6 Things Locals Wish Tourists Wouldn’t Do When In Iceland

Dec 23, 2023

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Icelandic Tourist Board reported over 1.7 million visitors in 2022. The ethereal beauty of Iceland has persistently drawn hoards of tourists to its shores. Unavoidably, these tourists make mistakes and encounter culture crushes.

There are now about six things that collectively irks the people of Iceland.

First, there is the joke about Iceland and Greenland. Actually we have all heard the joke. It stems from the fact that Greenland is covered in ice and Iceland is lush green.

Then there is the northern lights that tourists look for during the summers. Icelanders are tired of tourists not doing their research before planning their trip. The midnight sun that occurs between May and August is also a matter of confusion among tourists.

European culture, especially Iceland does not appreciate tipping in restaurants, finding it borderline offensive in certain parts. Saying no to tipping on the part of the service-providers also results in arguments.

Anna Ragna, born and raised in Iceland moved to the US in 2015. She tells Business Insider, “A lot of times there would be tips on the table for the waitress and they say, ‘We can’t take it,’ and then it’ll end up turning into an argument, and that’s something that happened quite often.”

Iceland is renowned for its pristine beauty and the natives hate when tourists littter. Ragna says, it “enrages us as a people.”

There is also the issue of tampering with the delicate Icelandic moss. This slow-growing green layer is able to adapt to the harshest climates but it can be very fragile when tread  upon. It grows incredibly slowly and it can take up a hundred years just to grow a simple patch.”

Tourists also ignore signs in different hazardous areas. For example, an Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter rescued an  “exhausted, cold and shocked” hiker who got too close to a volcanic eruption near Grindavík on December 19. Authorities warned tourists to “think four times.”

Davíð Geir Jónasson who is the owner of Icelandic tour company called Vik Expeditions says he has seen this happen too many times throughout his 15-year long service. He says, “In Iceland, a warning sign is put up because someone has died or multiple people have died. It’s not just because something might happen.”

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Sarmind is a Writer and an aspiring Editor who has experience in various short and long-form niches. Her academic pursuits intensely mold her industry background in content creation. She holds a Master's degree in Literature, and when not writing for professional purposes, she can be found re-reading old classics of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. She is super fond of cats and enjoys hours of doom-scrolling through memes on social media while cuddled up with a cup of desi chai. She likes to think she is an intellectual badass (colloquial: nerdy bore), and now all she needs is a sewing kit to complete the look!

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