Iceland is open: volcano update


Health & Safety

How to stay safe and healthy while travelling in Iceland

Iceland is a peaceful country with modern healthcare services and low levels of crime and pollution. You can even drink water straight from the tap! Using common sense and following standard safety precautions, you can look forward to a safe, enjoyable journey on your tour of Iceland.

Prepare for your adventures in Iceland with the basic health and safety information below.

Iceland emergency services number

Dial 112 for Police/Ambulance/Fire

Finding a doctor

  • In every major town around Iceland, there is healthcare centre with a doctor on call.
  • Walk-in hours at clinics vary for urgent, non-life threatening care.
  • In case of a medical emergency, dial 112.

Finding a pharmacy or chemist

  • Pharmacies are called apótek or lyfjaverslun in Icelandic and can be found in most towns around Iceland.
  • Hours of operation are typically 10:00-18:00 Monday to Friday and 10:00-16:00 on Saturdays.
  • Note that over-the-counter medications for minor ailments (e.g., for pain relief and allergies) are only sold at pharmacies, not at grocery stores.

Health and travel insurance

  • We urge all travellers to have comprehensive travel insurance. This is not included in Nordic Visitor tour packages. 
  • For medical services, Scandinavian citizens must present their passport whereas citizens of EEA countries must present a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or else be charged in full.
  • Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries will be charged in full at hospitals and clinics.
  • For more information, see details from the Icelandic Social Insurance Administration.

Safety in Reykjavík 

Reykjavík is a friendly and very safe capital city, which is why it's heralded as a great destination for families and solo travellers in Iceland. Crime rates are low and there are no “bad” neighbourhoods in Reykjavík, but petty theft and pickpocketing – though rare – can occur. So to be on the safe side, don’t keep valuables in your car overnight and don’t leave your personal items unattended in bars, cafes or major tourist attractions.

Safety tips for rural areas

Based on recommendations by, a project of the Icelandic Search and Rescue Association (ICE-SAR), here are some of our tips for staying safe on your adventures in the Icelandic countryside:

  • Check the daily weather forecast often as conditions can change quickly in Iceland. Get weather reports in English from the Icelandic Met office:
  • Stay a safe distance from shorelines at beaches due to the risk of deadly “sneaker waves” and strong undercurrents.
  • Never climb on icebergs, even on beaches.
  • Do not walk on or inside a glacier unless you are on a professionally guided excursion.
  • Be careful around hot springs and mud pots; always stay behind safety barricades.
  • Pay attention to cliff edges, especially on windy days.
  • Never stop your car in the middle of a road, or on the shoulder of the highway, for a photo. Park only in safe, designated areas. Read more about driving in Iceland

Emergency assistance app

Going on a road trip or doing some hiking? ICE-SAR also provides a GPS smartphone app called 112 Iceland for reporting emergencies, like car accidents or getting lost while hiking in wilderness areas.

Nordic Visitor is committed to traveller safety and is a proud sponsor of the Icelandic Search and Rescue Association.


Iceland is a geologically active country, straddling the North American and European tectonic plates. This means that earthquakes are fairly frequent, but rarely are they dangerous. 

Because the plates are moving apart, earthquakes tend to be on the weaker side compared to other parts of the world. They have reached as high as 7 on the Richter scale, but most are below 5. If the earthquake is below 2, it won’t feel much different from a heavy vehicle driving past.

Although earthquakes can be unpleasant to experience, they are very unlikely to pose a danger to you. Icelandic buildings are constructed to strict safety standards and are required to withstand even strong earthquakes. In the event of a strong earthquake, you should:

  • Duck in a corner of a room, open doorway or under a table
  • Cover your head with your arms
  • Hold onto the wall, doorway or table leg

It’s also important to stay indoors and be aware of objects and debris that might fall from above you. You can find more information on the Icelandic Civil Protection website.


Iceland’s geographical position means the island is dotted with volcanoes. These are one of the country’s great attractions, and some of them are even active. This has created spectacular natural displays in recent years. For all the latest developments, see this Iceland volcano update.

Most volcanoes in Iceland are located far away from towns and cities. They are also concentrated in specific parts of the country, such as the Reykjanes peninsula, central highlands and southeast. You’ll find that many popular routes and regions, such as the Golden Circle, southwest coast, North Iceland and Westfjords, are far from active volcanoes.

On the Icelandic Civil Protection website, you can find information about ongoing eruptions and what to do in the event of one. The safest and simplest thing to do is stay away, as conditions can be unpredictable and change very quickly.

If you have any concerns before your visit, talk to our travel consultants. Remember, during your time in Iceland, we’ll also be available on our 24/7 helpline for non-emergency issues.

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