General information about Iceland

BUSINESS/SHOPPING/BANKING HOURS: Office hours are generally 09:00-17:00 and 08:00-16:00 during June, July and August. 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. Banking hours are Mon-Fri 09:15-16:00.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE: The Icelandic monetary unitis the “króna.” Coins are in denominations of 100 kr., 50 kr., 10kr., 5 kr. and 1 kr. Bank notes 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. Central Bank of Iceland – Exchange rate

TRAVELLERS’ CHEQUES, DEBIT and CREDIT CARDS: Are widely accepted in Iceland. The major cards in Iceland are EUROPAY/MASTERCARD and VISA. Cash can be obtained at every bank branch (over 170) as well as in all ATMs throughout the country. Please note that there might be a difference between the official currency exchange rate in Iceland and the exchange rate that the credit card companies do charge.

SHOPPING: The shops inIceland are of international standard, and carry a wide variety ofmerchandise. Local specialities are woollen knitwear (for example sweaters, cardigans, hats and mittens), handmade ceramics, glassware and silver jewellery. Also available is a great variety of high-quality seafood.

TAX-FREE SHOPPING: 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% of the retail price, provided departure from Iceland is within 3 months after the date of purchase. The purchase amount must be no less than ISK 4,000 (VAT included) per store.All goods (except woollens) 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.

POST OFFICES: 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 alos open during the weekends. Information on opening hours can bee found through http://www.postur.is/english/index.html

TELEPHONES: 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 dialling 00 plus the country code, and the telephone number you wish to reach.

MOBILE PHONES: GSM: There are two GSM operators in Iceland:Siminn and Og Vodafone.Together they cover most of Iceland including all towns and villages with over 200 inhabitants. These two telephone companies both 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.

CLIMATE: Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland enjoys a cool temperate ocean climate: cool in summer and fairly mild in winter. However, the weather is very changeable and tourists should be prepared for the unexpected. 2008 Temperature Averages in Celsius (Centigrade)

  •   Reykjavík  – Akureyri
  • Jan.  -0,2          -1,5
  • Feb.  -0,2          -0,4
  • Mar.  0,8           -1,4
  • April  3,9           1,4
  • May   8,6            8,0
  • June 10,6          9,1
  • July  12,5          12,4
  • Aug.  11,5          11,5
  • Sep.   9,4          9,8
  • Oct.   2,8          1,2
  • Nov.    2,8          1,1
  • Dec.  1,1           -0,3

WEATHER/CLOTHING: For weather information in English, Tel.: 902-0600, extension 44, E-mail: office@vedur.is, www.vedur.is/english. When travelling in Iceland you should bring along lightweight woollens, a sweater or cardigan, a rainproof (weatherproof) coat and sturdy walking shoes. Travellers who are camping or heading into the interior will need warm underwear and socks, rubber boots and a warm sleeping bag.

MIDNIGHT SUN: During summer the nights are bright in all of 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. Keep in mind, however, that the sun at midnight is not as warm as at midday, so bring along a sweater.

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

HEALTH/PHARMACIES/EMERGENCY MEDICALHELP: Icelanders enjoy a healthy life, thanks to clean air and water and quality fish. Water is safe to drink throughout Iceland. Pharmacies are called “Apótek” and are open during normal business hours. Many are open at night. Reykjavík has a great many general practitioners, as well as 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.

MEDICAL HELP: There is a medical centre or a hospital in all major cities and towns in Iceland. The emergency phone number (24 hours) in Iceland is 112.

HEALTH INSURANCE: Citizens of Scandinavia have to show passport in case of medical emergency. Citizens of EEA countries must have the E-111 form, otherwise the patient will be charged in full. Citizens of other countries must be charged in full. For further information contact: State Social Security Institute Laugavegur114 IS-105 Reykjavík Tel.: +354-560-4400 Tel. :+354-560-4520 Fax: +354-562-5053 Office hours 08:05-15:30

VACCINATIONS: Vaccinations are not required.

VISITORS WITH DISABILITIES: Visitors with disabilities can make travelling in Iceland fairly easy by planning their vacation in advance. They may also find it necessary to travel with a companion, for although there are many hotels and restaurants accessible to people with disabilities, they do not always provide full assistance. A number of hotels in Reykjavík and Akureyri have rooms specially designed for guests with disabilities. Larger department stores are generally accessible to wheelchair users. The coastal ferry Baldur is accessible to people with disabilities and so is the ferry Herjólfur. All airlines flying to and from Iceland are equipped to accommodate travellers with disabilities. A few domestic buses equipped for wheelchair users are available for special tours upon request. For accessible hotels and tourist attractions, see www.sjalfsbjorg.is

POLICE: Reykjavík police, for information only,Tel.:+354-569-9020. Emergency phonenumber in Iceland is 112. (24 hours).

RELIGION: The established religion in Iceland is Lutheran.

LANGUAGE: Icelandic is a Teutonic language ofthe Nordic group. It is believed to have changed little from the original tongue spoken by the Norse settlers. English is widely spoken and understood. Icelandic has two letters of its own: Þ/þ pronounced like th in “thing” and Ð/ð pronounced like th in”them.”

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 June 1st to Sept. 1st. A telephone recording of the broadcast can also be heard, Tel.: +354-515-3690.

TIPPING: Service and VAT are invariably included in prices in Iceland.

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