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Safe Travel in Iceland: Your Guide

Is Iceland safe to travel? Well, the country’s known for being one of the safest places for travelers in the world. Here’s what to know for a safe trip.

December 29, 2022

Safe Travel in Iceland: Your Guide

Is Iceland safe to travel? Well, the country’s known for being one of the safest places for travelers in the world. Here’s what to know for a safe trip.

December 29, 2022

Yes, that’s official. Thanks to its low crime rates, gender equality, and its exceptionally friendly people, safe travel in Iceland is easy. However, like travelling anywhere, there are some important things you need to know when coming to visit.

Here, we cover everything you need to have a safe trip—from driving to the weather to mountain adventures. Read on to find out more. - Explore our tours in Iceland for the safe and convenient way to visit

Is Iceland safe to travel?

Iceland is known for being a particularly safe country to travel, if not the safest country in the world.

That’s largely down to its reputation for being a peace-loving nation. Iceland scores very highly on the Global Peace Index, which measures criminality, conflict, and instability in every country worldwide. In fact—not to blow our own horn—Iceland has topped the list every year since the index was launched.

Iceland’s overall peacefulness explains why it’s such a popular destination for solo travellers, women travelling by themselves, and families. However, the benefits extend to everyone. If you’re coming for an Icelandic honeymoon or a trip with your pals, you’ll find Iceland to be friendly, welcoming, and tolerant.

When we talk about safety, though, there’s a lot more to consider.

Driving in Iceland

Many visitors in Iceland want to explore the incredible sights that the country offers by car. But people don’t often expect that driving in Iceland is not always as easy as it is back home.

Firstly, there’s the weather to contend with. Driving in Iceland in summer is generally easiest, as the weather tends to be more stable. However, big summer storms can hit quickly and without much warning. As such, travelling safely by car always means checking what weather is forecast.

In winter in Iceland, things are a little different. There’s often snow on the ground and days are much shorter, meaning you’re likely to be driving in the dark. Otherwise, the low sun can be dazzling, meaning that sunglasses are a must.

The weather aside, it’s worth knowing what to expect before you embark upon your self-drive trip. In Iceland, you drive on the right on main roads. On minor roads, you’re likely to find single- track roads and you’ll need to use passing places if you encounter oncoming traffic. Similarly, most bridges tend to have just a single lane, so you’ll need to let oncoming traffic pass.

There are three main types of road that you should aware of:

  • Primary roads: These are normal paved roads that connect urban areas and things like harbours and airports. Route 1 or the Ring Road, which travels around the whole of Iceland, is the most famous and typically has the heaviest traffic.

  • Secondary roads: Secondary roads are the routes that link up primary roads to smaller settlements, tourist attractions, and private homes. Typically, these won’t be paved, but the busiest of them will be kept in drivable condition throughout the year.

  • F roads: Finally, F-roads are the roads that you will find in the Icelandic highlands. Again, these are unpaved. What you really need to know, though, is that they’re likely to be closed in winter—and it’s illegal to drive on them without an SUV or a four-wheel drive.

Finally, in Iceland, speed limits are lower than you might be used to. On paved rural roads, the limit is 90 km/h (56 mph), while on unpaved roads it is 80 km/h (50mph). Generally, in urban areas, the limit is set to 50 km/h (31 mph).


Solo travel in Iceland


jonatan-pie-8I49k45G-3A-unsplash

Over the years, Iceland has built a reputation for being one of the top solo travel destinations in the world. That’s thanks to a mix of friendly locals, easy transport options, and the opportunity to meet like-minded travellers along the way.

There are lots of options available for you if you want to travel solo in Iceland. For example, head out on a solo road trip, by renting a car and zooming off into the sunset. Or join a group tour to share your experience with other solo travellers.

However you like to travel, in Iceland you’ll have adventures you’ll never forget.


Hiking in the mountains

Hiking in Iceland is one of the most beautiful and liberating ways to explore the country. Leave the towns and main roads behind and discover the beauty and natural wonder just off the beaten track.

The whole of Iceland is criss-crossed by hiking trails and amazing places to explore. But to enjoy it to the fullest, you need to know how to do so safely.

Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your hiking adventure:

  • Let people know where you’re going. If you’re heading into the highlands or you want to try a particularly demanding route in one of Iceland’s national parks, tell someone where you’re going. This could be hotel staff or the rescue services directly.

  • Check the weather. In Iceland, weather conditions can change quickly. Know what to expect before you go. And if the forecast is too challenging, think twice before hiking at all.

  • Pack the right gear. Waterproofs and warm clothes are always essential. But if you’re walking on snow, you’ll need crampons and an icepick—and you’ll need to know how to use them.

  • Take it easy. There’s no rush when hiking. Take it slow and enjoy the view. It will reduce the risk of injury.

  • Know how to navigate. You can’t always rely on signed paths to keep you on the right track. Having a map, a compass, or GPS is essential, especially if you’re heading into the wilderness.

  • Follow advice from the authorities. Often in national parks, you’ll see warning signs with instructions. Please do as they ask! Too many people have hurt themselves by ignoring them.

Further, use the SafeTravel.is website to find the information you need before you head out.

Icelandic weather

Icelandic weather can be volatile, extreme, and unpredictable. But that’s never stopped an Icelander from having a good time. What you need to do is to know how to stay safe, even when the weather changes for the worse.

This matters particularly if you’re out hiking. Being caught in sub-zero temperatures or a powerful storm isn’t fun. That’s why we say being prepared for all conditions is key to enjoying the Icelandic outdoors—in any season.

In summer in Iceland, you can expect temperatures to rise as high as 20-25°C (68-77°F), but you can still see temperatures go below zero (32°F). In winter, temperatures can reach as low as -20°C (-4°F).

That means you should take care when driving too. If you’re not used to icy surfaces, it can be a challenge, not to mention a worry, for many visitors. Alternatively, you can avoid driving altogether by joining one of our range of guided tours.

Water in Iceland

There’s a common question that many visitors have when first coming to Iceland: is it safe to drink the tap water? Our answer is simple: yes, please do!

Tap water — what we call kranavatn — is the most sustainable way to stay hydrated in Iceland. It’s quick, cheap, and doesn’t require the production of millions of plastic bottles. All in all, Icelandic water is the perfect drink.

However, visitors are often put off, for an understandable reason. Hot water in Iceland can have a bit of a funny smell, because it’s pumped through the ground and heated by geothermal energy. Unlike the cold water—which is the freshest spring water available—the hot water is best avoided.


Iceland’s Reynisfjara black-sand beach


South Coast

Fancy a uniquely Icelandic experience on your visit to the Land of Ice and Fire? Visit Reynisfjara, the mysterious and beguiling black-sand beach.

Stroll across the dark sand for which this beach is famous. Gaze out at the twisted rock formations that emerge from the sea. Hear the roar of the ocean and the cry of seabirds.

But don’t swim here. The waves at Reynisfjara are notoriously strong, and can pull you deep into the cold waters.

You’ll find the iconic black-sand beach just outside the village of Vík, on the south coast of Iceland. It’s one of the most mesmerising sights in all of Iceland.


COVID in Iceland

In recent years, there’s been one thing on people’s minds more than any other: the COVID-19 pandemic. But what is the situation in Iceland these days?

Since Iceland’s very first case was detected on 28 February, 2020, there have been just over 200 deaths from COVID in total. In that time, over 200,000 cases have been reported, the majority coming at the beginning of 2022.

These days, the vast majority of Icelanders are vaccinated against the virus and very few cases are reported. You can trust that the disease won’t get in the way of your having a safe trip in Iceland!

FAQs about safe travel in Iceland

Do you have more questions about safe travel in Iceland? Find your answers below.

Is it safe to travel in Iceland?

Iceland is one of the safest countries to travel in the world. With its friendly population, low crime rates, and effective response to the pandemic, there are few places you can travel that are safer.

However, all travel has its risks. Volatile weather, often difficult driving conditions, and the familiar risks of outdoor activities do pose their challenges. But if you follow guidance and are prepared, you’ll have no problems at all.

Don’t want to travel by yourself? Join a group tour of Iceland. We’ll handle all of the travel for you.

How do people stay safe in Iceland?

It’s easy to stay safe in Iceland. You just need to be prepared and keep an eye out for changing conditions. These tips can help:

  • Check the weather before you travel. If a storm is brewing, it might not be the best time to take to the road. If in doubt, sit tight and stay safe.

  • Remember the emergency number: 112. Or you can download the 112 app to alert the security services if you need help.

  • Stick to the path and follow signs if you’re hiking. The easiest way to get lost is to leave the path. We don’t recommend it.

  • Tell someone where you’re going. Let your hotel know when you’re going to arrive, or tell a friend.

  • Keep updated. The SafeTravel.is website has live updates on travel and weather conditions.

Is Reykjavik safe for tourists?

Reykjavik is a safe, friendly, and welcoming capital city, as well as a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

In fact, Reykjavik was recently named the safest city in the world. It’s safe to walk around at any time of day.

What is the safest city in Iceland?

All of Iceland’s cities are safe. Whether you are visiting Reykjavik—the world’s safest capital city—or smaller cities such as Akureyri or Höfn, the only problem you’re likely to have is the weather.

How safe is driving in Iceland?

Driving in Iceland is perfectly safe. Like everything else you do in Iceland, you just need to be prepared and check the conditions before you head out.

In winter, roads in Iceland can be icy, snowy, and have low visibility when the weather is bad. But that’s why we typically have lower speed limits than other countries and why rental cars will likely be equipped with everything you need to make sure your vehicle is winter-proof.

Is it easy to drive in Iceland?

How easy it is to drive in Iceland depends on your experience and level of comfort.

In summer, you’ll likely find driving here just as easy as anywhere else, with clear roads, gentle weather, and low speed limits. However, in winter, driving can be a little more challenging, particularly when the weather is bad.

Ultimately, there’s no obligation to drive in Iceland at all. You can explore the country just as easily on a guided tour or group trip. It’ll take the stress out of your travel—and you might make friends for life along the way.

Are road signs in Iceland in English?

Road signs in Iceland are not almost always in Icelandic. While you might find adverts or directions to visitor attractions in English, the rest of standard road signs will be in Iceland’s native language.

But don’t worry—these signs will be very similar to those in your own country. In fact, most of them won’t be in any language at all.

Do I need an F-road car in Iceland?

You only need an F-road car—a vehicle that is suitable for the unpaved F-roads found in the highlands—if you’re intending to use these roads. However, if we’re honest, the vast majority of visitors to Iceland will not.

Visit Iceland with Reykjavik Excursions

On a trip to Iceland, you’ll explore the safest country in the world. What’s more, it’s up there among the most beautiful, wild, and welcoming countries too.

Join a tour with Reykjavik Excursions to some of Iceland’s most breathtaking sights and we’ll make sure you travel in comfort, style, and safety. We run tours throughout the year, to the Golden Circle and across Iceland’s south coast.

Explore our Iceland tours to find the adventure for you.

SOUTH SHORE BLOG

Your Ultimate Guide to the South Coast of Iceland

There’s so much to see in this astonishing, magical place. But what should you know before heading out on your adventure? In this post, we’ll share everything you need to get inspired—including all of the sites you really shouldn’t miss.

Safe Travel in Iceland: Your Guide

Is Iceland safe to travel? Well, the country’s known for being one of the safest places for travelers in the world. Here’s what to know for a safe trip.

December 29, 2022

Safe Travel in Iceland: Your Guide

Is Iceland safe to travel? Well, the country’s known for being one of the safest places for travelers in the world. Here’s what to know for a safe trip.

December 29, 2022

Yes, that’s official. Thanks to its low crime rates, gender equality, and its exceptionally friendly people, safe travel in Iceland is easy. However, like travelling anywhere, there are some important things you need to know when coming to visit.

Here, we cover everything you need to have a safe trip—from driving to the weather to mountain adventures. Read on to find out more. - Explore our tours in Iceland for the safe and convenient way to visit

Is Iceland safe to travel?

Iceland is known for being a particularly safe country to travel, if not the safest country in the world.

That’s largely down to its reputation for being a peace-loving nation. Iceland scores very highly on the Global Peace Index, which measures criminality, conflict, and instability in every country worldwide. In fact—not to blow our own horn—Iceland has topped the list every year since the index was launched.

Iceland’s overall peacefulness explains why it’s such a popular destination for solo travellers, women travelling by themselves, and families. However, the benefits extend to everyone. If you’re coming for an Icelandic honeymoon or a trip with your pals, you’ll find Iceland to be friendly, welcoming, and tolerant.

When we talk about safety, though, there’s a lot more to consider.

Driving in Iceland

Many visitors in Iceland want to explore the incredible sights that the country offers by car. But people don’t often expect that driving in Iceland is not always as easy as it is back home.

Firstly, there’s the weather to contend with. Driving in Iceland in summer is generally easiest, as the weather tends to be more stable. However, big summer storms can hit quickly and without much warning. As such, travelling safely by car always means checking what weather is forecast.

In winter in Iceland, things are a little different. There’s often snow on the ground and days are much shorter, meaning you’re likely to be driving in the dark. Otherwise, the low sun can be dazzling, meaning that sunglasses are a must.

The weather aside, it’s worth knowing what to expect before you embark upon your self-drive trip. In Iceland, you drive on the right on main roads. On minor roads, you’re likely to find single- track roads and you’ll need to use passing places if you encounter oncoming traffic. Similarly, most bridges tend to have just a single lane, so you’ll need to let oncoming traffic pass.

There are three main types of road that you should aware of:

  • Primary roads: These are normal paved roads that connect urban areas and things like harbours and airports. Route 1 or the Ring Road, which travels around the whole of Iceland, is the most famous and typically has the heaviest traffic.

  • Secondary roads: Secondary roads are the routes that link up primary roads to smaller settlements, tourist attractions, and private homes. Typically, these won’t be paved, but the busiest of them will be kept in drivable condition throughout the year.

  • F roads: Finally, F-roads are the roads that you will find in the Icelandic highlands. Again, these are unpaved. What you really need to know, though, is that they’re likely to be closed in winter—and it’s illegal to drive on them without an SUV or a four-wheel drive.

Finally, in Iceland, speed limits are lower than you might be used to. On paved rural roads, the limit is 90 km/h (56 mph), while on unpaved roads it is 80 km/h (50mph). Generally, in urban areas, the limit is set to 50 km/h (31 mph).


Solo travel in Iceland


jonatan-pie-8I49k45G-3A-unsplash

Over the years, Iceland has built a reputation for being one of the top solo travel destinations in the world. That’s thanks to a mix of friendly locals, easy transport options, and the opportunity to meet like-minded travellers along the way.

There are lots of options available for you if you want to travel solo in Iceland. For example, head out on a solo road trip, by renting a car and zooming off into the sunset. Or join a group tour to share your experience with other solo travellers.

However you like to travel, in Iceland you’ll have adventures you’ll never forget.


Hiking in the mountains

Hiking in Iceland is one of the most beautiful and liberating ways to explore the country. Leave the towns and main roads behind and discover the beauty and natural wonder just off the beaten track.

The whole of Iceland is criss-crossed by hiking trails and amazing places to explore. But to enjoy it to the fullest, you need to know how to do so safely.

Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your hiking adventure:

  • Let people know where you’re going. If you’re heading into the highlands or you want to try a particularly demanding route in one of Iceland’s national parks, tell someone where you’re going. This could be hotel staff or the rescue services directly.

  • Check the weather. In Iceland, weather conditions can change quickly. Know what to expect before you go. And if the forecast is too challenging, think twice before hiking at all.

  • Pack the right gear. Waterproofs and warm clothes are always essential. But if you’re walking on snow, you’ll need crampons and an icepick—and you’ll need to know how to use them.

  • Take it easy. There’s no rush when hiking. Take it slow and enjoy the view. It will reduce the risk of injury.

  • Know how to navigate. You can’t always rely on signed paths to keep you on the right track. Having a map, a compass, or GPS is essential, especially if you’re heading into the wilderness.

  • Follow advice from the authorities. Often in national parks, you’ll see warning signs with instructions. Please do as they ask! Too many people have hurt themselves by ignoring them.

Further, use the SafeTravel.is website to find the information you need before you head out.

Icelandic weather

Icelandic weather can be volatile, extreme, and unpredictable. But that’s never stopped an Icelander from having a good time. What you need to do is to know how to stay safe, even when the weather changes for the worse.

This matters particularly if you’re out hiking. Being caught in sub-zero temperatures or a powerful storm isn’t fun. That’s why we say being prepared for all conditions is key to enjoying the Icelandic outdoors—in any season.

In summer in Iceland, you can expect temperatures to rise as high as 20-25°C (68-77°F), but you can still see temperatures go below zero (32°F). In winter, temperatures can reach as low as -20°C (-4°F).

That means you should take care when driving too. If you’re not used to icy surfaces, it can be a challenge, not to mention a worry, for many visitors. Alternatively, you can avoid driving altogether by joining one of our range of guided tours.

Water in Iceland

There’s a common question that many visitors have when first coming to Iceland: is it safe to drink the tap water? Our answer is simple: yes, please do!

Tap water — what we call kranavatn — is the most sustainable way to stay hydrated in Iceland. It’s quick, cheap, and doesn’t require the production of millions of plastic bottles. All in all, Icelandic water is the perfect drink.

However, visitors are often put off, for an understandable reason. Hot water in Iceland can have a bit of a funny smell, because it’s pumped through the ground and heated by geothermal energy. Unlike the cold water—which is the freshest spring water available—the hot water is best avoided.


Iceland’s Reynisfjara black-sand beach


South Coast

Fancy a uniquely Icelandic experience on your visit to the Land of Ice and Fire? Visit Reynisfjara, the mysterious and beguiling black-sand beach.

Stroll across the dark sand for which this beach is famous. Gaze out at the twisted rock formations that emerge from the sea. Hear the roar of the ocean and the cry of seabirds.

But don’t swim here. The waves at Reynisfjara are notoriously strong, and can pull you deep into the cold waters.

You’ll find the iconic black-sand beach just outside the village of Vík, on the south coast of Iceland. It’s one of the most mesmerising sights in all of Iceland.


COVID in Iceland

In recent years, there’s been one thing on people’s minds more than any other: the COVID-19 pandemic. But what is the situation in Iceland these days?

Since Iceland’s very first case was detected on 28 February, 2020, there have been just over 200 deaths from COVID in total. In that time, over 200,000 cases have been reported, the majority coming at the beginning of 2022.

These days, the vast majority of Icelanders are vaccinated against the virus and very few cases are reported. You can trust that the disease won’t get in the way of your having a safe trip in Iceland!

FAQs about safe travel in Iceland

Do you have more questions about safe travel in Iceland? Find your answers below.

Is it safe to travel in Iceland?

Iceland is one of the safest countries to travel in the world. With its friendly population, low crime rates, and effective response to the pandemic, there are few places you can travel that are safer.

However, all travel has its risks. Volatile weather, often difficult driving conditions, and the familiar risks of outdoor activities do pose their challenges. But if you follow guidance and are prepared, you’ll have no problems at all.

Don’t want to travel by yourself? Join a group tour of Iceland. We’ll handle all of the travel for you.

How do people stay safe in Iceland?

It’s easy to stay safe in Iceland. You just need to be prepared and keep an eye out for changing conditions. These tips can help:

  • Check the weather before you travel. If a storm is brewing, it might not be the best time to take to the road. If in doubt, sit tight and stay safe.

  • Remember the emergency number: 112. Or you can download the 112 app to alert the security services if you need help.

  • Stick to the path and follow signs if you’re hiking. The easiest way to get lost is to leave the path. We don’t recommend it.

  • Tell someone where you’re going. Let your hotel know when you’re going to arrive, or tell a friend.

  • Keep updated. The SafeTravel.is website has live updates on travel and weather conditions.

Is Reykjavik safe for tourists?

Reykjavik is a safe, friendly, and welcoming capital city, as well as a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

In fact, Reykjavik was recently named the safest city in the world. It’s safe to walk around at any time of day.

What is the safest city in Iceland?

All of Iceland’s cities are safe. Whether you are visiting Reykjavik—the world’s safest capital city—or smaller cities such as Akureyri or Höfn, the only problem you’re likely to have is the weather.

How safe is driving in Iceland?

Driving in Iceland is perfectly safe. Like everything else you do in Iceland, you just need to be prepared and check the conditions before you head out.

In winter, roads in Iceland can be icy, snowy, and have low visibility when the weather is bad. But that’s why we typically have lower speed limits than other countries and why rental cars will likely be equipped with everything you need to make sure your vehicle is winter-proof.

Is it easy to drive in Iceland?

How easy it is to drive in Iceland depends on your experience and level of comfort.

In summer, you’ll likely find driving here just as easy as anywhere else, with clear roads, gentle weather, and low speed limits. However, in winter, driving can be a little more challenging, particularly when the weather is bad.

Ultimately, there’s no obligation to drive in Iceland at all. You can explore the country just as easily on a guided tour or group trip. It’ll take the stress out of your travel—and you might make friends for life along the way.

Are road signs in Iceland in English?

Road signs in Iceland are not almost always in Icelandic. While you might find adverts or directions to visitor attractions in English, the rest of standard road signs will be in Iceland’s native language.

But don’t worry—these signs will be very similar to those in your own country. In fact, most of them won’t be in any language at all.

Do I need an F-road car in Iceland?

You only need an F-road car—a vehicle that is suitable for the unpaved F-roads found in the highlands—if you’re intending to use these roads. However, if we’re honest, the vast majority of visitors to Iceland will not.

Visit Iceland with Reykjavik Excursions

On a trip to Iceland, you’ll explore the safest country in the world. What’s more, it’s up there among the most beautiful, wild, and welcoming countries too.

Join a tour with Reykjavik Excursions to some of Iceland’s most breathtaking sights and we’ll make sure you travel in comfort, style, and safety. We run tours throughout the year, to the Golden Circle and across Iceland’s south coast.

Explore our Iceland tours to find the adventure for you.

SOUTH SHORE BLOG

Your Ultimate Guide to the South Coast of Iceland

There’s so much to see in this astonishing, magical place. But what should you know before heading out on your adventure? In this post, we’ll share everything you need to get inspired—including all of the sites you really shouldn’t miss.