- What to wear, how to dress when in Iceland?
Light clothing is often all you need in the summer, but always be prepared for both cold and wet at ALL time of the year. The weather in Iceland is extremely changeable and Icelanders often say, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes”.
You should always bring a bathing suit, whatever time of the year you visit Iceland. Icelanders favourite pastime is year-round outdoor swimming in countless geothermally heated pools and lagoons, with typical temperatures of 25-28°C.
- Do I need to bring my passport around Iceland?
Yes. A passport or other travel document accepted by Icelandic authorities valid at least three months beyond intended stay is required for visitors to Iceland. For further information, visit www.utl.is
Once you are in Iceland, you may not need to carry it around with you; but be sure to have some kind of identification on you at all times.
- What should I bring on the tour with me?
Depending on the nature of your tour, you may want to pack a bit more or less than usual. If you are going to be doing some hiking or a lot of walking, it is recommended that you bring a good pair of boots that are sturdy for walking on uneven paths. The weather can also be unpredictable, so it is better if your boots and jacket are weatherproof. For a more details breakdown, please see our handy blog on what to pack for your Iceland tour or see the infographic below for essentials.
Refreshments will also depend on the tour. If you would like, you are welcome to bring snacks of your own, but your guide may also stop at local gas stations that offer a selection of snacks, and sometimes hot food as well.
- What should I wear in Iceland?
What you wear will depend on the weather you are typically used to. In the winter, we recommend that you bring layers with you for your trip, and see how you feel. Leggings or long-johns under jeans/pants are always a good idea, as well as a fleece sweater over your shirt and under your winter coat. The winds can be strong here, so it might also be a good idea to bring a hat of some kind, as well as some gloves.
Summers are much better, but can still be a bit cool. It is recommended that you prepare for colder weather (compared to other places for the summer) as the climate changes fairly quickly. You may not need as many layers, but the winds can still make you feel a bit cool.
You may want to bring water friendly boots and a water proof jacket as well. With the rain here, it is not common to use an umbrella because the winds are strong. Be sure to wear something to keep you dry!
An itemized list of recommended wardrobe for Iceland:
- The inner layer could be lightweight woolens, a sweater or cardigan
- The outer layer should be wind and a rainproof (weatherproof).
- Gloves and hats are recommended when sailing or going on hikes.
- It is a good idea to wear solid boots, waterproof shoes or sturdy rubber boots with a solid sole both in the summer and winter.
- Clothing tends to be casual in Iceland and acceptable also in finer restaurants.
- Travelers who are camping or heading into the interior will need warm underwear and socks, rubber boots and a warm sleeping bag.
Keep in mind that depending on the type of tour you are going on, you may want to bring shoes that are good for hiking in. Most tours will take you to rugged areas, so be prepared! It might be best to bring sneakers and a pair of hiking friendly/weatherproof boots.
- Bus stops in Reykjavik
A part of Reykjavik center is off limits to buses and coaches. The traffic ban includes tourist busses or coaches of any size, vehicles with group liceses and specialized vehicles, e.g. super-jeeps. Instead there are a dozen pick-up spots or bus stops.
Here you can see where the bus stops are in Reykjavik. Make note of what bus stop is nearest to your hotel.
- Practical Information about Iceland
Business hours. Banks are open from 09:15 to 16:00. As general rule offices are open from 09:00 to 17:00, in some cases during the summer these hours are from 08:00 to 16:00. Shops are open from 09:00 to 18:00 on weekdays. Kringlan and Smaralind shopping malls as well as souvenir and some bookshops in the city centre are open on weekends.
Major Cultural Events & Public Holidays. Please note that the following established cultural events could result in restricted vehicle access to the city centre and that some service sectors might have surcharges during these events: 17June (Independence Day) Culture Night/Reykjavik Marathon (3rd weekend in August) and Iceland Airwaves (beginning of November). Public Holidays in Iceland, New Year’s Day / Good Friday / Easter Sunday / Whit Sunday / Independence Day (17 June) / Commerce Day (first Monday in August) / Christmas Eve (after 12:00 on 24 December) / Christmas day (25 December) / New Year’s Eve (after 12:00 on 31 December)
Currency and Money exchange. The Icelandic monetary unit is the “krona” (ISK). Coins are in denominations of: 100 kr. 50 kr, 10 kr, 5 kr, 1 kr. Bank notes are in denominations of: 10.000 kr, 5.000 kr, 2.000 kr, 1.000 kr and 500 kr. All major currencies can be exchanged at the airport, banks and currency exchange bureaux.
Credit cards. The major credit cards in Iceland are Visa and MasterCard, although other cards are widely accepted as well. Credit cards are accepted in most shops, restaurants and organisations. You will need to enter your PIN number when using credit cards, so please make sure you know your PIN number when traveling in Iceland.
Tipping. In Iceland gratuity is always included in the bill therefore tipping is not required. This applies to everything: restaurants, taxis, cafés, room service and more. However if you do feel that you have received great service, Icelanders appreciate a tip and will gladly accept it.
Car rentals. The driver must present a valid driver’s licence held for minimum of one year at the time of rental. While nearly all national driver’s licenses are recognized in Iceland, if your driver’s license is not in Roman script, you must obtain an international driver’s license. The minimum age for rentals in Iceland is 20 years for passenger car. For 4WD and minibuses the minimum age is 23 years. A credit card in the main driver’s name is required for booking and renting a vehicle.
Taxis. Taxis accept all major credit cards and should to be reserved in advance. At Keflavik airport, Reykjavík domestic airport, Akureyri airport, Egilsstaðir airport and in some major cities and towns you will find taxi stations where you can line up to get a car.
Porterage Service (Baggage and Luggage). There is limited luggage porterage service available at hotels in Iceland. It can be requested and pre-ordered at 4 star hotels in Reykjavík and Akureyri, not guaranteed. Compared to other countries, most Icelandic hotels are small, and this service is simply not available. We always advise that you should pack light. A good rule of thumb is to bring no more than what you can comfortably carry between the bus and your hotel room.
Hotel Room Information. Iceland Travel chooses hotels in Iceland that we feel offer good service to our guests. Hotels are clean and comfortable, and in the countryside are often located in beautiful natural areas. It‘s important to keep in mind during your trip that Icelandic hotels are similar to those in many other European countries. Hotel rooms are often smaller in size when compared to hotel rooms in countries such as the USA or Canada. Double occupancy rooms also usually have twin beds. If you request a double bed, two twin beds are usually connected together to make one comfortable bed. Some Comfort standard hotels, mainly in the Reykjavik area, have rooms with queen size beds. King size beds are not available at most hotels.
Tax-free shopping/tax refund. A refund of the local Value Added Tax is available to visitors to Iceland. The refund will result in a reduction of up to 15% of the retail price, provided departure (of the goods) from Iceland is within 90 days after the purchase. The purchased amount must be no less than ISK 4.000- (VAT included) per sales receipt, and all goods (except woollens) must be packed in sealed bags or containers.
Travel Insurance. Please note that individual travel insurance is not included in the tour prices. It is therefore important that travellers arrange for their own travel insurance before visiting Iceland. We consider adequate travel insurance to be essential. Iceland Travel cannot accept responsibility for any cost for you or any of your travel party that may incur as a result of failing to take out insurance cover. It is your responsibility to ensure that the insurance covers all your activities during your holiday, for example, water sports, riding tours, snow scooter tours and winter sports. Please read your policy carefully and take it with you on your holiday. Our road trips (a.k.a. self-drive packages) include basic insurance (CDW).
Health care. Medical assistance and health care are readily available in Iceland.
Passport and Visa. All travellers must ensure that they have a valid passport and all required visas. The passport should be valid for the proposed duration of stay. Travellers should check whether any additional period of validity on the passport beyond this is necessary. However, as regulations can change with little or no prior notice, or for any unexpected delay to return date, we recommend that a passport is valid for at least three months after departure.
Travelling with pets. Iceland is one of the few European countries without rabies, therefore traveling to Iceland with a dog or cat requires a strict application process with several forms, an import application fee, and four weeks of quarantine.
Time Zone. Iceland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) throughout the year, and does not adjust to daylight saving time.
Phone calls. The international code for calling Iceland is 354 followed by the telephone number. To call internationally from Iceland, first dial 00 followed by the country code and telephone number. For directory assistance, dial 1818.
Language and People. The Icelandic population is around 330.000, with approximately 2/3 of the population living in the greater Reykjavík area. Icelanders are friendly and a welcoming nation, enormously proud of their country and eager to show it to visitors. The spoken language is Icelandic and has changed very little since the settlement; however, English is widely spoken and understood.
Electricity. Icelandic electrical standards are European (50Hz, 240 volts) so many North American electrical devices will require converters. Plugs are generally two-pinned, so devices brought in from the UK and North America will require adapters.
Alcohol and smoking. Wine, beer and spirits are sold in government stores called “Vinbudin”. The age limit for buying alcohol is 20 years. Smoking is not permitted in public buildings or other places open to the public. The age limit for buying tobacco is 18 years.
- When is it daylight in Iceland?
The sun barely sets in the summer, it’s light round-the-clock at the peak of summer so visitors arrive to a bright midnight sky. In mid-winter it gets dark, it is daylight only about 4-5 hours a day but spring and autumn is more or less “normal” daylight hours in Iceland.
- Where do I take the FlyBus from Keflavik International Airport to Reykjavik?
The FlyBus operates in connection with all arriving flights and your seat is always guaranteed. The FlyBus departs from Keflavik Airport 35-40 minutes after each flight arrival.
Tickets are sold at a booth and in a ticket automat in the arrivals hall – look to your right after you come out of customs, you can’t miss it! If you have a voucher, you need to exchange it for a ticket in the booth, before boarding the bus.
The bus takes you to BSI Bus Terminal in Reykjavik, where passangers board smaller busses that take them to some of the major hotels and guesthouses in Reykjavik. Total duration of the trip is 50-75 minutes from the airport to your hotel.
- Do Icelandic people speak English?
The majority of Icelanders, especially the younger generation speaks fluent English and many speak several other languages, including Spanish, German, Danish or French. Most welcome the opportunity to practice their knowledge – so don’t by shy to approach and ask for directions!
- Can I upgrade my room when I book the hotel?
If you would like to upgrade your accommodation, we would be happy to accommodate your request. The price for an upgrade from a standard (comfort) room to superior room is 89 EUR per room per night.
We can provide a private guide for your itinerary but the cost for such will depend on your length of the stay as well as if you would like to have the guide with you throughout your stay or only on day-to-day basis.
- How do your Road Trips/Self-Drive tours work?
Our road trips, also known as self-drive tours, are self-guided tours of Iceland. Every road trip includes car rental, GPS, accomodation, and the Iceland Travel Companion app (preinstalled on a tablet) to help guide you on your trip. Additional activities may be purchased to enhance your trip. Read more about our road trips.
Please note: you must be a licensed driver to rent a car in Iceland.
The distance in which you would drive each day would depend on your length of stay and how far you would like to travel in Iceland. We always try to find the most suitable itinerary so that our guests have the opportunity to relax and are not sibjected to driving the whole day. Our aim is to keep driving under 2-3 hours each day, though depending on the distance between hotels, it may be up to 4 hours a day.
If special circumstances require emergency assistance, we have a 24 hour/7 day a week emergency phone and if the emergency pretains to your vehicle then the car rental provides an emergency phone as well.
- What about the accommodation in Iceland?
Quality is an important factor for Iceland Travel. When organizing our tours we choose accommodation with regards to quality, value for money, location and service provided.
Accommodation w/ private facilities used in our tours is a combination of comfort and quality hotels, farmhouses and guesthouses. All rooms have a private shower or private bath and WC. Breakfast is included and most offer dinner services during the summer season.
Some tours have the option of accommodation with shared facilities. These are a combination of country hotels, farmhouses and guesthouses. All rooms have made-up beds and some rooms have washbasins. Showers and WC are shared facilities. Breakfast is included and many offer dinner services during the summer season.
The pre and post nights in Reykjavík are in a 4 star hotel centrally located.
*Please note that accommodation is subject to availability at each time
- What currency do you use for your pricing?
Our prices are in Euros and the payment link that will be sent to your inbox will be in Euros as well. We recommend that you contact your local bank to get the most accurate exchange rate.
- What is the cost breakdown of the hotel and rental car?
You’ve received package prices which are based on a per person per night (for car and accommodation). These prices are calculated on an average price for the accommodation bought by the company in whole throughout a given period and the prices for your rental car. Prices will also be affected by the accomodation you have selected, whether it be comfort, economy, or budget.
So an itemized cost would be:
- 2 people in a car type 5.1 and accommodation w/ facilities: EUR xxx per person per night
- 4 people in a car type 5.1 and accommodation w/ facilities: EUR xxx per person per night
- How do I cancel my booking and what are your cancellation charges?
Please get in touch with your Iceland Travel agent as soon as possible to cancel your booking. Our cancellation charges are as follows:
More than 3 weeks prior to arrival none
Less than 3 weeks (21 days) and more than 2 weeks 10%
Less than 2 week (14 days) and more than 1 week 25%
Less than 1 week (7 days) and more than 72 hours 50%
Less than 72 hours and more than 24 hours 75%
Less than 24 hours’ notice 100%
- Can I use my credit card in Iceland?
Absolutely. Major credit cards are widely accepted in Iceland. Just keep an eye out for the credit card stickers on the doors. Unlike some other cities, there is no credit card minimum for purchases in Iceland. The only time you will find where credit cards are not accepted, will be for concerts/shows at smaller venues that have door charges. Some of the museums may not accept credit cards either. You may ask these places if they accept US dollars or Euros, but you may want to be prepared to bring ISK with you, or a debit card to take some out of an ATM.
- What about the electricity in Iceland?
Electrical standards in Iceland are European – 50 Hz, 240 Hz. The plugs are two-pin European plugs, so devices from North America and the UK will require adapters/converts.
- How do I call home from Iceland?
All it takes is your AT&T calling card or credit card.
- Dial the AT&T access number in Iceland; 00 800-22255288.
- Then dial the phone number you’re calling including area code.
- Wait for a prompt then enter your AT&T Calling Card number and 4-digit pin.
- Does my cell (phone) work in Iceland?
All European phones will work but most North American phones won’t, because Iceland is on the European system. However, if you have an unlocked phone, you maye use an SIM card from Iceland – Vodafone, Simin, and Nova are the largest providers in Iceland. You can either buy a package on Icelandair, or find one of the retailer locations for the providers. Siminn for example offers a 2000ISK package which includes credit for the same amount. You can always buy more credit, and refill credit, if you would like. Some providers may also offer data/internet plans if you have a smartphone.
- Is driving in Iceland safe?
Well, there are few things to keep in mind when driving in Iceland. We drive on the right side, and you have to drive according to weather situations (when on gravel road, icy road, in fog / blizzard, etc = slow down). Keep in mind that when you do stop the car for taking pictures / getting out the car, be very aware of where you stop the car, and mind the other cars that may also be on the road. We also have our sheep running wild everywhere in the summers. Keep in mind, that if you see a sheep on one side and a lamb on the other, watch out, as the lamb may run across the road to its mother.
- How should I drive in Iceland?
Driving around Iceland in a rental car gives you greater flexibility than the bus system. Of course, you should familiarize yourself with the road laws and driving hazards of Iceland before embarking on your journey.
Route 1 (the “Ring Road”), which runs around the island, is mostly paved except for a stretch of gravel between Lake Mývatn and Egilsstaðir in the north-eastern part of Iceland. Many smaller roads are also gravel surfaced, but in the summertime they should be fairly easy to drive if you make sure to slow down.
For in-depth information about roads in Iceland, visit the Icelandic Public Roads Administration website: www.vegagerdin.is
- Do I need an international driver’s license to drive in Iceland?
While nearly all national driver’s licenses are recognized in Iceland, if your driver’s license is not in Roman script, you must obtain an international driver’s license. For more details about driving in Iceland, please check out our webpage.
- Accommodation Types
When booking a self-drive tour with Iceland Travel you can choose between different categories:
The main difference between each category is the standard of the hotels or rooms booked. Please note that accommodation is always subject to availability.
All categories use the same rental vehicles and all include breakfast.
Further information about what each category offers, and examples of accommodation can be found below. Please select first the area on the Iceland map below, and then you can browse through your preferred category.
By selecting a budget self-drive holiday you’ll lower your costs considerably as you’ll be staying in accommodation with shared facilities.
These are a combination of basic hotels, farmhouses and guesthouses. All rooms have made-up beds and some rooms have washbasins. Showers and WC are shared facilities.
- Shared facilities
- Budget hotels, guesthouses and farmhouse accommodation
- First night in Hveragerði includes private facilities
- Breakfast included
Our economy self-drives offer you the chance to travel around Iceland in a worry free spirit, staying in accommodation with private facilities without stretching your budget.
Throughout your stay you’ll be residing in a combination of standard hotels, farmhouses and guesthouses. Your final night will be in a 3 star hotel in Reykjavik.
- Private facilities
- Economy hotels, guesthouses and farmhouse accommodation
- Last night in a 3 star hotel in Reykjavik
- Breakfast included
Our comfort self-drive holidays allow you to spend your days exploring rural Iceland, knowing your nights will be spent in the most comfortable accommodation each area has to offer. Throughout the tour you’ll stay in quality guesthouses and hotels where all rooms have private facilities. Your final night will be in a 4 star hotel in Reykjavik.
- Private facilities
- Comfort hotels, quality guesthouses and farmhouse accommodation
- Last night in a 4 star hotel in Reykjavik
- Breakfast included
Upgrade your comfort car rental holiday to the best possible accommodation with premium amenities, either for the full duration of your stay or only selected nights. Let us know during the booking process just how superior you want your holiday to be, and we’ll customize your trip!
- Private facilities
- Upgrade to a superior room in a comfort hotel, or a standard room in an upscale hotel
- Upgrade one or more nights
- Only available for comfort accommodation
- How long are the stops on your scheduled tours? Is there time to go hiking?
The lengths of the stops are not decided in beforehand. It all depends on the group, weather, route and tour guide. You will probably be able to go on a short hike – please consult your guide.
- What about Iceland ?
Geologically speaking is Iceland Europe’s youngest country and the second largest island, around 103,000 sq.km. Iceland was the last European country to be settled by man and the present population is approx. 320.000.
Half of Iceland’s population lives in the capital Reykjavík and its neighbouring towns in the southwest. The center of the country and highlands are uninhabited.
In Iceland you find unique, rugged, wild, amazing and the greatest contrasts possible in Mother Nature. Glaciers, craters, Geysers (hot springs), active volcanoes, black sand beaches and extensive lava fields are amongst the many things the island hast to offer.
- Where is Iceland?
Iceland is the westernmost country in Europe, lies midway between North America and mainland Europe, and its northern coast is just below the Arctic Circle.
- What is the Icelandic food and accommodation like?
Of course Iceland serves some of the world’s freshest fish and seafood. Meats are organic and locally produced, the lamb is especially popular. The food is just as varied as you can find in any capital city. Vegetarians will have no problem finding delicious, organic meals.
American fast food can also be found almost everywhere and also numerous restaurants with international cuisine from Thai, South American to Indian.
In Iceland you find everything, from 4-star internationally known hotels, guesthouses, farms, cottages to camping sites. Iceland’s hotels and guesthouse suit all budgets, almost invariably clean and comfortable. World-class!!
- What are the Icelandic people like?
Quite Scandinavian, honest, sarcastic, exceptionally friendly, highly educated, sophisticated and very modern. Many will want to know what you think of their homeland so expect to be asked “how do you like Iceland” the minute you step out of the airplane.
And just to make sure, no one lives in an igloo and we do not have penguins and polar bears as pets. And no, you can NOT find Eskimos in Iceland!
- What is there besides nature in Iceland?
The biggest part of the experience (visiting) is obviously the amazing contrasts of the Icelandic nature, but far from being the only thing! Reykjavík and Akureyri are one of the liveliest, safest, modern, most sophisticated cities there are, and the nightlife and cultural activities have earned an exciting reputation.
- How about those Icelandic Vikings?
The world’s greatest travellers and hosts were the Vikings. A 1000 year old quote from “The sayings of the Vikings”, suggests “ A guest needs giving water fine towels and friendliness, A cheerful word a chance to speak kindness and concern”
- How expensive is Iceland?
It really depends on what it is that you are looking for. Some people may say that Iceland is very expensive, while others may say that it is not too bad. You can see a list of common purchases below to get an idea of cost of items and food in Iceland.
Wool sweater : ISKR 24.000,- / $ 195
3 Course dinner in a Restaurant : ISKR 6.000,- / $ 50
Vodka bottle : ISKR 5.000,- / $ 40
12″ Pizza : ISKR 1.500,- / $ 12
Hamburger (with french fries and cola) : ISKR 1.000 / $ 8
Cigarettes (pack of 20) : ISKR 1.000 / $ 8
Beer in a bar / Restaurant : ISKR 900 / $ 7
Hot dog (with cola) : ISKR 500 / $ 4
Gasoline (1 Liter / 0.25 Gallon) : ISKR 250 / $ 2
Cola drink : ISKR 200 / $ 1,6
Chocolate Bar : ISKR 200 / $ 1,6
Milk : ISKR 150 / $ 1,2
If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, you may want to opt for the grocery stores and/or smaller gas station with sandwiches and other hot options in order to save on meals. There are also some relatively cheap restaurants in the city, as well as restaurants that offer pretty great lunch deals. Just keep your eyes open!
- What is the tipping policy in Iceland?
Service and VAT are invariably included in prices in Iceland and tipping is never required. However, if you are very pleased with the service, Icelanders are generally not offended if they are offered tips, but it is not necessary.
- What is the currency in Iceland?
The currency in Iceland is the Icelandic Krona. Please check for online rates to see what your conversion to your currency would be.
- What is a bonfire tour?
The Icelandic New Year's Eve is considered one of the world's most breathtaking New Year's celebrations.
The traditional Brenna bonfires of New Year's Eve have their origins in the Middle Ages when people built bonfires to burn the old things they no longer needed.
In Reykjavik there are several bonfires around town where inhabitants gather, shoot off fireworks, sing and dance as they wait for the New Year to come in. At midnight the skies open with thousands of fireworks set off across the city by families.
Take a night tour of Reykjavik and visit the bonfires, enjoying the holiday spirit and singing of the last day of the year!
- What type of car will be used for the Across the Wilderness tour?
It depends on availability and group-size. We will usually know the type one week prior to tour departure.
- What is Iceland Travel’s environmental policy?
As the country‘s largest (and oldest) tour operator, we at Iceland Travel think it is vital to respect Icelandic nature and keep our country a vibrant and exciting destination. We are fully committed to sustainable tourism and continued improvement. This is represented by us meeting the ISO 14001 environmental management standard.
You can read our full Environmental Policy here.
- I want to learn more about the seasons and climate in Iceland, including the best time to see the northern lights and the midnight sun.
Iceland’s weather is cool, and the Icelandic climate is temperate. The warm North Atlantic Current ensures generally higher temperatures than in most places of similar latitude in the world. Iceland’s winters are mild and windy while the summers are cool which is typical for Scandinavia.
There are some variations in the climate between different parts of the island. Oftentimes, the south coast is warmer, wetter and windier than the north. Snowfall in winters is more common in the north of Iceland. The weather in Iceland can be notoriously variable.
The Icelandic winter is relatively mild for its latitude. The southerly lowlands of the island average around 0 °C (32 °F) in winter, while the highlands tend to average around −10 °C (14 °F). The lowest temperatures in the northern part of the island range from around -25 to -30 °C (-13 to -22 °F).
Late-August through late-April is the best time to see the northern lights. The midnight sun is best seen around the summer solstice in June; however, the days are quite long late-May through early-August.
You can find everything you need to know about Iceland’s seasons and climate on our webpage.
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