Why am I attracted to dangerous things?

What not to do in Iceland

What is one of the stupidest and most ignorant things that unfortunately visitors to Iceland do on a regular basis?

This list is intended for your entertainment - but also to warn you of the dangers on the island.



Tourists have been doing some really stupid and very dangerous things lately, absolutely life threatening were. Climbing icebergs and ice floes in the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, for example, is really not a good idea at water temperatures of 0 ° C: The icebergs can turn around very quickly and bury you under them, and the lagoon flows into the open sea. Likewise, you should definitely not stand on slippery cliffs near the sea - the waves could sweep you away very quickly.

The black sand beach at Reynjsfjara is unfortunately as beautiful as it is deadly, namely when you get too close to the surf. Unfortunately, several tourists have already died here.

Photo: Owen Hunt

Icelandic nature is beautiful and breathtaking, but it can also be extremely dangerous if you don't listen to directions on signs or from locals!

I once took a friend on a hiking tour in the Icelandic highlands in the summer. Part of the route led over a glacier - and my friend actually only had shorts with him! If he had been alone, he could easily have developed severe hypothermia or even freeze to death. I wouldn't describe this friend as stupid, but he was definitely very reckless. Fortunately I had thermal underwear and he had waterproof pants with me, and the weather was good.

Icelanders themselves can be very reckless and easygoing. One of her favorite expressions is "þetta reddast", which means something like "It will work itself out". So if a local warns you about the weather or road conditions, take it seriously! If you ignore warnings and find yourself in danger, you are most likely putting other people trying to save you at risk as well. So be sure to pay attention to warning signs and warnings from locals!

In spite of all this, not everything is just doom and darkness. Some of the things travelers have done are exhilarating too. Iceland has some stubborn customs that may seem strange to you. On the other hand, there are things that the locals find just ridiculous.

The stupidest things to do in Iceland

We've compiled a list of the stupidest things travelers (and sometimes locals!) Do on a regular basis below. Some of them are more serious than others, so don't feel attacked: I'm not saying you're stupid if you took an umbrella with you on your Iceland vacation. It just doesn't make a lot of sense. The list has no special order and if we've forgotten something, just post it in a comment! :-)

1. Bring an umbrella to Iceland

Even if it rains very often in Iceland, umbrellas are unfortunately of no use in most cases, as it is simply too windy. The rain attacks you from all sides and even from below! Plus, it's really hard to hold the umbrella.

2. Drive into the highlands or on glaciers in a car without four-wheel drive

Never go or ride a glacier without an experienced guide. Nor should you drive into the highlands or on F-roads in a normal car. If you are driving a 4x4, always drive in groups of at least 2 vehicles so that you can help each other if you get stuck.

3. Try to book a room in the "ice hotel"

Don't believe everything you see in movies. There is no ice hotel in Iceland. By the way, no igloos either. You can stay in an ice hotel in Sweden, Norway, Finland or Canada, but it's actually not cold enough in Iceland.

4. Come to Iceland in winter to see the midnight sun

The midnight sun is only available in Iceland in the summer months. It's pretty dark in winter.

5. Come to Iceland in the summer to see the Northern Lights

The northern lights can only be seen in the dark. In summer it doesn't get nearly dark enough in Iceland because of the popular midnight sun. Makes sense right?

6. Take a torch with you on a summer camping trip

As mentioned above, it doesn't get dark in summer (June, July).

7. Take pictures of the Northern Lights with the flash on

If you want to take pictures of the Northern Lights, you need a good camera with adjustable modes. Ideally, you should be able to set a longer exposure time, high light sensitivity and / or an open aperture. If you use flash the images won't produce the same results, let's put it this way.

8. Drive off the beaten track

It is illegal in Iceland to drive off the marked roads or lanes. Just do not. It will result in heavy penalties.

9. "Write" your name in the moss

The moss that covers a large part of the Icelandic landscape is thick and beautiful to look at. However, it is also extremely sensitive and takes hundreds of years to recover. A few years ago, a couple of people had the great idea of ​​pulling up moss to put their name on a hill near Reykjavík with moss. The country has still not recovered from it and if you are caught damaging nature in any way, you will be punished consistently. You should also avoid walking on moss and under no circumstances kick it.

10. Go on a day trip at sunrise in winter

The days in winter are short. If you don't leave until after sunrise, then you will most likely sit in the car in sunlight all day and arrive at your destination in the dark.

11. Leaving trash

This point is of course not limited to Iceland. Nobody likes to see garbage lying around - especially not in beautiful scenery. Please don't leave your rubbish anywhere, including chewing gum, cigarette butts and even banana peels. Iceland's harsh climate ensures that even organic waste does not compost forever.

12. Do not check the weather report and road conditions before setting off

Just because the weather in Reykjavík looks perfectly fine doesn't mean it has to be the same everywhere. The weather changes very quickly too! Here are the ultimate tips for rental car drivers in Iceland

13. Come to Iceland and only stay in Reykjavík

Nature in the countryside is what Iceland is all about. Don't miss it!

14. Throw coins into hot springs

The only place where you can put coins in the water is Peningagjá in Thingvellir. Everywhere else you are just polluting our nature!

15. Leave the marked paths in geothermal areas

The earth's crust in geothermal areas is very thin and unstable. The hot springs that can be found there are easily over 100 ° C! You'd rather not get yourself burned like this ...

16. Do not dress appropriately for the weather

Dressing well in Iceland does not necessarily mean dressing fashionably. Mostly it means dressing as warmly as possible. If you go hiking, it is best not to put on your new leather shoes or just shorts, jeans, or cotton materials. Even when it's summer and the sun is shining. Jeans and cotton are unsuitable because they lose their warming properties when wet and are very difficult to dry.

17. Go party at 7pm and give up at midnight

Nightlife in Iceland doesn't start until midnight, in fact most people don't go out until around 2am.

Photo: Magnús Elvar Jónsson

18. Do not bring your bathing suit

Even if Iceland translates to ICEland, there are tons of great opportunities to swim, either in the capital's swimming pools or in the many hot springs.

19. Don't go to the swimming pool because it's too cold

It may be cold, but most people don't go to the pools to swim. Rather, they relax in the many hot tubs or sweat in the sauna. And maybe they'll go into the large swimming pool for a moment to cool off.

20. Complain about the weather

It's Iceland, what did you expect? Other than that, it's all part of the experience - and you probably just aren't dressed well enough.

21. Park your car in front of a club on the weekend

Theft isn't very likely, but you might want to send it to the car wash the next day, let's put it that way.

22. Do not get enough alcohol at the duty free shop

There is a very high tax on alcohol in Iceland. So it is your duty to get as much alcohol as possible (and allowed) in the duty free shop. Even if you don't drink it yourself, you can always bring it to a local :-) Also, be careful with the "beer" that you can buy in the supermarket - it is practically alcohol-free.

23. Go hiking with chlorine tablets and 20 liters of water

Icelandic water is some of the purest and clearest on the planet, so you definitely don't need chlorine. There is also plenty of water on land, so 2 liters should be enough for most hikes. You can often refill your bottle with fresh spring water. Check your route in advance and see where drinking water is available. Glacier rivers do not count, they are often cloudy. Also, make sure the water is free flowing.

24. Buy bottled water

As already said, the Icelandic water is one of the purest and clearest on the planet. The water that is sold in bottles is exactly the same as that that comes out of the tap. Let the cold water run for a while because the hot water smells like sulfur.

25. Expect to see penguins

Penguins live in the southern hemisphere, e.g. in Antarctica, South Africa, Argentina or Australia - honestly.


I hope this list put a smile on your face and that you may have learned something from it!