Before You Go To Iceland
Before you to go to Iceland it’s important that you prepare yourself with practical information. Here you will find a range of topics that will hopefully answer some of the questions on your mind. Whether you are travelling on your own or in a group, the information will hopefully make it easier for you before you go to Iceland.
The official language of Iceland is Icelandic, a Nordic language with Germanic roots. Icelandic is one of the oldest living languages in Europe, changing very little from the original tongue spoken by the Norse settlers. Fortunately for most tourists, English is widely spoken and understood by most Icelanders. Even still, any attempts at speaking Icelandic are always appreciated and learning some basic greetings and phrases will make you feel more like a local. See Useful Icelandic Expressions for more information.
The monetary unit in Iceland is the Icelandic króna (ISK). The denominations of the coins used are 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 krónur. The denominations of the notes used are 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 krónur.
Upon arrival at Keflavik Airport, there is a bank in the airport terminal for immediate access to Icelandic currency. It is open during the times at which flights are due to arrive. If credit cards are not an option, it‘s a good idea to change your currency as few shops in Iceland accept foreign currency. At Banks and ATMs, which are found in all towns, you can withdraw Icelandic króna at fair exchange rates. However, most shops and businesses, and even taxis, accept all major credit cards.
Most major credit cards such as VISA and Mastercard are widely accepted in Iceland, however, American Express and Diner‘s Club cards are not as common. You‘ll quickly learn that even for the smallest of transactions, using a credit card is commonplace.
Foreign Embassies and Consulate Information
Here you can find a list of foreign embassies located in Iceland.
Health and Safety
For emergency medical assistance anywhere in the country, dial 112. For non-emergency medical assistance in the Reykjavik metropolitan area dial 544-4114 during business hours. Outside of normal business hours, dial 1770. The Icelandic medical system does not offer coverage to people who do not live in Iceland. Nonresidents are expected to pay their own medical costs and you should be prepared to pay your bill in full before leaving the hospital or clinic.
If you need police assistance, an ambulance, firefighters or other emergency assistance in Iceland, call 112, which will give instant access to the 24-hour emergency hotline, Neyðarlínan.
There are no regional code prefixes in Iceland and all phone numbers are seven digits. The country code is 354. When calling a number in another country from Iceland, dial 00, then the country code. There are two telephone directories (Símaskrá), one for Greater Reykjavík, the other for the rest of the country, split into various geographical areas. Icelanders are listed by their first name in the directory, not the last.
Always consult with knowledgeable locals before going into remote areas. Make sure that somebody knows your itinerary, and keep in mind that mobile phone service can be sporadic in uninhabited regions. Search and rescue missions can be risky and very expensive. Highly-trained search and rescue teams are always on standby, equipped with snowmobiles, rescue boats, off-road vehicles and SUVs customized for extreme conditions. When needed, the Icelandic Coast Guard provides airplane and helicopter assistance.
Clothing and Footwear
Warm, waterproof, and windproof clothing is a good idea at any time of year. We recommend that you dress according to the layer-to-layer principle. The outermost layer should be wind and waterproof, and as a base layer wearing articles made of wool is always your best bet. If you plan on hiking or trekking around the vast nature bring a good pair sturdy, ankle supported hiking boots and a couple pairs of quality warm socks. While in Iceland always be cautious of the shifting weather patterns and remember that there is no such thing as bad weather, only a poor choice of clothing.