Iceland travel guide

Where to go, what to see: your Iceland travel guide

Why visit Iceland?

Glaciers, geysers, fjords, quaint towns, geothermal pools, active volcanoes, powerful waterfalls, and brilliant green and rocky landscapes make up the stunning terrain known as Iceland. With a sparse population, strange phenomenon like the Northern Lights and spewing natural mixes of ice-cold ocean waters and the heat of the crusts below, and an abundance of volcanically formed land, some might call Iceland an accidental masterpiece. Nature presents itself to you as you explore unspoiled scenery, search for wildlife, and stroll under the midnight sun – a summer experience like no other, where the sun never fully sets and it casts that rejuvenating sunrise glow through the deepest part of night. The surprising array of colours, the dynamic people of the cities and towns, and the constant natural surprises, make Iceland a photographer’s dream. It is an apex of earth’s greatest joys, mysteries, and a magical spot that seems like it knows something the other ones don’t.

Iceland may not be one of the most thought-of places to travel, but it has something for everyone and some of the most stunning landscapes and natural phenomena on the planet. Just look at a few pictures of the country and you’ll be hooked…then when you visit those places, you’ll just be blown away. Friendly locals, high glacial treks, standing over plummeting falls with rising mists, and soaking in the most pristine natural spring in the world, Iceland might very well be one of the most extraordinary journeys of your life and a favourite among your travels.

Weather and climate in Iceland

When is the best time to visit Iceland?

Iceland has a cold oceanic climate near the southern coastal area, and tundra on the inland highlands. Since Iceland is on the North Atlantic Current, the island is more temperate than to be expected. Year-round weather is very changeable and windy, so pack for all eventualities. The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are often seen at night during the winter. During the season of the Midnight Sun in June/July, nights are shorter or not dark, so if you have difficulty sleeping, eye shades (usually supplied on international flights) may help shut out the light.

To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures for Iceland.

 

 Reykjavik

 January

 -3/2°C

 February

 -2/3°C

 March

 -2/3°C

 April

 1/5°C

 May

 4/8°C

 June

 7/11°C

 July

 8/13°C

 August

 9/12°C

 September

 5/9°C

 October

 2/7°C

 November

 -1/3°C

 December

 -2/2°C

 


Iceland food and fun facts

Food specialities of Iceland

Traditional dishes based on lamb and fish (salmon, trout, herring), shrimp and lobster, hot spring-baked rye bread, skyr (yogurt), plokkfiskur (a fish dish). And for the culinary adventurer: hakarl (a fermented shark meat), and brennivin (“black death” schnapps).

Fun facts

  • Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe.
  • Life expectancy is among the highest in the world averaging 81.3 years for women and 76.4 years for men.
  • Icelanders value literacy and hold the world record for number of books per capita.
  • The Icelandic language has been virtually unchanged for the past 1000 years.

Things to consider before visiting Iceland

How to call Iceland: Country code

The country code for Iceland is 354. When calling to Iceland from overseas, dial your international access code (+44 from the UK), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number.

Iceland’s currency

The official currency of Iceland is the Icelandic Króna; plural Krónur (ISK).

Bank hours: 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

ICELANDIC KRÓNA (ISK)

  • Banknote denominations: 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 Krónur
  • Coin denominations: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 Króna/Krónur

Credit cards are widely accepted in Iceland (mostly Visa and MasterCard) and you should have no trouble using them. Smaller shops may ask you to pay in cash or have a minimum amount required to use a credit card.

Shopping in Iceland

The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages as provided by our experienced personnel.

  • The approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is ISK 350-600.
  • An average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at approximately ISK 1700-2200.
  • Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately ISK 6000-7000.

Shopping specialties: fine woolen products and knitwear with unique patterns (eg. Lopapeysa sweaters), handmade ceramics and glassware, silver jewelry, crafts made of lava stones or fish leather, saga storybooks, nature calendars/postcards, Icelandic designer clothing.

Counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available; be aware that under local law transactions involving such products may be illegal, and bringing them home may result in confiscation and fines.

Sales tax or VAT (value added tax) is included on price tags. To obtain VAT refunds (which may take up to three months to process) special forms usually have to be stamped by Customs; please ask for a tax-free shopping form with each purchase and follow the instructions for completion. Customs import charges on items shipped home are not included in purchase prices.

When and how much to tip in Iceland

Tipping in Iceland is not customary. Service fees are always included on the bill; they apply to restaurants, taxis, cafes, room service and much more. Tipping is always appreciated in Iceland, but never expected.

Browse our Iceland tours

2 holidays available

Select when you wish to depart and we will be able to show you all tours and cruises that depart on the day you have selected.

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