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37 Reasons NOT to Visit Iceland!

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Looking for reasons not to go to the land of ice and fire?

Discover dozens of reasons not to visit Iceland. In this informative and entertaining guide, you'll learn cool facts about the country and get answers to common questions and misconceptions such as: What is Iceland like? Is Iceland cold? And is Iceland safe to visit? Learn what to expect before visiting Iceland, what's a myth, and what's true in our FAQs comprehensive list. 



Visiting Iceland FAQs

Before we get started with the list, here are a few common FAQs that people ask when they're considering visiting Iceland.

Is Iceland cold? 

Yes, it can be, but not as cold as you probably think. Cities like New York and Berlin can get colder than Reykjavik in the winter. In the summer, daytime temperatures can be as low as 41 F (5 C) and as warm as 77 F (25 C). In winter, temperatures can be anywhere from 5 to -4 F (-15 to -20 C) 

Is Iceland worth visiting?

Yes, Iceland is absolutely worth visiting. The country often tops lists of the best places to visit.

What is Iceland like?

Iceland is a land of extremes. It is, after all, called "the land of fire and ice." Although the weather can be a bit wild, so is the natural scenery, which includes massive glaciers, majestic waterfalls, massive craters, towering volcanoes, and mother natures most spectacular visual display: the northern lights.

Is Iceland safe?

Yes. Iceland regularly ranks among the safest countries in the world both for travelers and locals. 

Should I go to Iceland?

Yes. Most people consider Iceland the trip of a lifetime. But, in the rest of this article, we'll try to convince you otherwise.

So, now let's get on to our list of all the reasons not to visit Iceland.

1. Is Iceland Just a Land of Ice All Year Round?

Skogafoss waterfall in South Iceland

It may be called Iceland, but the climate is relatively mild. Summers aren't scorching, but winters aren't that cold either.

If you visit Iceland in winter, you'll see that the temperature can be milder than in many places in Europe and North America. Even cities in lower latitudes, such as New York and Berlin, can get much colder than Reykjavik in winter, for example.



2. It's Always Windy in Iceland

Arnarstapi at Snæfellsnes

Iceland sure gets windy, but we also have lovely, calm days, as you can see in the picture above. It was taken at the Snaefellsjokull National Park, near the coastal towns of Arnarstapi and Hellnar.

Iceland is a "rock" in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and there's no landmass between itself and Antarctica, which is a recipe for temperamental weather. However, we often also have calm and sometimes even sunny days!

As the local saying goes, "if you don't like the weather in Iceland, just wait for five minutes."



3. You Can Get Killed by a Volcano

Volcanic eruption in Iceland

With so many volcanoes, you may wonder if Iceland is safe for tourists. Even though there are a lot of volcanoes, none are near a major city or town. People in Iceland are rarely harmed from direct contact with them.

In fact, volcanic eruptions have become attractions in themselves, captivating both local and foreign visitors.

Iceland is home to 30 active volcano systems, and on average, a major volcanic event occurs every five years or so.



4. You Hardly See the Sun in Iceland

Midnight sun by Kirkjufell mountain

If you visit Iceland in the summer, you'll see more sunlight than in most other places in the world.

The sun never fully sets from May to August, especially during the weeks around the summer equinox. The nights are always bright with daylight during this period, even after the sun sets beneath the horizon.

The summer may be relatively short in Iceland, and temperatures may not get very high, but the season is bright, colorful, and beautiful.



5. Winters Are Nothing But Darkness

Aurora over Snæfellsnes peninsula

Just as it's very bright during the summer, Iceland is very dark during the winter months, especially during December and January.

Although this may sound like a reason not to visit, it's actually one of the best reasons to visit because it provides the best conditions for viewing one of nature's most beautiful phenomena, which is also one of Iceland's most popular attractions: the northern lights. Although the auroras are unpredictable, you'll have the best chance of seeing them when the sky is dark and clear.

No two northern lights shows are the same, so no two winter nights in Iceland are the same either.

Winter is unquestionably the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland. To hunt for the northern lights by yourself, make sure you keep on top of the cloud cover forecast and the aurora forecast.

6. The Beaches Are Black and Grim

Iceland's diamond beach

Although there are several black sand beaches in Iceland, they are far from grim.

Though ominous under certain conditions, they are mysteriously appealing, particularly Reynisfjara with its unusual geology and the Diamond Beach's icebergs.

You can, however, also find white, yellow, and red sand beaches in Iceland, such as Raudassandur in the Westfjords.



7. The Food is Disgusting

Not all Icelandic food is disgusting, but some is!Photo from Reykjavik by Food Walking Tour

Actually, Icelandic ingredients are known for being fresh, healthy, and sustainable.

Reykjavik is full of fine dining restaurants, many offering exciting fusions that incorporate Icelandic herbs, seafood, and lamb into foreign-style dishes.  

On the other hand, traditional food is often pickled, smoked, or salted and is not to everyone's liking. That's because historically Icelanders had to find ways to preserve their food, which was often scarce. However, some delicacies, such as smoked salmon, remain popular internationally.

8. Nature is Grey and Colorless

Icelandic summer colours

This misconception couldn't be further from the truth. Iceland is the land of contrasts: ice and fire, glaciers and volcanoes, mountains and lakes, waterfalls and geysers.

While the weather can be pretty gray, the landscape is painted in an otherworldly spectrum of colors.



9. Reykjavik Is Dull

Reykjavík is a colourful city.

This is another misconception about the capital city. There are many things to do in Reykjavik, from world-class dining to wild nightlife to pristine museums and historical sites.

Reykjavik is also known for its quaint beauty due to its colorful houses. The old tin roofs and walls allow for the streets to be vibrantly colored, and the same goes for the other towns and villages all around the country.

The picture above is of Reykjavik in wintertime from the viewing platform of Hallgrimskirkja church. Even under a blanket of snow, it's still a kaleidoscopic sight.

Reykjavik is one of the best places to visit in Iceland, not only for being the capital but also because of its colorful buildings, painted murals, and vibrant atmosphere.



10. It's Too Cold for Flowers to Grow

Fields of lupine in Iceland

There are more than 5,500 species of wild plants in Iceland, and botanists keep discovering new species each year.

All these plants help make Iceland an even more colorful country. Those visiting Iceland can also spend some time at the Botanical Gardens in Reykjavik and Akureyri, both with plenty of local plants and flowers.

Having said that, the most photographed flowers in Iceland are the non-native lupins, which cover vast swathes of the island from springtime.

11. There Are Only Waterfalls In Iceland

If you're going to Iceland, you'll find a vast number of beautiful waterfalls. It's impossible to count them all since new ones are formed from time to time from melting snow and ice each spring, while older ones erode.

Many small waterfalls freeze for a significant part of the year, while the larger ones continue to flow throughout winter.

Some of the best waterfalls in Iceland are found along the South Coast, including Seljalandsfoss (pictured above), which is a stop on most South Coast tours.

As you'll see next, you'll find much more than waterfalls when you visit Iceland.



12. Nature in Iceland Is Not That Unique

Aerial view of Icelandic rivers

The truth is that you'll find many things in Iceland that you won't see elsewhere. Only those who have walked through lunar landscapes will have seen anything that remotely resembles Iceland's otherworldly topography.

Fjords can also be seen in places like Norway or New Zealand, and volcanoes can be seen in Hawaii and many other countries. But the combination of contrasting elements that make up Iceland's landscape is unique.

Iceland has often been chosen as a movie or TV location for films that are set in outer space, dystopian futures, and fantasy universes. The most popular one is, no doubt, Game of Thrones.

13. All of Iceland's Tours Just Take You to Waterfalls

Gullfoss, the Golden Waterfall, Iceland

As we've seen, there are several waterfalls in Iceland, and most tours include visits to different falls. But each of them is so unique that's nothing to worry about.

A visit to the Gullfoss waterfall (pictured above), which is known as the "golden waterfall," is found on the ever-popular Golden Circle trail. This tour also lets you see the geyser Strokkur and Thingvellir National Park.

If you're done with waterfalls, which would be a pity, there are many other exciting tours in Iceland. That includes snorkeling in the Silfra fissure, the only place where you can swim between two tectonic plates, or hiking on a glacier such as Solheimajokull.

14.You Will Spot a Waterfall Every Five Minutes

Dettifoss waterfall in North Iceland

While vacationing in Iceland, you'll find incredible waterfalls in every region. The impressive Dettifoss is the largest waterfall in the country. It's located in the north of the country and holds the title of Europe's most powerful waterfall.

Dettifoss waterfall is located on the Diamond Circle trail and is often visited alongside other waterfalls such as Godafoss, Aldeyjarfoss, Selfoss, and Hafragilsfoss waterfalls. Tours to these attractions usually depart from Akureyri, the second-largest city in Iceland, and Myvatn.

15. Iceland Is Just a Collection of Rock Formations in Water

Hví­tserkur rock formation, Iceland

There are several interesting rock formations around the country, many of them just off the coast.

When visiting Iceland, some of the rock formations you'll see are veiled in folklore and ancient stories. Hvitserkur basalt rock (pictured above) is said to be the petrified remnants of night trolls hit by sunlight.



16.Iceland Is Just Water With Ice

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Iceland

Iceland has its fair share of icy spots. For an unmatched perspective on Iceland's wealth of water, head towards the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.

At 814-feet deep (248 meters), it's the deepest lake in Iceland. It contains many massive icebergs from the nearby Breidamerkurjokull glacier outlet. It's also growing to the point that it could soon become the largest lake in the country.

When the icebergs tip over or break, they reveal a beautiful blue color and veins of ancient ash.

17. There's Even Scalding Water Spewing Out of the Earth!

The geyser Strokkur erupting in Iceland

The Icelandic hot spring Geysir is where the English word geyser comes from.

Geysir used to regularly spout large quantities of water up to 230 feet (70 meters) into the air, which is 65.6 feet (20 meters) higher than the Old Faithful geyser in the USA. 

Geysir no longer erupts, but fortunately, the Strokkur geyser is right next to it, erupting up to 131 feet (40 meters) every 5-10 minutes.

The Geysir Geothermal Area is on the Golden Circle route. It's home to the famous Strokkur geyser, but it's not the only thing to see there. Smaller hot springs also create tiny streams with very high temperatures. It's located 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

18. The Geothermal Areas Stink

Hot spring in Iceland

Iceland is dotted with seething, bubbling, vividly colored geothermal areas. These places are rich in sulfur, which turns the earth into various colors and gives off a distinctive odor.

Some people have no issue with the smell. Others dislike it because it reminds them of rotten eggs. In some places, the smell can be very pungent. Although the scent is not pleasant at first, many people get used to it quickly and are not bothered.

Since the smell also comes from the hot taps in cities and towns, people associate it with cleanliness after spending some time in Iceland.

19. The Terrain is Too Rough to Traverse

Moss covered lava in Iceland

Most of Iceland is covered in lava, but most of the lava is covered in thick moss. 

The moss is very delicate and takes centuries to grow back if damaged, so be careful not to trample the moss, however tempting it may be.

Icelanders are very protective of their natural surroundings. We wrote a list of things you shouldn't do when you're in Iceland, so make sure to read it before visiting Iceland. You'll be helping us protect our natural environment.



20. You Can't See Nature Up Close

Inside an ice-cave in Iceland

This statement couldn't be farther from the truth, and you'll see that when you go to Iceland.

Hiking and camping are the most popular ways to explore Iceland's nature in the summertime. However, we wouldn't recommend camping inside an ice cave. They can be very unstable, and you should only enter one with a guide that knows the area well.

There are many easily accessible hiking routes around the country, and you can also go hiking on the glaciers.

Wherever you go outside the cities, you'll be surrounded by unspoiled nature, from waterfalls to icebergs, from geysers to volcanoes. You'll always see nature up close.



21. Icelandic Nature Stops Air Traffic

Flying over Holuhraun volcano

Although the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano (known abroad simply as "Iceland's volcano," because of its difficult name) grounded air traffic in Europe in 2010, it didn't really affect any domestic flights in Iceland.

At the time, one of the best ways to view the volcano was from a helicopter, although people also drove there in four-wheel-drive vehicles, hiked, and drove snowmobiles to reach it. The eruption was quite an attraction both for locals and tourists.

It also made the headlines worldwide because of the air traffic disruption.

22. It's Easy to Get Lost in Iceland

Vestrahorn in southeast Iceland

Icelandic landscapes can provide some incredible views. Many spectacular mountains, glaciers, and volcanoes look stunning, especially when reflected in nearby lakes and fjords. 

However, this makes it easy to become distracted while hiking. So, if you're heading out into the wild for an extended period, be sure to leave a travel plan. That way, you can be more easily located if people lose contact with you.



23. Winter in Reykjavik is Grim and Dull

Snowy botanical garden in Reykjaví­k

You don't need to be put off from traveling to Iceland in the winter. There are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik and outside the city.

Some tours, such as ice caving and northern lights hunting, are only available at this time of year. Also, winter in Iceland is far from dull, since there are many other activities you can go on in the south of the country and elsewhere.

It's not uncommon for Europeans to go vacationing in Iceland for a weekend in winter in the hope of witnessing the northern lights and swimming in the Blue Lagoon.

24. Iceland Isn't the Only Country With Ice

A natural glacier ice cave in Iceland

Ice and glaciers are found in many countries, but Iceland is home to Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajokull, which is easily accessible. 

With 12 percent of Iceland's surface area cloaked in ice, activities such as glacier hiking, ice caving, snowmobiling, and dog-sledding can be undertaken much easier here than in most other cold places in the world.

25. Iceland Also Isn't the Only Country With Volcanoes

Inside a volcano in Iceland.Photo from 6 Hour Volcano Tour Inside the Magma Chamber of Thrihnukagigur with Transfer from Reykjavik

While visiting Iceland, you'll see that many volcanoes are quite easy to reach and more easily accessible than in the rest of the world. 

Not only can you hike on top of Iceland's volcanoes, but you can also venture inside them.

Thrihnukagigur volcano is the only volcano in the world that offers tours to its magma chamber. Don't worry. The volcano is dormant now - there hasn't been an eruption there for 4,000 years, so you'll be safe.



26. There's Too Much Driving Involved 

A waterfall with Icelandic horses

Iceland is not a very large country. It's possible to drive around the entire island in around 16 hours (if you don't stop to enjoy it). 

When driving around Iceland, the landscapes are ever-changing, from grassy fields to black lava sands, waterfalls to views of glaciers, fjords surrounded by rugged mountains, picturesque villages, rivers, volcanoes, horses, sheep, and birds. 

There's so much to see that you'll often forget about time and distances. We recommend taking at least a week to drive around the country to see everything it has to offer. Despite the amount of driving involved, there's no doubt that Iceland is worth visiting.

27. It's Too Cold to Go For a Swim

The Secret Lagoon in Iceland.

There's plenty of natural hot water that streams from the ground in Iceland. Various hot springs are suitable for bathing, the most famous being the Blue Lagoon

There's also the Secret Lagoon in the south of the country and the Myvatn geothermal baths in the north.

Additionally, there are tons of swimming pools around Iceland and in Reykjavik, and there are a variety of hot tubs to choose from when you just want to soak and relax.

So even though Iceland is cold in winter, you'll have opportunities to go for a comfortable swim any time of year.

28. There Are No Trees in Iceland

A field of purple lupines in Iceland

That is almost entirely true. The lack of trees means that you have views stretching as far as hundreds or even thousands of meters on clear days, allowing you to see all the nearby mountains, waterfalls, and valleys.

And if it's trees that you want, you can always head towards Iceland's largest forest, Hallormsstadaskogur in East Iceland, or the second biggest forest, Vaglaskogur in the North Iceland region.



29.It's Just Nature - Seeing it Once is Enough

Kirkjufell Mountain in Summer and in Winter

The difference between summer and winter is drastic in Iceland. 

If you are into landscape photography, Iceland provides incredible settings that differ drastically depending on the season and the weather. Even if you are very familiar with a particular location, it can look almost unrecognizable on another day.

Many professional photographers will agree that Iceland is worth visiting more than once, especially at different times of the year.



30. The Highlands Are Just Inhospitable Deserts

Icelandic highlands

The Highlands consist of deserts, lakes, craters, volcanoes, hot springs, and glaciers. 

Most of the highlands are relatively unspoiled. There aren't many roads or signs. There are no shops, and there are hardly any people there. Off-road driving is strictly forbidden and punishable by heavy fines as it damages the delicate natural environment. 

On the other hand, hiking in the highlands is very popular, although most people use cars to reach their starting location. Most roads are only accessible during summertime.



31. There Are Few People and Even Fewer Animals

A puffin admiring the Icelandic flowers

Only around 360,000 people live in Iceland, but Iceland is home to the largest puffin colony in the world. Approximately 10 million puffins reside in Iceland during summer, about 28 puffins per capita.

The oceans surrounding Iceland are also thriving and bountiful. Over twenty species of cetacean can be found around the island. Humpback whales, orcas, blue whales, and seals are year-round residents.

There's also the beautiful and sturdy Icelandic horse. They can be seen by the road all around the Ring Road. There are also farms just outside Reykjavik and Akureyri where you can interact with them.



32. There's Nothing Cute in Iceland

Icelandic arctic foxes are adorable creatures.Photo by Fabiana Rizzi 

The arctic fox, mainly found in the Westfjords, challenges this perspective. It's easily spotted in Hornstrandir, the most remote area in that part of Iceland.



33. Iceland is Behind on Modern Architecture

Harpa, Reykjavík's concert and conference centre

Harpa Hall is Reykjavik's concert and conference hall. It opened in 2011 and was designed by Olafur Eliasson, a Danish designer of Icelandic heritage, and Henning Larsen, a Danish architecture firm. It's one of the leading examples of modern architecture in Reykjavik.

The glass panels resemble basalt column blocks, an element commonly included in Icelandic design and architecture. 

The impressive Hallgrimskirkja church also resembles basalt columns. Real columns were also used to decorate the facade of the National Theater.



34. There's No Art or Culture

The Sun Voyager, an artwork in Reykjaví­k

There's an abundance of artists living in Iceland, from musicians to comedians to drag queens to painters.

Reykjavik has a thriving street art scene, with giant murals decorating walls in large and small buildings.

There are also many boutique art galleries and fine arts museums around the city. Although these are not large like in other major cities in Europe and North America, they are plenty in numbers.

Statistically speaking, one in every ten Icelanders will publish at least one book in their lifetime.



35. Iceland's Music and Fashion Scenes Are Terrible

Being such a small country with an equally small population, Iceland is home to many musicians, some of which have been very influential. 

Bjork is by far the most recognized Icelandic artist. She's not only known for her music but also her fashion sense, having worked with international icons such as Alexander McQueen. 

Icelanders are very fashion-conscious, and there are a number of fashion designers around the country. For the latest trends in Icelandic fashion, you can check out Reykjavik Fashion Festival.



36. Your Photos of Iceland Will Always LookGray

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in sunset

This is also not true. There are some incredible days where the weather and the natural landscape work together in complete harmony, making your pictures of Iceland look like the one above.

Icelandic skies can look anything from gray to pink and bluish hues under sunrises and sunsets, especially when they're clear of clouds.

Fortunately, there can be long spells of crisp and clear still days in between winter storms. In summer, despite being a bit cold, you can have beautiful days with great light for photography, especially during the midnight sun.

Icelanders call that type of weather "window weather," where it looks fantastic but is colder than it appears to be.

37. Icelanders Don't Know How to Party

New Year's Eve in Reykjaví­k

If you're wondering if Iceland is fun, you'll be in for a surprise. In Reykjavik, cafes turn into bars and nightclubs on the weekends and stay open until 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.

There are also plenty of festivals going on all year round, all over the country. On New Year's Eve, almost everyone in the city lights fireworks from around 11 p.m. until early morning.



Whether you're trying to understand if Iceland is worth visiting, if Iceland is safe, if Iceland is a good place to visit or if Iceland is simply too cold, we hope our guide has provided you with plenty of insight. We'd love to hear and respond to any comments or questions you may have in the section below.