Known for its superb rugged landscape, Iceland is fast becoming a travel hotspot. Those who visit the country are in for a treat of spectacular glaciers and hot springs, rolling hills of greenery, and some of the friendliest locals you’ll ever meet. But there are a couple of things to know before you visit this incredible country.
Iceland is home to unpredictable weather and a landscape that is beautiful but wild and unforgiving. There are a few safety guidelines to keep in mind before you go, as well as a few etiquette tips to learn. Keep reading to find out what you should know before you visit Iceland.
10 Prepare To Pay A Lot
Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries you will ever visit, and it also happens to be one of the most expensive. Probably not the ideal location for when you’re looking for a budget-friendly trip, Iceland is a place where you’ll have to part with more of your money than you probably realize.
In the past, the city of Reykjavik has actually been named the most expensive city in the world. Just about everything will be costlier than you’re used to, including basics like food and souvenirs.
9 It’s Not Necessary To Learn Too Much Icelandic
Seasoned travelers often recommend learning a couple of key phrases in the language commonly spoken in your destination. Not only is this a common courtesy, but it’s also helpful for getting around and communicating with locals. In Iceland, however, it’s not necessary to speak Icelandic because basically everyone speaks excellent English.
Of course, if you want to learn a few words in Icelandic to make the trip easier, you can. A word of warning, though: Icelandic is one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn.
8 You Don’t Have To Buy Bottled Water
Being as expensive as it is, Iceland is a place where you’ll want to save as much money as you can. One of the ways to do that is to avoid buying things that you don’t have to, such as bottled water. The tap water comes from the country’s natural springs and glaciers and is some of the cleanest and safest you’ll ever drink.
Sometimes you’ll find that the hot water smells a little funky, but that comes down to the natural sulfur from the springs. It’s totally safe to drink and bathe in.
7 A Lot Of People Believe In Fairies
When traveling anywhere, it’s a good idea to get familiar with local values, customs, and beliefs, so you don’t accidentally offend anyone in their own country. Respect is always the best policy. So, when traveling to Iceland, you should know that a lot of people believe in fairies. According to TripZilla, about 54% of the population believe that magic folk really do exist.
Normally, locals don’t feel comfortable discussing this with travelers, so it’s best not to bring it up. It’s a sensitive topic that is better left untouched.
6 There Are Tourist Traps To Look Out For
Home to some of the world’s most majestic landscapes, Iceland is also home to a few tourist traps that you’ll want to look out for when visiting. One of these is the geothermal spa known as Blue Lagoon. While it is amazing, it’s also incredibly expensive to enter and overcrowded. If there weren’t any other springs in Iceland, it would be worth it.
However, there are plenty of other similar experiences available that won’t cost as much, and they’ll be far less overrun with tourists. In the north of the country, you’ll find a natural hot spring called Grettislaug, which is far cheaper.
5 Respect The Moss
There are many things to remember while hiking through the Icelandic landscape. Here’s another one that you might not have heard before: respect the moss. You’ll see the stuff everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that it’s resistant. In fact, it’s actually delicate and easily damaged.
It’s not a good idea to camp anywhere other than designated camping spots. Even leaving footprints in the moss adds to environmental degradation, which is something that many Icelandic people are passionate about preventing.
4 Keep Safety First While Hiking
Most of the things that you have to remember when hiking come down to safety. Though it’s tempting to do whatever you can to capture the perfect photo for Instagram, always remember to keep safety first. The Icelandic landscape is unpredictable and there are a variety of things to be aware of.
Certain hiking paths are only safe during low tide, but there may not be signs indicating that, so it’s important to do your research before you go. Similarly, some hot springs may be hotter than they look. If you’re inexperienced, it’s always a good idea to take a guide with you.
3 It’s Probably Not As Cold As You Think It Is
When people think of Iceland, they tend to think of winter, snow, freezing temperatures, and, well, ice. But depending on when you travel, the country might not be as cold as you’re expecting. Contrary to popular belief, the entire country isn’t carpeted in ice.
Winter travel in Iceland is definitely a possibility, and it probably isn’t as dark and gloomy as you’re picturing. Many people specifically choose to visit in the winter, so it’s also often cheaper.
2 But There Can Be Unpredictable, Dangerous Weather
Iceland may not be as cold as you were picturing, but it does get cold, and the water can be seriously unpredictable. If a storm hits out of nowhere, you might not even be able to see the road. That’s why it’s always advisable to be prepared for extreme weather while in Iceland.
One of the best ways to be prepared is to make sure you’ve always got extra food on you. If you do get stranded in a storm, the last thing you want is to be starving and unable to do anything about it. There is the chance that you’ll be stuck thanks to the weather, so bring supplies wherever you go.
1 You Won’t Always Be Able To See The Northern Lights
Many people go to Iceland with the intention of witnessing the Northern Lights, which are most visible during the winter months. But because the Lights aren’t always visible --and come down to a variety of factors-- it’s not possible to see them all the time. Weather conditions have a huge impact on this.
To avoid disappointment, remember that you might not always be able to see them. If you can’t see them, it’s important not to break focus with what you’re doing (say, driving), to try and spot them.