20 mistakes tourists make when traveling in Iceland

5 typical mistakes when planning a tour to Iceland

The weather in Iceland is decisive. It will also determine how awesome your trip will be. The best time to travel to Iceland: mid June to August.

Until mid-June the mountain roads are still closed due to snow and full mountain rivers. And I’ve seen the most stunning scenery in Iceland just by turning inland from the coast.

You can also visit Iceland in the first half of September. The weather will already be cooler, but the number of tourists decreases as well. The worst time is the second half of September – early December. Icelanders themselves did not recommend to go at this time. Constant rain and wet snow, combined with a piercing wind can seriously spoil the mood of tourists who are not used to the Spartan conditions.

2. Not prepared to meet the harsh Icelandic climate

Even in the summer months the weather in Iceland is not “resort-like” to say the least: rain and strong winds can often be your fellow travelers. But I agree with the British, who say that there is no such thing as bad weather, but bad clothes.

How well you choose your clothes and shoes will have a direct impact on how much fun you’ll have on your trip and how many spectacular places you’ll be able to see.

Equipment for Iceland is a separate topic. In short, you’ll need hiking or trekking boots, a storm jacket and pants (preferably membrane ones). A thin hat wouldn’t hurt either.

By the way, the clients of Nordic Travel get a great advice discount of 7% on all equipment in a specialized store Nomad .

3. did not plan the itinerary or plan it incorrectly.

On the map Iceland seems like a small island, but you have no idea how many places there are that take your breath away. You can find tours that take you around all of Iceland in a week. But that means you’ll just drive around the island on a circuitous road without going to the most beautiful places inland or on the islands.

In the summer of 2016, I traveled through Iceland for 36 days. Still, I didn’t get to visit many stunning places, mostly in western Iceland. And if your time and financial resources don’t allow you a month to travel to Iceland and you don’t know when you’ll be there next, going without a planned itinerary is a luxury you can’t afford. You will be in any case amazed by the beauty of this country, but there is a high probability that you won’t see many bright spots. Instead you will flock to places that are full of tourists, like the infamous Golden Ring.

Some of the most famous places like Glacier Lagoon and the Seljalandsfoss and Skugafoss waterfalls are still must-sees. Others are worth sacrificing for more remote and authentic places.

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My formula for a perfect itinerary: a balance of time, kilometers and points of interest. The route should not be too crowded, so that the journey does not turn into a race for survival. It is also worth setting aside time for hiking the mountain trails, as many stunning places lie off paved roads and parking lots.

You can use our author’s routes for 7, 10 and 15 days, designed on the basis of my extensive travels in Iceland. http://iceland.nordictravel.ua/

Go to the price section, select the number of days and click on the button: “Tour Map”. Overnight locations are not indicated on the map, as they may vary depending on the availability of hotels and hostels.

4. Not booked hotels.

Don’t think I’m against spontaneous travel. It’s just that Iceland in the summer is not the most suitable country for a comfortable spontaneous trip. Recently, the annual increase in the number of tourists is over 20%. And almost all tourists go in the summer. 330 thousand people in the country simply do not have time to develop the tourist infrastructure at the appropriate pace. Therefore, almost all the hotels and hostels will be busy. Not to mention the fact that the prices of airline tickets will grow at times.

You can only travel without reservations:

  • Live only in Reykjavik and leave every day for places not so far away,
  • live in your own tent in a campsite,
  • live in an auto camper.

If you want to rest more comfortably and to see not only Reykjavik and nearby places, I recommend to plan a trip half a year in advance. Or at least three months in advance. Airline tickets also recommend buying six months in advance.

5. Not booked excursions.

In principle, a trip to Iceland can be full of vivid impressions without booking any excursions. But still, if you have never climbed a glacier, or descended into the mouth of a volcano or seen a whale from a meter away, and if the budget allows you, it is worth booking some excursions ahead of time. Most excursions will be difficult to fit a day into the day.

Excursions that need to be booked in advance, oddly enough, also include the Blue Lagoon . This world famous open-air geothermal pool is so popular that you need to book yourself in advance and for a certain time.

The choice of tours in Iceland is very diverse: there are tours by horse, jeep, ship and boat, helicopter and airplane. It will all depend on your budget and interests.

Have a great trip and favorable weather!

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Nordic Travel director.

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25 tourist mistakes in Iceland. Sightseeing overview: photo, description

Locals have noticed that many visitors to Iceland make the same mistakes.

If you spend some time on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that Iceland has become a very popular tourist destination – and for good reason.

The Scandinavian island country boasts some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world: glaciers, waterfalls, black sand beaches, geysers and more. Tourists can easily explore the trendy city of Reykjavik, visit the popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, and tour the Golden Circle.

While locals have always welcomed tourists, they have also seen them make many mistakes during their stay. We asked people who live in Iceland to tell us about some of them.

From wearing the wrong clothes to getting into dangerous traffic situations, here are 25 mistakes tourists often make when visiting Iceland and some tips on how to avoid these mistakes during your travels.

1. Buying bottled water

There are few things that annoy me as a local more than watching groups of tourists walk out of the supermarket with a bunch of bottled water. Not only is all that plastic bad for the environment, but it’s completely unnecessary because we are endowed with some of the best drinking water in the world straight from our taps. Besides, you don’t have to pay for it! – Auður Ösp, blogger and guide at I Heart Reykjavík

2. Don’t forget to dress up.

– Don’t be fooled by the weather forecast in Iceland. It can easily change in a minute and you can easily experience all the seasons within 24 hours. So don’t forget to bring warm clothes and a raincoat/winter coat even if you are visiting Iceland during the summer months. – Inga Kristiansdottir, Icelandic blogger

“So many tourists don’t bring normal clothes in summer and winter. You need winter clothes to keep you warm and waterproof raincoats to keep you dry.” – Leszek Nowakowski, owner of the Icelandic Photo Salon.

3. don’t try to see everything in one day

“Because Iceland is small, when you look at it on a map of the world, people tend to think they can see it all in a couple of days. But the distances in Iceland are deceiving, and combined with the many things you can see and do, the narrow roads and unpredictable weather conditions, you set yourself up for disappointment by trying to do too much in one go.” – OWN

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4- Tourists have no respect for the weather

– Iceland is still a wild country. One of the biggest mistakes is not respecting the weather. There are great resources where you can check the weather. Pay attention to weather warnings and check the areas where you will be traveling. Winter is especially difficult and unpredictable. – Nowakowski.

Many common mistakes are related to driving in Iceland.

“I think visitors often don’t fully realize how harsh the weather in Iceland can be in the winter. The two things that surprise them the most are how strong the winds can be and how quickly the weather changes. You can see sunshine and blue skies and experience hurricane snowstorms, all on the same day. The good news is that we have very capable meteorologists and civil protection agencies who usually warn us about this weather, and if you just follow their advice, you shouldn’t have any problems.” – EOW

5. Buying expensive alcohol

“The best advice is to buy alcohol after you arrive at a duty-free store. Don’t try to buy alcohol in supermarkets. Around Iceland there are special liquor stores called Vínbúðin. Drinking is expensive in Iceland, but you can get around during happy hour and use a coupon, for example.”-Christiansdottir

6. Skipping a shower before bathing

“You should shower completely, with soap, before going to pools, hot pots, geothermal baths-anywhere you find yourself in a place where people are swimming. If you’re taking a totally natural bath in a remote area, try to shower and cleanse yourself as much as possible. And no, no one cared that you were naked. Nudity is irrelevant here.” – Steph Zakas, photographer at Zakas Photography

7. Don’t try real local food

– For some reason travelers visiting Iceland think we only eat boiled lamb heads and rotten shark. Although these things were part of our diet years ago, when we didn’t have access to everything available to us today, I don’t know of any Icelanders who eat these things regularly. We have some of the biggest fishing spots in the world all over Iceland, and our restaurants, run by experienced chefs, are full of the freshest fish you can imagine. Another local ingredient you must try is lamb. Our sheep roam the mountains all summer, feeding on wild grasses and herbs. – POA.

8. Tipping in Restaurants

– Tipping waiters is not very common in Iceland, so you don’t have to figure out what to tip the waiter. It’s something locals never do, so the waiter doesn’t expect it. – Kristiansdottir.

9. Renting a car without experience

“Don’t rent a car in the winter without winter driving experience. Getting a 4×4 car won’t help if you don’t know how to drive on ice, snow, with limited visibility and high winds … Too slow and unpredictable driving is also a risk! You would be better off taking a bus or private tour.” – Nowakowski

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10. Failure to check road closures

– Check for yourself on road.is road conditions and road closures. Especially in the winter. Don’t ignore the messages! They could save your life. – Novakowski.

11 Don’t disturb animals.

– Don’t pet horses and cattle. People trespass on farmers’ land by jumping or opening fences (letting horses out). – Souring.

12. ignoring symbols.

– Follow the rules! Many sights – stunning waterfalls, geysers, glaciers, mountains, black beach – can be dangerous, and travelers should always follow the trails, read the signs, and listen to the guides. Many people have lost their lives by going too far to take a picture that is not worth it. Keep an eye on the weather and road conditions online. – Christiansdottir.

– Many hikers ignore safety signs. Crossing ropes, lines and boundaries is common behavior…usually to get “good pictures,” Michalina Okreglicka, a photographer from Iceland.

13. Intermediate stop.

There is no curb on our roads, so if you stop, part of the car is usually still on the road. This is very dangerous. – Sidewalking.

Locals have noticed that many visitors to Iceland make the same mistakes.

One of the most dangerous mistakes is stopping on the road just to take a picture. This is very dangerous, and you should never do it. Find a place to pull off the road. Imagine that you are driving in bad conditions, struggling to see something or trying to stay on the road. Suddenly a car stops in the road because the driver has decided to pet a horse. It happens a lot more often than you think. – Nowakowski

14. Off-road vehicle.

There is no off-roading in Iceland. It is illegal and you can be fined. – Sidewalking.

Many tourists drive off-road, which is the worst thing for the locals. They destroy the soil and nature. The damage is almost impossible to repair. – Okreglika.

15. Dangerous waters.

Do not swim in glacial lagoons. They are unpredictable. Don’t walk on the ice. – Novakovsky.

Don’t go close to the waves, especially in Reinisfjahr, because this beach is very dangerous. There are accidents, but people still do it. The waves are very strong … Do not land on blocks of ice, especially in the “glacier lagoon”, because they are carried away by the waves into the sea. – Sour.

16. Camping anywhere.

– People think they can camp anywhere for the night. Also, camping in the last months of the year is highly discouraged. – Zakis

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17. Driving without lights

This has become a big problem in Iceland over the last few years with the huge number of rental cars that are fairly new cars. You are required by law to have your headlights and taillights on. As of 2020, the police can fine you if the lights are not on. – Nowakowski.

18. Passing gas stations.

There are areas like the Wesfjords where there are no towns and villages. So if you’re driving there and see a road sign indicating that you should fill your gas tank to capacity, feel free to follow it so you’re not stuck somewhere without people and (possibly) even mobile service! – Jane SPARK, photographer at Spark Photography

19. Driving with the wrong view

– Trying to cross the river in improper vehicles is a common mistake. Crossing F-roads [rugged mountain roads] with small four-wheel-drive vehicles is illegal and dangerous. Four-wheel drive vehicles are required here. – Ocreglica.

20. Environmental Damage.

Many hikers use the bathroom wherever they want and leave toilet paper. Don’t trample moss or create rock stacks. This is bad for the environment as it changes the ecosystem in the soil/sand. Don’t go off the trail or cross ropes and other barriers. They are there not only for human safety, but also for nature. The flora here is very delicate and easily destroyed. A donation to ICE-SAR or a conservation charity is always a nice touch as ICE-SAR saves hikers. Zakis

It is important to respect Iceland's environment.

21. Carry an umbrella.

– Using umbrellas in the wind here is almost pointless. – Zakis

22. Stick to crowded places

Iceland is crowded with tourists almost all year round, but the funny thing is that most of the busiest places, such as the black sandy beach of Reinisdrangar, are crowded in only one or two places, while all other sides of the beach are almost empty. So to avoid the crowds, just don’t be lazy and take a little walk.

23. Dip your head in the Blue Lagoon

Dipping your head into the Blue Lagoon is kind of a cheat because your hair looks like straw, and the locals know it’s not. – Sour.

24. Walking on icy sidewalks.

The sidewalks, even in Reykjavik, are very icy in winter. But there are special spikes that you can put under your shoes. You can do this in most stores and gas stations. – Novakovsky.

25. Blindly following Google maps

Don’t blindly follow Google maps or other navigation systems! They can steer you down roads that are not meant for your cars. Rescue services are very expensive. – Nowakowski.

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