Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world with an extremely low crime rate and excellent medical care (in comparison with most of the world though we tend to complain a lot about it these days). However, it is necessary to take precaution when travelling in Iceland due to natural hazards where conditions can change at a moments notice. The saying "if you don't like the weather in Iceland, just wait 15 minutes" exists for a reason and goes both ways!
In only a couple of weeks now we have had two fatal tourist accidents. One in the ever so popular Silfra in Þingvellir national park and the other in Reynisfjara. With over 20% increase in the number of tourists visiting Iceland year after year this does not come as a surprise to me. With more tourists we will have more accidents but we can do a lot to try and keep those accidents to the minimum. Here are some guidelines for tourists coming to Iceland. This list is not sufficient so please make sure you always get the newest information before coming to Iceland.
Being the northern most capital in the world of a sovereign state you should not be surprised that the weather can get really bad. Always check weather forecasts every morning especially if you are travelling in the country side and in the winter. I recommend using the offical weather web site in Iceland.
2. Dangerous waves
The shore at Reynisfjara is very dangerous and the whole area around Dyrhólaey. Please respect the nature and keep your distance from the waves. There should be signs at both locations now that warn tourists not to go to certain places but still they do and that has resaulted in casualties, the most recent one last wednesday when a chinese tourist got sucked out to sea and drowned.
3. One lane bridges
I am going to make this one really short. This is a picture of a one lane bridge sign. When you approach one you should slow down and the rule is that the first car to arrive at the bridge crosses it first. We have had to many accidents because of people that rush accross these bridges driving 60 mph.
There are thousands of sheep all around Iceland and for some reason they like to stay close to the roads. Some call them suicide sheeps since they tend to jump on to the road when a car approaches. So please be careful when driving in the country side and if you see a warning sign with a sheep on it it's there for a reason!
5. Walking on the ice in Jökulsárlón (the glacier lagoon)
For some odd reason I have to put this here. This should ofcourse be common sense but this happens to often for me to look the other way. If you fall into the lagoon you could easily experience hypothermia and I doubt that anyone will jump in to help someone that shows such reckless behaviour. There's also the danger of the ice capsizing and then you could get sucked beneath it and drown.
6. Hot springs mean hot water!
Iceland is blessed with having a lot of geothermal areas and a lot of hot springs all around the country. You know the most famous one, the blue lagoon, that's really safe but that's not the case with all of them. Please respect warning signs and do not get to close to the boiling hot water. Accidents around hot springs and geothermal areas are quite common and almost all of them happen because tourists don't follow the signs around them.