Responsible tourism in Iceland & beyond – Tips for responsible travel

As travelers, responsible tourism needs to be at the forefront of our minds. Traveling is a privilege, so it’s our responsibility to take care of the places we step foot in. And responsible tourism is especially important when visiting Iceland. The country’s fragile vegetation and soil paired with the constant stream of tourists make it a destination that we need to be especially careful about taking nothing but photographs and memories and leaving only footprints.

We live in an incredible world. Let’s take care of it, so we can continue to explore and experience its beauty. For starters, we need to be aware of the impact we’re having on our destinations and even our home. There are numerous ways we can travel more responsibly, especially in Iceland, so here are a few easy tips to keep in mind, whether exploring close to home or faraway destinations.

Responsible Tourism

Spread the love.

Don’t limit your travels to the most popular attractions. All around the world, iconic spots are being overrun by tourists. Visit lesser known attractions and stay in cities or towns that aren’t as popular. For example, in Iceland, venture out of Reykjavik to lesser known destinations and explore sights not just right off Route 1.

Bring a reusable water bottle.

Avoid buying plastic water bottles. In Iceland, there’s absolutely no need for them. The water straight from the tap is extremely safe and tasty. If you’re planning to visit an area where you’re concerned about the tap water, buy a reusable water bottle with an attached filter.

Invest in a reusable shopping bag.

Say no to plastic bags. If you need groceries or plan to go shopping during your travels, a fold-up reusable shopping bag or backpack allows you to easily hold these items without having to use any plastic bags.

Don’t off-road & stay on hiking paths.

Off-roading and straying from paths can damage fauna. Hiking in Iceland and many other scenic countries is often the best way to see the natural side to a beautiful destination. Explore the unknown, but don’t let that journey take you off paths you’re meant to stay on. In Iceland, the vegetation and ground is especially fragile and can take a long time to grow back if damaged.

Let nature be.

Explore this amazing world of ours, but don’t disrupt ecosystems. Let memories and photographs be your souvenirs, not rocks, sand, or whatever else you may come across in nature.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

Pack out litter, even if it’s not yours.

Sometimes you’ll come across trash while hiking or exploring a city. Have extra space in a backpack, so you can leave your destination better than you found it. Even though Iceland is an extremely clean country, chances are you’ll occasionally find litter at popular tourist attractions or you may come across rubbish washed up from shore. Pick up what you can, and recycle or throw the litter in a trash bin when you are able.

Support local.

Eat, drink, and shop local. It’s important to spend money when you visit a destination and support the local economy. Find locally-owned restaurants, lodging, and stores to support during your travels.

Are you visiting Iceland? Inspired by Iceland has an Icelandic Pledge to be a responsible tourist. You can take the pledge at 

Icelandic Pledge - Responsible Tourism


  1. Thanks for reminding everyone what should be basic respect! It’s true that we are on a trip, we are sometimes quick to forget the damage we can cause to a destination and its natural spaces. One thing I particularly do is clear abandoned trash whenever I can – If every tourist does the same it can go a long way!

  2. I couldn’t agree more with this post – As a long-term traveler myself there are so many things on this list that I addear to already and like you say responsible traveling should be at the forefront of every travelers mind. There have been so many instances over the years where I’ve come across other travelers who just don’t respect the environment or the places they are in.

  3. Such a fantastic reminder for us all. When we travel we try and have as little impact, and as much respect as we possibly can for where we are. Even more important, we make sure to instill this in our daughters as they travel with us, teaching them to be respectful travelers as well.

  4. I do all of those! When I came here to Canada, I was surprised to find out the Trans Canada Trail was just behind my uncle’s house. So I took to the trails, brought my reusable water bottle, and just admired nature without hurting it. 🙂

  5. These are great tips for travelers to Iceland. I like the idea about picking up trash to help keep the environment clean! Actually, I think it would be great to do this more in different countries too. Can’t wait to see the beauty of Iceland.

  6. That’s definitely all such valuable respect for our beautiful planet. I think that visiting the out of the way places is also a wonderful call; it’s a great way to find unexpected treasures while spreading the love.

  7. Now that you mention how off-roading and straying from paths can damage fauna, it makes me think…how little we think! Great point about letting nature be. We need to be more conscious, sensitive and selfless.

  8. Great reminders. I think it’s especially important to consider our impact before we book that flight and decide if it is the best place to visit. In light of all the tourists traveling to certain spots, I often avoid those places or try and visit in the off season.

  9. Well thanks for writing this. Nature has given us some truly magnificent things. Being in the lap of nature is like…like, just transcendental and it doesn’t get better. But, we should never forget to honor nature.

    Iceland is indeed beautiful and shows us how two extremely contrasting things can co-exist together ( fire and ice). Its a place where can can hike up to places and just be you and by you. Its a place, you wanna visit again and again and again…

    A fun fact is that Iceland is bit costly except for cold water, hot water and electricity.

  10. What a great post to remind us to respect the environment. I like the idea of a reusable water bottle to cut down on waste. I am a great supported of “local”‘ especially when you consider the carbon footprint involved in transporting goods.

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