Top Five Things To NOT Do In Iceland!

Top Five Things To NOT Do In Iceland!

Angie Diamantopoulou Author

Text by: Angie Diamantopoulou

You've heard of everything you must do in Iceland. From waterfalls to glaciers and ice caves to volcanoes, Iceland has the most incredible sights in the world. However, have you heard of things to not do in Iceland?

Thankfully, Iceland does not have many tourist traps. Most tours, car rentals, and other tourist services are great, ethical companies, and they won't rip you off!

However, in my opinion, there are some things that you should avoid while on your trip to Iceland. From -the few -tourist traps to unnecessary ​tipping habits, this guide will show you all the things to not do in Iceland!

Before we take a look at all the things to not do while on your trip to Iceland, let's see what you will find in this blog:

  • what are the things to not do in Iceland?
  • what are the tourist traps in Iceland?
  • are there any alternatives to tourist traps in Iceland?
  • some tips from a local!

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things to not do in iceland and tourist traps

​It's no secret that Iceland is an expensive country. Tourists can often find it very pricey, like the couple who was planning a trip around Europe and ran out of their budget on the first few days in Iceland!

However, that doesn't have to be you. I'm sure you have planned your trip according to your budget. Besides, I'm here to give you some tips on all the things to not do in Iceland that would cost you a pretty penny and leave you disappointed!

Ready for some trip and wallet-saving tips? ​Keep reading this guide to see what you should avoid on your trip to Iceland!

1. DON'T BUY BOTTLED WATER

things to not do in Iceland bottled water

You may be used to buying bottled water when you travel abroad. I don't blame you. Drinking water safety and cleanliness is one of the major concerns in the entire world right now.

You don't have to worry about that in Iceland, though! Both tap water and even glacial water from rivers and waterfalls is perfectly drinkable! Icelandic water is one of the cleanest waters in the world. Generally, Icelandic water is not contaminated by either human or natural causes. The mineral content is also low, which renders it almost tasteless. ​

Therefore, there is no reason to buy any bottled water during your stay in Iceland. You won't only be saving your wallet (as Icelandic bottled water is pretty expensive), but you will also not be using unnecessary plastic.

An ​alternative to bottled water:

Just bring a water bottle with you. You can either fill it in a river or stream (just make sure it's a clear one, though, preferably one without a lot of foot traffic!) or you can ask any rest stop, gas station or restaurant to fill it up for you!​

2. ​DON'T TIP

things to not do in iceland tipping

Many tourists complain about the steep prices in restaurants, especially in Reykjavik. And they are right! Food in Iceland is quite expensive. You have to keep in mind, though, that this is what pays your waiters a living wage!

The tipping policy in Iceland, generally speaking, is no tipping. Your waiters will not expect to be tipped, and you won't be a rude customer if you don't.

However, if you​ were happy with the service and you want to show your appreciation to the staff (and your wallet can handle it!), don't hesitate to tip! It will be very appreciated and you might make someone's day!

3. ​DON'T SHOP AT 10/11

things to not do in iceland ten eleven

​10/11 (is it named after 7/11? We'll never know) is one of the most common supermarkets downtown, but...well, only downtown. Locals never shop there unless they absolutely have to. 

And there is a good reason for that. 10/11 is unreasonably expensive, way more than even the regular expensive supermarkets in Iceland, and even more so than the budget ones.

As there are so many downtown, there will most likely be one near your hotel. They are also open 24/7, which makes them convenient if you need something in the middle of the night. ​However, I would highly recommend avoiding it if you can. If you need something small and convenient, it might be worth it while on the go. For anything else, though, there are better places to go.

An alternative to 10/11:

The supermarket chains Bónus and Krónan are a good alternative to 10/11. There are quite a few locations downtown, and it's very easy to visit them, especially the Bónus store in Laugavegur.

Hagkaup is also a good alternative, although it is not as easily accessible. If you find yourself near one, though, don't hesitate to check it out!​​

shop at bonus in iceland

Bónus supermarket

4. DON'T BUY OVERPRICED SOUVENIRS

things to not do souvenirs reykjavik

Personally, I am not a big fan of souvenirs. However, I remember the joy of getting something from the places I visited as a kid. I also know that some people want to bring a souvenir back to their family or maybe they just love them!​ And that's awesome!

I don't think that most souvenir stores downtown are worth it, though. They sell mass-produced items that they import from other countries, and nothing they have is Icelandic. Therefore, what is the point of buying one, especially when they are so expensive?

An alternative to overpriced souvenirs:

​If you really want a typical souvenir, then I suggest that you select it carefully. Do your research while walking downtown and compare prices before buying. I would definitely recommend, though, that you don't get any souvenirs from outside of Reykjavik, as the prices are even steeper.

You can also get something that is not marketed as a souvenir, specifically. Icelandic art is gorgeous and groundbreaking, so you can invest in anything from a painting to literature to jewelry!

Another good option for a souvenir is to visit Kolaportið​ flea market or Reykjavik's second-hand stores and scour them for some authentic Icelandic gems! You will most likely find some amazing and affordable Icelandic wool sweaters, made by an Icelandic grandma!

Kolaportid flea market in Iceland

Kolaportið flea market


Psst! For the ultimate guide to creative souvenirs that won't break the bank, check out this guide!


5. BLUE LAGOON

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Leaving the controversial entries for the end! In the last spot of our list about things to not do in Iceland, we have the Blue Lagoon.

You must be thinking I'm crazy. The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland's biggest attractions, with millions of tourists visiting it every year. They must know something, right?

Well, yes. The Blue Lagoon is a magical place and there is nothing quite like it in the world. I have enjoyed it plenty of times myself, and every time I have been in awe of its milky blue waters.

However, I have never paid for it (perks of being an employee). Would I pay for it now? Probably not. Would I pay for it if I were a tourist? Also probably not.

I can see the appeal of the Blue Lagoon, and if you really want to go, then by all means go for it! You will have a great time. However, at 11900 ISK (98 USD), the entrance fee is not only very expensive, but bordering to unreasonable. Sure, you get a lot of amenities, but you get the same amenities as visitors did a few years ago, when the prices were approximately half.

If you don't feel like paying that much for the Blue Lagoon, it's totally fine! In my opinion, you are not missing out that much. You can always drive up to it and see its famous waters (just don't take a dip! The water that runs outside of the lagoon is extremely hot!).

An alternative to the Blue Lagoon:

Iceland is filled with hot springs. ​They are virtually everywhere, and most of them are completely free! You can check out this guide on our favorite hot springs and natural pools in Iceland!

If you want a natural pool with amenities, then I highly recommend the Secret Lagoon​, where the entrance fee is 3000 ISK (approximately 25 USD). The water might not be milky blue, but the surroundings are beautiful, and the pool is not as crowded! I also recommend combining it with the Golden Circle, as it is very close to it! In fact, we have an amazing tour that will take you to the Secret Lagoon after a tour around the Golden Circle, and you can book it right here!

Another great option for those of you who have fallen in love with the Blue Lagoon's milky blue color is the Mývatn Nature Baths. Often called "The Blue Lagoon of The North", the natural pool is located in the beautiful town of Mývatn in the north of Iceland. And guess what; it has the same milky blue color!

The entrance fee is almost half of the Blue Lagoon's at 4500 ISK (37 USD) during off-season and 5000 ISK (41,50 USD) during peak season.

Myvatn nature baths

Mývatn Nature Baths


some tips from a local

Icelandic wool sweater

If you buy an Icelandic wool sweater (or lopapeysa), make sure it was made in Iceland or, even better, buy a vintage one!

This guide of things to not do in Iceland is as much about saving money as it is about having fun on your trip. 

One of my tips would be to focus on authentic Icelandic products and experiences. That applies to food, clothes and souvenirs that you may purchase during your stay in Iceland.

Another would be that photographs make for the best souvenirs! Make sure to snap a lot of them!

Last but not least, don't feel like you have to do everything that other tourists do. ​It's okay to not go to the Blue Lagoon or other overpriced places or hotels that other travelers visit. After all, the Blue Lagoon is in my things to not do list! In my opinion, you can have even more fun in Iceland if you don't do the typical tourist things!


some final words

What do you think about all the things to not do in Iceland? Are there any other things to not do that deserve to be on this list? Do you maybe think something else is a tourist trap? Let me know in the comments. Also, don't forget to share with other fellow travelers who would like to know about all the things to not do on their trip to Iceland!

I hope my tips help you have an amazing time in Iceland, while saving a little bit of money! Let me know how your trip went!​

You’ve heard of everything you must do in Iceland. From waterfalls to glaciers and ice caves to volcanoes, Iceland has the most incredible sights in the world. However, have you heard of things to not do in Iceland?

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