Iceland is a cold, barren land which has little going for it except vistas that stretch for hundreds of miles, night (and day) skies that are more colorful than any elsewhere on the planet and people who are infuriatingly happy and friendly. Unless you want to feel bad about yourself and your own country, don’t go there. And if that’s not enough, here are some other reasons why you shouldn’t visit the volcanic island nation.
20. Icelandic horses just aren’t cute enough
They look like ponies, but don’t tell that to Icelanders – these are horses. And they’re not nearly cute enough despite their lovable size and velvety coats. Oh, and they’re extremely friendly and docile, making them perfect for petting. Awful.
19. A volcano could cancel your flight
Okay, so nobody has actually ever been documented as having been hurt by a volcano in Iceland, and yes, they’re all located well away from towns and cities… but still, you never know. In 2010, Eyjafjallajökull erupted and led to flight cancellations all over Europe. Including in Iceland, where locals and tourists were forced to watch a display of unparalleled natural beauty and in some cases extend their holidays and be unable to return to work through no fault of their own. Terrible, terrible place.
18. The pesky northern lights will stop you from sleeping
Nature’s best disco isn’t much to look at really. The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are just lots of colors emanating from particles high up in the Earth’s atmosphere reacting to movements in the electromagnetic field… or something. And it just lights up the night sky to the point that you won’t want to sleep because of the celestial wonder-dance going on above your head. Trust us, if you want to get a good night’s sleep and don’t want your stars interrupted by the world’s greatest color and light show ever, avoid Iceland like the plague.
17. The landscape is so bleak that they used it in Star Wars
Iceland is often used for movie shoots because of its vast emptiness. And its scenery. Mýrdalssandur, for example, has the world’s darkest black-sand beaches. And they’re seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as Lah’mu, an outpost covered in lush greenery and those tar-colored sands. In fact, Iceland is used for so many productions (Game of Thrones, Batman Begins, Prometheus are just some examples) that you can’t move for the hordes of wildlings, xenomorphs and stormtroopers there. Avoid.
16. Reykjavik is only the third-happiest city in the world
In a 2016 poll Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, ranked as only the third-happiest city in the world. A paltry 66 percent of its citizens were very satisfied with life there, another 31 percent satisfied, which to us means they were probably pretty furious with lives surrounded by natural beauty, a really low crime rate and universal healthcare enjoyed by all. No wonder they lost to Aalborg and Copenhagen.
15. Iceland is overly friendly
Yup, as you might expect, being really happy makes Icelanders really – and overly – friendly. Even for the famously content Scandinavians, they take hospitality to another level, and you’re likely to be greeted with a smile wherever you go. Not only that, but Reykjavik is home to just 120,000 happy people, making it small, intimate and welcoming. Ugh.
14. It’s full of noisy, beautiful waterfalls
Unlike Victoria Springs, you can’t even predict when (or even where) waterfalls are going to be in Iceland. Why? New – and very noisy – ones emerge every spring from melted snow, making it infuriatingly difficult to plan your trip. Well, there is Europe’s most powerful cascade, Dettifoss; the legendary (and super-photogenic Gullfoss) and Seljalandsfoss, which you can even walk around, year round. But still.
13. You can’t escape cool musicians and record labels
Iceland has produced cooler-than-cool music acts such as Björk, Sigur Ros and Of Monsters and Men, but to make matters worse, they’re not all that unusual in the country. In fact, the place is crawling with cool musicians, great venues and avant-garde record shops where you can find rare LPs and enjoy some of the best coffee (possibly iced) the country has to offer.
12. You might be forced to go for a bath in a warm spring
They’re obsessed with tours in Iceland (probably because they want to control how much you see of this awful place) and in six hours on the Goðafoss, Námaskarð Geothermal Area and Mývatn Nature Bath tour, you’ll have to endure another noisy waterfall, a bird sanctuary, an adrenaline-pumping 4×4 jeep ride and a skin-healing thermal bath. Pure hell.
11. They’re crazy about craft beer, just like everyone else
Not only has craft beer taken off in a big way in Iceland just like everywhere else, there are a ton of microbreweries to go along with those friendly, knowledgeable bar staff. Oh, and they even have a special “Beer Day” to celebrate the end of prohibition in 1989. What do they do? Drink beer. Lots of it. And smile, obviously.
10. There are dangerous whales everywhere
If you come to Iceland you’ll end up going whale watching. The locals seem to think it’s really fun to see some of the rarest and largest mammals in the world up close. Just to make it worse, there’s around a 99 per cent chance you’ll spot a humpback frolicking in its natural environment. Better keep your eyes firmly shut if you want to avoid yet another natural spectacle, should you be foolish enough to ever come here.
9. They put festivals inside volcanoes
Remember all those cool musicians and venues we were talking about earlier? Yeah, well they’re so desperate for space now that they’re hosting festival performances inside volcanoes. Yup, inside a dormant but naturally wondrous volcano. In fact, 2016 witnessed the first public performance ever inside the magma chamber of a volcano. And things are only going to get worse – because it went down really well.
8. They’re so afraid of dating each other that they might try to date you
Virtually all Icelanders are descended from the same bunch of athletic, attractive ninth-century Viking settlers. As a result, they’ve even developed an app to make sure they’re not too closely related when they meet someone in a bar or club. Which means it’s likely that if you’re out on the town those irritatingly happy, friendly, attractive Icelanders are going to notice you and the fact that you’re not a cousin. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
7. If you’re not careful, you might encounter a stunning geyser
Iceland is home to geysers, another noisy gift from Mother Nature which sees hot springs shoot up (up to 230 feet, in fact) from far beneath the Earth’s surface. Not only are these irritating spectacles rare, some in Iceland are more than 60 feet higher than Old Faithful in the U.S., which means you might injure yourself straining your neck to admire these astonishing spectacles.
6. Some caves are made of unstable ice
If you want to see some cool caves, you need to know what you’re working with, right? A bit of darkness, some cool rocks. Definitely not stunningly ornate and naturally formed ice sculptures that could collapse on you. Well, that’s what could happen if you go without a guide, who are numerous and know exactly where to head in order to completely nullify the risk of danger.
5. You may have to go for a cool ride in a helicopter
Remember Eyjafjallajökull, that pesky volcano that prolonged everyone’s once-in-a-lifetime vacations to this godforsaken place back in 2010? Yup, well, it may have managed to stop airplane flights all around Europe, but it didn’t stop those Icelanders from taking to the skies in whirly birds and snapping some amazing photos of the extraordinary landscape beneath. And you know what? They still let you do it.
4. It has a terrible, extremely romantic thermal spa
Not only does the thermal water at the Blue Lagoon resort come from 6,500 feet below the surface, it also produces electricity and hot water for nearby communities. So if you do come to this spa, which is renowned for its romance, they’ll probably harp on about how wonderful they are. And on top of that, the healing waters are known to be good for psoriasis and various other ailments. Yada yada yada.
3. There aren’t many trees
Q: “What do you do when you get lost in the Icelandic forest?” A: “Stand up.” Yup, that’s right, their jokes are as bad as everything else in Iceland. This one is true, though. Less than 2 percent of this volcanic, hauntingly bleak country is covered in greenery. So if you come here, you’ll be able to take in views that stretch for hundreds (sometimes thousands) of feet. You’ll probably be reminded of all those awful cinematic scenes we were talking about earlier. Who’d want that?
2. Fans of the soccer team do this dumb celebration
What’s it like when the national soccer team and the majority of the nation all meet in one place to do a giant thunderclap Viking celebration? Really awe-inspiring and exceptional. So don’t come here if you want to be reminded of what happened after the country’s soccer side did the whole nation proud at Euro 2016.
1. It’s always raining
Well, okay, not always, but a lot, like in Ireland, or Seattle, or lots of places. And as you can see, the dampness really makes everything look gray and boring – especially in the cities, of which there are hardly any. Yawn.