The amazing Skogafoss Falls in Iceland

Iceland Travel Guide

Practical information

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Language(s)
Icelandic
Currency
Icelandic Krona
Time zone
GMT +0

Icelandic History and Culture

Iceland's Nordic heritage began around 874 AD when Ingolfur Arnarson, a Norwegian Viking decided to settle on the island, making his home in what is now Reykjavik. Other Viking settlers then followed and in 930 AD the world's first parliament was formed, meeting each year at Thingvellir to elect leaders and discuss new and existing laws. In the year 1000, 'Leif the Lucky', Iceland's most famous king, sailed across the Atlantic and became the first European to set foot in North America, naming it Vinland. In the coming years, Iceland adopted Christianity as their main religion and prospered until 1262 when Norway gained control over the island. The Norwegians quickly passed it over to Danish rule and under this Iceland experienced horrific poverty, disease and natural disasters which nearly wiped out the small nation. This continued until the early 19th century when an independence movement began, lead by a nationalist named Jon Sigurdsson. His following helped to establish domestic autonomy in 1874, however full independence was only achieved in 1944. Iceland chose to celebrate their independence day on 17th June,  as this was Jon Sigurdsson's birthday. 

Icelandic Sagas
During the 13th and 14th century many saga's were written, believed to be based partly on fact and part fiction, they depict stories about the settler's lives, families and struggles set in locations all around Iceland. Locals in Iceland today will relay these Saga's word for word, having been passed down through the generations. They reflect the magic and mystery found in lots of Iceland's folklore; one of the strongest being the belief in elves, with just over a third of the population believing their could be a possibility that elves still roam over the land.

Time Zone

The time zone in Iceland is GMT (+0).

Languages

Icelandic

The official language of Iceland is Icelandic. English is widely understood. 

Useful Phrases

  • Halló: Hello
  • Bless: Goodbye
  • : Yes
  • Nei: No
  • Takk: Thank you
  • Takk fyrir: Thank you very much
  • Bú ert velkominn: You're welcome
  • Vinsamlegast / Takk: Please 
  • Fyrirgefðu: Excuse me

Currency

Icelandic Krona

The local currency in Iceland is the Icelandic Krona (ISK). For the most up to date exchange rate please visit www.xe.com

For meals in Reykjavik you should budget 2500 – 5600 Krona ($20-40).

USD
ISK

Electricity

Iceland uses European electrical standards - 50Hz / 220V - plugs with two rounded pins. 

Weather

Contrary to its name, Iceland enjoys a relatively mild climate considering its position just outside the arctic circle. This is thanks largely to the effect of the gulf stream which hits the south and west of the island, bringing warmth up from as far away as the Caribbean. Another reason for the warmer climate is the intense geothermal activity here. The island is dotted with geysers, volcanoes and hot springs


In summer the average temperature is 10-13°C but warm summer days can reach as high as 25°C. The island experiences a lot of rainfall all year round so you should always be prepared for wet weather whatever time of year you visit.

The weather in Iceland is extremely changeable and the joke “if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes” is commonly heard.


From June to September, the island is nearly always in daylight. Night time starts to return towards the end of August which is also when the first sightings of the northern lights are possible

Lost or delayed luggage

We recommend that you wear your walking boots to travel and pack as many essential items as possible in your carry-on luggage for your Icelandic adventure. If your luggage is delayed we can then do our best to kit you out to start the trek on time. In the event that your luggage is delayed or lost, our procedure is as follows: 


  • Establish what items are missing and a contingency plan for each critical item
  • If it reaches 6pm on the evening before starting the trek and your luggage has not arrived we recommend buying and/or hiring items immediately as a precaution
  • We will take you to a shop where you can buy toiletry items, e.g. toothbrush. You will be able to find everything you need in Reykjavik.

We will do everything we can to help if your luggage is lost or delayed. Be sure to check your insurance policy coverage for lost luggage cover.

Glacier of Thorsmork in Iceland

Geography

Iceland is 20 million years old and is a volcanic island with roughly one eruption every 5 years. 11% of the island is covered in Ice, 20% in grassland, 2% in lakes and the rest is desert with just 1% being cultivated.

More than two thirds of the 334,000 inhabitants live in or around the capital city of Reykjavik. Icelandic people have a great respect and connection with their countryside. With seemingly endless pristine and unspoilt landscapes, it is easy to think of the whole island as one national park. In fact, Iceland has three recognised national parks, they are Snæfellsjökull in the west, Vatnajökull in the south east and Þingvellir in the south.


Iceland is rich with birdlife and marine mammals. Ornithologists flock to the island in the summer nesting season to see puffins, kittiwakes and skuas who nest on the sea cliffs. In the waters around the island there are seals, whales, dolphins and over 300 fish species. Land mammals include the arctic fox, mink, reindeer and occasionally polar bears.

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