Well, it’s a given that you’re going to need a toilet sooner or later after arriving in Iceland. But oftentimes, foreign toilets are different than the ones you have at home. That is the case when you visit Iceland. You'll find different toilet etiquette, problems and issues, depending on where you visit in the country.
So what can travelers expect from toilets in Iceland?
Good Things About Toilets in Iceland
- Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, has many public restroom facilities in the city, and Icelandic sights often have their own toilets nearby.
- The days of outhouses are numbered. Icelandic restrooms in the cities are modern, clean facilities and are handicap-friendly.
- Toilets in Iceland are cleaned regularly, especially toilets in restaurants and shopping areas. Some public toilets in Iceland are self-cleaning.
- There are no squat toilets.
Bad Things About Toilets in Iceland
- There are no squat toilets (just in case you're a fan of those).
- A few rural farmhouses still have outhouses.
- Just like anywhere else, toilets at Icelandic airports and train stations can sometimes look and/or smell unsanitary. If your needs aren’t urgent, just wait and use the bathroom at your hotel in Iceland when you get there. It's bound to be cleaner.
- There has been news about a shortage of toilets in Iceland, in light of a relatively recent tourist boom, and tourists relieving themselves in public places, such as parking lots. The locals don't like that. Don't be that traveler. Know that there could be a shortage of toilets and plan accordingly.
- Some public restrooms in Iceland may be "pay toilets." This is a relatively unheard of concept in the United States but it's common in Europe. There aren't a ton of pay toilets in Iceland (there used to be more), but it is wise to always have some coins on you in case you are on the road trip and run across one. Some pay toilets may even accept credit cards. These pay-per-use potties aren't expensive, but it can come as a surprise to travelers.
General Info About Toilets in Iceland
All toilets in Scandinavia show the symbol for men or women restrooms so they're easy to identify. To flush, there usually is a button or handle that you need to push or pull up.
It’s not good manners, by the way, to use a restaurant’s toilets if you’re not eating there. Just do your business at the public toilets and at your hotel.
You can also often find public toilets at gas stations, malls, grocery stores, campsites, rest stops, swimming pools and some stores. Don't expect to use the restrooms if you aren't a patron, though. You may have to buy something small, even a pack of gum, in order to get access to the patrons-only restroom. This bathroom etiquette is also standard in the United States and many other locations, so it does not catch most travelers by surprise, although it may surprise your travel budget if your bathroom breaks begin to add up.