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How to Travel Safely in Iceland

With a subarctic climate and a tiny population, Iceland might be a tad different from other popular destinations. Desolate landscapes, extreme weather, mountain roads, geothermal areas, and the ocean can catch you off-guard if you’re unprepared. Keep the following seven safety guidelines in mind when planning your trip to Iceland.

Icelandic road

1. Familiarise yourself with Iceland’s emergency numbers

The emergency number in Iceland is 112. You can dial it free of charge to reach emergency services like ambulances, rescue teams, and the police, and there is also a 112 app that can send your information to emergency services at the press of a button.

2. Follow updates on Safetravel.is

Icelandic weather is famously fickle and extreme weather is not uncommon. In wintertime, high wind speeds and snow frequently limit visibility. Safetravel offers up-to-date road-condition maps, weather alerts, and plenty of helpful tips and information on the best and safest way to travel around the country.  There’s an app for that, too. It’s well worth downloading and checking regularly throughout your travels.

3. Be extra careful when visiting geothermal areas

The water in geothermal areas can reach a temperature of up to 100°C. Falling in or slipping may result in severe burns. Safe paths are clearly marked, so stick to them and never walk on ground that is steaming.

4. Keep a safe distance from the ocean

Sneaker waves – disproportionally large waves that encroach farther onto shore than regular waves – are frequent occurrences at the Reynisfjara and Kirkjufjara beaches in South Iceland. Sneaker waves are more powerful than people expect, and accidents have proven fatal in the past. Keep a safe distance from the water and observe nearby signs.

Iceland Winter

5. Stay on the path

Whether visiting a waterfall, a geothermal area, or hiking in the mountains, staying on the marked footpath is imperative. Respect when paths are closed and heed all the signs. It’s closed for a reason, either to protect you or fragile nature.

6. Let someone know where you’re going

If you’re planning on hiking or hitchhiking, let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. You can also leave your travel plan on www.safetravel.is.


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