Known for its stunning natural beauty, and for its rugged landscapes, Iceland is slowly becoming a top travel destination for tourists. A country that is absolutely worth exploring, it’s always good to read up on the basic do’s and don’ts and all the other Iceland travel tips to make sure that your trip is as amazing as possible.
1. The weather is extremely changeable
It’s best to keep in mind that the Icelandic weather is highly changeable. A sunny morning can turn into a snowy afternoon with no warning. So, never underestimate the weather; get regular forecasts from the Icelandic Met Office, and remember to be prepared for all kinds of climate, with raincoats and warm clothes no matter the season.
2. Learn some practical phrases in Icelandic
While most people in Iceland speak fluent English, it can still be helpful to at least try to know a few phrases before you go.
Yes – Já (yow)
No – Nei (nay)
Hello – Halló ()
Goodbye – Bless (blehss)
Excuse me – Afsakið (av-sah-kith)
Thank You – Takk (tahkk)
You’re Welcome – Verðu þér að góðu (vehr-thu thyair ahth goh-thu)
Where is the bathroom? – Hvar er klósett? (kvar err klow-set)
How much is this? – Hvað kostar þetta? (hvahth kost-ar thet-ta)
I am a vegetarian – Ég er grænmetisæta (yeh err grine-met-ees- aiytah)
Help, I’m lost! – Hjálp, ég er týndur!(hyowlp yeh err teen-dur)
I don’t speak Icelandic – Ég tala ekki Íslensku (yeh tah-la ekkee ees-len-skew)
3. Choose the right time to visit for you
If you visit during the summer, remember that there will be large crowds of tourists. You can take advantage of the almost day-long sunlight and try visiting some of the popular destinations at night. It will let you avoid the crowds, and have a more personal experience. But, your best chance of seeing the awe-inspiring Northern Lights is during the winter.
4. The water may smell a bit sulphuric
Much of Iceland’s water is supplied from warm geothermal springs that is used for everything except drinking. So don’t be surprised if the showers have a sulfuric smell! It’s just the minerals in the natural underground water delivered to the plumbing using geothermal pumps. The water is still totally safe, and clean, and once you’re out of the warm shower, you don’t smell at all.
5. You don’t need to buy bottled water
Drinking water comes straight from various natural springs. This water has been filtered in the lava for decades and is pure and fresh, so most Icelanders will look think you quite odd if you ask for bottled water.
Also Read: Top 11 Things To Do in Iceland
6. If you’re visiting the geothermal pools, read up on the rules
Iceland is famous for its natural hot springs, a result of the country’s volcanic landscape. From the famous Blue Lagoon to the more remote Krossneslaug, these are definitely worth a visit. But remember to follow the rules before entering. These including having a thorough shower before wearing your swimsuit and jumping in, never spitting in the water, and remembering to take off your shoes.
7. You can see most major sights from Iceland’s main ring road
If you want to visit one of Iceland’s many waterfalls but aren’t up for a hike, don’t worry. The country’s main ring road, popularly known as the Golden Circle, passes many famous sights, including Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, the Strokkur Geysir, and Kerið Crater Lake.
8. Driving off the road is illegal
Whatever kind of car you’re driving in Iceland, never drive off-road. It can be very damaging to the fragile environment and is therefore illegal. It is also very important to know which kinds of roads are accessible to your vehicle, as many tracks are only passable by a four-wheel-drive.
9. Iceland doesn’t have a public railway system
Iceland doesn’t have a public railway system (yet); the only public transportation available, is the bus. However, there are recurring rumours of an upcoming train connecting Keflavík Airport and downtown Reykjavik. With such a limited public transport system, most people drive in Iceland.
10. Alcohol is only sold in state-run liquor stores
If you’re looking stock up on alcohol at the supermarket, you’ll be out of luck in Iceland. Alcohol is only sold at special Vínbúðin shops that are only open for a few hours on certain days. Additionally, they come with high taxes. But, you can always stock up at the airport duty-free shop beforehand.
11. Don’t tip your servers at restaurants.
The price you see on the menu in Iceland is usually the total amount charged, with no added tax or service fee. You also don’t have to tip your server at the end of your meal, as it can be considered offensive.
Are there any Iceland travel tips that we’ve missed? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below.