Iceland Travel Guide - Practical Info

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Banking and Buisness hours

Official buisness and shopping hours in Iceland are usually between 09:00 - 17:00 every weekday. Banks are open from 09:00 - 16:00 on weekdays. There is a bank branch in Kringlan shopping center that is open Monday to Friday from 10:00 - 17:00 and Saturdays from 12:00 - 16:00.
In Reykajvik there are some grocery stores open 24/7 all year round.



Currency, Money Exchane and Credit Cards

The local currency of Iceland is the Icelandic Króna (ISK). There are several bank branches in Reykjavik where you can exchange money or you can do that at the airport upon arrival as there is a branch there open weekdays from 05:30 - 17:00 and again from 21:00 - 01:00 covering the arrival of most inbound flights.
Credit cards are widely accepted, even for small amounts. Credit Cards are accepted basically everywhere. Please note that in Iceland we us a chip on the credit card and have to enter a 4 digit pin number. However this is not necessary for visitors staying in Reykjavik but if you are going to be driving in the country side the self service gas stations will require a pin number. Please contact your bank or credit card company to apply for a credit card with  a chip and a 4 digit pin.
ATM machines can be found all around Iceland in the small towns and villages.



Cell Phones and Internet

Cell phones that support the GSM900 and 1800 system will work in Iceland. Most gas stations offer a pre paid calling cards which are considerably less expensive than calling directly from your own carrier outside of Iceland. There is 3G and 4G internet available in Iceland but be sure to check for roaming fees as it can be quite expensive to access the internet from an overseas carrier. Icelandic SIM cards can be purchased from one of the local carriers in Iceland for about 3-4000,- ISK. Before purchasing a SIM card make sure that your cell phone supports the GSM900 and 1800 system.
Wi-Fi internet connection is available for free in most hotels and cafes in Iceland. Some hotels might charge a small fee for interned access.



Electricity


Electrical sockets in Iceland provide electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you're plugging in an electronic device that was built for 220-240V electrical input, or a device that is compatible with a range of voltages, you will only need a plug adaptor. Note that plug adapters will not change the voltage. North American sockets supply electricity at between 110 and 120 volts. If your appliance built for 110-120V, you will need a step-down transformer to reduce the voltage to the appliance.



Driving in Iceland

The general, the speed limit in Iceland is 90 km/h on paved highways, 80 km/h on gravel roads, and 50 km/h in urban areas. Please adjust your speed according to driving conditions. Motorists are obliged by law to use headlights at all times day and night, and passengers and drivers are required to wear safety belts. Driving off road or on unmarked tracks is forbidden by law as is driving under the influence of alcohol. All vehicular traffic travels on the right-hand side of the road and international traffic signs are used. Single lane bridges are found in many places in Iceland, so extra care must be taken when approaching those bridges— EINBREIÐ BRÚ means a Single Lane Bridge.

Filling (petrol/gas) stations are found in many places in the lowlands but not in the uninhabited highlands where there are no places that sell provisions, so stock up before you go. All filling stations accept credit cards.  Automatic (self-operated) pumps accept 1000 krónur bank notes and credit cards with PIN numbers.

For the most part, roads in the central highlands are for rough gravel roads or trails (so-called F roads) only passable in 4x4 vehicles with high road clearance. Icelandic car rentals do not allow their 2wd vehicles on roads marked F on official maps or on KJÖLUR road #35 and KALDIDALUR road #550. Should these restrictions be ignored, all insurance is void.

Rivers and streams in the highlands are usually not bridged and must be forded. These roads are usually only passable by 4×4 vehicles and strictly during mid-summer. Please note that most highland roads in Iceland are closed for all traffic and impassable during winter—even by 4×4.

If you plan a self-drive tour in winter, we always recommend using a 4x4 vehicle with good winter tires, preferably studded. Always check on road conditions before driving in rural areas in the winter since conditions can change quickly. Roads may be icy and slippery in winter even if they appear to be in good condition. Most highways are cleared of snow two or three times a week.

Mountain roads are often very narrow and are not made for fast driving. Therefore, journeys often take longer than expected. When planning to drive highland tracks, you should count on progressing at a maximum 30 km/h.

Most highland roads are impassable until the end of June or even later because of wet and muddy conditions due to the spring thaw. Before any journey into the interior highlands, it is strongly advised that you collect as much information as possible regarding road conditions from a tourist information office or the Public Roads Administration (Tel: +354-1777, daily 8:00-16:00). Please remember that conditions on the highland plateau can change quickly due to weather unpredictable conditions.  There are no filling stations at all in the highlands, so remember to fill your tank before you go. 



Health and Insurance

There are health care centres/medical clinics or hospitals in all larger towns in Iceland. The emergency phone number is 112.

In case a medical service is needed, Scandinavian citizens must show their passports. Citizens of EEA countries must present the European Health Insurance Card (EU-card); otherwise, the patient will be charged in full at clinics and hospitals. Citizens of other countries will be charged in full.

For further information contact: 

State Social Security Institute
Laugavegur 114, IS-105 Reykjavík, Tel: +354-560-4400

All travellers are urged to purchase comprehensive travel insurance from their local insurance company before traveling to Iceland.  Iceland Road Trip is not able to provide personal insurance. 

Pharmacies in Iceland are called Apótek and are found in larger towns around the country.
Vaccinations are not required before traveling to Iceland.




Do I need a VISA to get to Iceland?

Please visit www.utl.is to see if you need a visa to get to Iceland.




What to Bring to Iceland

During the summer, visitors are advised to bring a windbreaker, a fleece or a woollen sweater, rainwear, and sturdy walking shoes. If traveling in the highlands, thermal underwear, woollen socks, and waterproof boots are recommended. Gloves and hats are also recommended, don´t forget your swimsuit and a towel, as there are many opportunities bathe or swim in geothermal pools.  During wintertime, we recommend that you bring some extra clothing layers. Eyeshades are a good idea to take along as many people find it difficult to sleep when there is full daylight at night in the summer.



Climate and Weather

Iceland is far from being as cold as many people think it is and that its name suggests. This is primarily thanks to a branch of the Gulf Stream that flows along the southern and the western coast of the country and greatly moderates the climate.  As a result, the winters are relatively mild for its northern latitude; on the other hand, summers are rather cool. Average temperatures for July are around 12° C / 55° F in Reykjavík and around 0° C / 32° F in January. Warm summer days can reach 2025° C.  The interior highlands are usually considerably colder than this. 

Based on the name of the country, one might think that Iceland is covered in snow and ice during winter, but that is far from being so. On the lowlands, snow is intermittent and a snowfall rarely stays on the ground for more than a few days. At higher altitudes and on high mountain passes, snow tends to stay on the ground more or less the whole winter.  The prevailing wind direction is from the east and wind velocity tends to be higher at higher altitudes. The weather is known to change quickly and frequently, especially during the winter months. 

Annual average sunshine hours in Iceland are around 1300, which is similar to Scotland and Ireland. During the summertime, there is continuous daylight for about seven weeks when the sun stays above the horizon until late at night and rises very early in the morning. Around the summer solstice in late June, the midnight sun can be seen in the North where the sun never fully dips below the horizon. It goes down towards the horizon but instead of going below, it rises again. 

The winter is just the opposite.  The winters are dark with few hours of daylight and limited sunlight, especially in December and January.  The advantage of this is a greater chance of seeing the magical Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis. Although sightings of the Northern Lights can never be guaranteed, the best months for viewing the lights are October through March.

Home-page - Icelandic Meteorological Office | Icelandic Meteorological office


Average temperature in Reykjavík


Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug 

Sep 

Oct 

Nov 

Dec 

°C

-0.5

0.4

0.5

2.9

6.3

9.0

10.6

10.3

7.4

4.4

1.1

-0.2

°F

32

32.5

35

39

44.5

49.5

53.5

51.5

47.5

41

34.5

33



 

Sunrise and Sunset in Reykjavik indicatively

 Jan

   Feb

   Mar

   Apr

   May

   Jun

   Jul

   Aug 

   Sep 

   Oct 

   Nov 

   Dec 

11:19

  09:55

  08:21

  06:42

  04:39

  03:15

  03:07

  04:50

  06:16

  07:36

  09:24

  10:51

15:44

  17:29

  18:59

  20:22

  22:12

  23:39

  23:55

  22:15

  20:37

  18:57

  16:58

  15:44





Weights and Measures

In Iceland the metric system is used for measurement.

Weight
1 kg = 2.2 lb

Distance
1 km = 0.62 miles

Temperature
32° F = 0° C  (A temperature difference of 1°F is the equivalent to 0.556°C.)




Public Holidays

Most businesses are closed or services are limited on the following dates:


2018

2019

New Year‘s Day

January 1

January 1

Maundy Thursday

March 29

April 18

Good Friday

March 30

April 19

Easter Sunday

April 1

April 21

Easter Monday

April 2

April 22

First Day of Summer

April 19

April 25

Labour Day

May 1

May 1

Ascension Day

May 10

May 30

Whit Sunday

May 20

June 9

Whit Monday

May 21

June 10

National Day

June 17

June 17

Bank Holiday Monday

August 6

August 5

Christmas Eve (from noon)

December 24

December 24

Christmas Day

December 25

December 25

Second Day of Christmas

December 26

December 26

New Year's Eve (from noon)

December 31

December 31

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