10 Reasons Not to Visit Iceland: It’s Time to Rethink your Trip

If you’re wanting to hear all of the reasons not to visit Iceland then you’ve come to the right place!

Iceland is at the top of many people’s bucket lists and it can be tempting to see what all the fuss and hype is about…but will you be let down?

Iceland trips are very, very expensive and you don’t want to end up wasting your money on a bad experience.

I’ve visited Iceland multiple times now and here are all of the reasons I can think of that would make you not want to visit Iceland.

10 Reasons Not to Visit Iceland

It has active volcanoes

Iceland is infamous for having many, many volcanoes and the majority of them are still active. It can be a scary feeling knowing that you’re on an island with pretty much no means of escape if one goes boom…

You might begin to worry and wonder – what if I get killed by an eruption?!

Well, let’s put that to bed really quickly. Volcanoes in Iceland are remarkably safe, even during eruptions. They’ve even become tourist attractions – particularly when they’re spewing lava.

Helicopter rides above Iceland’s volcanoes are extremely popular among more lavish tourists and they are an unforgettable experience.

Lava fields from a recently active volcano in Iceland

I recently climbed to a ridge summit in the Rekyjanes Geopark to get a wonderful view of the lava fields formed in 2021 during the eruption of Fagradalsfjall. You got some amazing views from the top and at the bottom you were able to touch some of the lava that had solidified.

Iceland’s volcano tours are very, very safe and an eruption is unlikely to cause any real harm to people on the island – it would be more of an inconvenience, with air traffic being cancelled or delayed if the ash is particularly bad.

Iceland is home to 30 active volcano systems, and on average, a major volcanic event occurs every five years or so. The residents and tourists of Iceland are rarely harmed during eruptions as there is a great government management of them. Close scientific monitoring ensures that no one gets too close when an eruption is likely.

It’s too expensive

Iceland has ranked as being in the top 10 of the world’s most expensive countries. It currently sits at around position number 5 – making some tourists a bit apprehensive about visiting.

I will admit, it is expensive.

I can’t really spin this one into a positive light because some of the prices are really shocking. Iceland’s biggest industry is tourism so it is no surprise that food and souvenirs are sold at some very inflated prices. It’s also helpful to remember that as Iceland is an island, lots of their goods have to be imported, pushing prices upwards.

We paid over $60 for two portions of fish and chips at a national park visitor centre!

Tour prices are often over $100 and there isn’t much way of working around that as you often have to book tours so that you actually have something to do during the day!

However, there are ways around expensive costs. We opted to buy lunch most days from a local supermarket such as Kronan or Bonus, the prices there were pretty comparable to the UK as long as you were smart about your choices.

E.g. we bought plain bread rolls and pots of chocolate spread or jam and made our lunches ourselves on the go. We also always opted for what was on offer, even if it wasn’t our first choice.

Some prices will surprise you – we got a family size packet of biscuits for just 100 ISK which is equivalent to around $0.72.

Be smart about your decisions, especially with food. There’s no need to be dining out every night in fancy restaurants, a simple pizza to share or a portion of chips will often suffice and be no more than $10.

In terms of reducing tour prices, I’d suggest that you shop around. Don’t just opt for the first tour you set eyes on and make sure that combo tour deals are actually saving you money and aren’t a trap.

Having tours every day is great as you don’t need to think too much about spending money – food and the odd souvenir is your only priority.

Thinking about renting a car is a good idea in the summer and could save you some money – but not so much in the winter as the roads can be quite unforgiving.

In terms of accommodation, please do not spend something luxurious if it isn’t for a very a special birthday or honeymoon. You will barely be in the room with how much time you spend on tours or exploring the city!

It is much better to opt for simple accommodation with the basics. All you need is a bed and a bathroom. To save money, you’re going to have to give up some luxuries!

While the island is very expensive, it should certainly not deter you from going! You might have to save up a good bit before you go but it is absolutely worth it – I promise!

There is boiling water shooting out from the ground

One of the most terrifying reasons not to visit Iceland is that there is boiling water randomly erupting from the ground and it could splurt at any moment!

Iceland is home to a very scary attraction! The hot spring Geysir is where the English word geyser came from.

Geysir is no longer active but used to squirt huge quantities of boiling water up to 70 metres into the air every few minutes. However, it’s little sibling Strokkur still performs!

Strokkur erupts every 5-10 minutes shooting boiling water up to 40 metres high. It is located around 67 miles from Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.

Don’t be scared though – Strokkur can’t hurt you if you stay in the designated viewing zone. The blasts of water from the ground are so fun to watch and they give such cool pictures.

The water can’t hurt you even if it does reach over the ropes as it quickly cools down during the explosion.

There are many other hot streams to look at and admire in the area and the Geysir Geothermal Area is on a popular tour route – the Golden Circle. You’ll likely visit Strokkur if you book any of the most popular tours and it really is a highlight of most people’s trips.

The visitor centre there is so lovely, with some amazing fresh food in the canteen.

You’ll run out of phone storage

Iceland is too full of beautiful things to photograph and you end up in a tizz when your phone starts flashing at you that its running out of storage.

I filled an entire SD card on my camera on my most recent trip to Iceland and I was only there for a week!

Gullfoss- one of Iceland's most impressive waterfalls - you'll not be able to resist taking photos at this spot.

It can be very frustrating having to buy new SD cards or go through your camera roll and delete unwanted photos.

I’m sure everyone on my Instagram was fed up after my 4th round of photos – but how could I resist? Everything was too pretty to not be posted!

Perhaps you’d be better just not visiting Iceland so you don’t end up with the problem!

The island stinks of eggs

One thing about Iceland that many people don’t know about until it hits them right in the nostrils is that the island really stinks – a lot!

The smell of rotten eggs often lingers in the air in Iceland particularly at geothermal areas like at Strokkur or near Gunnuhver Hot Springs.

The worst place for the smell is at the popular Blue Lagoon – and it can really get you gagging if you breathe it in too much!

Don’t worry though – there’s an easy fix. Just wear a snood or something with a high neckline that you can pull up over your nose if the smell gets a bit too much. It’s easy to avoid at geothermal areas, just take a few steps away from the steam that’s wafting towards you.

At the Blue Lagoon, you’ll definitely catch a big whiff on your way into the resort. A lot of tourists pull faces and choke a little while walking down the path to the entrance but believe me, it only takes a few minutes before it wears off.

I’m normally very sensitive to bad smells but after I enter the lagoon the smell fades completely and I never notice it apart from when I go inside and come back out again, but it is never as strong as the first initial hit.

Persevere and I promise it will fade. A great way of looking at it is… when you smell eggs, you know you’re right around the corner from something amazing!

The food is disgusting

Let’s be honest, not many of us will find a sheep’s head on our plates very appetising. Or fermented shark!

Iceland has some very bizarre dishes that are loved by the locals – but not quite to everyone’s taste. Traditional Icelandic food is often heavily salted, pickled or smoked to ensure it stays fresh. It can make even simple meals taste completely different to what you might be used to.

But Icelandic food isn’t all bad! The lamb in Iceland is among the best I’ve ever had (even if it was rather expensive) and is shouted about on every street corner.

Every restaurant that sells authentic lamb will make sure that you know that it’s on the menu. While it may seem quite expensive I can promise it is worth it!

If you’re a fan of fish, you’ll definitely not go hungry in Iceland. The battered cod and haddock is to die for! It is so fresh and tasty, making it very much worth the price.

You’ll also not struggle too much to find yourself some fast food should you really feel out of hope. There are plenty of chip and kebab stops around the city of Reykjavik and lots of pizzerias to enjoy.

While you’ll probably not come away with a new favourite, exclusively Icelandic, dish, you’ll definitely not go hungry or have to suffer on the unappetising meals.

The beaches are black

The beaches in Iceland are very dull, and the sand is black! Hardly the most appealing backdrop for photos…

Most beaches in Iceland have black sand and grey crashing waves, but they are far from full. They are full of life and there’s no escaping the high winds…or sand getting in places you never knew could get sandy!

The black beaches are iconic but they are also very dangerous. You may want to rethink your trip to Iceland if you can’t trust yourself to stay away from the waves as you’re very likely to never been seen again if you get swept up.

The basalt sand is unforgettable, literally too, you’ll be finding it for weeks in random nooks and crannies of your coat pockets or boots.

You have to take the opportunity to visit a black sand beach while in Iceland!

There are too many annoying tourists around

Iceland’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years and it has drawn in all age groups, particularly older Americans with more disposable income.

With only 300,000 residents but over 3 million tourists visiting every year, Iceland is becoming more and more dependent on tourist income. In fact, you could probably go your entire trip without encountering an Icelander as much of the workforce is imported from other countries to keep up the demand.

I won’t lie, there were plenty of occasions that I found myself getting frustrated with annoying groups of tourists who just showed very little awareness of where they were or who was around them – but that’s the same with every country I’ve visited.

You’ll likely encounter a lot of tourists if you opt for guided tours or visit the main attractions. These things can’t be helped most of the time though as you’ll likely want to experience them, especially on your first trip to Iceland.

If you’re really stressed about dealing with tourists then perhaps renting a car will allow you more freedom to explore. As will visiting outside of the peak season. Some natural attractions will be completely empty of visitors and you can go hours without seeing another car when you stay away from the coastlines.

It’s helpful to remember too that when you visit Iceland, you’ll be a tourist too and people around you might find you equally as annoying!

There’s no wildlife in Iceland

This statement is both true and false. Iceland has very little wildlife, but what it does have is plentiful. Very few species are robust enough to survive Iceland’s harsh climate.

You can drive for miles and miles and not see any trees – just green moss and sparse grass. The island really does not have very much in the way of plant life but what it does have can be very beautiful.

In summer, the island is blanketed in lupins, making the roads surrounded by a sea of lilac and purple. The green mosses on the lava fields are very pretty against the grey backdrop. You just have to find the beauty as you go.

In terms of animals, Iceland again falls low on the list of variety. However, you are guaranteed to fall in love with the traditional Icelandic horses that roam wild across most of the country.

You’ll likely spot lots of sheep too, showing off their wonderful fleeces that are used for the authentic lopapeysas.

In the summer, you’re in for a treat as the world’s largest puffin colony comes to the shores and whale watching is a popular activity.

While the range of wildlife in Iceland is very limited, what the island does have is in abundance and is so beautiful.

You’ll never want to go home

One of the biggest reasons not to visit Iceland is that you’ll never want to go home. Iceland felt like home to me the minute I stepped off the plane for the first time and every time I’ve had to leave again it has just gotten harder and harder.

The country is just so beautiful and welcoming; it really is like nowhere else on Earth. Iceland’s uniqueness is so clear and it is no wonder that it has becomeso popular.

With its huge range of natural wonders, you’d never run out of things that make you say “wow” in Iceland. The island is just something else entirely.

Iceland will leave you with great pain and sadness when you try to leave. You’ll be telling everyone who’ll listen about how amazing the island is.

I’ve found my home away from home in Iceland, and hopefully you will too!

Reasons Not to Visit Iceland: Conclusion

If you haven’t gathered the point of this article by now then I’ll make it clear…

You’ll hear lots of short statements from past tourists or read online all these nit-picky comments about the island, and when you don’t read further into them, Iceland can be painted in a very bad light.

All of the reasons not to visit Iceland are exactly why you SHOULD go!

The island offers unforgettable experiences around every corner and you’ll have photographs fit for an art gallery.

The only concerning point that I’ve made is that Iceland is expensive – which it is! Save up and promise it will be worth it though! I’ve never visited another country that I was so happy to spend so much money on except Iceland. Even if it means skipping out on another holiday so that you have enough money to put aside, I guarantee you’ll not regret it.

Hopefully, all of these reasons not to visit Iceland haven’t scared you off going to Iceland and have actually made you more excited to go!

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