Extensive travel and tourism guide for Iceland, Europe
Iceland Travel FAQs
- Where is it?
Iceland is a North Atlantic island, wht weternmost country in Europe. It lies about 800 km northwest of Scotland and 970 km west of Norway, and its northern coast is just below the Arctic Circle. From London, Reykjavík is the same distance as Athens.
- Is it hard to get to Iceland?
Not at all! Frequent flights operate to Iceland from main cities in Europe and North America and many gateways are served daily. Flight times to Europe are two to four hours. Most flights connect at Iceland´s Keflavík International Airport (45 km from Reykjavík) to give good stopover opportunities for transatlantic travellers.
- How cold does it get?
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland isn´t as cold as it sounds. Temperatures are moderate year-round. Average July temperatures are around 11°C in Reykjavík - the north and east are often the warmest parts in the summer. Snow is not the orm and only settles intermittetly in Reykjavík but tends to stay longer in the north. Fine winter skiing areas are found on higher ground outside many towns, however. Average January temperatures in Reykjavík, at around zero, are actually higher than those in New York.
- How should I dress?
In the summer, light clothing is often all you need - but always be prepared for both cold and wet weather at all times of the year. The weather can be extremely changeable. Icelanders often say, "If you don´t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes." And always bring a bathing suit, whatever time of the year you visit. A favourite pastime is year-round outdoor swimming in countless geothermally heated pools and lagoons, with a typical temperature of 25-28°C.
- What are the people like?
Quite Scandinavian, exceptionally friendly, highly educated, sophisticated, attractive, honest and very modern. Their ancestors were predominately Norwegian, although some came from the British Isles. There are no Inuit in Iceland.
- Do Icelanders speak English?
Most Icelanders (especially those from their teenage years through their fifties) speak fluent English. In fact, they welcome the opportunity - so never be shy about approaching an Icelander.
- What are the accommodation and food like?
Excellent! Iceland´s hotels and guesthouses are almost invariably clean and comfortable. The seafood and lamb are of outstanding natural quality and served in imaginative European style. There are also plenty of fast food establishments.
- What kind of money do they use in Iceland?
The Icelandic króna (ISK), with an exchange rate that has been ranging between ISK 115 and ISK 125 to the pund sterling. All major currencies can be exchanged at the airport, banks and currency exchanges. Visa and MasterCard are accepted almost universally, and ATMs are generally not hard to find.
- When is it daylight in Iceland?
Summer visitors who arrive to a bright midnight sky and ask when it gets dark in Iceland are sometimes told "in the middle of August." The sun barely sets in the summer in Reykjavík and it´s light round-the-clock in the north at the peak of summer. In mid-winter, expect only about four to five hours a day of daylight. Spring and autumn daylight hours are more or less "normal".
- What about the electricity?
Icelandic electrical standards are European (50Hz, 240 volts) so many North American electrical devices will require converts. Plugs are generally two-pin, so devices brought in from the UK and North America wil require adapters.
- What is there to see besides nature?
Nature is obviously a big part of the Icelandic experience - but it´s by no means the only part. Reykjavík is one of the liveliest, safest, most sophisticated and modern cities there is, and its nightlife and cultural activities have earned an exciting reputation. Other towns such as Akureyri in the north are worth visiting in their right too. For those who want to see both city and nature, the wilds begin just outside urban communities and a wide range of sightseeing tours are on offer from most of them.
- Can I plug my modem?
Generally, yes, jack are standard. As you should do anywhere, though, always ask a hotel it it´s safe to plug a normal modem into your room phone jack. By the way, Icelanders have the highest rate of computer use in the world.
- Will my mobile phone work in Iceland?
Most European cell phones work on Iceland´s GSM network; North American ones use a different standard. But you can rent cell phones in Iceland. iceland now has the highest rate of cell phones use in the world. Mobiles work in towns and on virtually all main travel routes.
- How big is Iceland?
At 103.000 km2, Iceland is about one-third larger than Scotland or Ireland. The majority of its 280.000 population live in and around the capital, Reykjavík, although the conurbation covers a much larger area than in most European cities with a similar population. The centre of Iceland is ruggedly mountainous and uninhabited.