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Continent: Europe

Ideal Duration: 7 - 10 days

Best Time: From Mid-June through August; November-March Read More

Currency: Icelandic Króna (ISK)

Budget: Expensive

"For the offbeat traveller"

Iceland Tourism

Amongst the most coveted travel destinations, Iceland is one of the most surreal and magnificent countries in the world. Located close to the Arctic Circle, it offers amazingly dramatic and breath-taking landscapes and exotic natural phenomena. Summer is the best time to visit, owing to the mild temperatures and a plethora of available activities from hiking fjords to playing golf at midnight. However, no time is a bad time to visit this spectacular snow-covered country.

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Tourist Places to Visit In Iceland

Best time to visit Iceland

From Mid-June through August; November-March is the best time to visit Iceland

Summers from June - August is the best time to visit Iceland because of the warm, balmy weather and the phenomenal Midnight Sun. It is indeed a spectacular time, with pleasant temperatures and prolonged daylight hours that enable you to see as much as you can.
Despite the unpredictable weather, Iceland has four distinct seasons. The country of mystical landscapes and awe-inspiring vistas has a somewhat misguided image of being a constantly freezing destination. In reality, it experiences a much milder climate, with no drastic changes between the summer and winter temperatures. Iceland is situated on top of one of Earth’s many hot spots, owing to which, the country boasts of phenomenal geothermal activity. It has an abundance of hot springs, mud pools, geysers and volcanoes. If you’re looking for a combination of moderately good weather and lesser crowds, then you can consider early spring or late fall. Guaranteed darkness and cold, clear nights during winter make Iceland an ideal place to see the aurora borealis. The best time to catch the Northern Lights would be from late September through late March. This is the time when most music and arts festival takes place in Reykjavik.

Photos of Iceland

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

Extraordinary sights. Spectacular landscapes. Unique cultural practices. Distinguished cuisine.

What's Not So Great?

Extreme and unpredictable weather conditions. Rough, difficult to scale terrains. Remote and hence, expensive. Hard to reach.

For Whom?

Adventure-seekers. Offbeat travellers.

Read More on Iceland

Currency of Iceland

Some tourist shops might accept US dollars or euros but might not offer the best exchange rate. Cards such as Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted throughout the country, but American Express is not so popular. However, rural areas and isolated villages may not accept a card so carrying enough cash is recommended.

Exchanging Money in Iceland

Money can be exchanged at Landsbankinn bank. While most hotels also exchange currency, banks offer a better rate. Hra_banki or ATMs and Cashpoints can be easily found in cities and towns. It is advised to exchange one's money into ISK in Iceland itself, and re-exchange any extra cash before leaving as foreign banks may not offer the service.

Nightlife in Iceland

Reykjav’k is possibly the best city in Iceland to witness and enjoy the thriving nightlife of the country. Almost all the bars are concentrated in and around Laugavegur- the main shopping street in downtown Reykjav’k area which is divided into two sections by the locals regarding nightlife - above L¾kjargata and below L¾kjargata. Pubs/bars in Iceland do not charge an entry fee (unless itÕs a cover fee for a special event/performance) so bar hopping is much easier. While there aren't any 'clubs' in Iceland per se, small cafes and bars are prevalent. One has to be at least 20 years old to enter a bar and order a drink legally. On weekdays the bars close by 1 am whereas on weekends, they are open till 5 am in the morning. Some of the best bars in Reykjav’k: Kaffibarinn, Hœrra, Club Kiki, …lstofa Korm‡ks og Skjaldar, R—senberg.

Shopping in Iceland

Best souvenirs to buy from Iceland include woolen goods - made from sheep's fur, are warm and soft - includes hats, gloves, and socks; arts and crafts. A large number of local craft shops and National Museums sell musical baskets, paintings, glasswork, and jewellery; local music CDs - for obscure and unique local music groups such as Mñm, Singapore Sling, and Bellatrix. Best shopping spots in Reykjavik: Mink Viking Portrait Studio, Nordic Stor, Handknitting Association of Iceland, 12 Tonar, Alafoss Wool Store, Kolaportid Flea Market, Kirsuberjatred, Fotografi and Thorvaldsens Bazar.

Festivals of Iceland

Westman Islands Camping Festival (First weekend of August) in the Westman Islands: Thjodhatid. Iceland Airwaves Music Festival (usually November) in Reykjav’k.
Reykjav’k Pride (August) - biggest festival in Reykjav’k 
Culture Night or 'Menningarn—tt' (August) in Reykjav’k.
Reykjav’k's Art Festival (May) in Reykjav’k
Aldrei f—r Žg su_ur Rock Music Festival (held every year during Easter) in êsafjšr_ur
Food and Fun Festival (March) in Reykjav’k
Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF) (September) in cinemas across Reykjav’k
Br¾_slan Music Festival (July) in Borgarfjšr_ur Eystri
LungA Art Festival (July) in Sey_isfjšr_ur in East Iceland

History of Iceland

9th century - Vikings from Norway and the British Isles settled in colonies - fishing and sheep herding were the main occupations 11th century - Christianity became the 'official' religion of Iceland after missionaries from Norway started propagating it; paganism was removed and churches grew more powerful. By the 12th century, Iceland depended heavily on Norway for products like wood, honey, and malt due to deforestation and erosions and Icelanders looked up to the Norwegian king to protect trade. Feuds between various clans robbed Iceland of its 'commonwealth' status, and this turbulence continued up till 15th-century post which Iceland's fishing industry prospered, and it came under Danish rule. The 16th century brought reformation, and the church's authority declined as the Danish king appointed himself the absolute monarch of the country. In the 19th century, nationalism rose in Iceland, and Danish authority weakened - home rule was established, and it opened itself to global trade. Iceland began to prosper in the 20th century - Iceland became a Republic, Reykjavik University was founded, ties with Denmark declined further, Icelandic women were allowed to vote, and there were small skirmishes with the British that were eventually dealt with.

Hygiene in Iceland

Primary threats to health include injuries from accidents and poor weather, hence it is important to remain careful and wear warm & waterproof clothing; Geothermal areas are fragile and dangerous, so extra caution is required. Infectious diseases are rare, but tourists from countries popular for infectious diseases need to be vaccinated aptly; Chlamydia is a common ailment that people in Iceland suffer from. Free medical services for EU citizens with a valid EHIC for, health insurance and passport needed for Scandinavian citizens to avail free healthcare. Excellent water quality and minimal chances of food poisoning due to good hygiene in food outlets.

Customs of Iceland

Most Icelanders believe in the existence of invisible people or Hulduf—lk - this is an ancient belief and must be respected by all tourists. People in Iceland use patronyms instead of surnames - i.e. a person's name is followed by their father's first name and a suffix to indicate son/daughter. The global economic crisis and the whaling industry are sensitive topics among the natives and should be dealt with caution. Visitors must remove their shoes before entering an Icelander's house; Tipping is not prevalent in Iceland (tipping jars are usually ignored).

Tips for visiting Iceland

During summer, bring an eye mask to get a good night's sleep as the sun doesn't exactly set and there's perpetual daylight. Book hotels at least six in advance as they fill up quickly. Pack protein bars and snacks when driving through the country as there may not be eating stops on the way. Public restrooms are hard to find after the gas stations close so be prepared accordingly. Keep waterproof clothes and a raincoat while visiting the waterfalls.

Culture of Iceland

Iceland is a country possessing a rich and diverse culture. While it is best known for its literary legacy dating back to the 12th century (its literacy rate is also among the highest in the world), other traditional arts such as silversmithing, weaving and woodcarving are fairly popular. The love for art, chess, literature and art is evident in the existence of several professional theatres, an opera, a symphony orchestra and numerous museums, galleries, cinemas and bookstores in Reykjavik. Christianity is the major religion in Iceland. 73.8% people belong to the Lutheran State Church; 3.6% belong to other churches sects such as the Roman Catholic Church.  4.9% to the Free Church of Iceland. About 1% of people practice The Independent Congregation.
The official language of Iceland is Icelandic. However, most citizens can speak English and Danish as they are compulsory in schools. Nevertheless, the citizens appreciate attempts made by tourists at speaking Icelandic in the form of some basic greetings and useful phrases such as 'Hello, how are you' and 'Fine, thank you'.

Food of Iceland

The most famous food items in Iceland include dried fish pieces (har_fisku), skyr - a low-fat, yoghurt-like dairy product, smoked lamb, svi_ - singed sheep's head, Sl‡tur - a sausage made from the offal of sheep, and whale meat. _orramatur is a particularly famous dish eaten during the _orri season (late January-Early February) and served at gatherings called _orrabl—t. It includes h‡karl (putrefied shark cubes), Svi_asulta (brawn made from svi_), Lundabaggi (sheep's fat) and hrœtspungar (pickled ram's testicles). In fast food, pylsa or hot dog is a favorite. It is served with onions, ketchup, mustard, and remoulade. Food is expensive in Iceland (with a hot dog costing about ISK 250 - 400). Hence, most people prefer cooking it on their own.
Tips (70 words)

Regions in Iceland

North Iceland which is a home to biggest volcanoes, lava fields, and waterfalls 
East Iceland that has numerous fjords and a terminal for the only international passenger ferry 
West Iceland which is known for Snæfellsjökull glacier and the islands of Breiðafjörður. 
West Fjords that are remote, rough terrains and sparse population 
South Iceland that houses the most popular tourist attractions including the Golden Circle
Southwest Iceland which is also a home to the capital Reykjavik and the largest population of Iceland and lastly the
Interior which possesses many glaciated mountains.


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