This blog is intended to help you navigate the various bits that all travelers encounter, like new airports, getting around, languages, currency, food, and other local customs. Read on for some of our Iceland top travel tips to make your trip as easy and enjoyable as possible:
Flights & Arriving in Iceland
All inbound international flights arrive at Keflavik International Airport. Visitors do not arrive in the capital city of Reykjavik. Upon arrival, you will have to go through customs and then find your way to baggage claim, which you will find at the end of a long corridor (there’s only one). The entrance will be on your left before you enter into the main area of the airport - you’ll go downstairs where you’ll find two baggage carousels and the duty free shop. Generally, bags come out very quickly as this is a small airport.
The airport is about a 45 minute drive from the capital. The simplest and lowest cost option for getting to Reykjavik is via bus. The company that operates these buses is called Flybus. Tickets can be purchased in the airport on your way out. And, don’t worry about rushing out of the airport to catch a bus, there are plenty. The bus can take you to BSI, which is the main bus station in Reykjavik for 1950 ISK (~$16), or for 2500 ISK (~$21) it will drop you off at your hotel. You can also get back to the airport the same way!
Iceland, especially Reykjavik, has a range of hotels, guesthouses and hostels. The typical hotel in Iceland is 2-3 stars. Due to the popularity of Iceland in Summer, we recommend booking your rooms in advance. If you are on a budget, there are a number of lower prices options including sleeping bag accommodation which will have shared bathrooms and kitchen facilities. Some top choices for regular hotels are: Hilton Nordica, Grand Reykjavik and Icelandair Hotels has two properties: Reykjavik Natura and Reykjavik Marina. There are many other choices, but these are the mainstream ones.
Icelandic Mountain Guides offers a very large selection of Iceland tours - both day tours and multi-day tours - and even tours in Greenland, for the truly adventurous! And, our sister company, Iceland Rovers, offers a selection of super jeep tours, another great way to experience Iceland.
If you haven’t already booked any tours prior to your arrival, one of the best places to get help is at the ITM sales office, which is centrally located in downtown Reykjavik at Bankastræti 2. ITM (Icelandic Travel Market) has expert travel planners that can help you book the perfect tours.
Food & Drink
First, it should be noted that food and alcohol are quite expensive in Iceland. If you are traveling on a budget, and let’s face it, most people are, then here's a link to a good blog listing low-cost food options in and around Reykjavik. If you are staying in a place with a kitchen, a great way to save money is to cook your own meals.
If you would like to imbibe while in Iceland, we highly recommend buy what you need in the duty free store at the airport before you leave. This duty free store is located next to the baggage carousels and offers the lowest prices you’ll find on the island, as it is tax and duty free. And, tax in Iceland is 25.5% (VAT)!
If you are staying in downtown Reykjavik, walking is a great way to see the city. Beyond that Reykjavik has a good bus system; if you are going to be in the city for a few days, we recommend buying a discount card. For more information go to straeto.is. Taxis are widely available but are a little pricey.
If you are going to rent a car, which is a great way to see the rest of Iceland, we recommend you take a few minutes to read about some basic safety tips and general information about what to expect.
The currency of Iceland is the krona and the symbol is ISK. Iceland is spelled Island in Icelandic (ís means “ice”), thus IS-K.
The current rate of exchange, as of January 2014, is 116 to the US dollar, 147 to the Euro and 179 to the British pound. These exchange rates mean that you’ll see rather big ISK prices, but don’t get scared away. For example, if something costs 1,000 ISK, that is actually only $8.62.
Also, don’t feel the need to carry cash around with you while in Iceland. Every business you will encounter takes credit cards.
In addition to their native Icelandic, almost all Icelanders speak English and many speak other languages as well including Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, German and Spanish.