Last Updated on: 19th September 2021, 05:27 pm
Many people who travel to Iceland want to know is Reykjavik safe. Traveling to any new city can seem daunting if it will be one of your first international trips. Combine that with the general fears travelers have about accidents and crime aimed at tourists, and it’s a valid question.
I think Reykjavik is an incredibly safe city to travel to, and I never felt like I was in danger. However, there are common-sense safety precautions every traveler should take. I’ll go more in-depth on why I think Reykjavik is safe for travelers, plus what you need to be aware of before arriving.
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Is Reykjavik Safe? 5 Things to Know About Crime in Reykjavik
- Iceland averages less than one homicide per year. It has been this way for several decades.
- Like any other major city, Reykjavik does have minor assaults, assaults against women, automobile theft, vandalism, property damage, and other street crimes.
- In recent years, there has been an increase in pickpocketing in Reykjavik. This is due, in part, to the increase in tourists.
- There are small groups of organized crime and motorcycle gangs in the country. The government is focused on reducing its influence in the country.
- There is no known international terrorism threat in Iceland.
So what does this all mean for a traveler? Basically, Reykjavik is one of the safest cities in the world with incredibly low rates of crime. But it is a city, which means that there is crime there. If you feel safe in any city, it should be Reykjavik. But you still need to follow basic common sense travel safety when you’re here.
10 Common Sense Reykjavik Safety Tips
Here’s what to do to keep yourself as safe as you can in Reykjavik.
1. Know what to do if something goes wrong.
You’ll have more peace of mind knowing that you have a plan in place in case you do need help. While in Reykjavik, if you’re the victim of a crime, contact the Metropolitan Police.
Hverfisgata 113 – 115
Telephone operator (+354) 444-1000 (after hours: 112)
2. Have your travel insurance information handy.
Always travel with a valid travel insurance policy. You just have no idea if you will be the victim of theft or have an accident, even in the safest places in the world. I recently had a family member get injured on a train in Europe, and her travel insurance is what covered the costs for the care she needed after she got back home.
I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance when you’ll be doing any outdoor activities (like…ahem…most of what people do in Iceland) since accidents happen.
Getting travel insurance is just the first step though. You also need to make sure you have an emergency contact who can access your policy if you need to access the information but you don’t have the ability to access the internet yourself (like if your phone was stolen or if you end up in the hospital).
3. Keep Your Money Safe
The best way to keep your money safe while you travel is to be smart about how you carry it. Don’t put all of your credit cards and cash in one place. Split them up. It’s unlikely you’ll be mugged and have your hotel room robbed in one day. If you split your cash and cards you’re likely to still have access to money even if you do get robbed.
Don’t flash your cash when out in public. I prefer to use credit cards and debit cards in countries like Iceland, and I try to take out only small amounts of cash.
To get cash, use ATMs that look legitimate. The best ones are attached to banks. My fiance had his card used for fake charges after withdrawing cash at a stand-alone ATM at a club
4. Have a hard copy of your bank phone numbers and a copy of your passport
I make three copies of my bank card phone and account numbers and three copies of my passport. One goes with me in my carryon. One goes in my checked luggage (if I’m traveling with checked luggage). The third set stays at home with my fiance.
If something gets stolen, I have everything I need to call my banks for immediate assistance.
5. Enroll in your government’s safety traveler programs
If your country has a program for traveler safety, enroll in it. I am enrolled in STEP, which stands for Safety Traveler Enrollment Program. This is an American program that allows me to tell them my travel plans and they email me information if the situation on the ground becomes problematic.
I didn’t enroll in this program for Iceland, but I did for my trip to Tunisia because there were protests happening in the capital. However, Iceland would be a place where enrollment would be smart in case there’s a volcanic eruption you’ll get safety information from the government, and the government will know you’re there in case of an issue.
I’m not sure which countries have similar programs, so you should check yours if you are not an American.
6. Think anti-theft
I use a special personal bag for my day bag that has anti-theft features like RFID technology, complicated zippers, and clasps. It’s not theft-proof, but it does make it more difficult for a pickpocket to get to my wallet and passport. It’s called the Pacsafe Citysafe, and I’m a little obsessed with it.
Pacsafe also makes smaller bags that look like traditional purses, but are packed with TONS of safety features. I especially like this Slim Crossbody if you want to find a small purse for your trip that still has anti-theft and RFID built right in.
If you keep your wallet tucked into the appropriate pocket, don’t flash your cash, and keep your bag closed, it will be much harder for someone to pick your pocket.
7. Don’t leave your stuff unattended
Having a safe bag does you no good if you leave it unattended. Don’t leave your stuff alone for even a second. If you’re traveling solo, ask someone at the business to watch your stuff if you must leave it. This also means don’t leave your phone out on the table in busy areas. Never have your phone or wallet just sticking out of your pocket.
Three tips to avoid being pickpocketed:
- Have a safe bag and use it to keep your stuff tucked away.
- Make sure the zippers on your bag are always closed.
- Keep your bag with you at all times.
8. Pay attention to your surroundings
Don’t zone out while in taxis, on the bus, or walking around the city. Stay alert as to what’s going on. I learned this the hard way when I was almost pickpocketed in Milan. Luckily I happened to notice the guy stick his hand in my bag, but it could have been a disaster!
9. Be cautious at night or when drinking
Crime is more likely to happen in the dark, when you’re intoxicated, and when you’re not sure where you are. If you’re going to go out and party in Reykjavik, which is something the city is famous for, then be smart about it. Don’t get out of control, make sure you never leave your drink unattended and don’t walk around at night when you’re drunk. It’s better to splurge for a taxi if you’re not sober than it would be to get hurt or worse.
10. Women need to be extra cautious because the world sucks
I think it was Queen Cersei who said that “Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls.” Which is true. Much of the kinds of crime that tourists see in Reykjavik are the kind of crimes that are targeted at women. Don’t let your guard down here just because Iceland is safer overall than other cities. Use the same safety precautions you use to protect yourself wherever you go.
5 Things to Pack for Reykjavik
- The Lonely Planet Iceland guidebook or the Rick Steves Iceland guidebook for your trip. It can be kind of a pain to find the major guidebooks once you land, or you’ll find them overpriced. I always like to pick mine up ahead of time.
- Tech-friendly gloves like these and warm wool socks to keep your fingers and toes toasty. Iceland gets cold! Even in summer, you want to have access to warm layers for particularly windy spots.
- A Camera since Iceland is super photogenic. I used a mix of my Nikon D810 and my Samsung8 smartphone.
- Sunscreen since you’ll be outside a lot more than back home.
- A Backup Charging Bank so you can keep your cell phone charged for long day trips without access to an electrical outlet.
Where to Stay in Reykjavik
There are a lot of options for accommodations in Reykjavik, but it is definitely not a traditional budget destination! I’m including a recommendation for Reykjavik hotels and hostels for each of the following budget categories:
- Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $35-50 USD per night for a dorm bed.
- Mid-range: Around $75-100 USD per night
- Luxury: Around $150 per night or more
Budget: Iceland is no budget destination, but the hostel dorms at Reykjavik Downtown HI Hostel are affordable and in a great location. You can stay in the mixed dormitory or women can book a room in the female-only dorm. Includes free wifi and the option to add breakfast. Check the pricing, reviews, and availability here.
Mid-Range: For our trip to Reykjavik, we stayed at the self-catering Stay Apartments Einholt. We loved having a self-catering room since we actually cooked half of our dinners and all of our breakfasts in our apartment to save money on the trip overall. We also loved the location. It’s close to downtown within easy walking distance to the main sites. The price was right in our budget for two people, too. Check the pricing, reviews, and availability here.
Luxury: For a real luxury experience in Reykjavik, stay at the four-star Exeter Hotel by Keahotels which is located right near the city’s most important sites. Rooms are super modern and beautifully done, with a cozy take on industrial chic. You can come back and relax in the hotel’s sauna and enjoy the on-site restaurant. Check the pricing, reviews, and availability here.
More Iceland Travel Resources
Here are my resources to help you plan your trip. Start with my Iceland packing list so you know what to bring with you year-round.
Next, check out my guide to Icelandic souvenirs, which also includes more awesome Reykjavik shopping tips, plus this guide to the best Reykjavik Instagram spots and how to go whale watching in Reykjavik.
If you’re looking to get inspired before your trip, check out my post on beautiful quotes about Iceland and 30 Reykjavik Pictures that Prove It’s Time to Visit Iceland.