Is Iceland safe?

January 21st, 2021

Written by:

Camila Contreras-Langlois

6 min read

Before traveling, you may be wondering just how safe your destination really is. As you are looking forward to a trip to Iceland, we’re here to tell you that, well, you can’t pick a safer destination!

The Land of Fire and Ice is indeed the safest country in the world. And you don’t have to simply trust our word. Below we explain how and why Iceland is so safe and the measures you can take to make it even safer.

You’ll even learn about traveling to Iceland in the time of Covid-19 as we detail how Iceland is facing the global pandemic.

Iceland, the safest country in the world

When we say that Iceland is the safest country in the world, you can rest assured that this is based on the Global Peace Index (GPI). These facts make our claims justified, right?

Every year the GPI ranks all countries in terms of safety and security. It looks at all kinds of stats from countries across the world, from appealing things like health care quality and happiness index to extreme things such as national war involvement and murder rate.

Important note: this isn’t something you need to worry about in the Nordics!

Romantic sunrise over Eldhraun Iceland

GPI is considered the leading measure of global peacefulness. So, you can trust them when they say that Iceland is at the top.

In fact, Iceland has held the title of safest country in the world since 2008. Okay, we’re bragging a little bit now… But hopefully that simple fact reassures you.

Why is Iceland so safe?

There are many factors that make Iceland a safe and unforgettable vacation destination.

Did you know that Iceland is in the top 5 happiest countries in the world? According to the 2020 World Happiness Report, it ranks high in all cornerstones of wellbeing.

A study found that this was in part thanks to the Icelandic class system. The country’s social welfare and education promote an equal society. During your travels, you’ll meet locals who are passionate about their jobs, their land and happy to show you why.

Because people are happy, there are very few social problems, including a low crime rate. Don’t trust all those Nordic noir novels and TV shows. They do not paint an accurate portrayal of Iceland! You’ll even find in Iceland that police officers do not carry guns.

Northern Lights in Vestrahorn, Iceland

Iceland also boasts one of the best health care systems in the world. According to the Healthcare Access & Quality Index 2020  and the WHO’s report, it ranks at number 15 worldwide. It is only topped by a handful of European and Asian countries.

And it has definitely been one of the best countries in the world for Covid response and management in 2020.

Another bonus point of this inclusive nation? Iceland is one of the best destinations for LGBTQ+, female and solo travellers thanks to its liberal outlook and welcoming atmosphere.

Staying safe in Iceland

While Iceland is already a safer country than most, you can still always look out for yourself. Whether that’s on the roads, the mountains or in the city, it’s best to be aware of your surroundings and use common sense.

In this section, you’ll learn our top 5 tips for staying safe during your trip.

1. Purchase travel insurance

Before you set off for Iceland, make sure you have travel insurance to cover you and your family. For safe travel, this is a must! It protects your health, your luggage, your flights and even your bank account in case of bigger claims.

Make sure your policy is comprehensive to include all the activities you want to do as well as coronavirus-related claims.

If you are from an EEA country, don’t forget to bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you.

2. Learn about local road safety

Driving in Iceland is an adventure you won’t soon forget. Just imagine the open road in front of you with views of the white glaciers, stark volcanoes, and the majestic sea.

Before you set off on the road trip of a lifetime, familiarize yourself with the driving laws and potential hazards you may face. These include the many sheep that populate Iceland as well as the one-lane tunnels and bridges in remote areas.

It’s also good to be aware that gas stations are sparse in the countryside. Keep an eye on your fuel levels and fill up when you have the chance.

Finally, off-road driving is strictly prohibited as it can damage the vegetation.

For peace of mind, you may want to watch this short video on “How to drive in Iceland”.

Road through the mountains and fjords in Snaefellsnes peninsula Iceland

3. Check the weather daily

Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland’s climate isn’t as cold as you may think. What you should expect though is weather that can change quickly and often.

For that reason, be sure to pack and dress appropriately when visiting Iceland. This is especially true if you intend to do outdoor activities, go camping, or want to travel in winter.

You’ll also want to check the weather forecast every day before setting off. In winter this is important because the conditions could affect your route, with road closures and such.

And if you intend to look out for the northern lights, a clear sky is what you’re hoping for!

4. Go hiking with peace of mind

The terrain in Iceland is magnificent and attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. You could go hiking in the national parks, on glaciers, and even along volcano craters. But whether you are a newbie or experienced hiker, make sure to be ready for the Icelandic experience.

Hiking is extremely dependent on the weather and season due to the accessibility to the trails. Visit between May and September to take advantage of the beautiful hiking paths and long daylight hours. 

Never put yourself in danger! Bring the required gear, plenty of water, and always look up the mountain you’re about to hike to know what’s ahead.

Svinafellsjokull glacier walk

5. Take precautions with your valuables

Although violent crimes are few and far between, petty crimes occur, like in most countries.

Be vigilant with your possessions, especially in public. Don’t leave your belongings unattended, for example at swimming pools or in restaurants.

Generally, and with all these precautions, you can rest assured that your stay in Iceland will be safe. You can sleep soundly, just like children in prams that the trusting Icelandic parents leave outside shops.

Traveling to Iceland in the era of Covid-19

In normal circumstances, Iceland is very safe to visit. But these aren’t usual times, and travel to Iceland has extra considerations, as with everywhere else. This is because of the quarantine and social restrictions put in place due to the current global pandemic.

We’ve gathered useful information about Iceland and coronavirus below to help you stay informed.

How is Iceland dealing with the coronavirus?

The Icelandic government faced the crisis head on at the start of the year, implementing a rigorous tracing, testing and isolating policy to avoid further spread of the virus.

All these precautions were put in place to protect both visitors and people who live in Iceland, as everyone’s health and safety is the top priority. And thanks to all these efforts, cases dropped to single figures and Iceland’s borders reopened over the summer.

As is true around Europe, cases have gone back up with the arrival of winter. This means there have been more restrictions in place, which are reviewed every two weeks.

The positive news is that data suggests that Iceland is one of the world’s leading countries when it comes to testing. Yes, we’re bragging again…

How is it traveling to Iceland right now?

The Icelandic government has updated the entry requirements for visitors to Iceland:

  • As of 18 March 2021, anyone with a full WHO-approved, international vaccination certificate can enter Iceland. This includes citizens outside the EU/EEA.
  • You do not need to quarantine or undergo border screening upon arrival in Iceland if you have a full vaccination certificate. 
  • Anyone else entering Iceland must submit a certificate of a negative PCR test for Covid-19 prior to boarding a flight or ship to Iceland. The result must have been collected no more than 72 hours before departure.
  • You must also take 2 PCR tests upon arrival in Iceland, with a quarantine of 5-6 days between each test.

You should always check with your local travel advisory to find out if international travel is allowed and please be aware of local restrictions currently in place before your journey. As the local restrictions and conditions of travel are reviewed every two weeks, please visit covid.is for up-to-date information.

Fjadrargljufur canyon in South East of Iceland

Looking forward to future travel with Iceland Tours

Despite everything happening with the coronavirus, with breakthroughs and vaccines, it is time to be optimistic about the future. And to get excited about traveling again!

To look forward to a fantastic trip during which you can tour the Ring Road or discover the Golden Circle, you could take advantage of our Book with Confidence plan.

As part of these new terms, Iceland Tours is offering you risk-free booking for 2021. This means you can rebook your tour without any changing fees or cancel your tour and receive a 100% refund if Covid-19 directly impacts your travel.

We will also cover the cost of a PCR test for you, if there is one.

Read more about this new flexible terms and conditions.


We hope that this article answers any questions you may have had about visiting Iceland. Because, yes: Iceland is a safe country for visitors. Come and experience it for yourself!

When you’re ready to book, you can browse our tours to find the one that suits you, or get in touch. One of our expert agents will answer any queries you may have and help you craft the trip of your dreams!

Tags:

Written by:

Camila Contreras-Langlois