This far-flung European outcrop is ideal for the nature lover, the adventure seeker, the fearless traveller. It may be cold, but that’s the point – you’ll get to see all the glaciers, geysers and black-sand beaches you can handle. Discover a land of natural colour – hues of azure at the famous Blue Lagoon and the icy Jokulsarlon, shades of green on the rolling hills framing Skogafoss, the drama of plummeting cliffs along the Westfjords and aurora dancing in the Northern Lights’ sky, and bursts of bright in Reykjavik’s street art and the charming towns dotted along the North Atlantic coastline. Iceland is island life like no other.
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Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport – which usually have less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending what trip you're on in Iceland, you may find yourself travelling by:
To see all of Iceland, you’ll need some heavy-duty transport. This super-sized van will take you on glacier visits to admire these almighty ice caps up close.
Deciding what you want to see in Iceland will give you a better idea of when is the best time to travel. Wanting to get active around the countryside and see waterfalls and wildlife? The warmer spring and summer months are probably ideal. Prefer to soak in the geothermal lagoons and get a chance to see the Northern Lights? Well, likely the cooler months – with their longer nights – are best for you.
Spring and summer are considered optimal times to visit Iceland if green landscapes and balmy days are your thing. The early spring months bring warmer days, while summer offers long daylight hours with only short nights. In the summer season, July and August are the warmest months and the busiest time for tourists.
In September, tourism tends to slow down as the weather becomes unpredictable and the countryside is usually less accessible. However, there are plenty of attractions for the off-peak traveller, including the beauty of autumn colours and, of course, the awe-inspiring Northern Lights.
As you might expect, winters in Iceland can be challenging. During late December there's about four-and-a-half hours of daylight and it's often cloudy. In January, there are on average three sunny days in Reykjavík, with temperatures hovering around freezing point, often with chilling winds.
Iceland is a member of the Schengen Convention, which means that if you travel to an EU member country or countries, like Iceland, for a total of less than 90 days, a visa is not required. Citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US, the UK and other member countries of the EU and Schengen area are included under this arrangement. Other countries do require a visa to visit Iceland, including citizens of South Africa.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your country of origin. Check the Essential Trip Information section of your tour itinerary for more information.
Tipping isn't expected in Iceland. Hotels, restaurants and cafes already include a service fee and consumption taxes (VAT) in the bill, so tipping extra isn't necessary. However, feel free to leave a small amount if your experience has been particularly good, especially for assistance provided by drivers, tour leaders or service workers.
Travellers will be able to access the internet in cybercafes and at wi-fi hotspots in Iceland's cities and large towns. Rural and remote areas may have less internet access, so be prepared when travelling away from the city.
Most accommodation and eateries in Iceland offer wi-fi access, which is usually free to use with a code. If you wish to stay connected for the majority of your trip, it may be wise to purchase a prepaid SIM card with a data package.
Many Icelandic libraries and tourist information offices have shared computers for public internet access if you are without a device to connect to wi-fi. Sometimes a small fee is charged for this service.
Travellers are able to use their mobile phones in Iceland's main cities and towns, though remote and isolated areas may have inferior mobile reception. Click here to read more about using your phone.
If you wish to stay connected for the majority of your trip, it may be wise to purchase a prepaid SIM card for the duration of your journey. This will likely be the cheapest way to use your phone in Iceland.
For EU citizens, depending on who you have your mobile phone plan with, you may be able to use your current SIM in Iceland – your service provider will be able to provide more details.
Global roaming can also be activated when travelling through Iceland; however, be sure to check with your service provider to find out about any fees you may incur when using this option, as sometimes this can be expensive.
Modern, flushable toilets are the standard in Iceland.
In terms of public toilets, Reykjavik and other major towns and cities have some, but along highways and at many tourist destinations – especially campgrounds and natural attractions – there is a lack of facilities. Expect to pay a small fee when visiting public toilets and, in busy months, expect queues in main tourist areas.
There have been recent occurrences of tourists resorting to other means in remote places and near tourist sites. We recommend being prepared and talking to your group leader if you have any concerns.
Iceland's unit of currency is the krona. Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.
Tap water is considered safe to drink in Iceland unless marked otherwise. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Iceland and are used frequently by locals to pay for just about anything. Paying with a credit card at shops, guesthouses, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and on taxi rides shouldn't present a problem. Iceland is almost a cashless society, so cards are the best option; however, a lot of payments will require your four-digit PIN, so be sure to know this before you leave home.
ATMs are usually easy to find in Iceland's cities and villages and generally accept most foreign cards.
Iceland’s temperatures are cool, and do vary throughout the year. In winter months, minimum temperatures plummet to below freezing. In Reykjavik, summer temperatures average at around 11°C (52°F), while winter maximums are approximately 0°C (32°F). Rainfall is quite consistent throughout the year; between 25–50 mm per month, with most days experiencing some rainfall.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
For a current list of public holidays in Iceland, including the movable dates noted above, go to worldtravelguide.net
The people of Iceland have an open and accepting attitude to LGBTQIA+ communities, and Iceland is considered one of the world’s most LGBTQIA+ friendly countries. Since 2006, same-sex couples have had equal access to adoption and IVF, and in 2010 the Icelandic Parliament made a unanimous decision to define marriage as between two individuals. As might be expected in a small country, however, the gay scene is quite low-key, even in Reykjavik.
In 2012, more legislation was passed to formalise the name and identity changing process for the needs of trans and genderqueer individuals. There is still a way to go to achieve full equality, but Iceland is, in many regards, leading the way globally.
For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or ILGA before you travel and reading more about the LGBTQIA+ culture in Iceland.
If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Because of its remote location and size, Iceland can prove difficult when it comes to accessibility for individuals with mobility issues. Some of the main sights, such as the Blue Lagoon, are wheelchair accessible, but many of the natural attractions have unpaved paths and unsteady terrain. Iceland has a dedicated information centre, Thekkingarmidstod Sjalfsbjorg, that provides up-to-date information on accessibility and accessible facilities in Iceland, as well as other related information.
If you do live with a visual, hearing or other impairment, let your booking agent or group leader know early on so they’re aware and suitable arrangements can be made. As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
In summer, Iceland experiences cool but mild weather throughout the country, with maximum temperatures averaging around 13°C (55°F). It’s still important, however, to pack some warm clothing at this time, as temperatures at night can drop quite dramatically. In winter, some days barely reach over 0°C (32°F), so preparing for this is crucial. It can be wet and windy, and roads may be iced over, so thermal gear, a waterproof jacket and pants and sturdy walking boots are all highly recommended.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
In Iceland, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support community businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans. Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to being the best travel company for the world.
Since the arrival of the first settlers in Iceland, there's been deforestation to make space for pastures, and overgrazing has led to soil erosion. With this in mind, the owners of Smaratun guesthouse in the Hvolsvollur region started a tree-planting project on their land, to contribute to lowering CO2 levels and improve the soil. Guests can join the initiative and head out into the hills surrounding the property to plant trees.