Volcano in Iceland 2021: Do's and Don'ts of Iceland
3 minute read15 Jul 2021
With its majestic lava fields overshadowed by snow-covered mountains, Iceland is a traveler’s paradise with new and thrilling adventures around every corner. Nevertheless, this beautiful rugged country of the aurora borealis, or Norðurljós in Icelandic, should not be taken lightly as that may cost you your life.
Iceland is a country of extreme beauties - volcanic eruptions, sand storms, gravel roads and ash clouds. One can never be too careful. Also, keep in mind local etiquette and behave accordingly while there.
Its nature is unlike that found anywhere else, a melting pot of creeping glaciers and gushing waterfalls, steaming volcanic vents and scenic coastlines. Its towns and cities are modern, full of charm, boast unique cultures unto their own and are only a short drive away from some truly fantastic attractions.
But still, Iceland is a quiet, solitary kind of place; it is an island characterised by its mystic qualities, haunted and sweeping, silent. Those arriving from busier locations—and, let's face it, that could be almost anywhere—are quick to forget that 21st century Iceland is a nation experiencing growing pains, tentative but excitedly flirting with the outsider.
Before you ignite a passionate affair with the Iceland trip, Here is 5 Do's and Don'ts of Iceland:
1. Read up on Icelandic history and current events beforehand
Iceland is one of the most fascinating countries — it’s the magical land of fire and ice. Few things to know about Iceland, Icelanders, and Icelandic society:
1) By almost every metric, it’s the most feminist country in the world.
2) There are many people who still believe in elves — don’t knock their cultural beliefs.
3) According to the Global Peace Index for 2015, Iceland is the safest and most peaceful country in the world.
4) The island nation is known as the second happiest country in the world, trailing behind Switzerland.
5) Iceland is not part of the EU and there is a great ongoing debate in the country on whether it should join — the viewpoints are mixed. Though it officially dropped its bid this past year.
6) The Icelandic naming system is interesting, to say the least. To start with, Icelanders don’t have family names. Secondly, one cannot take up the spouse’s last name upon marriage. Thirdly, when naming a child, one has to stick to a limited list of names. The purpose of this seemingly strict naming policy is to protect Iceland’s cultural heritage.
7) It’s still common for parents to leave their infants napping outside in their carriage. No need to call CPS — it’s been a tradition for generations.
2. Don’t underestimate the weather
Icelandic weather can be wild and unpredictable. The good news is that the weather forecast is usually pretty reliable, so make sure you keep a close eye on the Icelandic Met Office warnings. Thankfully stormy nights are few and far between in the summer, but it’s still a good idea to check out the Met Office forecast: if you know which way the rainy clouds are turning, you can travel the other way.
3. Don’t be afraid to explore
Iceland is a very safe country. With over 200 equipped campsites on the island, there are plenty of routes you can take. Our advice is, don’t feel obliged to stick to the capital area and the few known spots. Regions like the Westfjords and East coast may be less known, yet there are plenty of hiking paths and breathtaking sceneries, and fewer fellow travellers to share them with.
4. Drink the tap water
Don’t bother with bottled water when some of the most pristine and freshest water supply can be found flowing through your faucet — gratis. And besides, as many Icelanders will tell you, the water that you’re drinking in the bottles is straight up tap water and if you buy bottled water, you’ll be falling victim to corporate marketing ploys and setting yourself up to be the brunt of jokes from your Icelandic friends. The quality of tap water in Iceland is exceptional due to a wealth of fresh water rivers that stream down from the mountains and glaciers. You might smell a bit of sulfur, though, when taking shower, but that is from the geothermal water. The cold water comes from underground freshwater streams that is in fact rain and snow that has been slowly filtering through lava fields for decades before entering the underground current from which the tapped water is taken. Enjoy.
5. You need to be flexible
The weather in Iceland can easily flip your plans upside down. A sunny day could turn into a day of hailstorm the next moment – that’s the unpredictability of Iceland’s weather. A pre-planned expedition to one of the mountains could get cancelled, and you have to remain prepared for change in plans.
If you only have a few days to visit this unique island you may want to ask a local tour operator to help you with your planning. With Private Tours in Iceland organized by a renowned travel agency you can be guaranteed that local expertise will help you make the very best out of every weather situation that may arise.
What NOT to do in Iceland
1. Never drive in stormy weather: There is no need to explain this, as it is pretty obvious. Still, if you are interested take note of this: Icelanders have over 100 different words to describe snow and for a reason. Each word is for a unique kind of snow, differentiating in texture, stability, how wet it is, the wind involved and ect. The list is long, obviously. The point is that you can have more than 100 different driving challenges when you drive in an Icelandic snow storm. And even if there is now snow involved, just the wind can be dangerous. Iceland is the third windiest place in the World. Apparently no people live in the two more windy parts of the World!
2. Don’t cross the speed limit: This would be the rule if you would have traveled to any country across the globe. In urban locales, the speed limit is about 50km/hour. It is 90km/hour in rural areas.
3. Camping in the wild is prohibited: It was legal a few years ago – not anymore. You need to use a regulated and designated campsite.
4. Don’t take cabs everywhere; walk whenever possible.
Blending the casualness of a village with big-city know-how, Reykjavik is one of those cities you must stroll through to soak up its splendor. There are no Uber/Lyft services in the country and Icelandic cabs are not inexpensive by any means. I’m sure you can find many other ways to blow that precious cash in the city. The city’s shimmering waterfront, lined with brightly colored houses, beckons those who want to stroll and rewards those who brave the often inclement weather. Walk, bike or rent a scooter. Just remember to take your jacket with you for it can easily get a bit chilly.
5. Don’t take 24 hours of daylight lightly (pun intended).
Before going, I was stoked about experiencing my first Icelandic summer, which meant I would see the glory of daylight for 24 continuous hours. While this sounds fabulous in theory, in reality, it plays out a little differently — at least for me. The first few days were beautiful and awe-inspiring, especially on summer solstice, but as someone who is a very light sleeper, the inability to get a restful night’s sleep because of the piercing sunlight got old really quickly. The midnight sun is certainly a sight to behold, but it’s very easy to lose track of time when the sun is still out at 2am. Use an eye mask or two (I had two!) and/or make sure your accommodations have black-out curtains.
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