General Information

It is always good to be well prepared when visiting other countries. Here is a list of what you need to know before coming to Iceland.

Time

Iceland does not go on daylight saving time and is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) throughout the year.

Language

Icelandic is the official language in Iceland. English is spoken by nearly everyone, and many also speak French, German, Spanish, and one or more of the Scandinavian languages.

Religion

The state religion of Iceland is Lutheranism, and most of the churches are Lutheran. There is also a Roman Catholic community in Iceland, with cathedrals in both Reykjavík and Hafnarfjörður.

Shopping hours

Most of the stores in Iceland are open 10:00–18:00 during weekdays and 10:00–16:00 on Saturdays. The shopping malls are open 10:00–19:00 every weekday, except Thursday, when they stay open later, until 21:00. On Saturdays, they are open 10:00–18:00 and 13:00–18:00 on Sundays. Normally, supermarkets are open from 10:00 or 11:00–18:30, depending on the store. Others open 10:00–23:00 seven days a week, and some are even open 24/7.

Office hours

Office hours are generally 09:00–17:00, although some operate 08:00–16:00, especially during June, July, and August.

Banking hours

Banking hours are Mon–Fri 09:15–16:00.

Post office hours

Post offices in Iceland are open 9:00–18:00 in the capital area and 9:00–16:30 in the countryside. There are post offices located in all major communities in Iceland.

Credit cards and currency exchange

The Icelandic monetary unit is the króna. Coins are in denominations of ISK 100, ISK 50, ISK 10, ISK 5 and ISK 1. All Icelandic banks provide foreign exchange. Credit cards are widely used in Iceland. Most shops in Iceland accept credit cards as well as euros and dollars.

The major credit cards in Iceland are EuroCard/MasterCard and Visa, and both are serviced by all banks. American Express, Diners Club, and JCB also have agents in Iceland but are not accepted in all stores.

Shopping

As one of the most fashionable places in Europe, Iceland is a hot spot for shopping. Icelanders are very fashion-conscious and demand quality, and so you’ll find that the shops are of an international standard with a wide selection. High fashion and designer wear are both available in Iceland, and it is also one of the best places to buy luxury items and haute couture at reasonable prices.

Tax-Free shopping

A refund of local Value-Added Tax is available to you when you shop in Iceland. The refund is a reduction of up to 15% of the retail price and is refundable within 30 days of purchase. The purchase amount must be no less than ISK 4000 with VAT included per sales receipt.
All goods, except woollens, must be packed in sealed bags with the sale receipt attached.

Telephones/mobile phones

There are five telephone companies in Iceland: Síminn, Vodafone, Nova, Tal, and Talsímafélag Valda og Freys. These companies sell pre-paid GSM phone cards and offer GSM/GPRS services. Pre-paid cards are available at petrol stations around the country and in some supermarkets. You can rent GSM phones from Iceland Telecom, Ármúli 27, Reykjavík.

To call Iceland from abroad, dial +354 + seven-digit number. Direct long-distance calls can be made to Europe and the USA by dialling 00 plus the country code and the telephone number you wish to reach.

Tipping

It is not necessary to tip in Iceland – service and VAT are included in price.

Climate

The Gulf Stream means that Iceland has a temperate climate, with fairly mild winters and cool summers. In January, for example, some areas of Iceland can actually be warmer than New York.
However, the weather is very changeable and can sometimes be strange; you may experience sunshine, rain, and snow, all on the same day.

Weather and clothing

When travelling in Iceland, you’ll need lightweight woollens, a sweater or cardigan, a weatherproof coat, and walking shoes. If you are camping or heading into the interior, then you’ll need a warm sleeping bag, warm underwear, socks, and rubber boots.

Health, pharmacies, emergency and medical help

The emergency phone number in Iceland is 112 (24 hours).

Water is safe to drink throughout Iceland. Pharmacies are open during normal business hours and are called Apótek. Reykjavík has general practitioners and specialists, many of whom will receive patients at short notice. There are also many Health Centres in Reykjavík, with officially appointed family doctors who receive patients at short notice during the day.

There is a hospital in all major cities and towns in Iceland.

Police

The emergency phone number in Iceland is 112 (24 hours).  

News in English

A short news broadcast in English is made on State Radio, FM 93.5 and FM 92.4, every morning, Mon–Fri at 07:31, from 1 June to 1 September.

Electric current

The electric current in Iceland is 220volts, 50 HZ AC.


For your safety

For information about safety, check out the ICE-SAR website.





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