Is Iceland Safe?

In this article

Iceland is a gorgeous island country in the North Atlantic Ocean. It falls within the Nordic region. Iceland’s unique landscape consists of 10% glaciers and numerous volcanic mountain ranges, geysers, and hot springs. Hence the name the “Land of Fire and Ice.”
But, given the nature of its environment, is Iceland safe? The answer is yes, Iceland is very safe. It is among the safest places in the world. Here’s a detailed breakdown of Iceland’s safety levels by specific parameters.

Is Iceland Safe to Travel? Quick Facts

Iceland is considered the safest country in the world. It ranks high on the global peace index with a score of 95. It has been voted the most peaceful nation for 12 years in a row. The crime rate is low.
Nature poses a greater safety risk because of the rough terrain and unique geographical makeup of Iceland. It is located in an active volcanic and earthquake zone and has abundant hot springs and geothermal spots. However, the Icelandic government provides useful information and safety guidelines to keep you safe and ensure you have a smooth trip.

How Safe Is Iceland? Crime Rate Overiew

The crime rate in Iceland is very low. Violent crimes like mugging, armed robbery and kidnapping are rare. However petty thefts such as pickpocketing and gang activities are growing in the capital city.
To prevent falling victim, stay alert when in open public spaces and tourist attractions. Keep valuable items and travel documents hidden away from plain sight. Also, be wary of unsolicited help from strangers.

Is There a Risk of Terrorism?

There have been no terrorist attacks in Iceland’s history. However, Europe generally faces a terrorism risk. Several European cities have been attacked and many threatened in recent times. It is essential to stay aware of your surrounding especially when in public spaces and leave once you perceive a risk.
Places where terror attacks may occur include:
  • Government buildings.
  • Public transportation hubs e.g airports and bus terminals.
  • Worship centers.
  • Crowded spaces and tourist attractions like shopping centers, markets, hotels, restaurants, parks e.t.c.

You’ll need to be extra watchful in large gatherings such as sporting events and religious festivals. Terrorists typically take advantage of the anonymity of such events provide to strike.

Political Stability and Social Tensions

Iceland is politically stable, however, demonstrations do occur from time to time. And peaceful demonstrations can easily turn violent and disrupt traffic and public transportation. To avoid getting caught up in a demonstration while in Iceland:
  • Pay attention to local media for news on potential or ongoing demonstrations.
  • Adhere to the instructions of local authorities.
  • Avoid areas and routes where demonstrations are being held.

Local Laws Visitors Need to Be Aware of

Icelandic laws are binding on its citizens as well as foreign visitors. It’s essential to know these laws to avoid getting into trouble with local authorities during your visit. Below are some relevant laws to be mindful of.

ID document

It is not unusual for local authorities to ask you for identification at any time. Always carry a photocopy of your passport or another relevant ID document with you. It is also helpful in cases of loss or seizure of your passport.


Iceland imposes severe penalties on drug-related offenses. Illegal use, possession, or trafficking of drugs attracts heavy fines and, in some cases, jail sentences.


You need an international driving permit to drive in Iceland. You may be allowed to drive for some time using your country’s driving license (up to 6 months), depending on your country’s relationship with Iceland. However, you must obtain an Icelandic driving license or an international driving permit to continue driving after the given time.
You must always keep your headlights on when driving in Iceland. Driving off-track is prohibited, and driving under the influence of alcohol is considered a criminal offense. Violation of driving rules attracts stringent penalties such as heavy fines, jail terms, or deportation.


Camping is only allowed in organized campsites and urban areas. It’s illegal to camp outside organized campsites unless you have explicit permission from the landowner.


Iceland strictly regulates both the recreational and commercial use of drones. You need permission from Iceland’s Environmental Agency to fly a drone in certain protected areas. Failure to do so will attract a heavy fine and the seizure of the drone.

Public Transportation and Road Safety

Public transportation in Iceland consists of buses, taxis, and ferries. Municipal bus services run in Reykjavik and its surrounding towns but are not available in remote areas. However, Long-distance buses commute between the cities and remote areas. They are very safe, as the drivers are Icelanders familiar with the terrain and traffic rules.
Road safety in Iceland varies across its regions and seasons. While most urban roads are paved, many inland roads are unpaved and narrow. Driving in winter can be very hazardous, and most roads in remote areas and the Highlands are closed off during the winter season.
If you’ll be driving around Iceland’s highlands and remote areas
  • Get detailed information on the road conditions.
  • Use a four-wheeler.
  • Ensure your car has winter tires (during winter).
  • Inform a third party of your travel itinerary.
  • Ensure you have adequate supplies of gas, food, and water and remember to carry your cell phone.

Risk of Natural Disasters

Iceland is located in an active seismic zone, which makes it prone to natural disasters. Its climate is largely unpredictable, and snow, sand, and ash storms are common occurrences. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, mudslides, and tsunamis (in the coastal regions) happen often too. A volcano erupted in August 2022 on the Reykjanes peninsula.
Ash from volcanic eruptions often disrupts air traffic. It also pollutes the air, making it harmful to people with respiratory ailments. There’s also the risk of getting severe burns from the many geysers located across the country if safety measures are not followed.
To stay safe in Iceland:
  • Monitor the local media to stay informed on volcanic activity.
  • Keep away from volcanic sites.
  • Obey all safety rules and measures around craters, geysers, hot springs, and volcanoes.
  • Follow every instruction from local authorities.

Adventure Tourism

Thousands of tourists visit Iceland yearly to see its wild and unique natural environment. In fact, Reykjavik is one of the best European cities to visit in winter, for the Northern Lights and numerous snow sports like dog sledding. However, visiting Iceland for adventure tourism requires adequate preparations because of its wild terrain and severe weather conditions. You’ll have to take additional safety measures than you would in most other parts of Europe.
Updates on hazardous weather conditions and good practices are available on the Icelandic government’s website. You will receive SMS safety alerts when you register your itinerary on their portal. If you’re driving to remote locations, you may need to get Iceland’s emergency assistance app, 112 Iceland App.
If you intend to make a private trip to Iceland’s remote areas, highlands, and natural attractions:
  • Don’t go alone
  • Ensure that you’re in good physical condition to take on challenging activities
  • Get detailed information on weather conditions and potential hazards.
  • Carry sufficient supplies of essentials like gas, food, and water.
  • Get comprehensive travel insurance that covers emergency helicopter evacuation
  • Inform a third-party (family member or friend) of your travel itinerary and expected date/time of return
  • Get detailed information on routes, roads and trails and safety on marked trails
  • Be careful and adhere to all safety rules around cliffs, craters, geysers, hot springs, and volcanoes.
  • Register your itinerary with the Icelandic authorities
  • Carry a cell phone and a power bank, and keep emergency numbers handy
  • Camp only in official campsites.

Arctic Travel

If you’re traveling to the Arctic circle, especially in winter, you need to make adequate plans for emergency evacuation. Reaching emergency teams can be difficult in this region due to poor network coverage. Even when you reach them, help may take a long time to arrive, depending on the weather and sea conditions.
Ensure that you book your travel with an experienced travel company that has good medical care facilities onboard.

Is Iceland Safe to Travel Alone?

Iceland is a very welcoming and inclusive country. There are no particular risks for a solo traveler as long as you take normal safety precautions. However, it is not advisable to travel to remote areas and highlands alone because of the risk of natural hazards.

Solo Female Travellers

Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world for solo female travelers. You won’t encounter any problems as long as you follow the general safety rules. Also, avoid deserted areas and poorly lit streets at night, and you’ll have a great trip.

Is Iceland Safe for Black People?

Black people and people of color in general have nothing to fear when traveling to Iceland. The country is safe, and there are no known cases of discrimination. However, there are very few black people in Iceland (about 1% of the population or less), and you might be the only black person in most spaces. However, there are many Asians and other people of color in Iceland.

Is Iceland Water Safe to Drink?

Icelandic water is very clean and safe to drink. The tap water is sourced directly from underground water and is completely chemical-free. It is one of the cleanest and safest drinking waters in the world. You don’t need to buy bottled water; you can drink directly from the tap; it’s the same water.

Useful Tips for Travelers to Iceland

1. Iceland's Entry Requirements

Although Iceland is not a member of the European Union, it is an associate member of the Schengen Zone. This means the rules for entering the Schengen area apply to Iceland.
Citizens of countries that are part of the Schengen visa waiver program do not need a visa to enter Iceland for a short stay. However, by the end of 2023, they’ll need to get ETIAS to enter Iceland and the Schengen region as a whole. ETIAS - Electronic Travel Information and Authorization System is designed to prevent illegal immigration into Europe.
It is an electronic travel document that allows entry into Iceland for three months at a time. ETIAS is easy to obtain once you meet the requirements. Applications are online via the ETIAS official website and take less than 15 minutes to complete. You’ll typically get a response within 48 hours.
However, you’ll need an Iceland visa if you intend to stay for more than three months.

2. Weather

Iceland experiences all four seasons, but the weather is quite unpredictable and can change at any time. Its name is a bit misleading because the weather is mild most of the year. The southern regions are warmer and wetter than the north, but the central Highlands are the coldest region in the country.

3. The Standard of Health Facilities

Healthcare services and facilities are excellent in Iceland but are limited outside the cities and big towns. Ensure your travel health insurance covers hospital admissions and emergency medical evacuation.
Written by: Fikayomi Abisola
Abisola is an ETIAS Travel and Immigration writer with several years of writing experience in the industry. Abisola has a unique enthusiasm for travels, tours, and tourism and loves to educate travellers about the criteria involved in international travelling.

Is It Safe to Travel to Iceland: FAQs

  • 1. What is the biggest problem in Iceland?

    The biggest problem in Iceland is natural disasters. But your chances of being affected are low if you follow all safety guidelines.
  • 2. Why is crime so low in Iceland?

    There is no definite reason why crime is low in Iceland. Iceland is a small island country, so the low population and economic stability are major contributing factors to its low crime rate.
  • 3. Are tourists safe in Iceland?

    Tourists are safe in Iceland. It is ranked the safest country in the world and has a safety index of 95.
  • 4. Is it safe to drive in Iceland during winter?

    Driving in Iceland can be dangerous in the winter, especially in remote areas and the highlands. Most of the roads in these regions are only open in the summer.
  • 5. What should you not do in Iceland?

    To stay safe in Iceland, you should not:

    ● Go off marked paths while hiking
    ● Violate traffic rules

    Go too close to volcanic eruption sites, especially if you have respiratory problems
  • 6. What is the most common crime in Iceland?

    The most common crime in Iceland is petty theft.

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