10 Things Not to Do in Reykjavik

Glowing Reykjavik at night
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If you desire to be spontaneous, then a visit to Iceland's largest city and capital Reykjavik would be the place to go. Reykjavik is charming, unique, and different. Due to the fact that this city is so different, you need to observe certain rules in order to enjoy your stay. Here are ten things you shouldn't do in Reykjavik:

1. Don't Give a Large Tip

Most people in other countries and cities would love to be tipped up to 25% for great service, but in Reykjavik, the common waiter or waitress doesn't expect to be tipped that kind of amounts. Some waiters will take kindly to it, but others will take serious offense, so it's better not to tip much or tip at all. Best stick to regular tipping rules for Iceland.

2. Don't Be Loud

Icelanders are a quiet people, and you will be embarrassing yourself if you end up being too loud or obnoxious as a visitor. It is said that the Reykjavik locals can spot a foreigner in their city by how loud he/she is, and oftentimes, they will automatically conclude that you are drunk. So unless you're on fire, keep your voice down and adjust to your surroundings.

3. Don't Complain About the Food

In Reykjavik, it's a common thing to see people enjoy a sheep's testicles and fermented shark meat, among other unusual entrees, and there is nothing that will irritate the locals of Reykjavik more than the disgusted look on your face while they are enjoying their delicacies. There's nothing wrong with not eating their strange food, but please don't sit there and stare while they enjoy it. 

4. Don't Be Sarcastic

English is not the people’s first language here in Reykjavik, and saying something that you may think is a joke might just be taken literally. Using metaphors and hyperbole may not have the desired effect, so keep your language slang-free, friendly, and simple.

5. Don't Pronounce Their Words (Incorrectly)

The Icelandic language is hard to understand, and even harder to pronounce, so practice practice and practice more to pronounce the words in the Icelandic language - or stick to English. Imitating the way locals speak just to make fun of them is very rude.

6. Don't Drink Too Much, If You Can't Handle Your Alcohol

Icelanders are known as heavy drinkers, but they can indeed handle their liquor well. Do not join them in their abundant drinking because unlike them, you are likely to end up making a fool of yourself. 

7. Don't Go If You’re Traveling on a Budget

Things in Reykjavik are very expensive, so visiting this city is not for you if you're traveling on a low budget. Small items like scarves and gloves made locally can cost you $50, so budget well and spend sparingly. Check out some of the nice budget hotels in Reykjavik to save money.

8. Don't Make a Big Deal About Their ' Lack of Manners'

What you consider as things to be done 'privately' like farting and burping, Icelanders do them publicly and without shame, so don't express offense or shock if someone belches in your presence - it’s not offensive to them. 

9. Don't Enter a Sauna Without Showering

Yes, please don't enter a sauna dry. You have to be clean in order to enjoy a sauna in Reykjavik and coming in wet shows that you have showered. It's considered rude to just step in their saunas without observing proper personal hygiene. 

10. Don't Expect Things to Look like Where You Come From

There are very low crime rates in Reykjavik and in fact, the last number of prisoners recorded was 150. 150 prisoners in the entire country, how cool is that? There are no big gates or security systems to protect houses or government buildings, and government officials walk freely without bodyguards. Enjoy this relaxed lifestyle and keep an open mind.

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