Iceland has a very low crime rate and in general any risks you’ll face while travelling here are related to road safety, the unpredictable weather and the unique geological conditions.

A good place to learn about minimising your risks is Safetravel (www.safetravel.is). The website is an initiative of the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR); it also provides information on ICE-SAR's 112 Iceland app for smartphones (useful in emergencies), and explains procedures for leaving a travel plan with ICE-SAR or a friend/contact.

Road Safety

  • Unique hazards exist for drivers, such as livestock on the roads, single-lane bridges, blind rises and rough gravel roads.
  • The numerous F roads are suitable only for 4WDs, often involve fording rivers, and are often only open for a few months each year, in summer.
  • For road conditions, see www.road.is or call 1777.

Weather Conditions

  • Never underestimate the weather. Proper clothing and equipment is essential.
  • Visitors need to be prepared for inclement conditions year-round. The weather can change without warning.
  • Hikers must obtain a reliable forecast before setting off – call 902 0600 (press 1 after the introduction) or visit www.vedur.is/english for a forecast in English. Alternatively, download the weather app of the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), called Veður.
  • Emergency huts are provided in places where travellers run the risk of getting caught in severe weather.
  • If you’re driving in winter, carry food, water and blankets in your car.
  • In winter, rental cars are generally fitted with snow tyres.

Geological Risks

  • When hiking, river crossings can be dangerous, with glacial run-off transforming trickling streams into raging torrents on warm summer days.
  • High winds can create vicious sandstorms in areas where there is loose volcanic sand.
  • Hiking paths in coastal areas may only be accessible at low tide; seek local advice and obtain the relevant tide tables.
  • In geothermal areas, stick to boardwalks or obviously solid ground. Avoid thin crusts of lighter-coloured soil around steaming fissures and mudpots.
  • Be careful of the water in hot springs and mudpots – it often emerges from the ground at 100°C.
  • In glacial areas beware of dangerous quicksand at the ends of glaciers, and never venture out onto the ice without crampons and ice axes (even then, watch out for crevasses).
  • Snowfields may overlie fissures, sharp lava chunks or slippery slopes of scoria (volcanic slag).
  • Always get local advice before hiking around live volcanoes.
  • Only attempt isolated hiking and glacier ascents if you know what you’re doing. Talk to locals and/or employ a guide.
  • It’s rare to find warning signs or fences in areas where accidents can occur, such as large waterfalls, glacier fronts and cliff edges. Use common sense, and supervise children well.