Iceland is different from most other countries. It is mountainous and situated between Greenland and Norway. It is the second largest island in Europe and its sparsely populated guardian in the west since only 20% of its area is populated. The central highlands and parts of the northwest are uninhabited. People have to be prepared for the rapid changes in the weather and change clothes accordingly.
It is better to be familiar with the road system, both the roads and streets in the inhabited areas and the tracks in the central highlands, if a trip is planned in the interior. Rules and regulations concerning off road driving, the sensitive vegetation in this latitude and lava formations have to be taken into account as well. Nature in this country is raw, and there are more dangers to be taken into account than the weather, such as unbridged rivers, crevassed glaciers and merciless seas.
Without the Gulf Stream, the whole country would be covered with a shield of ice. The average temperature of the warmest month is about 12°C (54°F) and of the coldest month about 0°C (32°F). Usually it is considerably colder in the mountains. Warm, wind-, and waterproof clothes are highly recommended and lighter clothes for nice weather as well. The golden rule is to to be prepared for everything.
The country is situated just south of the Arctic Circle between Greenland and Norway, only about a 2½ hours flight from London. The international airport Keflavik is situated in the south-western part of the country, only a 45 minutes drive from the capital.
Office hours are generally 09:00–17:00. Shopping hours are Mon–Fri 09:00–18:00, Sat from 10:00 to 13:00/14:00/15:00 or 16:00. Some supermarkets are open to 23:00 seven days a week or even 24 hours in the largest towns. Banking hours are Mon–Fri 09:15–16:00.
The Icelandic monetary unit is the króna. Coins are in denominations of 100 kr., 50 kr., 10 kr., 5 kr. and 1 kr. Banknotes are in denominations of 5000 kr., 2000 kr., 1000 kr., and 500 kr. All Icelandic banks provide foreign exchange and are generally open on weekdays from 09:15 to 16:00. TRAVELLERS’ CHEQUES, DEBIT and CREDIT CARDS: Are widely accepted in Iceland. The major cards in Iceland are EUROPAY/MASTERCARD and VISA.
The shops in Iceland are of international standard and carry a wide variety of merchandise. Local specialties are woolen knitwear (for example sweaters, cardigans,hats and mittens), handmade ceramics, glassware and silver jewellery. Icelandic people are sometimes said to be obsessed by fashion, design and technology so there are a lot of high-fashion and design butiques and stores selling most recent technology. Also available is a great variety of high quality seafood.
A refund of local Value-Added Tax (VAT) is available to all visitors in Iceland. The refund will result in a reduction of up to 15% off the retail price, provided departure from Iceland is within 3 months of the date of purchase. The purchase amount must be no less than ISK 4,000 (VAT included) per store. All goods (except wool) need to be shown at customs before check-in. At Keflavík airport this applies only to tax-free forms whose refund value exceeds ISK 5,000. All other forms can be refunded directly in cash at Landsbanki Íslands in the departure hall.
There are post offices located in all major communities in Iceland. General hours are: Mon–Fri 09:00–16:30. Many post offices in Reykjavik are also open during the weekends. Information on opening hours can be found at http://www.postur.is/english/index.html
Direct calls can be made to all parts of Iceland. The code into Iceland from overseas is +354 + seven-digit number. Direct long-distance calls can be made to Europe and the USA by dialing 00 plus the country code, and the telephone number you wish to reach. Mobile Phones – GSM There are four GSM operators in Iceland: Siminn, Vodafone, TAL and Nova. Together they cover most of Iceland including all towns and villages with over 200 inhabitants. These telephone companies all sell pre-paid GSM phone cards and offer GSM/GPRS services. Pre-paid cards are available at petrol stations around the country. GSM phones may be rented from Iceland Telecom, Ármúli 27, Reykjavík.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland enjoys a cool temperate maritime climate: cool in summer and fairly mild in winter. However, the weather is very changeable and tourists should be prepared for the unexpected.
Land of the Midnight Sun
During summer the nights are bright all over Iceland. In the month of June the sun never fully sets in the north. There are even special excursions to the island of Grímsey on the Arctic Circle where you can experience the midnight sun. Bear in mind, however, that the sun at midnight is not as warm as at midday, so bring along a sweater.
Weather / Clothing
For weather information in English, tel.: 902-0600, extension 44, E-mail: email@example.com, http://en.vedur.is. When travelling in Iceland you should bring along lightweight wool clothing, a sweater or cardigan, a rainproof (weatherproof) coat and sturdy walking shoes. Travelers who are camping or heading into the interior will need warm underwear and socks, rubber boots and a warm sleeping bag.
The electric current in Iceland is 220 volts, 50 Hz AC.