You don’t want to be that tourist, who unintentionally agitates all locals in the proximity. Here is what not to do while visiting Iceland!
Using incorrect terminology about Icelandic things
This one is easy to fall into! How should you know about Icelandic aspects and the correct names for them, when you haven’t been to Iceland? However, as a rule of thumb: Make sure to use the Icelandic terms for things instead of interpreting it into something similar from your own culture. Two classic mistakes are:
Calling skyr “yogurt”
Skyr is very different from yogurt as it is extremely rich in protein and therefore so much more good for you than yogurt.
Calling an Icelandic horse a “pony”
Don’t ever use the “p-word” – it is insulting. Icelandic horses are extremely strong and powerful creatures bred to be able to carry heavy loads over long distances. Calling an Icelandic horse a “pony” is to belittle it. In the tourist shops, “lundabúðir”, you can even buy refrigerator magnets and other souvenirs by Icelandic designer Ninna Thorarinsdottir with the “I’m not a pony” statement.
Don’t use the “p-word” about the horses. It is insulting and just plain rude.Every Icelander
Not following the swimming pool norms
There are a lot of norms around visiting the public swimmingpools in Iceland. Some of it is hard to know and other aspects really just requires you to be observant and read the signs at the pools. The rules are there for a reason: Hygiene, so please abide by them. Most common rules that visitors miss are:
Always shower naked before getting in the swimming pool
Basically, you enter the locker room and strip down until you are completely naked. You shower completely naked, use soap and make sure to wash yourself thoroughly before putting on your swimsuit. … and then you can head on our to the swimmingpool.
Always dry off before heading back to the dressing room after showering
Basically, you shower, get out of your wet swimsuit, dry off your entire body and then you head back to your locker so you don’t drip all the way and make the floor wet.
Stepping on the moss
Icelandic nature is fragile and very little vegetation can actually grow on the lava fields and black sand deserts. Moss can. However, when you step all over it, it dies and it does not just pop back in a heart beat. Therefore: Don’t step on the moss.
In general, one way to really grind an Icelander’s gears is by disrespecting nature and ignoring warning signs. Reynisfjara is a classic. This beautiful black sand beach on the south coast is famous from oh so many pretty pictures on Instagram. However, this beach is also famous for its so-called “sneaker waves” that come out of the blue and sweepes people in the icy cold waters. “Don’t turn your back on the water” the signs at Reynisfjara says. However, very few people actually take notice of it as they are too busy taking selfies on the beach. Don’t be that tourist. People have actually died at Reynisfjara because of these sneaker waves.
Buying bottled water
Icelandic tap water, Kranavatn, is the best and purest water in the world. It comes from the glaciers and is filtered through layers and layers of lava, which makes it so clean and filled with delicious and healthy minerals. Therefore, don’t buy bottled water when you visit Iceland. Drink tap water and always bring a reusable water bottle with you to fill up anywhere – from the rivers on your road trip or the taps around Reykjavík. It is free and it is good for both you and the environment. Drink responsibly, drink Kranavatn.
Putting Instagram before safety
There are no dangerous animals in Iceland – except from the mammal called “a tourist”Every Icelandic tour guide
Safety first, people! Think twice before you stop on a narrow road for a pretty picture. It makes it pretty hard and dangerous for other drivers to pass you. I have heard several tour guides say that there are no dangerous animals in Iceland – except from the mammal called “a tourist”. Well, unfortunately they are not wrong. Don’t be that tourist.
Coverphoto by Jack B on Unsplash.