Home to spoting geysers, spectacular glaciers and dramatic volcanic landscapes, Iceland is a land of contrasts. One of the most volcanically active areas on earth, volcanoes are part of everyday life, with hot springs found almost everywhere. Its location just below the Arctic Circle makes for long summer days, while the winter months are dark, offering plenty of opportunities to watch the Aurora Borealis play in the night sky. The diverse landscapes offer plenty of opportunities for adventure, from hiking in the mountains, rafting the rivers and dog-sledding the snowy countryside. 

When to Visit

Iceland's summers can bring bright, sunny days, with mild temperatures, while during the winter months the sun barely peeks above the horizon before darkness descends again. Weather across the country can however be unpredictable, and some remote roads may be closed in the winter months. May to September are ideal months to visit to experience the Midnight Sun, where the sun never fully sets. From September to January the Northern Lights can be seen overhead

Highlights

Visit the oldest existing parliament in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site located on the northern shore of lake Þingvallavatn.

Explore the spectacular Snæfellsjökull Glacier and discover the spectacular landscapes of the region

Discover the spectacular natural wonders of Vatnajökull National Park

Learn more about the country's literary heritage as written in the Icelandic Sagas

View the Northern Lights as they glisten overhead

Spot some of the many species of birds which make their home along the coast, including Atlantic Puffins.

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Useful Information

Visas

For the most up to date information regarding visas for Australian passport holders to Iceland, visit www.dfat.gov.au/visas/

Customs

Iceland is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, and the last in Europe to be settled. The culture and customs of Iceland have largely been shaped by isolation and the extreme forces of nature, with a strong sense of tradition coupled with a bond with nature. The nation enjoys a high standard of living and society is modern and progressive with a strong commitment to sustainable development and the environment. 

Over time, Iceland has developed a unique tradition of storytelling and literature, with the Icelandic Sagas of the tenth and eleventh centuries inspiring writers to this day. This tradition has been recognised by UNESCO with Reykjavik the first non-English speaking city in the world to be named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2011. 

Music has also been a central cultural focus with a long tradition, and with global attention for modern performing artists such as Björk and Sigur Rós putting Iceland on the world stage. There has been a growth in acclaimed film and television emerging from Iceland, and several locations around the island have been used in popular series such as Game of Thrones. 

Health

Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. Australians travelling to Iceland should also ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. For further information please visit the Smartraveller website

Electricity

Electrical Plug type: European

Voltage: 220-240 volts

 

Communications

Country Code: +354

Emergency Services: 112. The emergency services may not always have English speaking staff. 

Shopping

Shops generally open from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, with reduced hours on Saturdays and Sundays in major shopping centres. Some supermarkets may open seven days a week until 11pm. Local specialities include woollen knitwear, handmade ceramics, glassware and silver jewellery. Visitors can obtain a VAT (Value Added Tax) refund upon departure on purchases over 6000ISK, subject to regulations.

Tipping

Tips are not expected in Iceland since service charges are included in the bill. However, locals occasionally leave change left after paying the bill or one or two euros if they were satisfied with the service quality.

Getting Around

Getting around Iceland is easy, with car travel the most common mode of transport for visitors. The Icelandic road systems is extensive and easy to navigate, with Highway 1, known as the Ring Road being the most travelled route. Most major highways are paved, but a large portion of the road system is made up of gravel roads, particularly in the highlands. Domestic airlines provide daily flights between Reykjavik and most major destinations around the country. Iceland has no railways, but bus companies and ferry dervices connect the towns and cities. Travellers should always be sure to drive carefully and monitor weather forecasts, particularly in winter. 

Language

Icelandic. Most people also speak very good English.