Lonely Planet Writer

Iceland's public toilet shortage near popular sights could be solved by Ring Road temporary toilets

Complaints about a national shortage of public toilets have led to renewed calls for portable lavatories to be installed along Iceland’s Ring Road, according to Iceland Review.

Westfjords, Iceland.
Westfjords, Iceland. Image by Bernard McManus / CC BY 2.0

Many of Iceland’s most popular sights are remote natural wonders that lack adequate facilities for the growing number of visitors to the country. There have been frequent news reports of people relieving themselves in the open air, and a survey from engineering company Efla suggests nine popular locations are particularly in need of facilities, including Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon and Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

A rare public toilet in Iceland.
A rare public toilet in Iceland. Image by purpleglobetrotter / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Icelandic Road Authority hopes to install 50 or 60 temporary toilets at key locations along the Ring Road, which encircles the country. The facilities would form part of rest areas where travellers could also have lunch and enjoy the views. The project cannot start without government funding, however. “We haven’t received any response regarding whether there is interest or whether funding will be allocated,” Hreinn Haraldsson, the director of the road authority, told Iceland Review.

Other decision makers believe that the problem could be resolved by using existing facilities better. “We can receive four million tourists better than one and a half million if we’re properly organized,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir in an interview with RÚV. “And this is what our job is about, to do things in a way that we’re not constantly reacting, but instead taking advantage of community halls, schools and other buildings often closed in summer. Part of this is to look at where we have such facilities, which then could be opened during the busiest season, and in cooperation with the tourism industry, we could direct people there.”