Iceland Quick Facts

Gearing up for your Iceland trip? Whether you are going on a tailor-made Self Drive itinerary,  a Hurtigruten Expedition Voyage or a ready-made Coach tour there are a few universal things you should know about the Land of Ice and Fire.

Iceland Essentials:

Money: the króna, or the kronur in the plural form. Prices may seem high as $1 is equal to about 85 kronur at the time of writing. Even if you are doing a tour where many of your expenses are paid for, exchange some cash before arriving so you have some money to hand if you'd like to take a side trip or purchase souvenirs.

Language:  Icelandic. Many people will speak a smattering of English, particularly young people, and Danish as both are compulsory in school.

Halló (Ha-low) = Hello

Gjörðu svo vel (Gyur-thuh svo vel) = Please

Takk (Tahk) = Thanks

Skál! = Cheers!

Government: constitutional republic - possibly one of the oldest parliamentary democracies in the world, with parliament established in the early 10th century in Thingvellir National Park.

Visas: Iceland is part of the Schengen Agreement but is not part of the European Union. The Schengen Agreement means that if you are arriving from another Schengen country there is no border control. Australians are generally allowed to spend 90 days within the Schengen area without a visa but double check your specific case.

Getting around: Flying is the most common form of transportation between different towns, although we can happily arrange car hire for you. Car is the best way to see the deserted but beautiful 'Heart of Iceland', the Highlands, and many of the natural wonders. Driving is on the right side of the road and is reasonably easy, as the roads are well maintained and there is little traffic. In winter months be aware of ice on the road.

The dramatic cliffs of Iceland are wonderfully seen by sea, and Hurtigruten's Land of Ice and Fire itinerary takes you all around the coast.

Customs: folklore forms a part of Icelandic identity, particularly the sometimes held belief in huldufólk (hidden people, analogous to elves) and should be respected, not scoffed at. Tipping is not expected and when entering a private home, generally you remove your shoes. Icelanders are sometimes portrayed as gruff people by other Europeans, but are friendly and helpful once you make the effort to speak with them.

Avoid: if you would like to talk about the Global Financial Crisis, do so with care and tact as it hit Iceland hard and affected many individuals hugely so can be an upsetting topic. Whaling is still a large industry in Iceland, so although you can discuss any anti-whaling sentiments you may have, expect to be met with fierce opposition.

We hope these few facts will help you on your Icelandic adventure!