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Pros and cons of visiting Iceland during a pandemic

The welcoming committee at Leifsstod international airport. They´ll let you by with a smile in most cases. Photo RUV

 

Here we are in the middle of a dangerous pandemic and the Icelandic government decides to open up everything for the foreign tourist due to heavy lobbyism. What luck for you. Or is it?

It´s not as if you have many choices if your travel bacteria is making you restless and uncomfortable in spite of the coronavirus making life hell all over the globe. Iceland remains, as time of writing, one of handful of third world countries willing to stay open for every foreigner in spite of the danger to the local population.

Does that mean visiting Iceland in the time of Covid-19 is a good idea? Let us see…

THE PROS:

  • Oooohhh aaahhhh. Traveling around this beautiful rock of ours without the humongous crowds that have made traveling here a serious pain in the butt for the last decade is bound to be a plus. You know the shit; seeing the Mona Lisa in the Louvre is an experience but not so much when behind throngs of loud and obnoxious selfiestick-loving Chinese tour groups.
  • Easy access to all our fantastic sights, little or no lines to wait in for hours on end and due to the collapse of visitors prices at most places are well below what they usually charge. Not to mention that our excellent currency is in freefall which means everything here is much cheaper than usually. That last thing matters a lot because this place is expensive as hell.
  • No problems at check-in. You get a little test for a few bucks and off you go to see the sights like nothing is wrong in the world.
  • Haggling is a possibility here now with most tour companies, restaurants and hotels barely scraping by. Demanding discounts is easy and often achievable counter to what has been the case here for the last decade or so.
  • Roads are much more safe than usual and this matters in a country where the most stunning sights are well off the beaten track. This summer you´ll mostly see locals on the roads and most of those know well the dangers of driving on the Third World roads this place offers.

THE CONS:

  • Sadly for you most popular tourist places are now overrun by locals. Numerous instances of foreigners having to go elsewhere because some famous spot is filled up with local folks. Instead of competing with other foreign tourists for that unbelievable scenery you are now competing against locals and most of those don´t give a hoot if you see anything or not.
  • Noise is a problem. Staying in a campsite or a nice hotel, odds are the locals are out to have some fun. And with locals being pretty much the only business out there, they can pretty much behave like they want to. Your complaints are going straight to the bin.
  • With locals all of a sudden traveling locally like never before, you´ll all of a sudden have loud cries every time a service is provided by a foreigner. You see, we don´t much like it when Poles, Lithuanians or Philippinos with no knowledge of the local language serve our food or change our sheets. Expect noisy indignation at every turn on your travel.
  • Choices are limited. Where you once had a choice between multiple firms when staying, touring og sleeping, you now have only a handful. As elsewhere, many restaurants and hotels have closed for good, especially in Reykjavik city, and those that remain are more often than not more cheap than good. The quality of service is well down from the days of overcrowding.

This being said, visiting Iceland during a pandemic is still pretty awesome. The only thing is to lower your expectations. Not for the tremendous sights all over the place but for perhaps not getting much bang for your buck.

Welcome 😉