Perlan Viewing Platform Free for Icelanders

tourists on perlan

Icelanders can obtain free access to Perlan’s viewing platform with a special membership card, RÚV reports. The Reykjavík landmark, whose name translates as “The Pearl,” has received criticism for beginning to charge admission to its viewing platform in 2017.

Gunnar Gunnarsson, Perlan’s managing director, says some 1 million tourists visit the landmark every year, and the increased traffic brings with it high maintenance costs. When determining the price of admission, Gunnar says, Perlan looked to Hallgrímskirkja. While admission to the church’s tower, which provides a panoramic view of Reykjavík, is ISK 1,000 ($8/€7.20), admission to Perlan’s viewing platform was originally set at ISK 490 ($4/€3.50), but was recently raised to ISK 890 ($7.20/€6.50).

Gunnar says that although most of Perlan’s visitors are foreign travellers, the organisation values its Icelandic visitors as well. Icelanders can obtain a special membership card which gives them free admission to the viewing platform. Gunnar says around 1,000 Icelanders have already taken advantage of the offer.

Brags About Off-Road Driving on Instagram

“Congratulations, today I got a big fine,” reads the caption of Alexander Tikhomirov’s Instagram post showing his jeep stuck in the clay in North Iceland. The Russian man shared pictures of himself posing and smiling in front of the vehicle after he was fined for illegal off-road driving near Mývatn. reported first.

Icelanders have expressed outrage at Tikhomirov’s apparent lack of respect for Iceland’s fragile nature as well as its laws. “Please never return to Iceland,” one comment on the post reads. Another user writes: “This is incredibly disrespectful, after you got fined by the police for banned offroad driving you pose by the rental car at the scene. Shame on you.”

Off-road driving is illegal in Iceland, as the sub-arctic landscape is easily damaged and takes decades to recover. Witnesses who saw the incident take place yesterday notified Northeast Iceland Police. Officers completed an investigation before Tikhomirov’s vehicle was towed out of the soft clay-rich soil where it had gotten stuck. Tikhomirov paid an ISK 450,000 ($3,600/€3,200) fine for the incident this morning in Akureyri.

The Instagram personality seems to have little understanding of locals’ reactions. He shared some comments criticising him in an Instagram story yesterday, writing “why you guys so angry.” Tikhomorov’s account, which shares photos of travel destinations and scantily-clad women, has over 300,000 followers.

Off-road Driving Tracks in Fjallabak Nature Reserve

Off-road tracks in the Fjallabak nature reserve

When Environment Agency rangers returned to their posts in Iceland’s mountainous interior this spring, they were met with an ugly sight, off-road driving tracks in the delicate flora of the Fjallabak nature reserve.

Spring has sprung early this year and mountain roads were opened earlier than usual. When Environment Agency’s staff inspected the nature reserve, they saw several tracks in the moss, evidence of illegal off-road driving.

The negative impact of off-road driving is multi-faceted, not only are the tracks starkly visible in the otherwise untouched nature, but the tracks and wounds in the turf can take decades to heal. The tracks also create choice conditions for water erosion, soil erosion caused by running water. Last but not least, the visible effects of careless drivers spoil the experience of the wilderness for other visitors.

The Environment Agency has spent considerable effort to stem the tide of off-road driving and has had some success. The tourism industry, as well as the public, are aware of how serious this is and take part in stopping and alerting authorities to illegal off-road driving . The rangers are only active for 3-4 months over the summer, however, and tourists visit the mountains all year round. Much of the rangers’ time over the summer is spent inspecting and correcting wounds from off-road driving, but few drivers are caught in the act. Off-road driving is illegal and off-road drivers can expect to pay heavy fines.

According to the Environment Agency, it’s important to further strengthen education about the negative impact of off-road driving in order to reach travellers before they set off into Iceland’s nature.

Off-road tracks in the Fjallabak nature reserve.
[/media-credit] Off-road tracks in the Fjallabak nature reserve.