General information

Electricity

Iceland’s electricity supply is 220 volts, 50Hz, as it is in most European countries.

Plugs and sockets are of the two-pin type as in Continental Europe.


Entry & Exit Requirements

IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to make sure that you have the necessary visas and passport validity for travel to the region(s) on your trip. Iceland Discovery provides advice (below) on visas and passport validity requirements and if you are unsure about requirements for your trip, please contact us. But please be aware that ultimate responsibility to make sure that you have the necessary travel documents for your trip lies with you.

American & Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay in Iceland. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months in any six-month period.

British citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stay in Iceland. No visa is required for British passport holders, irrespective of the endorsement regarding their national status contained therein, for stays of up to three months in any six-month period.


Food

Icelandic food in general is based on fish and lamb, as well as owing much to Scandinavian and European influences. Fresh fish can be had all year round – Icelanders eat mostly haddock, cod, plaice, halibut, herring and of course Icelandic salmon and Arctic char that are also very good. The lamb, which is reared locally, is free range, organic and extremely tasty. Make sure you try it at least once during your stay in Iceland. There is also a heavy emphasis on vegetables grown in greenhouses heated by the natural geothermal powers.

Dairy products are very good thanks to the clean air, water and grass. Bars have table and/or counter service, and will serve coffee as well as alcohol. Alcohol is very expensive. If you would like to pick up some tipples, please do so in the Duty Free before you exit custom in the airport.

Tap water is safe to drink in Iceland and it is one of the countries with cleanest water in the world. Coffee is easy to find and is comparable to what is foundthroughout Europe. Juices are generally imported and made from concentrate.


Medical Concerns

Medical care in Iceland is of high quality, but limited services are available outside of large urban areas. For emergency medical assistance anywhere in the country, dial 112. For non-emergency medical assistance in the Reykjavik metropolitan area dial 544-4114 during business hours. Your guide is always at hand to help you getting assistance depending on your location.

Outside of normal business hours, dial 1770. The nurse who answers will do one of three things: offer advice on how to handle the problem on your own, suggest that you come to an after-hours clinic, or send a physician to you for a house call. The Icelandic medical system does not cover people who don’t live in Iceland. Nonresidents are expected to pay their own medical costs and you should be prepared to pay your bill in full before leaving the hospital or clinic.


Money & Banking

The local currency is the Icelandic króna (ISK). MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted, American Express and Diners Club to an lesser extend.

ATMs are available throughout the country.

Currency information:

Icelandic krona (ISK; symbol kr) = 100 aurar. Notes are in denominations of

kr. 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500. Coins are in denominations of kr. 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1.


Packing

Lost Luggage on Scheduled Flights. In the event that your bags are lost in transit, experience has shown that there is frustratingly little that anyone can do to speed their return beyond allowing the normal process to work out. What you can do is mitigate against the impact it may have on your trip by spreading your luggage evenly between two bags (if you’re travelling with more than one) or at least packing what essential items you can in a carry-on (prescriptions etc).

Make sure you are up to date with whatever insurance you have to cover you for extra expenses if bags are lost in transit. Many policies allow a fixed dollar expenditure if your bags are lost for a certain number of hours or days.

Make sure that you do NOT leave the airport before completing a lost luggage file with the airline. Again, experience has shown that trying to complete one after the fact may result in airlines refusing to acknowledge responsibility.

Technically, it’s the last airline you flew with that is responsible for tracing your luggage; but bear in mind that it will have been the luggage handling system in an airport that lost them, and if you’ve flown several legs on one ticket, it may have happened while you were actually in transit with another airline. It’s precisely because of this gray area of responsibility that it’s crucial you open a file early and correctly.

If you have frequent flier status, make sure you flash your card. In most cases, having elite status (or similar) will allow the airline to sign off on higher costs couriering the bag to you when it finally appears.

Finally, frustrating as the entire process is, there is nothing that anger, persistence, escalation or even contacts can achieve. Please let us know the full details of the file you have lodged with the airline, and we will work with our local partners and/or hotel concierge to continue to check the status and have the bag delivered to you as soon as it’s located.

Packing for Iceland can be a challenge. For one, the weather can be quite unpredictable. You’ll also need to account for the various activities you plan to partake in (some, but not all companies provide the gear you’ll need – always verify what is included) plus some more trendy/dressier clothes for wearing out on the town in Reykjavik. Some of the things to consider in your suitcase are: heavy wool socks for every excursions, bathing suit, hiking boots, waterproof, breathable pants and sunglasses (yes, we actually said sunglasses).


Safety

Iceland has a low crime rate with rare instances of violent crime. Most crimes involve the theft of personal property from cars or residences in public areas.

Pick-pocketing, unheard of few years ago is now known, usually attributed to an organized group looking for easy targets late nights or in the Reykjavík shopping malls.

Do not put any bags containing valuables, such as your passport, down on the ground. Do not leave your valuables in parked vehicles, even if the vehicle is locked. In addition, be aware that downtown Reykjavik can become disorderly in the early morning hours on weekends.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, they are fortunately, not widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States and Europe, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and  your embassy.

The local emergency line in Iceland is 112.


Time Zones

Iceland is in the Western European Time Zone – WET/WEST. Unlike the rest of Europe, Iceland does not use daylight saving time.


Tipping

Service charges are included in most bills and extra tips are not expected.

It’s always difficult to know exactly how much to give. A basic guideline is

suggested below:

Local Guides: About 10 USD per day

Private Drivers: 5 USD is kind, but it’s not expected

Foreign currency is accepted for tips.


Weather

The weather in Iceland is warmer than most visitors expect due to the temperate effects of the Gulf Stream coming off the Atlantic. The temperature in summer can change from 41°F (5°C) during the night to as high as 77°F (25°C) in the afternoons. The summer months (May, June, July and August) have almost continuous daylight, which decreases to four hours over the winter months (November, December and January). September can often yield surprisingly mild weather but with a definite tone of advancing winter.

Please note that the weather in Iceland can change quickly. Be prepared is the best advice.


When To Go

Best Time to Visit:

Iceland’s climate is tempered by the Gulf Stream. Summers are mild and winters rather cold. The colourful Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) appear from the end of August.

From the end of May to the beginning of August, there are nearly 24 hours of daylight in Reykjavík, while in the northern part of the country the sun barely sets at all.


Apps

Icelandic Translator: English Icelandic translator with voice

Traveller Dictionary & Phrasebook: Icelandic – English

Iceland Travel Guide

SpotIceland (maps app, free)

Iceland Facts

Reykjavik Map and Walking Tours (free and paid versions)

Locals Recommend Reykjavik

Books, Music & Film

Books:

Wasteland With Words: A Social History of Iceland

by Sigurdur Gylfi Magnusson.

Foods of Iceland (Taste of Culture) by Barbara Sheen.

The Day is Dark by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (‘Iceland’s answer to Stieg Larsson’).

Iceland’s Bell and Independent people by Halldór Laxness (Iceland’s famed Nobel Laureate).

Films:

Jar City (dir Baltasar Kormaker) A thriller.

Reykjavik 101 (dir Baltasar Kormákur) A quirky adult comedy.

Hross í oss (dir Benedikt Erlingsson) A quirkier adult comedy.

Music:

The albums of Sigur Ros, such as “Takk” is a great choice (also used on the

Planet Earth Soundtrack).

Bjork is possibly Iceland’s biggest export (after ash clouds).

Of Monsters and Men: My head is an animal.

Júníus Meyvant:  Young rising star

Ásgeir: Another young promising soft spoken artist on the way up