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What NOT to Do in Iceland

Kate sitting in a swimming pool holding a frozen red and blue drink.

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Let me tell you about what not to do in Iceland! Iceland is a dream destination for so many people. Even for me, 11 years after my first of four trips, I’m still fantasizing about the next time I return to Iceland.

And it can be REALLY easy to make a major travel mistake in Iceland. A mistake that will cost you money, time, or embarrassment, whether this is your first time in Iceland or your tenth.

I’ve taken the wisdom from my Iceland trips and have thrown together every tip I could think of. Let’s take a look and what NOT to do in Iceland!

(And don’t forget to check out my other Iceland trip planning posts, including my Iceland Packing List. Open that one in a new window!)

Kids’ slushee? Paid for with a credit card!

Don’t take out much (if any) cash.

Iceland is a country where you can use credit cards for nearly everything. In fact, on my most recent trip, Amanda and I spent two weeks in Iceland, never took out cash, and put every purchase on credit cards. We didn’t need cash once.

If you’re into points, you can earn an insane amount of points on an Iceland trip! (Though please don’t attempt travel hacking unless you have a habit of paying your bill off in full every month. If you already have good habits and want to start travel hacking, I recommend getting started with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.)

So what will you need to pay for in cash in Iceland? The public buses in Reykjavík, if not using the app. Occasionally you might come across a donation-based hot spring. That’s about it.

Locals swimming and bathing at Reykjavik's public swimming pool.
The Reykjavik Sundhöll, where showering is absolutely required.

Don’t go into a swimming pool without showering naked first.

Icelanders love their swimming pools. Just about every town in Iceland has its own heated outdoor swimming pool, and locals gather to soak and chat the way other nations’ locals gather at coffee shops or bars.

And they are VERY strict about one rule in particular: you must shower naked first. It is a crucial requirement. Icelandic pools have limited chemicals, so they rely on people keeping squeaky clean to keep the pool clean.

This is the case whether you visit an Icelandic swimming pool, a hot tub somewhere, or a geothermal spa like the Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon, or my favorite, the Vök Baths.

You should know that most geothermal pools have open showers — as in a big open…

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