Photo of snow covered mountains on the road to Landmannalaugar.

A Guide for Americans Traveling to Iceland

Summertime is approaching, and many travelers are planning trips to beautiful Iceland. Over the past years, more and more American visitors have decided to visit our country. So we decided to create a helpful guide for our American friends traveling to Iceland. However, most of our tips and tricks are relevant to everyone! Keep reading to find answers to some of the most common questions we get from American guests planning a trip to Iceland.

Woman wearing Icelandic lopapeysa sweater stands high above a fjord in west Iceland.
Almost all Icelanders speak English.

Do Icelandic people speak English?

Yes, almost all Icelanders speak English. To get specific, about 98% of the Icelandic population speaks English! Icelanders start learning English at a very young age. What’s more, very few English-speaking TV shows and movies are dubbed into Icelandic, making it easier for Icelanders to pick up English words and phrases when watching international entertainment.

Despite the fact that almost all Icelanders speak English, it can be fun to learn a couple of Icelandic words and phrases. The most common greeting in Icelandic is, “góðan daginn” or “good day.” For English speakers, the pronunciation sounds like, “go-than dah-in.” Here is a handy audio recording. If you want to learn more helpful Icelandic phrases, check out our blog post on the topic.

Photo of snow covered mountains on the road to Landmannalaugar.
Photo of snow covered mountains on the road to Landmannalaugar. Photo by Paige Deasley.

Do Icelanders like American tourists?

Icelanders are a very friendly bunch, and we happily welcome all visitors! However, there is a unique relationship between Iceland and the United States of America. During World War II, the United States actually established a military base in Iceland. Our small island nation was seen as a potentially strategic location due to its position between Europe and the United States. The US military would continue to have a base in Iceland until 1994. As a result, American influence has permeated Icelandic society in many interesting ways.

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Two riders horseback riding in Iceland behind a flock of Icelandic sheep.
As you drive around Iceland, you will likely see sheep grazing in fields on the side of the road. Photograph by Dennis Welsh.

Does Iceland accept US dollars?

No, Iceland does not accept US dollars. Our currency is the Icelandic króna (ISK). However, almost all Icelandic businesses accept payments by credit or debit cards. In fact, Icelanders themselves rarely use cash! If you do want to withdraw cash, you can do so at Keflavík Airport or at any ATM located around Iceland.

Traditional turf house in south Iceland.
An example of a traditional Icelandic turf house. Photo by Paige Deasley.

Do Americans need a passport to visit Iceland?

Yes, a valid passport is required for all Americans traveling from the United States to Iceland. Please note, your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure from Iceland.

Do Americans need a visa to visit Iceland?

No, Americans do not need a visa to visit Iceland. Iceland is a member of the Schengen Agreement which means that US citizens can enter Iceland without a visa for tourist purposes for up to 90 days.

A band of pink and green northern lights shimmer above a paved country road in south Iceland.
Northern lights shining bright above a country road. Photograph by Stefan Liebermann.

Can you drive in Iceland with a US license?

Yes, a US driver’s license is valid in Iceland. Many American tourists choose to rent a car from the airport and explore Iceland on a self drive tour. In fact, Hotel Rangá recommends that all of our guests rent a car when visiting Iceland. Renting a car gives you more freedom to explore our beautiful country. Most popular tourist sites are located close to road 1 and are easy to access.

What’s more, if you plan to rent an electric car we have good news for you. Hotel Rangá has ten charging stations for European electric cars, type A. These charging stations are free to use for all our guests.

Driving in Iceland: Which side of the road?

In Iceland, cars drive on the right side of the road. This is good news for all American tourists – you will feel right at home!

Driving in Iceland: Kilometers or miles?

Be aware, Iceland uses the metric system. This means that signs indicating speed limit are shown in kilometers per hour rather than miles per hour. What’s more, your car’s speedometer will show car speed in kilometers per hour and road signs will list distances between cities in kilometers.

Guests sit in Hotel Rangá's luxury Icelandic Suite.
Hotel Rangá’s luxury Icelandic suite is inspired by all things Iceland. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir.

How much is $100 US dollars in Icelandic króna?

Because exchange rates are in constant flux, we cannot give an exact conversion. However, as of writing this $100 US dollars is around 13,000 Icelandic króna. Be sure to check current online currency exchange rates before your trip.

Are US dollars worth a lot in Iceland?

It’s no secret – Iceland is quite expensive compared to many countries. As an island nation, we have to import many products and have a smaller economy. However, US dollars are currently quite strong, which means you will get more value when you purchase food, gas and lodging in Iceland.

Parents and their two children play pool in Hotel Rangá's game room.
Parents and their two children play pool in Hotel Rangá’s game room.

What is the crime rate in Iceland?

The crime rate in Iceland is extremely low. In fact, Iceland is considered one of the safest places in the world. However, it is still a good idea to use common sense while traveling around Iceland. For example, be sure to lock your rental car and keep valuables in a safe location.

The first official flight Iceland's first fully electric aircraft.
The first official flight Iceland’s first fully electric aircraft. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdottir.

How long is a direct flight from Boston to Iceland?

A flight from Boston, Massachusetts to Reykjavík is only 5 hours–which is shorter than the time it takes to fly from New York to Los Angeles (6 hours).

How long is a direct flight from Baltimore to Iceland?

A flight from Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) to Keflavík International Airport (KEF) is only 6 hours.

How long is a direct flight from Denver to Iceland?

It takes about 7 hours to fly from Denver, Colorado to Iceland.

How long is a direct flight from New York to Iceland?

A flight from New York to Iceland is about 5 hours and thirty minutes.

Waiter pouring a beer at Hotel Rangá's bar.
Waiter working at the bar at Hotel Rangá. Photo by Herman Desmet.

Do you tip in Iceland?

No, tipping is not a part of Icelandic culture and is not necessary. However, if you feel like a tour guide or server provided excellent service, you are welcome to tip. At Hotel Rangá, we donate all tips to the local search and rescue team, ICE-SAR.

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We hope you have enjoyed reading our guide for Americans traveling in Iceland. Contact our front desk reception to book your stay at Hotel Rangá today.

 

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    A glass of red and white wine beside a vase of lupine at the luxury Rangá Restaurant.