Iceland has become an increasingly popular vacation destination in the past decade, and there are a lot of misconceptions about visiting this island country. From its reputation as being one of the most expensive places in the world to
The Food Sucks
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about Iceland is that the food is bad/gross/weird. While Iceland’s food may be negatively stereotyped by pickled herring and fermented shark, there’s so much more to the food scene today. You can find a variety of cuisines in Reykjavik, including Asian, American, and Scandivaian foods! I had delicious seafood soup, great hot dogs, and amazing fresh fish while I was visiting Iceland.
It’s Expensive, and It’s Impossible to Get a Meal in Reykjavik for Under $20
There’s no doubt that Iceland can be an expensive country to visit, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money to have a great time! Check out my guide to cheap eats in Reykjavik for a list of meals under $20 USD, including yummy soup in a bread bowl and the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever had. Lots of the attractions are pretty expensive, but thankfully, many of the waterfalls, geysers, and other natural sights are free (or you just have to pay for parking).
It’s Too Dangerous to Drive During the Winter
When I visited Reykjavik in February, I was really nervous about driving around the Golden Circle. Even though there were patches of ice and snow on the roads, I felt like about 90% of the roads were perfectly clear and safe. Unfortunately, the northern part of the country and the highlands are a bit more dangerous during the winter, so be careful if you want to drive during the colder months.
Gas Stations Over Charge You
One of the many warnings I heard before road tripping through Iceland was that gas stations overcharge you or place large holds on your cards for several days before returning it. In order to avoid this, we always paid inside and let the gas station clerk know how much we wanted to put on the pump. Whatever you do, don’t press the “fill up” option if you don’t want a $200 deposit taken from your card!
It’s Too Cold
With a name like Iceland, it’s bound to be a little chilly. Even though it was very cold during the winter when I visited, it was not as bad as I expected, and I fully enjoyed the trip despite the frosty temperatures. Southern Iceland’s temperatures stay relatively moderate during the winter because the Gulf Stream touches the southern edge of the country. That being said, the country is still very cold, so you need to pack lots of sweaters and good hiking boots (check out my blog post for more Iceland packing tips so you don’t forget anything).
You’re Guaranteed to See the Northern Lights
Many tourists are drawn to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, a natural phenomenon caused by particles in the atmosphere. The Northern Lights are only visible during the winter because extended hours of daylight during the spring and winter makes them impossible to view. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that you’ll see the Northern Lights if you visit during the winter. I didn’t see them at all during my trip to Iceland in February because the moon was too bright while I was there. In order to see the lights, you’ll need a very dark, clear night with lots of atmospheric activity. Additionally, the Northern Lights aren’t as vibrant in real life as they look in photos, so it’s important to know what to realistically expect if you’re visiting Iceland to see the Northern Lights.
Reykjavik is Boring
I see a lot of travelers complaining online that Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, is boring. While it’s not the biggest city, there is a lot to see there, and it’s still worth a day of exploration. I thought the city was really cute, and it is super walkable and easy to get around. I was surprised to find that Reykjavik had a vibrant and exciting nightlife scene. I went out one night and had a great time bar hopping along the main streets. While the city may not have as many attractions as Paris or Rome, it’s still a cool place to visit.
It’s All Outdoors- You Have to Hike Everywhere
Before I when to Iceland, I assumed I would be hiking a lot. While there was a good bit of walking during my trip, I was surprised to find that you could drive right up to some of the waterfalls and park less than a five-minute walk away from it. On the other hand, some of the attractions require quite a bit of walking, like the DC3 Plane Wreck, which requires a 4 mile (round trip) walk.
Iceland Travel Myths Busted
Hopefully, this article helped to dispel some of your misconceptions about Iceland! The country is absolutely stunning, and it’s well worth a visit, so don’t let these travel myths keep you from traveling to Iceland!