Preparing your Trip to Iceland
Those who mainly want to experience the vibrant Icelandic bird life and endless summer nights, should plan their trip in the early summer (mid May – end of July). The puffins, popular with many tourists, leave Iceland in August. If you’re mainly interested in the aurora borealis, you should choose a later date. You have a good chance of seeing these bizarre light formations from the end of August. The highland routes are normally open from mid June until the end of September. For further information see the homepage of the Icelandic Road Administration.
When traveling to Iceland, citizens of the European Union, countries that belong to the Schengen Agreement and Switzerland require a passport, valid at least three months beyond the intended stay. Citizens of other countries should contact an embassy of their respective country for further information on visas. Further information at the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration.
No special vaccination is required when traveling to Iceland. We advise EU-citizens to bring their Health Insurance Card along. Please contact your insurance company or your embassy for further information.
In case of emergency, call 112 (24 hour service). Medical centers and/or hospitals can be found in all bigger communities in Iceland. For further issues call Reykjavík Police Headquarters during office hours, tel.: +354 569 9020.
The national currency in Iceland is the Icelandic Króna (=crown, ISK). You can exchange money in every bank (open Monday–Friday 9:15–16:00). However, the cheapest way is to withdraw money from local cash points/ATM’s with your debit or credit card. Cash points are available in every community and at airports. Credit cards are accepted everywhere in Iceland.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland has a relatively mild climate, though summers can be cooler than you are used to. The weather is very changeable in Iceland, so you should be prepared for everything. Further information, including weather forecasts for the whole country, can be accessed on the homepage of the Icelandic Meteorological Office.
Iceland is in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) all year long.
Clothes and Equipment
Due to changing weather conditions, we recommend layering, so it’s best to come equipped with t-shirts, jumpers, warm trousers and a light, wind- and waterproof raincoat. Strong and waterproof hiking boots with grip soles are essential. Please note that it is best to break in new shoes well before arrival to avoid blisters. We also recommend packing binoculars, bathing suits and sun glasses.
Icelanders love going to the country’s numerous outdoor swimming pools. At the swimming pool people of all ages meet to discuss the latest headlines. Don’t forget to try the “Heiti pottur” – the hot tub.
The electrical tension/voltage in Iceland is, just like in continental Europe, 230 V, 50 HZ AC. All plugs are in accordance.
You can call every phone within the Icelandic telephone network directly. If you want to call an Icelandic number from abroad, use the country code 00354 followed by the seven digit number. If you want to call a number abroad from Iceland, dial 00 followed by the adequate country and city code and the individual number of the person you wish to speak to.
Food and drinks
The Icelandic cuisine offers a variety of delicious specialities, e.g. fresh fish, lamb and typical Icelandic products such as skyr (a dairy product). Iceland also suits vegetarians. Special regulations apply for alcoholic beverages. You can only purchase them in special liquor stores run by the state (“Vínbúð”). Although beer has only been legal in Iceland since 1989, Icelandic breweries offer a wide variety of high standard brands of this popular drink.
Tipping is not expected in Iceland since it is generally already included in the bill.
General opening hours of stores and shops in June, July and August are between 9 am and 6 pm on weekdays. Some supermarkets are open 24 hours as well as on weekends.
Arrival at your accommodation
We recommend you call your hotel/guesthouse to let them know if you’re planning on arriving late (after 6 pm).