Insider Tips: Avoiding Tourist Traps In Iceland - Answers & Video

Insider Tips: Avoiding Tourist Traps In Iceland

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Insider Tips: Avoiding Tourist Traps in Iceland

Iceland is a breathtaking country known for its stunning landscapes, unique natural wonders, and vibrant culture. As tourism in Iceland continues to grow, it’s important to navigate your way through the country without falling into tourist traps that can dampen your experience. In this article, we will provide you with insider tips on how to avoid tourist traps in Iceland and make the most of your visit.

1. Reykjavik City Center

Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is a popular starting point for many travelers. While the city center offers a vibrant atmosphere and plenty of attractions, it can also be crowded and touristy. To avoid the tourist traps, explore the lesser-known neighborhoods such as Vesturbær and Hlíðar. Here, you’ll find charming local cafes, boutique shops, and a more authentic Icelandic experience.

  • Try: Café Babalú
  • Café Babalú is a cozy café located in the Vesturbær neighborhood. Enjoy a cup of coffee and indulge in their delicious homemade pastries while immersing yourself in the local atmosphere.

  • Explore: Reykjavik Art Museum – Hafnarhús
  • Located near the harbor, the Reykjavik Art Museum – Hafnarhús is a hidden gem showcasing contemporary Icelandic art. Spend some time admiring the unique exhibits and supporting local artists.

2. The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is a popular tourist route that takes you to three iconic natural attractions: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. While these sites are undeniably stunning, they can get crowded during peak hours. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting early in the morning or late in the evening.

  • Experience: Secret Lagoon
  • Instead of visiting the crowded geothermal area at Geysir, head to the Secret Lagoon. This natural hot spring offers a more serene and relaxing experience, allowing you to unwind while surrounded by beautiful Icelandic scenery.

  • Discover: Faxi Waterfall
  • While Gullfoss is undoubtedly impressive, Faxi Waterfall is a hidden gem worth exploring. Located nearby, this lesser-known waterfall offers a more intimate and peaceful experience.

3. Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions, known for its milky-blue geothermal waters. However, it can get crowded and expensive. To avoid the tourist trap, consider visiting other geothermal pools and hot springs in Iceland.

  • Visit: Mývatn Nature Baths
  • Located in northern Iceland, the Mývatn Nature Baths offer a similar experience to the Blue Lagoon but with fewer crowds. Relax in the warm, mineral-rich waters surrounded by stunning volcanic landscapes.

  • Explore: Seljavallalaug
  • If you’re up for an adventure, hike to Seljavallalaug, a hidden geothermal pool nestled in the mountains. This natural hot spring provides a unique and secluded bathing experience.

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4. South Coast Waterfalls

The South Coast of Iceland is known for its magnificent waterfalls, including Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. These waterfalls attract a large number of visitors, especially during the peak tourist season. To avoid the crowds, consider exploring lesser-known waterfalls along the South Coast.

  • Discover: Gljúfrabúi
  • Tucked away behind a cliff, Gljúfrabúi is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. This magical waterfall offers a unique experience as you can walk into a small cave and witness the cascading water up close.

  • Experience: Svartifoss
  • Svartifoss, also known as the Black Waterfall, is located in Skaftafell National Park. Its unique basalt column backdrop makes it a must-visit attraction. The hike to Svartifoss is less crowded compared to other waterfalls in the area.

5. Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is often referred to as “Iceland in Miniature” due to its diverse landscapes. While popular sites like Kirkjufell mountain and the black sand beaches of Djúpalónssandur are worth visiting, consider exploring the lesser-known areas of the peninsula to avoid tourist crowds.

  • Discover: Rauðfeldsgjá
  • Rauðfeldsgjá is a hidden gorge located near Arnarstapi. This narrow canyon offers a unique hiking experience and leads to a hidden waterfall. Explore this hidden gem and enjoy the tranquility away from the tourist crowds.

  • Visit: Búðir
  • Búðir is a small hamlet known for its picturesque black church and stunning coastal scenery. Take a stroll along the black sand beach and soak in the beauty of this lesser-known gem on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

6. Local Cuisine

While exploring Iceland, don’t miss the opportunity to try the local cuisine. However, be cautious of tourist-oriented restaurants that may offer overpriced and less authentic meals. Instead, opt for local eateries and cafes to experience the true flavors of Icelandic cuisine.

  • Indulge: Icelandic Hot Dog
  • Head to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in Reykjavik, a famous hot dog stand that has been serving delicious hot dogs since 1937. Topped with crispy onions, ketchup, mustard, and remoulade, this Icelandic specialty is a must-try.

  • Try: Icelandic Seafood
  • Visit a local seafood restaurant and savor the fresh catch of the day. From grilled salmon to langoustine soup, Icelandic seafood is known for its quality and flavor.

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7. Remote Highlands

The Icelandic Highlands are a vast and remote region that offers unparalleled natural beauty. While exploring this rugged landscape, it’s important to be well-prepared and avoid tourist traps that may lead to dangerous situations.

  • Plan: Landmannalaugar
  • Landmannalaugar is a popular destination in the Highlands known for its colorful rhyolite mountains and natural hot springs. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder season and be prepared for challenging hiking trails.

  • Explore: Askja Caldera
  • The Askja Caldera is a remote and awe-inspiring volcanic crater located in the Highlands. It requires a 4×4 vehicle and a challenging hike to reach, but the reward is a breathtaking view of the caldera and the stunning Öskjuvatn lake.

8. Northern Lights

Witnessing the Northern Lights is a dream for many visitors to Iceland. To maximize your chances of seeing this natural phenomenon, venture away from the popular tourist spots and find quieter locations with less light pollution.

  • Escape: Reykjanes Peninsula
  • The Reykjanes Peninsula, located close to the Keflavik International Airport, offers dark skies ideal for Northern Lights viewing. Drive away from the city lights and find a secluded spot to witness the magical dance of the Aurora Borealis.

  • Discover: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, located in southeastern Iceland, provides a stunning backdrop for Northern Lights photography. Capture the mesmerizing lights reflecting on the icy waters of the lagoon for an unforgettable experience.

9. Local Festivals and Events

Immerse yourself in Icelandic culture by attending local festivals and events. These gatherings offer a unique insight into the traditions, music, and arts of the country.

  • Experience: Þjóðhátíð
  • Þjóðhátíð, also known as the Westman Islands Festival, is an annual event held in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. Enjoy live music, traditional Icelandic food, and the vibrant atmosphere of this local celebration.

  • Attend: Reykjavik Pride
  • Reykjavik Pride is one of the biggest LGBTQ+ events in Iceland, celebrating diversity and equality. Join the colorful parade and participate in various events that promote inclusivity and acceptance.

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10. Off the Beaten Path

To truly avoid tourist traps, venture off the beaten path and explore lesser-known regions of Iceland. This allows you to discover hidden gems and experience the untouched beauty of the country.

  • Explore: Westfjords
  • The Westfjords are a remote and rugged region in northwestern Iceland. Explore dramatic fjords, untouched landscapes, and charming fishing villages that offer an authentic Icelandic experience.

  • Discover: Dynjandi Waterfall
  • Dynjandi, also known as Fjallfoss, is a majestic waterfall located in the Westfjords. Its cascading tiers make it one of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls, yet it remains relatively undiscovered by many tourists.

11. Sustainable Tourism

When visiting Iceland, it’s important to practice sustainable tourism to preserve the country’s fragile environment. Respect nature, follow designated trails, and support local businesses that prioritize eco-friendly practices.

  • Choose: Eco-Friendly Tours
  • Opt for tour operators that prioritize sustainable practices and minimize their environmental impact. Look for certifications such as the Vakinn Quality Label, which ensures responsible and sustainable tourism.

  • Reduce: Plastic Waste
  • Bring a reusable water bottle and shopping bag to minimize plastic waste. Many Icelandic towns have water fountains where you can refill your bottle with clean and safe drinking water.

12. Local Recommendations

One of the best ways to avoid tourist traps is to ask locals for recommendations. They can provide insider tips and guide you to lesser-known attractions and hidden gems.

  • Engage: with Locals
  • Strike up conversations with locals and ask for their favorite places to visit, eat, and explore. Their recommendations will often lead you to off-the-beaten-path destinations that are not crowded with tourists.

  • Follow: Local Blogs and Social Media
  • Stay updated with local blogs and social media accounts that share authentic experiences and recommendations. These platforms are a great resource for discovering hidden gems and avoiding tourist traps.


By following these insider tips, you can navigate your way through Iceland and avoid falling into tourist traps. Embrace the authentic side of the country, explore lesser-known areas, and engage with locals to make the most of your Icelandic adventure.


– Reykjavik Art Museum:
– Mývatn Nature Baths:
– Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur:
– Landmannalaugar:
– Þjóðhátíð:
– Vakinn Quality Label:

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