Planning your Iceland holidays already? Whether you are doing a stopover or spending enough time to go around the island, in this 10 Tips you should know for your first trip to Iceland, you will find the basics you need to know about the land of Ice and fire.
Iceland is a small country and a remote one so not many people know a lot about our culture, way of living or even language. Coming to another country can sometimes cause a culture shock and there are so many things we take from granted that may come as rude or unexpected for both parties. In order to avoid this, we decided to create this 10 Tips you should know for your first trip to Iceland. Pack up, after reading this post you will be ready to go!
- Introducing yourself and communicating with Icelanders
Our language is Icelandic, it derives directly from Old Norse but do not panic, almost every Icelander speaks English!
When meeting an Icelander, shake hands firmly and keep eye contact. Do not refer to people as Mr. Ms. Plus surname, just like you probably would do anywhere else. Here, we call each other by our names, we do not consider this to be informal, it just the way we do it. If you happen to meet Hlynur Ragnarson, just call him Hlynur.
- Basic words:
- Hello: Halló. ( Hal-law )
- Thanks: Takk. (Tahk.)
- Do you speak English?: Talarðu ensku? (Ta-lar-dhu en-sku?)
- Yes: Já. (Yaw.)
- No: Nei. (Nay.)
- Payment methods in Iceland
Our currency is the Icelandic Króna, the plural is krónur. Cash in Iceland is rarely used as Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, even for small purchases. In Iceland, as in many European countries, cards have a chip with a 4-digit pin. Swipe and sign cards might not work.
In case you still prefer cash, ATMs are widely available and in this 10 Tips you should know for your first trip to Iceland post we recommend you to exchange your currency at Icelandic banks, they will normally give you a more favorable rate than other offices.
- Prices in Iceland, stores and taxes.
Iceland is expensive, very expensive for travelers. So you can get an idea, a combo meal at McDonald’s cost approximately 1600 ISK ($16 USD). There are, of course, places where you can get cheaper deals. If stocking up food, check out Bónus supermarket!
VAT is 24%.
Opening times are:
Sat: 10:00 -16:00H
Sun: Closed. Except some shopping malls and some shops at downtown Reykjavik.
- Driving in Iceland
In Iceland, we drive on the right side of the road. Most of Iceland’s popular destinations are easily reachable using the Ring Road (road N1) that circles the island.
Pay special attention to Highlands roads or “F-Roads”, if you are renting a vehicle, you would need a 4×4. Off-driving is prohibited as it may damage Iceland’s fragile nature.
Gasoil and Diesel is widely available in Gas Stations. Also, you can get prepaid gas cards for a cheaper pirce.
Within urban areas, parking is controlled by meters that usually use coins, some even accept credit cards. For further information on this high requested topic, not only for this 10 Tips you should know for your first trip to Iceland article but for our own blog in general be sure to follow us!
- Tipping culture
Tipping is not typical in Iceland, though if given, you will for sure not be rejected. Not only this applies to restaurants but also to bartenders, taxi drivers or guided tours.
6. Daylight Hours
Iceland is very close to the Arctic circle, and it means that during the summer months the sun does not set. We also do not have blinds like some south Mediterranean countries do, so if you want to have some deep restoring sleep, better bring a sleeping mask. This natural phenomenon is known as “midnight sun” or “white nights”
On the other hand, during the winter time, days are way shorter with about 5 hours of daylight.
10 Tips you should know for your first trip to Iceland
7. Icelandic Weather
Thanks to the gulf stream we enjoy a milder climate but it is quite unstable. Weather changes constantly and sometimes, surprisingly. Always bring wind and water resistant clothing regardless the season.
In case you are driving, be sure to check the road and climate conditions before departing.
We use the standard European plugs of 220V. Make sure your devices are compatible with this voltage and do not forget an adaptor if needed!this is especially relevant for those who would like to keep their devices with full battery!
- Drinking water in Iceland
When coming to Iceland, you will notice that running water smells like “rotten eggs” this is because our water comes from geothermal sources. Do not let it throw you off, our water is absolutely potable and completely safe for human consumption.
- Staying connected to your close ones!
Last but not least in this 10 Tips you should know for your first trip to Iceland: Internet and phone services. You can easily get WIFI connection at many cafés and public places all throughout Reykjavik. In smaller towns, this service is provided by hotels and B&B. Some gas companies, such as N1, offer free WIFI connection at their stations across the country.
We highly advise you to get a SIM card if you need phone services. You can do so at resellers, N1 gas stations, Airport Duty Free shops and at the bus terminal.