Practical things to know for your Iceland Holiday
CALLING FROM ICELAND
The international code for calling Iceland from abroad is 354. There are no area codes in Iceland. To call internationally from Iceland, first dial 00 followed by the country code and telephone number. For directory assistance dial 118.
If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes. This little pun is often told at the expense of the Icelandic weather. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland enjoys a cool, temperate maritime climate; refreshing summers and fairly mild winters. The weather is also affected by the East Greenland polar current curving south-eastwards round the north and east coasts. As a result, sudden weather changes are common, and travellers should prepare accordingly. For weather info in English call: +354-902-0600 or visit the Met Office website.
CURRENCY AND MONEY EXCHANGE
The Icelandic monetary unit is the krona (plural kronur), which is abbreviated Kr or ISK. Money can be easily exchanged at the airport, bank and currency exchanges. All major credit cards are accepted and can be used to pay for virtually anything – except the public buses. Electron, Maestro and EDC debit cards are increasingly being accepted by merchants. ATM/Bank machines are found in most banks and many other locations throughout the country. Look for the Hradbanki sign.
DRIVING IN ICELAND
Ring Road Nr. 1 around Iceland is 1,332 km (827 mi). The general speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on gravel roads in rural areas, and 90 km/h on asphalt, rural roads.
All mountain roads and roads in the interior of Iceland have a loose gravel surface. The surface on the gravel roads is especially loose along the sides of the roads, so one should drive carefully. The mountain roads are quite narrow and are not made for speeding. The same goes for some bridges that only allow one car to pass at a time. Be sure to visit www.safetravel.is if you have any plans to travel on mountain roads. For current information on road conditions, call +354 522-1000, lines open daily from 8:00–16:00. Visit www.road.is for more information.
The electric current in Iceland is 220 volts; 50 Hz AC. Icelandic electrical plugs are of the rounded, European two-pin type.
Iceland is a tech-savvy country with internet access available almost everywhere including internet cafes in the larger cities and towns. Hotels and Guesthouses generally offer internet access and Wi-Fi free of charge. Internet websites for businesses and organizations in Iceland end in the suffix ‘.is’.
PASSPORT AND VISA REGULATIONS
Iceland joined the Schengen states on March 25, 2001, an agreement of 26 states to abolish checks at their common borders on the movement of persons and facilitate the transport and movement of goods at those borders.
The validity of the passport or recognised ID card must be at least three months beyond the proposed stay, except for citizens of EEA/EFTA countries. Those documents only need to be valid beyond the stay in Iceland. For information on passport and visa requirements visit the website of Icelandic Directorate of Immigration.
PHONES AND MOBILE SERVICE IN ICELAND
The code into Iceland from overseas is 354 plus the seven-digit number. Long-distance calls can be made to Europe and the USA by dialling 00 plus the country code and the telephone number you wish to reach. Four GSM service providers operate in Iceland: Siminn, Vodafone, TAL and Nova. Together they cover most of the Island, including a large proportion of the unpopulated area of the country. All these companies sell pre-paid GSM phone cards and offer GSM / GPRS service. You can also purchase credit refill cards at most gas stations or convenience stores in Iceland. You can also rent a Portable WiFi or iPad at Trawire and use it anywhere you go in Iceland. Connect to the Internet with fixed price & unlimited data usage. Up to 10 mobile devices or laptops can be connected via 3G and 4G without changing SIM card in your current mobile device.
Extensive bus services are available in all major cities and towns. Tickets can be purchased at the local bus station or from the driver, with exact change only. See www.straeto.is/en/verslun/gjaldskra. Children under the age of six travel free of charge, and half price is charged for children aged 6–11. There is no rail or subway system in Iceland.
SMOKING IN PUBLIC / DRINKING AGE
Wine, beer and spirits are sold in government run stores called Vinbudin. The age limit for buying alcohol is 20. Smoking is not permitted on board aircrafts or other means of public transport. It is not permitted to smoke in public buildings and other places open to the public, offices, shopping centers, hotels, bars, and restaurants. The age limit for buying tobacco is 18.
All taxis accept credit cards and have to be reserved in advance. In some major cities and towns there are also taxi stations where you can line up to get a car. And there are of course taxi stands at airports for transfer.
THE DRINKING WATER
The quality of the drinking water in Iceland is exceptionally good due to a wealth of fresh water rivers that stream down from the mountains and glaciers. We drink it straight from the tap and it is available everywhere, in cafes and restaurants too.
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.
USEFUL NUMBERS AND SERVICES
WHAT KIND OF CLOTHING TO BRING TO ICELAND?
When travelling in Iceland you should bring along lightweight woollens, a sweater or cardigan, a rainproof (weatherproof) jacket and sturdy walking shoes. Layering is key. Travellers who are camping or heading into the interior will need warm underwear and socks, rubber boots, and a warm sleeping bag.
If you forget outdoor clothing there are many wonderful outdoor brands you can shop from: 66North - Cintamani - Icewear - Geysir - Farmers Market