Tourist information

GENERAL INFORMATION ON REYKJAVIK AND ICELAND

  • Several sites with general information about Iceland can be found on the web. The official travel guide, by the Icelandic Tourist Board, is here. A few other examples are here and here and here and here.

Reykjavik

  • The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, and the surrounding towns are the home of more than half of the country’s 320.000 inhabitants. Reykjavik is at a latitude of N 64° and is therefore the world´s most northerly capital.  See Map of Reykjavik here. Named after the steam from hot springs, the city is now known for its clean air and beautiful surroundings. In Reykjavik you have opportunities for historical sites, natural beauty, museums and galleries, public parks, excellent shopping, a wide range of leisure activities, hotels, restaurants and a remarkably lively artistic scene.
  • Useful general information on Reykjavik can be found here. Travel Information Centers around Iceland can be found here.
  • It is generally accepted that the first man to settle in Reykjavik (and Iceland) was Ingolfur Arnarson. He came here from Norway and the official date in the history books is 874 AD. A highly recommendable exhibition is now on at Adalstraeti 16 (the corner of Adalstræti and Sudurgata), where remains of one of the first houses in Reykjavik was found by chance. The date of the construction of the house has been estimated to be the year 871±2. The Settlement Exhibition Reykjavik 871±2 was set up around these remains. Evidence, based on carbon 14 dating, has been found of earlier settlements in Iceland, pointing to settlement as early as 670 AD. More accurate measurements are now being conducted to confirm these results.
  • The story of the settlement of Iceland can be experienced at The Settlement Center of Iceland in Borgarnes.

Climate

  • Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland enjoys a cool temperate ocean climate, cool in summer and fairly mild in winter. However, the weather is very changeable and one should be prepared for the unexpected. Because of the northernly latitude and amount of yearly precipitation, about 11% of the surface of Iceland is covered by glaciers (icelandic: “Jökull”). On clear days, one of the smaller glacers is visible from Reykjavik (Snæfellsjökull).
  • The weather forecast for Reykjavík can be found at  The Icelandic Meterological Office.

Clothing

  • When traveling to Iceland in winter you should bring along clothing similar to what you would wear at the same time of year in the US north-east. For summer you might want to bring along lightweight woolens or a fleece sweater, a wind- and rainproof jacket, sneakers and sturdy walking shoes if you plan to go hiking.

Swimming pools

  • There are 19 swimming pools in the Reykjavik capital area, most of them outdoors. The one closest to Hilton Nordica Hotel is Laugardalslaug, in 5-10 mins walking distance. Laugardalslaug is the largerst swimming pool in Iceland. If you are at all interested in swimming and bathing, bring your swimming suit and towel with you. The swimming pools can certainly be recommended. After a swim in the pool it is nice to have a good soak in one of the several hot tubs. Water temperatures in the hot tubs range from warm to very warm – choose a temperature suitable for your body.

Business/ Shopping/ Bank hours

  • Office hours are generally 09:00-17:00 but some institutions and companies change to 08:00-16:00 during June, July and August. Shopping hours are Mon-Fri 09:00-18:00, Sat from 10:00 to 13:00/14:00/15:00/16:00/17:00 or 18:00, varying from one shop to another. Some supermarkets are open to 23:00 seven days a week. Many shops are closed on Saturdays during the summer – June, July and August -but the woolen goods stores are open on Saturdays and some on Sundays as well. Shops outside Reykjavík in service centers or filling stations are often open all day (09:00-22:00/23:00/23:30) every day of the week. Banking hours are Mon-Fri 09:15-16:00.

Open outside regular banking hours

  • The Change Group Iceland ehf, money exchange service open 7 days a week at extended hours. changekv@li.is
  • Arrival Hall,
    IS-235 Keflavík
    International Airport.
    Tel/Fax: +354-425-0440
  • Bankastræti 2,
    IS-101Reykjavík (inside the Tourist Information Centre).
    changerv@li.is Tel/Fax: (+354) 552 3735

Exchange rates

Debit cards

  • Electron and Maestro debit cards are accepted by more or less all merchants in Iceland. Cash can be obtained using these cards in all banks.

Credit cards

  • Credit cards are widely used in Iceland and accepted by most establishments, including hotels, restaurants, car rentals and shops. The major cards in Iceland are EUROPAY/MASTERCARD and VISA, both owned and serviced by all banks and savings banks in Iceland, and AMERICAN EXPRESS and DINERS CLUB which have agents.

Shopping

  • The shops in Iceland are of international standard and carry a wide variety of merchandise. Local specialties are woolen knitwear (for example sweaters, cardigans, hats and mittens), handmade ceramics, glassware and silver jewellery. Also available is a great variety of high-quality seafood.

Tax-free shopping

  • A refund of local Value-Added Tax is available to visitors to Iceland. The refund will result in a reduction of up to 15% of the retail price, provided departure from Iceland is within 3 months after the purchase is made. The purchase amount must be no less than ISK 4,000 (VAT included) per sales receipt, and all goods (except woolens) must be packed in sealed bags or containers. For information please contact Global Refund in Iceland, Kaplahraun 15 IS-220, Hafnarfjörður.
    Tel: (+354) 555 2833 Fax: (+354) 555 2823 www.globalrefund.com

Duty-free

  • The duty-free store at Keflavík Airport is open to coincide with flight departures and arrivals.

Airport transport 

  • The Leifur Eiríksson Air Terminal is a modern international airport at Keflavík – about 40-50 minutes drive from Reykjavík (45-50 km). The Flybus is operated all year daily from Keflavik Airport to the BSÍ Bus Terminal in Reykjavik in connection with all arriving flights. The BSÍ Bus Terminal is close to the center of Reykjavik. Taxi service is also available. Flybus fare is 1.950 ISK (to the BSI bus terminal) or 2.500 ISK (to the Hotel). Taxi fare is approximately 14.000 ISK from the airport to Reykjavik. On departure from Iceland, free pickup is available from selected hotels and guesthouses, including Hilton Nordica Hotel and Cabin Hotel. Please inquire about this at the hotel reception desk.