Map of Reykjavik- Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland’s coastal capital, is renowned for the late-night clubs and bars in its compact center. It’s home to the National and Saga museums, tracing Iceland’s Viking history. The striking concrete Hallgrimskirkja church and rotating Perlan glass dome offer sweeping views of the sea and nearby hills. Exemplifying the island’s dramatic landscape is the volcanic setting of the geothermal Blue Lagoon spa.
Area: 402 mi²
The Icelandic Krona is the currency of Iceland, the currency code is ISK and the symbol is kr. The exchange rate is determined in the interbank market for foreign currency which is open from 9:15 to 16:00 on business days.
- Icelandic króna is the official currency of iceland
- Being a former member of Denmark, Iceland used the Danish Rigsdaler and then the Danish Krone. In 1885, the country began issuing its own banknotes. Under Danish rule, Iceland was connected to the Scandinavian Monetary Union until 1914 when the monetary union disbanded. In 1918, Iceland gained autonomy from Denmark and the Icelandic Króna was established as the country’s official currency. This first Krona suffered hyperinflation and in 1981, a reform took place to revalue the currency by a factor of 100. New notes and coins were issued and the ISO currency code was changed from ISJ to ISK.
- In 2008, the country suffered a financial crisis where the banking sector collapsed. The value of the Krona plummeted. Although the Central Bank tried to stabilize it by pegging it against the euro, the Krona continued to fall. Since then, there has been debate as to whether or not Iceland should adopt a more stable currency. The euro and the Canadian Dollar have been favored, though opinions are still mixed.
- Icelanders use almost exclusively credit and debit cards. Thus credit and debit cards are accepted in most shops while foreign currencies are very rarely accepted in Iceland.
The Krona has coin denominations of 1kr, 5kr, 10kr, 50kr and 100kr and notes in denominations of 500kr, 1,000kr, 2,000kr and 5,000kr. All major currencies can be exchanged at the airport, banks and currency exchanges or by withdrawing from ATM machines. Iceland is not currently a member of the European Union and does not use the Euro.
Reykjavik weather is subarctic maritime with cool temperatures throughout the year. The summer is between June and August when the weather becomes very mild and sunny with a peak temperature of 13°C. Autumn (September to October) is cool and wet; the average maximum temperature drops to 10°C and 7°C. Winter months, from November till March, are chilly, dark and damp and January is the coldest month with an average high of 2°C and an average low of -3°C. Spring (April to May) is relatively dry and bright.
Reykjavik has four seasons throughout which there is a subarctic maritime climate with cool temperatures. As it lies on the southwest coast, Reykjavik is slightly warmer and wetter compared to the other areas of Iceland. Due to this the climatic conditions are very unpredictable and changeable.
In Reykjavik, summer lies between June and August with a peak of 13 degrees Celsius which is mild. The temperature falls below 10 degrees Celsius making the nights chilly. In recent years, the summer temperatures have risen higher and on sunny days, they ascent to higher teens. Last year the highest temperature was recorded as 26.2 degrees Celsius. Strong winds are always a possibility.
Icelandic is the official language of Iceland. It is an Indo-European language, belonging to the sub-group of North Germanic languages. It is closely related to Norwegian and Faroese, although there are slight traces of Celtic influence in ancient Icelandic literature.
Health and security
- Iceland is one of the healthiest countries in the world. It has low pollution, high life expectancy and an extremely low rate of infant mortality. The health service is well organised, progressive and has more doctors per head of population than any other country. There is no private health sector in Iceland and all citizens regardless of status qualify for healthcare under the state healthcare service.
The health service is controlled and funded by central government, which collects money for the health service from taxation. Every citizen is entitled to some degree of medical cover, despite the size of his or her contribution to the system.All employers must pay a tax, based on a percentage of wages, to the State Treasury for every employee working for them. All registered foreign nationals, who have been resident in the country for six months are entitled to automatic cover from the state health system.
State health insurance entitles citizens to hospital treatment and care, emergency medical care, prescription medicine, physiotherapy, ambulance transportation, surgical aids and other medical equipment, dental treatment and maternity care.
Citizens who are temporarily unable to work and are no longer in receipt of their salary are entitled to daily payments of sickness benefit for the duration of their illness or incapacity. Each person receives the same sum, which is decided by the government.
It is not possible to opt out of the state system. Employees contribute to the system through the payment of income tax, part of which goes to funding the health service.
- Crime in Reykjavik is basically non-existent, even petty thieves are only rarely seen. Violent crimes? Not here. There are no safety issues concerning drugs or homeless people. The only area in Reykjavik that a single female may not want to visit late at night is Austurvöllur Park – and that’s only because it’s a popular place for winos, who like to keep to themselves anyway. If you want safety, Reykjavik is the perfect destination for you.
- You can’t buy alcohol in supermarkets in Iceland. In fact the only places you can buy alcohol are the state owned alcohol shops called Vínbúðin. You can find small Vínbúðin outlets in many towns around the country but if you are staying in downtown Reykjavík the closest one is Vínbúðin Austurstræti, across the street from the Laundromat Café. There’s another one in Kringlan Shopping mall (Smáralind also).
- Last but not least, if you see a seemingly abandoned baby carriage while strolling down Laugavegur, fully equipped with a sleeping baby, don’t call the police until you’ve made sure its parents are not sipping coffee at a nearby coffee house. It’s completely normal in Iceland to leave a sleeping child outside (most Icelandic children sleep outside every day from a young age) and rest assured there is someone watching that baby, either through a window or a baby monitor. It’s not child neglect, nobody is going to steal that baby and all is well with the world.
- ‘Climb’ the tower of Hallgrimskirkja. The church’s tower is possibly the most iconic landmark of Reykjavik AND the place from where the most iconic over-head shot of the city is taken. There is an elevator leading up most of the way, but to reach the platform you need to climb the last 30 steps or so.
- Pretty much every statue and sculpture in Reykjavik was crafted by Einar Jónsson. Reason enough to learn a bit more about his work and visit the Einar Jónsson sculpture garden. The main museum is right next to Hallgrimskirkja, but the sculpture garden is just at the backside of the building. It’s very quiet as not many tourists come in here, and entry is free.