Iceland Tourist Information and Tips
Iceland is a country where nature is the supreme ruler. Always do what the signs tell you to do. If there are no signs, be aware of cracks in the lava you are walking on, that the weather changes very rapidly, and that the sea is a cruel mistress and might sweep you away, even if you're just standing on a beach. Also, be wary of volcanic eruptions, althought this is less likely than the other dangers.
Driving around Iceland can be difficult or even dangerous. Inform yourself on local conditions and make sure your vehicle and driving skills are up to the task. Be aware that many roads (even parts of the main country road) are unpaved and can turn into slippery mud during the summer. There have been a number of instances where foreigners, unprepared for Icelandic roads, have been in accidents, some of them fatal. Since the roads are very quiet and the distances between settlements great, some Icelanders abuse this by speeding considerably. Sheep sometimes roam near the roads or even on them, so always have your eyes open and be on the look out for sheep. Check out the following website for up-to-date road-condition information. Road numbers starting with an F is usually simple dirt paths made by a road scraper and it's not uncommon that river crossings is required. Many F-roads are closed due to extremely bad road conditions from October to mid-June.
The Icelandic Narcotics Police has a very strict policy on drugs; minimum fine for possession of under 1 gram (3/100 of an oz.) of any illegal substance can result in a fine of over 30000 ISK ($373/ˆ237/?188 in June 2008).
The medical facilities in Iceland are good and available free to European Union citizens with a valid E-111 form or its replacement ID card. Scandinavian citizens must show valid passport and medical insurance to be treated.
Infectious diseases aren't a problem in Iceland. Inoculations aren't required except if you are arriving from countries that suffer from infectious diseases like cholera.
The biggest threat to your health is likely to be accidental injury or bad weather. Always make sure you have more than adequately warm and waterproof clothing. Selection of appropriate clothing is especially important in Iceland and can even be a matter of life and death. The most known Icelandic outdoor wear brand is 66°North (the latitude of the Arctic Circle) which has been tried and tested by Icelanders in rough conditions for 80 years. Exercise extra caution in geothermal areas.
- Some Icelanders believe in the hidden people — called huldufolk — and a few claim to have seen them. They are analogous to elves, but are often considered separate. There is even a museum in Reykjavik devoted to the hidden people. This is an ancient Icelandic belief and most Icelanders respect the tradition. Skepticism thus can appear rude.
- Many tourists, including other Europeans, see Icelanders as gruff and unapproachable. This is generally just a first impression and most people are friendly and helpful.
- Tipping is not expected in Iceland, but well appreciated. Only tip for exceptional service.