General Information

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.

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. The ratio of facilities to campers on most sites is often low, with just one or two showers for each male/female to share amongst hundreds of campers. Queuing is inevitable at peak times, but on the plus side there is usually plenty of natural hot water! 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.

Prohibited items

It is prohibited to import uncooked meat, poultry, milk and eggs into Iceland. Alcohol imports are also limited. The use and/or importation of khat/qat (legal in the UK) is prohibited. Please check the details on the Icelandic Customs website before travelling.

Duty free import allowances - Iceland

For information on duty free allowances, please visit www.tollur.is

You might be subjected to an inspection on arrival. In this case, you can either surrender the amount of goods over the limit or offer to pay the relevant duty on the excess.

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.

Export restrictions

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.

Time zones

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.

Communication

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 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.

Telephone

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.

Money

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 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.

Health

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, which 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 immediate 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 Intana is available through the Club's Travel Service.

Security

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. When it rains the wind chill drops the temperature further and good windproofs and waterproofs, along with hats, gloves and warm trousers are a must, especially if you wish to visit some of the glaciers or make the most of the beautiful fjords you pass through on the ferry journey from/to Denmark. Comfortable and sturdy walking boots or shoes, a sun hat and sun screen, plus warm clothing to wear on cooler evenings should also 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.

If on our Escorted Tour of Iceland and the Faroe Islands or travelling in your own unit independently, winter weight bedding is essential too, as the nights can occasionally get down to 2ºC, even in July!

Cycling

Cycles must be equipped with lights, reflectors and bell. In Iceland it is compulsory for cyclists to wear safety helmets.

Midnight sun

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.

Shopping

Iceland has traditionally felt expensive for UK visitors, and be prepared for higher costs for general food items or local excursions. Generally, you should be prepared to spend quite a lot of money if you intend to eat and drink in restaurants and bars, with wine particularly being very expensive. Meat and fish (surprisingly!) are also expensive, but fruit and vegetables, cheese and milk, are reasonably priced.

Shopping hours are typically Monday to Friday 0900 to 1800, and Saturday 1000 to 1600. Some supermarkets are open until 2300 seven days a week.

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:
Web: www.global-blue.com
email: info@global-blue.com

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:
Web: www.visit-faroeislands.com
email: mail@taxfree.fo

Post Offices

There are post offices located in all major communities in Iceland. General hours are 0830-1630 from Monday to Friday.

Electricity

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 (6 or even 4 amps only), and some sites offer no electricity at all. On our Escorted Tour of Iceland and the Faroe Islands, there are times when there aren't enough power points to have one per unit, and splitters are then used two or three ways, further reducing the amperage to just 1 or 3 amps. If usage exceeds supply, then the power to your unit, and that of anyone else using the same power point, will trip out. We therefore recommend you to have a think about how dependent you are on electricity.

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 or using gas/diesel/solar heating for colder days. See the below table for suggested alternatives to common electrical appliances in order to minimize power trip-outs or for times when no electricity is available to you:

Appliance Max Watts usage by typical appliance Max Amps usage by typical appliance Alternatives to minimize power trip-outs
Microwave 900 3.9 Turn off all other electrical appliances before using
Kettle 2,500 10.8 Ideally, use a gas kettle. Otherwise, use a 750watt (3.2amps) kettle and turn off all other electrical appliances before using
Hairdryer 1,700 7.4 Turn off all other electrical appliances and use low temperature and speed only (900watts, 3.9amps)
Fan heater 2,000 8.7 Use max 500 watt (0.5kw, 2.2amps) heater or your onboard gas/diesel/solar van heater
Van heating on electric 3,000 13 Gas/diesel/solar
Water heating on electric 2,500 10.8 Gas/diesel/solar

Gas

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. In 2016, the Tour Escorts used less than one 11kg cylinder, whist cooking exclusively with gas, used gas for heating on some evenings and briefly in mornings, and for water heating on 26 days out of 32, when showering in their unit and/or doing the washing up.

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.

Pets

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.

Tipping

Service and VAT are invariably included in prices in Iceland.