is the subject of a fine in Iceland. You are not allowed to stop on the side of the road if no signs allow that.

Also, if you go camping in Iceland, you should know that there are designated camping sites where you should stop and camp. If you are not following those rules, you are the subject of a fine. And believe me, fines are expensive in Iceland.

Read more about Camping in Iceland.

Do not kill yourself for a photo

Yes, Iceland is stunning, and we want to have memories and show everyone how beautiful it is here but do not kill yourself for a photo.

There were several accidents when people died because they got too close to the ocean waves, too close to the edges of the cliffs, and many other sad stories like these. Follow the recommendations of the signs or from your guide.

Do not step on the moss

As you might know, there are not so many trees in Iceland already, and because of the volcanic relief, there is no grass growing, only moss. The moss takes 1 cm per year to grow in length, so it is forbidden to step on it—respect Icelandic nature.

Lava field glowing during sunset.

Not staying on the marked trails

The hiking trails are marked with a reason, and you must follow them. The terrain and relief in Iceland are rough and dangerous. Please follow the rules and recommendations for your safety.

Driving off-road

Iceland is more breathtaking in its wildest parts, but if you want to explore those parts, you must do it on an organized tour. Driving off-road is also forbidden in Iceland because the relief and terrain are rugged for people who are not professional drivers and don’t have proper vehicles.

If you want to drive off-road, you must use only F-roads and do this only during summer.

Not using a 4×4 vehicle for going to the Icelandic Highlands

To explore Iceland in depth to the Highlands, you must use a 4×4 car. All the roads that get you to the Icelandic Highlands are off-roads and are marked on the maps with F.

The terrain is rough, and there are lots of rivers to cross, which can be possible only with a 4×4 vehicle.

Not taking Icelandic nature seriously

Last year, during the volcanic eruption at Fagradalsfjall, people ignored the signs and the danger they were putting themselves in when stepping on the solidified lava crust. 

Also, as I already mentioned, do not underestimate the power of the ocean waves, especially on Black Sand Beach.

One other thing you must remember is that you shouldn’t go hiking alone if you are not used to doing this, and do not explore ice caves without a guide; it is forbidden. 

Photo by Colin Walsh

Trying to swim into the Glacier Lagoon or stepping on the icebergs

As incredible as it might seem to be to swim into the glacier lagoon or to step on an iceberg, it is not. The only cool thing is the water that will freeze your body or the ocean currents that will drag you into the ocean. And I am pretty sure you do not want that.

Feeding the horses and animals at the farms

You are not allowed to feed the horses or other animals from the farms except if you have the owner’s permission. Icelandic horses are the purest horse breed in the world, and people care for them to preserve their breed.   

Those are significant things you should not do when visiting Iceland. Those are for your safety. 

Icelandic horse roaming in nature.

Some things are recommended not to do when travelling in Iceland:

Forgetting your swimsuit home. 

Although you can buy or rent one, you may want your swimsuit. There are many outdoor public pools, hot springs, and geothermal baths where you can relax. It is a Viking tradition you can not miss.

Woman swimming in a natural pool.

Buying bottled water

Icelandic water is one of the purest on Earth, and it is safe to drink even directly from the river. So take a reusable bottle and do not buy water from the supermarket.

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