Internet Access

Most places to stay do not provide Internet terminals for guests, so your best and least expensive resource is often the public library, which usually charges around 200kr per hour. But Iceland is a good place to bring your laptop or tablet: Free Wi-Fi is widely available and the crime rate is low. In Reykjavík and Akureyri you won’t have trouble finding a cafe with free Wi-Fi, but in the rest of the country you’ll have to ask around. You can usually find a creative solution, from sitting in a hotel lobby (you’re unlikely to be thrown out) or loitering outside a library door when it’s closed. Reykjavík’s airport offers free unlimited Wi-Fi.

Telephone

advertisement

Calls to Iceland from overseas require the country code prefix, which is 354. All phone numbers within Iceland are seven digits. Numbers beginning with 6, 7, and 8 are reserved for cellphones. No calls are “long distance” within Iceland, and you don’t need to dial the prefix.

Calling Iceland: Dial the international access code (011 from the U.S.; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia), then 354 and the seven-digit number.

International calls from Iceland: Dial 00, then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1), then the area code and number. Rates do not vary by time of day.

advertisement

Directory assistance within Iceland: For numbers inside Iceland, dial 118; Icelandic phone books are found beside public phones and list residents by their first name and profession.

Toll-free numbers: Icelandic numbers beginning with 800 are toll-free, but calling a U.S. 1-800 number from Iceland counts as an overseas call. 

Public phones: Coin- and card-operated public phones are increasingly hard to find, but post offices are a good bet. Using a public phone for local calls is usually cheaper than calling from a hotel. Charges for calls within Iceland vary according to time of day. Phone cards are easily found at post offices, gas stations, and markets. The smallest denomination is 500kr. More and more public phones also accept credit cards. International calling cards are widely available at fuel stations and convenience stores across Iceland. These cards usually provide better rates than calls made from hotels or directly from public phones.

advertisement

Rechargeable online phone cards: Ekit offers rechargeable phone cards with good rates and a toll-free access number in Iceland (tel. 800-8700). Rates to the U.S. and Canada are currently 28¢ per minute, plus a 59¢ service charge per successful call. Rates to the U.K. are 48p per minute depending where you call, plus a 38p service fee per successful call.

Mobile Phones: Iceland has one of the world’s highest per capita number of cellphones, and coverage is reliable in most populated areas. The “Ring Road” circling Iceland is entirely covered.

The three letters that define much of the world’s wireless capabilities are GSM. GSM phones function with a removable plastic SIM card.

advertisement

In the U.S., T-Mobile and AT&T Wireless use this quasi-universal system; in Canada, Rogers customers are GSM. Many phones, especially in the U.S., are not “multiband” (synonymous with “tri-band” or “quad-band”) and will not work in Iceland. For U.S./Canadian visitors, even if your phone uses GSM, and you have a multiband phone (such as many Sony Ericsson or Samsung models), the company you’re contracted to has probably “locked” your phone. In this case, you cannot simply buy an Icelandic SIM card, insert it into your phone, and start making calls.

Those with multiband phones can call their wireless operator and ask for “international roaming” to be activated on their existing account. This option is usually expensive. If you plan on using a cellphone in Iceland, you may well want to buy a prepaid GSM plan after you arrive.

Prepaid GSM phone cards are available from 2,000kr with four main Icelandic phone companies, Vodafone (tel. 1414 or 1800; outside Iceland tel. 599-9000), and Nova (tel. 519-1919). All companies also offer GPRS and services for Internet access through your phone; almost all areas in Iceland with GSM also have GPRS. Branches of Vodafone (all locations: tel. 599-9000) in Reykjavík are at Kringlan Mall, Smáralind Mall, and Skútuvogur 2, which is a little closer to downtown but harder to get to by bus. Nova has branches in the major shopping malls. 

advertisement

When you sign up for a prepaid GSM plan in Iceland, the SIM card is typically free, and the lowest starting credit is 1,000kr. Typical rates within Iceland are 21kr per minute for the first minute, then 25% less after that, and 15kr for a text message, no matter what time of day or week. For the other companies, the price of a call drops as much as 50% within Iceland if you are calling another cellphone operated by the same company. There is also a “friends” option where you can choose a few numbers to call for free. Calls are all free between users of Nova SIM cards. GPRS costs are typically 20kr per 5 megabyte from Nova and slightly higher with other companies.

Tip: Be sure to ask for your voicemail and other prompts to be in English.

In Iceland, only the caller pays for the call, even for calls from overseas. This makes cellphones a great way for people from home to keep in touch with you. Currently the Nova rate for international calls from Iceland per minute to the U.S. is 32kr.

advertisement

Your phone account can be continually restocked by buying prepaid cards called Frelsi (Freedom) at fuel stations and convenience stores around the country. To make sure you buy the right card, specify whether your cellphone uses Síminn or Vodafone, Nova, etc.

Satellite Phones: “Satphones” can be helpful in the more remote parts of Iceland. Two providers serve the country: Iridium satellite phones get the best coverage, whereas GlobalStar phones get only marginal coverage with a weaker signal. Iceland has no satellite phone agency, but products can be rented or purchased from two companies.

You can rent satphones from RoadPost (tel. 888/290-1606). Phone rental costs $8 per day. 

advertisement

Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VoIP): A broadband-based telephone service such as Skype allows you to make free international calls from your laptop or in an Internet cafe. The people you’re calling may also need to be signed up, or there will be a small fee. Check the site for details.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.