Common Mistakes People Make While Visiting Iceland


Before heading on the trip we all search for the best attractions to see and do, but we tend to forget several important things that make us look like dumb tourists. Those things are related to knowledge about the culture.

If your knowledge about Iceland is still zero, keep on reading to learn about common mistakes people make while visiting Iceland and how to avoid them.

1) Buying Bottled Water

As a person who has worked in various restaurants I just can’t understand people who are willing to buy bottled water. Water in Iceland is clean and every single local person is used to drink cold tap water. However, be cautious with hot water, it might be extremely hot and is not suitable for drinking.

Tip: Bring with you re-usable bottle which you can refill at your hotel/hostel. Also you can ask for it at any restaurant/café. By the way, when eating out, tap water is always served for free.

2) Swimming Pool Dilemma

It is an etiquette for every man and woman to take a shower without swimming suit, before entering the pool. Still, due to many complains (common tourists!) Laugardalslaug now has constructed some showers with cabins where foreign guests can hide themselves during the shower time.

Tip: Very few swimming pools have private shower cabins, so you have either to survive the cultural shock or get in trouble with shower guard for not following the rules.

3) Asking For Traditional Food at Non-Traditional Places

Ram testicles, head of the sheep, fermented shark and many other things are probably known by every local person, but a culture of eating it on a daily basis is far from reality.

It is completely fine to ask if the restaurant you are eating at has some traditional Icelandic food, but please don’t try to be so specific that even a waiter will not understand what the heck you are asking for.

Tip: Don’t believe in every article and commercial you see on the internet that promotes trips to Iceland or blog posts of Icelandic companies that sell various travel packages. They are trying hard (sometimes too hard) to promote something authentic that does not always reflect the modern cultural aspects of Icelandic people.

4) Going for a hike unprepared

This is very important thing to know before you buy your ticket to Iceland. If you want to travel in nature, be well equipped!  Too many careless tourists get into trouble because of that. I am not kidding, here in Iceland we hear almost every week a case of rescue team rescuing injured or lost tourists.

Tip: If you don’t have any previous experience in hiking, do it with someone who has done it before.

5) Think That Björk, Sigur Rós and Of Monster and Men are Damn Famous

They are just like any other Icelandic musicians who are not treated as superstars. Once I worked at the place, where Jónsi lead singer of Sigur Rós came regularly to order food for take away. He was just like any other guest, I did not treat him differently and he was easy going as well.

Tip: If you want to impress Icelandic person, learn some new band names. There are plenty of them who rarely get attention abroad, but produce high quality music. You can find a good list of artists on:

If you want more tips about Iceland get your FREE guide book about Iceland which includes various safety tips, cheap rental options, attractions and many more useful tips.

by M.Borgarbúi

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3 Comments on "Common Mistakes People Make While Visiting Iceland"

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Useful article! Especially the musical bit. I always wondered how it feels to be an internationally acclaimed musician walking around in such a small and little populated country. I’m glad to read that everyone is cool with that 🙂

Hi Rick,

Thanks for stopping by. It is actually funny when some Hollywood actors comes to Iceland and still acts as if they were in U.S. (they try to hide their identities).

People here are totally down to earth when it comes to famous people 🙂

Great country, fantastic people. I’ve downloaded your ebook, at the first glance it looks interesting. Hopefully we’ll be back to Iceland soon again, we’ll make good use of all those tips 🙂