I’m delighted that so many people are visiting Iceland, but I’m unhappy that a number of these people aren’t good tourists. What I mean by that is that some of these travelers aren’t responsible or considerate. I feel like all travelers, myself included, are so incredibly lucky to be able to visit such a remarkable place – it’s our duty to treat locals and the land with the utmost respect.
A few ways you can be a good tourist in Iceland:
Respect Private Property
This is a big one and relevant to both Reykjavík and the countryside. In the capital city, homes and apartments sit among restaurants, bars, museums, and other frequently visited establishments. It’s so important that you respect these properties. You can do this by staying on the correct side of fences, not walking into private gardens, and not parking on private property. Additionally, try to keep the noise down. Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean they are!
In the countryside, there’s a number of reasons travelers would want to walk onto someone’s private property. For example, some blogs advertise a stunning waterfall that’s only accessible by walking through private property. Please don’t do this. There are so many gorgeous waterfalls to see that don’t require you to trespass. Respect the locals and do the right thing.
Another popular reason why people cross onto private property is to take photos of and with the famous Icelandic horses. My suggestion? Invest in a telephoto lens for your camera so that you can take great photos without trespassing onto someone’s property. Or, observe and photograph these animals from spots where tourists are welcome. For example, while admiring Skógafoss, you can see horses and sheep at neighboring properties. In this scenario, you can marvel at the beautiful animals without being a bad tourist.
Camp in Delegated Spots
If you are going to camp while in Iceland, make sure you set up your tent in a spot that allows camping. There’s a popular misconception that you can camp virtually anywhere in the countryside, and that’s simply not true. To find camping-friendly places, go here.
Use Proper Bathrooms (Yes, Seriously)
I’m a little shocked I have to cover this topic, but it’s an issue I’ve come across firsthand while in Iceland. There are bathroom facilities at nearly every major stop along the Golden Circle. Additionally, there are restrooms at shops and restaurants in the small towns you’ll drive through along your journey. Please use these facilities. Don’t be like the man we saw who – instead of using the restrooms 15 feet away – stood in the wind and used the grass as his toilet.
At certain times, especially during high season, Iceland can be saturated with tourists. This means hotels, restaurants, shops, museums, and tour guide companies can be really busy. Please be polite and patient with everyone, particularly those working in customer service. They are likely overwhelmed and tired. I remember during my last trip to Iceland, some of the airport staff were inundated with a million questions from impatient travelers, and I felt stressed out for them! Put yourself in their shoes (being surrounded by countless tourists), and be kind and patient.
Let Me Know What You Think
What do you think about these suggestions? Will you follow them if/when you go to Iceland? Let me know by commenting below or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.