Republic of Iceland
- Population » 360,000 (est. 2023)
- Most of the population live in or around the capital city of Reykjavic
- It’s one of the least densely populated countries
- Language » Icelandic, English widely spoken, Nordic languages, German
- Religion » Christianity
- Life expectancy » 80 years (men), 84 years (women)
- Electricity » 230V, 50Hz with sockets and plugs Type C and Type F.
- Currency » Icelandic Krona (ISK)
- Emergency Phone Number » 112
- Reykjavik is the northernmost national capital in the world
- Reykjavík is the only Western European capital without a McDonald’s or a Starbucks. The only other European capital without a McDonald’s is Tirana, Albania. Rome, Italy is also Starbucks-free.
- Area » 103,000 sq km (39,769 sq miles)
- No land borders.
- Coastline » 4,970 km
- Highest point » Hvannadalshnukur (at Vatnajokull Glacier) 2,110 m
- Mean elevation » 557 m
- The island nation is located in the North Atlantic just south of the Arctic Circle.
- Iceland is in Europe at latitude 64°51′36.00″ North, longitude 18°31′12.00″ West.
- The best time to visit is June, July, and August. Summer months offer nearly 24 hours of daylight.
- Campgrounds are generally open until September 15.
- Mild, windy winters and damp, cool summers
- Iceland’s climate is temperate. Months can pass without seeing blue sky. Strong winds are common. Rain can come down in torrents or trickle for weeks. Winter can be bone chillingly cold.
- Weather is unpredictable and often described as harsh. Generally very windy.
- Official Gateway to Iceland
- Iceland is an associate member of the Schengen Agreement. The total stay within the Schengen area must not exceed 90 days over a period of 180 days.
- The capital Reykjavik boosts plenty restaurants as well as more than 60 museums, exhibition spaces and galleries.
- The city’s cultural calendar is very full too, with numerous festivals throughout the year.
- Ecotourism and whale-watching are amongst the top tourism attractions in Iceland.
- Iceland is a popular destination and becoming overrun with tourists, especially in the June, July, and August peak season.
- December and January are also popular with tourists chasing the the Aurora Borealis and the rugged beauty of Iceland winters.
- Lonely Planet
- Þingvellir National Park » (UNESCO) » 30 to 50 km (19 to 31 mi) east of Reykjavík. Interesting for a number of reasons: it is the original site of the longest running parliament in the world (the name literally means ‘parliamentary fields’), and it’s where the North-American and European continental shelf plates are being torn apart.
- Vatnajökull National Park » (UNESCO) » Iceland’s newest national park is Europe’s largest national park at 12,000 km2 (4,600 sq mi), covering about 12% of the surface of Iceland. The park is home to Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnúkur, largest glacier, Vatnajökull, the Jökulsárlón ice lagoon, and Europe’s largest waterfall in terms of volume discharge, Dettifoss.
- Snæfellsjökull National Park — Located on the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland, this park is home to the ice-covered volcanic crater that was the setting for Jules Verne’s book Journey to the Center of the Earth.
- Surtsey (UNESCO / Protected Planet) – A new volcanic island on the southern coast, cannot be visited.
- Iceland Camping card ~ Euro 160/year (~CDN$200)
- Reduced camping fees until Sept 15.
- Wild Camping is not permitted in Iceland due to the fragile ecosystem.
- Eight recommended multi-day hikes in Iceland
- Laugavegur Trek
- Fimmvörðuháls Trail
- Volcanic Trails Trek
- Askja Trail
- Kjölur Trek
- Shadow of Vatnajökull Trek
- Viknaslodir East Fjords Trek
- Hornstrandir Trek
- Information about road conditions can be obtained via tel. 1777 (+354 522 1100) or on the website of the Icelandic Road Administration.
- F roads in Iceland are open in the summer around June to the end of August/September
- the F is for “fjalla”, which means “mountain” in Icelandic.
- Many are breathtaking, but challenging
- Kjölur Route F35 (Reykjavik Cars / Wikipedia)
- Summer road
- Expect cold temperatures and rapidly changing weather patterns.
- Plan ahead. Keep an eye on road conditions via road.is and safetravel.is.
- One of the most popular and famous routes in the highlands
- Only 170 km (105 mi) mountain, gravel 4WD road
- from hot springs in Hveravellir, behind the Gullfoss waterfall, to the north, near Blönduós
- he colourful mountain range of Kerlingarfjöll
- one of the highest roads of the country, topping out at 672m (2,204ft) above the sea level
- Many inland roads are unpaved, narrow and lack shoulders.
- Roads in the highlands and other remote areas are only open during the summer.
- Iceland is accessible by year-round ferry (Visit Iceland) from Denmark – Smyril Line International
- June to August » leaves Hirtshals on Tuesday mornings, arriving in Seyðisfjörður on Thursday mornings. Between September and May, the ferry ride to Iceland takes a little longer than 3 days.
- Books months in advance. Book Early.
- Eimskip transports cargo containers to and from the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
- The interior of Iceland is largely undeveloped with virtually no villages and very few roads.
- Driving off road damages nature, is illegal, and carries heavy fines. Respect the natural environments at all times.
- Tourists may temporarily import their foreign-registered vehicle into Iceland without import charges.
- Proof of liability insurance is required
- Official Information
- Drive on the right side.
- Unless otherwise posted, the speed limits are 50 km/h in all built-up areas and 90 km/h on undivided highways.
- There are dozens of designated campgrounds throughout Iceland. Most are inexpensive and well maintained.
- The vast majority of land along the perimeter of the island is private and may not be conducive to impromptu camping. Similarly, large swaths of the inland is off limits to wild camping.
- Several inland lodges can be accessed by 4WD and can be relatively affordable.
- Route 1, also called the Ring Road, is a 850 mile paved highway that encircles the island.
- Description via The Guardian » The 828-mile Route 1 (AKA Ring Road) follows the circumference of this unique, otherworldly island. From Reykjavík, we drove across the south to the east and Höfn. Once away from the more popular Golden Circle, the real road trip began, and we often did not see another car for hours. Remarkable sights lined Route 1, including the glacial lagoon Jökusárlón and Skógafoss waterfall (which turned out to be a great proposal spot!). The highlight was just being alone, with incredible wilderness all around on this thin strip of pothole-free tarmac. The best place we stayed in was the Road 201 guesthouse near Hvoll (doubles from £110).
- The unpaved F-roads which into the interior hold the most appeal. These roads are typically in very well maintained condition, thought there are many and often impassable river crossings. Many F-roads can be easily traversed in 2WD vehicles.
- Off the F-roads are many unmarked two-track routes. Many are closed to traffic during certain months of the year. It’s important to check with local officials as travelling routes when they are closed could at best lead to heavy fines. If the authorities detect any damage to the trail, they can impose even greater fines and other criminal charges which could lead to incarceration.
- There are no inland fuel stations, stores, hotels, or emergency services.
- Off-road driving is strictly prohibited
- Not only is Iceland a fascinating place to live geographically, but it also ranks highly for overall quality of life.
- Iceland is heavily integrated with the European Union, but is not a member.
- Iceland is included in the Schengen Area.
- Expensive » Elevated costs in Iceland can quickly drain modest travel budgets.
- Stores and services outside the major centres are modest. There are none in the interior.
Safety and Security
- Iceland is one of the world’s 10 safest places for travellers.
- The Icelandic authorities maintain a web portal called Safe Travel Iceland to inform tourists of good practices and hazards. Register your itinerary and receive safety alerts through SMS. Icelandic emergency services also offer a location-based emergency assistance app called 112 Iceland App.
Foreign Embassies in Iceland
- Australian Embassy, Copenhagen, Denmark (also responsible for Iceland): +45 7026 3676
- British Embassy, Reykjavik: +354 550 5100
- Canadian Embassy, Reykjavik: +354 575 6500
- Irish Honorary Consul, Gardabaer: +354 554 2355
- South African Honorary Consulate-General, Reykjavik: +354 561 7181
- United States Embassy, Reykjavik: +354 595 2200
- Government of Iceland
- Road & Weather Conditions
- 5 Road Trips not to be Missed » Reykjavk Cars
- US CIA World Factbook entry for Iceland
This page was updated May 8, 2023