What to expect
If you are used to staying on Club sites you may find a few campsites in Iceland and the Faroe Islands quite similar. On the whole, though, sites are much more basic, but this is usually made up for by their locations. There are often several sites to choose from near the main attractions.
Facilities and pitches vary from site to site and from country to country. In particular, you should note that there is no six metre rule.
Site services will often be much simpler than on other campsites abroad, or even non-existent, and electricity hook-up is not always available. Many sites will have facilities such as a washing machine, a drier and a campers’ kitchen; others may only have a drinking water tap. On the other hand, some sites have good hook-ups and wash blocks, plus shops and restaurants on site or within easy walking distance. Some sites are municipal and benefit from good local swimming pools and sports facilities either adjacent or nearby.
With regard to everyday life and public services, Iceland offers a good road network and excellent telecommunications, local banking, medical and tourism facilities.
General note on the Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands belong to Denmark (but are not part of the European Union) and some information below pertains to Denmark by default. It is possible that some information (e.g. fuel prices) given for the Faroe Islands may vary slightly to that referring to the Danish mainland. Most members will need to pass through Denmark to reach the Faroe Islands and Iceland.
Passports and visas
British nationals do not require visas to visit Iceland or the Faroe Islands for stays of up to 3 months but you must hold a passport valid for the proposed duration of your stay. You don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
It is prohibited to import uncooked meat, poultry, milk and eggs into Iceland. The use and/or importation of khat/qat (legal in the UK) is prohibited.
Duty free import allowances - Iceland
For information on duty free allowances, please visit www.tollur.is
Follow the path English/Individuals/Customs/Traveling to Iceland/What can I bring?/More information on duty free goods and import restrictions and prohibitions / pets, riding boots and fishing gear.
Duty free import allowances - Denmark
If you are travelling to Denmark as a visitor aged over 16, you are allowed to import alcohol & tobacco duty-free. There are different quantities for goods brought in from outside the EU, i.e.: when returning to Denmark from Iceland.
For further information, please visit www.skat.dk.
It is prohibited to export birds, eggs, egg shells and nests. A permit is required to export articles of historical or archeological interest.
Duty free import allowances - UK
From non-EU countries (e.g. Iceland)
For information, please visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/
Tax when bringing in goods from abroad/Tax and duty on goods brought to the UK from outside the European Union.
From EU countries (e.g. Denmark)
For information, please visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs/
Tax when bringing in goods from abroad/Tax and duty on goods brought to the UK from the European Union.
Iceland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) throughout the year, and does not operate daylight saving time.
Denmark GMT + 1 hour, with Summer time (from the end of March to the end of October) being GMT + 2 hours, so that throughout the year the country is always one hour ahead of the UK.
In Denmark many people speak at least some English. There are few countries that are easier than Iceland for UK visitors to travel and stay in. Icelanders are very welcoming to visitors and English is almost a second official language. While most people speak at least a little English, good English is widely spoken and written, with nearly all tourist information and interpretive signage being in both Icelandic and English.
When looking up place names in an Icelandic map, guide or other index, you should note that there are extra letters in the Icelandic alphabet, beyond the 26 we that we also use. The letter Þ is pronounced as a soft “th” as in “think”; the letter ð (or its capital, Ð) is pronounced as a hard “th” as in “the”.
If you cannot find a name in an index, you may find that names beginning with the extra Icelandic alphabetic characters appear at the end, after the 26-character A-Z alphabet. For instance, Æ and Ö may often appear in an index separately after Z, while Í, Ó and Ú may appear respectively after I, O and U.
Despite the fairly remote nature of most parts of Iceland, good mobile phone coverage is widespread and Wi-Fi is readily available in most towns and villages. The international dialling code for Iceland is 354; for Denmark and the Faroe Islands 298.
The Faroe Islands are part of Denmark, which is not part of the euro zone. The Danish currency is the Krone (plural Kroner; international currency code DKK) and 100 øre make up 1 Krone.
Iceland is not part of the European Union and the Icelandic currency is the Króna (plural Krónur; international currency code ISK or VSK).
You can check average foreign exchange rates over the previous 365 days and current rates at www.oanda.com/currency/historical-rates.
Iceland is an almost cashless society, where you can pay for almost anything, almost anywhere – even a coffee, a beer or a sandwich – with major credit cards. If you feel that the Króna looks stable, then you can easily manage throughout the country with just a credit card as your primary means of payment, while carrying a small float of cash (perhaps £50 maximum) in Icelandic Krónur.
If you do prefer to pay in cash, you can exchange currency such as Sterling or other major currencies into Icelandic Krónur or Danish Kroner at banks and bureaux de change, including those aboard ferries prior to arrival in Iceland, Denmark or the Faroe Islands. You can also use travellers’ cheques or credit cards for currency exchange. Exchange rates may be better at banks abroad, or when buying Icelandic or Danish Kroner before leaving home, than at a border or ferry exchange office. Most members find using their debit or credit card to obtain cash from an ATM machine (available in most towns in Iceland, and also in Tørshavn and Skáli in the Faroe Islands) to be most convenient but be aware of your card charges for foreign cash withdrawal transactions. All Icelandic banks provide foreign exchange and are generally open on weekdays from 0915 to 1600.
You may need to inform your bank, before you travel, of your intention to use your debit or credit cards abroad.
There are no vaccination requirements for any international travellers entering Iceland or the Faroe Islands. If you intend to visit lake and mountainous regions, you should bring insect repellent as mosquitoes and midges can be a problem.
British nationals are covered for emergency treatment whilst visiting Iceland. You should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK, allows you to access state-provided healthcare in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge. The Faroe Islands are not part of the EEA, but they do have a separate reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK, which covers immediately necessary care only.
The EHIC is not a substitute for proper holiday insurance, which you should always take out when travelling abroad.
It is always a good idea for visitors bringing in medications to also carry a doctor’s certificate, or a copy of their prescription, in order to avoid problems with customs. To obtain emergency medical assistance in Iceland or Denmark, dial 112. Please note that full and comprehensive medical and personal holiday insurance with Aria Assistance is available through Carefree Travel Service.
As elsewhere in the world, it is a very good idea to be generally vigilant about your property, both in terms of your camping unit and personal belongings.
No-one wants unnecessary trouble while on holiday.
Weather and clothing
The climate of both Iceland and the Faroe Islands is determined by the warm Gulf Stream and the cold East Greenland Stream; so despite their northerly location, both Iceland and the Faroe Islands enjoy a cool temperate ocean climate. Early summer is fairly cool, but the weather is very changeable and visitors should be prepared for the unexpected. Reykjavik’s early summer average temperatures are about 10ºC–11ºC and its average rainfall is about 42mm in June and 50mm in July. Temperatures in the low to mid twenties during the summer of 2008 were considered a heatwave. Winters are mild (average temperature in Reykjavik: 1.1°C) but very stormy. Precipitation is heavy, especially in the south. Gales are frequent and change direction rapidly. The fjords and ports are free of ice all year round.
A favourite Icelandic joke is “If you don’t like the weather now, wait five minutes – it’ll be different then”. However, Icelanders are also quick to say that there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing, and we recommend that you bring lots of clothing that can be easily layered, to give you flexibility in what is likely to be changeable weather. Good windproofs and waterproofs, comfortable and sturdy walking boots or shoes, a sun hat and sun screen, plus warm clothing to wear on cooler evenings should all be packed. So long as you make sure you are prepared for any weather, warm or cold, wet or dry, then you should thoroughly enjoy your stay.
There are several thermal and swimming pools along the way, including the famous Blue Lagoon, so your swimming costume should also be packed. Sunglasses make driving and sightseeing much more comfortable and hours of darkness will be few, so you may wish to bring an eye mask and ear plugs, to prevent sunlight or birdsong from intruding upon normal sleeping hours.
Cycles must be equipped with lights, reflectors and bell. In Iceland it is compulsory for cyclists to wear safety helmets.
During summer the nights are bright in all of Iceland. In the month of June the sun never fully sets in the north. There are even special excursions to the island of Grímsey on the Arctic Circle where you can get an even better experience of the midnight sun. Keep in mind, however, that the sun at midnight is not warm, so dress accordingly.
Iceland has traditionally felt a little expensive for UK visitors, but note the section on money above. Generally, however, you should be prepared to spend quite a lot of money if you intend to eat and drink in restaurants and bars very often. Shopping hours are generally Monday to Friday 0900 to 1800, and Saturday 1000 to 1600. Some supermarkets are open until 2300 seven days a week. Vegetables and salad stuffs can be difficult to grow and expensive to import.
Shops in Iceland are of international standard, and carry a wide variety of goods. Local specialities are woollen knitwear (for example jumpers, cardigans, hats and mittens), handmade ceramics, glassware and silver jewellery. Also available is a great variety of high-quality seafood.
Tax free shopping – Iceland
You can obtain a refund of Value Added Tax on articles bought in Iceland (except food), subject to certain conditions. For more information, please visit:
Tax free shopping – Faroe Islands
You can obtain a refund of Value Added Tax on articles bought in the Faroe Islands, subject to certain conditions. For more information, please visit:
There are post offices located in all major communities in Iceland. General hours are 0830-1630 from Monday to Friday.
Standard electricity supply is 220 Volt and 50 hertz, as in continental Europe. Some sites have standard blue CE17 connections, whereas some have the two-pin type common throughout continental Europe. It is advised to bring a two-pin adapter, available in all good accessory shops for about £5. If you have a splitter connection and extension cable these may also be useful.
Electricity supply on sites varies and is mostly of a low amperage, and some sites offer no electricity at all. You are unlikely to require your leisure battery for lighting very much in summer because of the midnight sun, but you may wish to consider any other requirements (for instance taking a gas kettle with you to boil water).
You should bring your own gas with you, subject to the ferry restrictions below. There is currently only one Camping gaz outlet in Iceland, in Reykjavík.
As a guide, we offer the experience of our Tour Escorts to Iceland. The tours have taken in both very warm and very cool summers. 2011 was the coolest summer for many years, so our Tour Escorts played safe and used their gas frugally. Even so, they returned from a three-week tour of Iceland with one of their 6kg bottles nearly full, and a little gas left in the other, so they could have used about twice as much gas as they did, with bottles that were only about half the size of those allowed on the ferries. 2010 was a particularly hot summer in Iceland (about 21º-23ºC nearly every day on the tour), and their gas supplies were more than ample.
Smyril Line: Gas cylinders for use in motorhomes and caravans are allowed onboard Norröna. Your unit must have some kind of visible indication that it is carrying gas bottles and this must also be stated at checking-in for embarkation. At all times while on board, gas cylinders must be switched off. Gas bottles must not be rusty, or in danger of leaking.
Be sure to also check the restrictions on your chosen ferry crossing from the UK.
Taking pets to Iceland or the Faroe Islands is not permitted for stays shorter than three months; but pets are in any case not allowed at all aboard Smyril Line, which has no facilities for them. Even if this should change in future, you should think carefully before committing your pet to a three-day voyage.
Service and VAT are invariably included in prices in Iceland.