When to go
While its name might suggest Iceland is all ice, all the time, it isn’t totally covered in the freezing stuff – at least not everywhere. Admittedly, winters in Iceland can get pretty chilly – in the north it can get down to -30°C, but, luckily our holidays to Iceland concentrate on the south of Iceland, so you can expect winter temperatures of 0°C to -10°C, nothing that some warm clothing can’t keep at bay.
Iceland is one of those countries whose merits shift across the months, so there’s really no bad time to visit. The natural phenomenon known as the Aurora Borealis – more commonly called the Northern Lights – is when the night sky lights up in brilliant colours. It’s most visible from September to April, but especially so in February, March, September and October, as that’s when the spring and autumnal equinoxes are.
Despite most people travelling to Iceland in the winter, you can get a cheap Iceland holiday all year-round. The summer sees temperatures hovering around 13°C and in June and July, the country sees the midnight sun. This means even though the sun sets extremely late – sometimes the early hours of the morning – the sky is still bright. If you don’t fancy wearing a sleep mask to bed, November through to January guarantees cosy winter nights.
Health and safety
As with any holiday, you should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover yourself and family on your trip. It’s also a good idea to apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK as this entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Icelandic nationals. It won’t, however, cover you for medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment.
If you’re visiting Iceland specifically to take part in sports, watersports or strenuous activities including hiking and excursions, you should make sure your insurance covers this. See our holiday extras page for more information, and for the latest health and safety information visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iceland/health.
Passports and visas
British citizens don’t need a visa to enter Iceland but must have a valid passport. By law, you must carry your passport with you and may need to show it when paying by credit card. For the most up-to-date passport and visa info, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iceland/entry-requirements
From Keflavik International Airport, it’ll take you around 45 minutes to get to Reykjavik, which is where the majority of Iceland holiday packages are based. Iceland’s capital city is largely walkable and also has a comprehensive public bus system, so you most likely won’t need to hire a car.
However, if you’re planning to venture out of Reykjavik, hiring a car is the easiest way to see the country at your own pace. There are plenty of car hire companies to choose from. You should be advised though, that from October to April, snow and ice can affect the ease of driving, and cars with four-wheel drive are recommended. Many roads are closed completely during this time, so it’s best to check in advance what routes are available when you’re hitting the road.
Advice for travellers with children
When it comes to cold countries, Iceland is actually pretty warm, so if you’re travelling with little ones and wanting to introduce them to unfamiliar territory, Iceland is a great place to start. As a land that’s more than a little into its local folklore and Viking tales, it’s a top spot for getting a child’s imagination going.
In terms of activities, Iceland has a vast and varying landscape to suit adventurous kids, with black-sand beaches, whale watching excursions, volcanoes and Reykjavik’s 18 open-air geothermal pools, many of which have fountains and slides.
Connector type: Standard European two pin plug
Voltage info: 220 volts, 50 Hz
Call 112 for all emergencies and the operator will put you through to the police, fire brigade or ambulance service.
If you’re a victim of crime, affected by a crisis overseas or if something happens to a relative or partner, contact the British Consulate in Reykjavik. They’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to noon.
Address: Laufasvegur 31, 101 Reykjavik
Telephone: +354 550 5100
Healthcare in Iceland is universal. With the European Health Insurance Card, you’ll be entitled to certain medical care and treatments at general hospitals such as the following institutions.
National University Hospital of Iceland (Landspitali – haskolasjukrahus)
Address: Hringbraut 101, Reykjavik
Telephone: +354 543 1000
Akureyri Hospital (Sjukrahusio a Akureyri)
Address: Eyrarlandsvegur 600, Akureyri
Telephone: +354 463 0100