Travel Etiquette 101: Iceland

by Adam Barralet
Rainbow over a waterfall in Iceland

With its enormous glaciers, hot thermal springs, active volcanoes, stunning waterfalls and snow-capped mountains, Iceland is indeed the original ‘land of fire and ice’. Not only does it’s unique landscape intrigue visitors year after year, but it is the hardy Icelandic people that leave a big impression as well. Adam Barralet shares some helpful etiquette tips when visiting this beautiful country:

The Icelandic people can be a little reserved but once you strike up conversation with them you’re in for a true mentally stimulating experience.  Whereas small talk may serve you well elsewhere, aim for something more in depth than talking about the weather in Iceland. Furthermore it’s not advised to criticize Iceland’s weather to the locals.  Icelandic people are direct and honest, so only make commitments you intend to keep.

When meeting someone in Iceland, a firm hand shake and eye contact is acceptable. Although more relaxed than other countries in Europe, in Iceland punctuality is still important.; make sure you are on time for social engagements.

The people of Iceland like to work hard and play hard. Although they have one of the longest working weeks in Europe, they also have a very happening night life. If you are burning the candle at both, don’t expect to grab a coffee on the run. In Iceland a coffee should be savoured and appreciated and is rarely available to go.


If you are staying at somebody’s home, it is considered rude to give them a gift of thanks. However if you are meeting someone for the first time it is customary to bring a small gift or flowers. If you are entering their house, remove your shoes.

There are various delicacies you may be daring to try when dining out. Skyr is a white, yogurt-like substance with a unique taste, while Hakarl is one for the more adventurous eater ( shark meat that has been buried and left to petrify for six months). For the faint hearted there is fresh fish, arctic lobster, delicious cheeses and organic lamb to sample virtually anywhere you go. Regardless of your dining experience, tipping isn’t allowed. Instead, a service charge will be added to your bill.

If you are heading to Iceland soon I am confident it will be a memorable experience. The people of Iceland are generally very nice, sociable, helpful and there is generally very little to worry about with respect to crime. Just be sure you have got your thinking caps on because you’re in for some great discussions!

Looking for more information on Iceland or need assistance planning your next trip? Adam Barralet is Assistant Manager at our Flight Centre- Sheppard Centre in Toronto and can be reached by E-mail or by calling 1-866-828-1390. Check out more of Adam’s Etiquette Series