Iceland Travel Planning
General Travel Information
Iceland is a mountainous island nation in the north Atlantic Ocean, located between Europe and North America. Though not part of the continental mainland, the country is considered Nordic European. The name of the country — Iceland — may not be that appropriate as only 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers, it has a surprisingly mild climate and countless geothermal hot-spots and hot springs. The native spelling (“Ísland”) is appropriate in English as well.
Keflavik International Airport, located in the southwest region of the country, is served by direct flights from several major cities in the U.S and Europe. Reykjavik Airport only services domestic and international flights to Greenland.
Try not to over pack. Most hotels offer laundry service. Proper golf attire is required (t-shirts, collarless shirts, un-cuffed golf shorts are not allowed on the courses or in the clubhouses). Casual wear for the evening. Suggest packing a few warm jackets & long sleeve shirts. Rain jacket and waterproof shoes recommended as well (hopefully not needed!).
We highly recommend traveling with a light carry golf bag in a canvas style carrying case. Large golf bags and hard carrying cases can cause problems when traveling since it takes up a lot of vehicle space.
Iceland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). In the spring, the clock is moved forward one hour for Summer Time, and in the fall, it is moved back again to GMT. The summer months will have 20 hours of daylight.
Iceland is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
When it is 12 noon in Iceland, it is:
- 7 am in New York, Montreal, Atlanta, and Miami
- 6 am in Chicago, Dallas, and Winnipeg
- 4 am in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Vancouver
To call home to the US direct, dial 001 followed by the area code and phone number. If you decide to call from your hotel room, always check the cost as an additional service charge is generally added by the hotel. These charges can be expensive! You can have your mobile phone activated by your service provider to use it either for text messages only or text and call.
Customs operates on the red (declare) & green (nothing to declare) channel system. For more detailed information, we suggest visiting www.customs.gov on the Internet. US citizens and visitors from most European countries do not require a Visitor Visa for entry to Iceland. For Americans, a passport is required for identification. Visitors from other countries require a passport valid for at least six months longer than their intended stay.
Iceland is not in the EU. This means passengers arriving from outside Iceland whose final destination is Iceland or who have to recheck baggage will have to go through customs controls at the port of entry (usually at Keflavík), regardless of place of origin. However, a duty-free store is present in the arrivals baggage claim area, and one can purchase duty-free products when in transit to the European mainland.
The local currency is the Icelandic króna (ISK).
Sales Tax Refunds
American visitors can reclaim the 17.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on purchases over a minimum limit (check with the store for their limit). Ask for a tax-free shopping form with each purchase and follow the simple instructions. At the airport, you can claim your refund at the customs desk. If you have your purchases shipped home by the store, the tax will be deducted by the store on the spot.
Tips or service charges are not usually added to a bill in restaurants in Iceland. In general, tip approximately 15 to 20% of the bill amount based on service quality. $2 is normal for incidental tips such as luggage handlers or bellhops.
Golf Club Information
Visitors are welcome in the clubhouses in Iceland. After golf smart casual attire is suggested.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Many clubs throughout Iceland will not allow golf shoes (spiked or spike less) in the clubhouse. We advise bringing a pair of street shoes with you to each golf course.
Riding carts can be requested in advance by The Golf Travel Group. Cart fees can be included as part of your tour package and in some cases inclusive of the green fee.
Please make sure that all members of your party carry a valid handicap card from their home club, however, handicap cards are not mandatory for play.
Despite its name, Iceland has surprisingly mild winters for a country at that latitude owing to the warming effect of the Atlantic Gulf Stream. Iceland enjoys a maritime temperate climate and the average temperature in winter is around 0°C (30°F), although the wind chill makes it feel a lot colder. The rapidly changing weather has given rise to the local saying: ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes!’ It’s the kind of place where it’s not unusual to get rained on and sunburned at the same time. The summers are cooler and more temperate than elsewhere at the same latitude and the temperature rarely exceeds 20°C (70°F).
Other Items To Know
Driving in Iceland is on the right side of the road. Headlights and seat belts for all passengers must be on at all times. There is one main highway, Route 1-Ring Road, that encircles the country. The scenery is spectacular so take your time and enjoy the journey!
The general speed limit on Icelandic rural roads is 90 km/h on paved surface and 80 km/h on gravel, in urban areas the general speed limit is 50 km/h. There are some exceptions from the general limits that are specifically signed as such (the limit is never higher than 90 though) but be aware that the general speed limit is usually not indicated by signs. Speed cameras are posted around the country. Most mountain roads are closed until the end of June, or even longer because of wet and muddy conditions which make them totally impassable.
Iceland Is On The Metric
Iceland follows the international metric system. Temperature, distance, velocity and weights are in metric units. 1km is equal to .6 mile. 80 km/hour is equal to 50 mph. 28 degrees C is equal to 80 degrees F.
The official language of Iceland is Icelandic, which remains very similar to, although not quite the same as 13th-century Norse. Icelandic writing uses the Latin alphabet, but with two characters long ago lost from English: eth and thorn.
Most Icelanders speak English well and have a basic to moderate degree of Danish (with a local accent), as both languages are compulsory in schools, and may understand other Nordic languages.
Major Cities & Regions
Reykjavik and Keflavik (southwest / Keflavik International Airport). Akureyri (capital of the North).
Home of the capital, Reykjavík and the majority of the island’s population.
Sparsely populated, rugged geography.
Snaefellsjokull glacier, the islands of Breioafjorour.
Dramatic lava fields, turbulent waterfalls.
More fjords and the only international passenger ferry terminal.
Home to the most popular tourist attractions, including the Golden Circle.
Passport & Drivers’ License
A valid U.S., Canadian or other national passport is required. To drive a car, a valid driver’s license is sufficient.
Credit Cards & ATMs
Most credit cards are widely accepted and are useful for buying gas, shopping, dining out, etc. The most widely used are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are open 24-hours daily. At ATMs displaying the Cirrus, Plus or Interac international banking network symbols, visitors can withdraw Icelandic funds using their own personal automated banking cards or credit cards (purchasing Krona can only be done in Iceland). The visitors’ bank sets the exchange rate. In addition, be sure to advise your credit card company that you are traveling and will be using your credit card for purchases in Iceland.
Golf Handicap Card
Please make sure that all members of your party carry a valid handicap card from their home club, however, it is not mandatory to play the courses.
In Iceland, electricity is at 220 or 240 volts; therefore, an adaptor is necessary for most electrical appliances. Some of the better hotels have sockets for electric razors at 110 volts. The best place to purchase such an adaptor is before your flight at the international airport duty free shop, as they are not generally stocked in local stores.
Vacation Travel Insurance
There are varieties of travel insurance that cover everything from health and accident costs, to lost baggage and trip cancellation. They can be obtained with one blanket policy, or they may overlap with coverage you already have. It is best to consult your insurance agent to determine what coverage is best for you.