Iceland is a great destination to visit. The nature is unbelievable, the culture is unique and the climate is nicer than you think. However, Iceland does have some very unique circumstances (tiny island, very sparsely populated, very far north) that make a trip there different from other vacation destinations. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when you’re planning your trip to Iceland.
Spending all their time in the city
Reykjavík is great, but spending all your time in Iceland in the city is a missed opportunity. The real reason most people visit Iceland is because of the natural wonders and majestic landscapes. In a single day, you might be able to see thundering waterfalls, erupting hot springs, bleak glaciers, and multi-coloured deserts where the effects of the geothermal heat underneath the ground are clearly visible on the surface. Renting a car and driving around the country is a great idea in the milder seasons but if the weather doesn’t permit that or if you’re short on time, there are plenty of tours from Reykjavík that allow you to experience the majestic nature of Iceland on your own.
Not spending any time in the city
Of course, nature is Iceland’s biggest attraction and the reason most people visit the island in the first place. That doesn’t mean that you should skip Reykjavík altogether. The city may only have 200.000 inhabitants but it still feels like a much larger city. With beautiful landmarks, world-class restaurants, luxurious geothermally heated swimming pools and a healthy dose of local culture and history, Reykjavík is not to be missed! Spend at least a day visiting museums, sitting in cafés and walking around the colourful city centre, and make sure to cap it off with a delicious meal and a concert or another event, there’s always something going on!
Only travelling the beaten paths
Okay, the classics are classic for a reason, sure, and not visiting the Golden Circle when you come to Iceland is like visiting Paris without ever seeing the Eiffel tower. There are just so many other things you should see and experience while you’re here. The West of Iceland’s natural beauty is permeated with the history of the sagas, Mývatn’s ethereal landscapes has an otherworldly feel and the stark, imposing beauty and incredibly diverse birdlife of the Westfjords is unrivalled.
Making unsafe choices in Icelandic nature
There is a lot of Iceland, but not a whole lot of Icelanders. Since so much of the country is untamed, it doesn’t really make sense to go to the trouble of putting up signs or fences everywhere where danger might lurk. It makes a lot more sense to just assume that everything is dangerous until proven otherwise. With the rise of tourism in Iceland, the Icelandic approach to danger has been causing some trouble, and accidents, some even fatal, have been increasingly common. Always put safety first, heed the warning signs and never climb over fences.
Making safe choices regarding anything else
Among ingredients that are commonly available on menus in Iceland are horse, whale, puffin, shark, lamb‘s heads etc. There are tours available to go inside glaciers and volcanoes, and there’s even a penis museum! Clearly, any trip to Iceland is best approached with an open mind.
Ignoring the seasons
Like I mentioned, travelling to Iceland isn’t the same as visiting more typical holiday destinations. For instance, there isn’t really an off-season in the tourism industry, there are just different attractions available. If you want to see the Northern lights, you’re going to want to come here in the winter, preferably November or December. If you want to see the puffins and go hiking, you will have to come in the summer. Do your research beforehand and decide if you want to come to a Winter Wonderland or the land of the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
Not spending enough time here
I get it, it’s convenient to stop in Iceland for a day or two on your way between the continents, and don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty you can do in one day. The thing is that as you can probably tell by the rest of the article, Iceland has a whole host of things to do and see that you will have a hard time discovering anywhere else on the planet. Either adjust your travel dates so you have enough time to explore, or be prepared to book a trip here again soon!