- General Info
- Health Risks
- Insect Threats
- Water Quality
- Security Concerns
- Weather Notes
- Electrical Standards
- Visa Info
- Time Zone
Spouting geysers, pounding waterfalls, rumbling volcanic peaks, hot geothermal springs, lunar-like lava fields, green plains and glaciers, coupled with pollution-free air and therapeutic spas make Iceland an interesting and increasingly popular travel destination. Reykjavik, the capital city, offers a vibrant, sometimes raucous nightlife, some excellent museums, and an interesting Old Town. The Golden Circle tour, an all-day excursion, is a great overview of some of the major sights like Geysir, the famous Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park, the legal seat of the world's first democratic government. To the north, Akureyri has lovely botanic gardens and an excellent folk museum, and nearby Lake Myvatn with its mud pots, lava field and formations, and abundant birdlife offers a closer look at geothermal topography. In the south, Dyrholaey's strangely beautiful sea-rock formations, lively bird cliffs and Eldhraun lava plain, as well as the neighboring glaciers are well worth a look.Language: Icelandic, English, Nordic languages, German widely spoken
Major International Airport:
|Reykjavik||Keflavik Int'l||KEF||31 miles SW|
The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in Western Europe depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. For most areas of this region, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.
Food and Waterborne Diseases
Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness in travelers. Travelers' diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout Western Europe and can contaminate food or water.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob (in animals bovine spongiform encephalopathy/mad-cow disease) cases have been reported primarily from the United Kingdom, though a small number of cases have been reported from other countries. Large outbreaks of trichinosis have occurred; outbreaks in France have been linked to horsemeat.
Diseases found in Western Europe (risk can vary by country and region within a country; quality of in-country surveillance also varies)
In 2004-2005 there has been a marked increase in reported cases of mumps in the United Kingdom. Tickborne encephalitis, a viral infection of the central nervous system, occurs in Austria, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark (only on the island of Bornholm); a few cases have also been reported from Italy, Norway, and France. Travelers are at risk who visit or work in forested areas during the summer months and who consume unpasteurized dairy products. The vaccine for this disease is not available in the United States at this time. To prevent tickborne encephalitis, as well as Lyme disease, travelers should take precautions to prevent tick bites.
Leishmaniasis (cutaneous and visceral) is found in countries bordering the Mediterranean, with the highest number of cases from Spain, where it is an important opportunistic infection in HIV-infected persons.
There is no risk for yellow fever in Western Europe. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into the Azores, Madeira, and Malta if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa where yellow fever is endemic. For detailed information, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.
Other Health Risks
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers. Protect yourself from motor vehicle injuries: avoid drinking and driving; wear your safety belt and place children in age-appropriate restraints in the back seat; follow the local customs and laws regarding pedestrian safety and vehicle speed; obey the rules of the road; and use helmets on bikes, motorcycles, and motor bikes. Avoid boarding an overloaded bus or mini-bus. Where possible, hire a local driver.
Check with your healthcare provider: you and your family may need routine as well as recommended vaccinations.
Before travel, be sure you and your children are up to date on all routine immunizations according to schedules approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). See the schedule for adults and the schedule for infants and children. Some schedules can be accelerated for travel.
See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect. If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. It might not be too late to get your shots or medications as well as other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.
The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to Western Europe. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.
- hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling. You are not at increased risk in Northern, Western, and Southern Europe, including the Mediterranean regions of Italy and Greece.
- As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria.
All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:
- When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid children's eyes and mouth and use it sparingly around their ears.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.
- In developing countries, drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.
- Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.)
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.
- Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Protect yourself from mosquito and insect bites.
- Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).
- Do not drink beverages with ice.
- Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
- Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.
- Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas.
- Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
After You Return Home
If you become ill after your trip-even as long as a year after you return-tell your doctor where you have traveled.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Insect-borne diseases are not typically a problem in Iceland
The municipal water supply in Iceland is considered safe to drink.
There have been very few criminal or terrorist attacks affecting Americans in Iceland. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Iceland's open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorists or other criminals entering/exiting the country with anonymity.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements can be found. Up to date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
CRIME: Iceland has a relatively low crime rate, but minor assaults, automobile break-ins and other street crimes do occur, especially in the capital city of Reykjavik. Tourists should be aware that downtown Reykjavik can become especially disorderly on weekend evenings. Violent crime is rare, but it does occasionally occur.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Iceland maintains a limited crime victim's assistance program through the Ministry of Justice. Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik for further details. Victims of rape can contact Iceland's Rape Crisis Center at 354-543-2085. Those suffering psychological trauma may receive psychological assistance by contacting the University of Iceland's Hospital Psychological Trauma Center at 354-543-2000.
Source: U.S. Department of State
Due to the moderating influences of the Gulf Stream, the weather in Iceland is more temperate than many countries at the same latitude. Summers are cool and damp, and winters are mild, wet and windy, becoming more extreme with altitude. Situated where the warmer Atlantic air meets the cold Arctic air, the weather can be very unstable, and wind and gale conditions are not uncommon. The interior highlands have a more extreme climate with year round snowpack and icefields.
Iceland's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.
To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.
For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.
A valid passport is required. U.S. citizens do not need visas for tourist or business stays of up to 90 days. That period begins when entering any of the following countries which are parties to the Schengen agreement: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. For further information in English concerning entry requirements for Iceland, please contact the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration via their website at www.utl.is.
Source: U.S. Department of State
The time zone for Iceland is 0 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Iceland would be 5:00 pm
The unit of currency in Iceland is the Icelandic krona (ISK).
Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter
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