How to Visit Iceland from the US – Travel Tips
With glaciers, waterfalls, and vast volcanic landscapes, the Land of Fire and Ice is a magical destination wherever you’re visiting from. Travel to Iceland from the US and discover the thrills and wonders of a completely different world.
While friendly locals and English being spoken widely might remind you of home, there’s so much to transport you to a different world. See glaciers that tumble down to black-sand beaches. Taste unique local dishes. And discover exciting tales from ancient Viking culture.
Whatever your plans may be for your trip to Iceland, it’s worth getting familiar with some practical information first. Read on for some pointers if you’re traveling to Iceland from the US.
- Check out vacations in Iceland from the United States and find your perfect trip
1. Flying to Iceland from the US
You might be wondering how to travel from the US to Iceland. The only practical way to make the journey is by plane.
Traveling to Iceland from the US without flying is a bit more of a challenge. It’s possible to catch a container ship from Portland, Maine to Reykjavík, but we wouldn’t recommend it. It takes about 5 weeks!
How far is Iceland from the US?
At their closest points, between Maine and the Reykjanes peninsula, Iceland and the US are about 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers) apart. Given its size, though, parts of the US are twice that distance. For example, if you’re in California, you’re 4,000 miles (6,440 km) from Iceland.
That means that flight times will change a lot depending on where you’re traveling from. Flights from New York will take you about 5.5 hours, while those from Seattle can take as long as 8 hours.
How to get to Iceland from the US
There’s only one convenient option for traveling between Iceland and the US, and that’s by plane.
No matter where you start your journey, you’ll land in Iceland at Keflavík International Airport (KEF). It’s Iceland’s main international terminal, located just outside the capital city of Reykjavík.
When you book your trip with Iceland Tours, flights aren’t included in the package. This is so you can choose the time, price, and airline that suits you best.
Are there direct flights to Iceland from the US?
Direct flights leave the US for Iceland from 10 different airports:
- New York
- Washington D.C.
Typically, these are scheduled so that you’ll arrive in Reykjavík in the morning.
Of course, there are many connecting flights too, if you don’t have a non-stop link close by.
What airlines fly to Iceland from the US?
You can choose from many airlines that fly between the USA and Iceland. Icelandic carriers including Icelandair and Play run regular services. Or fly with a US airline, such as Delta or United.
2. What you need to visit Iceland from the US
What you need to bring with you to Iceland will depend on what you’re getting up to and the season you’re planning to visit. But whenever you’re coming, there’s some practical things you need to pack alongside your warm clothes and camera.
For additional information, check out this handy packing guide.
What are Iceland’s US passport requirements?
If you’re traveling to Iceland, it’s important to check your passport is up to date first. As Iceland is in the Schengen area, you’ll need to follow the same rules as in the rest of Europe.
- Your passport shouldn’t expire less than 3 months after you plan to leave Iceland. (While it’s not strictly necessary, the US Department of State recommends having at least 6 months left.)
- It should have been issued in the last 10 years.
- It needs to have at least 2 pages left empty. This is because it’ll be stamped when you enter Iceland and when returning home.
Do US citizens need a visa for Iceland?
American citizens are exempt from Iceland’s visa requirement if they’re coming for a short trip. But if you’ve spent a lot of time in Europe lately, it’s best to double-check how long you’ve been away.
US citizens can only travel visa-free in Iceland and the rest of the Schengen area for 90 days in every 180 days. That should include the whole of your stay in Iceland.
If you want to stay longer than that, you’ll need to apply for a visa. Check with the Icelandic government what you need to do to get one.
Can you drive in Iceland with a US license?
As a tourist, your US driver’s license is perfectly valid to use in Iceland for up to 6 months. If you’re still in the country after that, you’ll need to swap it for a local license.
Note that you need to have had the license for at least a year before you can drive in Iceland. And you’ll only be able to hire a car if you’re 20 or over. Some vehicle types, such as jeeps and vans, have a minimum rental age of 23.
There’s no need to apply for an International Driving Permit.
Does Iceland accept US dollars?
Iceland’s national currency is the Icelandic króna (ISK). While some stores, restaurants, and hotels very occasionally accept US dollars and euros, you shouldn’t expect to use dollars when you’re away.
It’s worth bearing in mind that most Icelanders just use debit and credit cards to pay, rather than cash. If your regular payment card works abroad, you can use that too. Check with your bank about any fees for using your cards abroad.
Tip: Make sure you know your PIN number before trying to use your card in Iceland. Card payment with signature is not possible in many places.
Find out more about using your money in Iceland.
What’s the Iceland power adapter from the US?
Iceland uses the standard Europlug socket that you’ll see across much of northern Europe. It has round holes for two prongs. Adapters are typically sold as types C or F.
Plug sockets in Iceland use 230 V, rather than the 110 V that is used in the US. Before you plug in a device, make sure it’s rated for 230 V. Many plug adapters do not convert the voltage, so check before using one for the first time.
3. What’s it like traveling to Iceland from the US?
When traveling to Iceland, you’ll discover a world quite different from your own.
With its vast landscapes and sparse population, Iceland remains home to some of Europe’s last wildernesses. But you’ll notice that the distances are smaller than you’re used to. In fact, in Iceland, you’ll find some of the world’s most breathtaking sights in a country smaller than most US states.
How big is Iceland compared to the US?
Iceland is much smaller than the US, both by surface area and population.
For example, Iceland’s surface area is about 39,600 sq mi (103,000 sq km). Meanwhile, the area of the USA adds up to roughly 3.8 million sq mi (9.8 million sq km).
So, you can think of the USA as being just under 100 times bigger than Iceland. To put that in perspective, Iceland is roughly the same size as Kentucky or Indiana.
Meanwhile, Iceland’s population is 372,000 and the population of the US is about 333 million. That means there’s roughly 1,000 Americans for every Icelander. In fact, there are nearly twice as many people just in Wyoming as there are in Iceland.
How expensive is Iceland compared to the US?
Iceland has a bit of a reputation as an expensive destination. One estimate suggests that Iceland is the world’s fourth most expensive country, while the USA ranks at 26.
Don’t let this put you off, though. There are many ways to enjoy the country on a budget. For example, why not visit Iceland in spring? In this season, prices tend to be a little lower.
One way to lower travel costs is to book a vacation package. When you book with Iceland Tours, you get great value for money. All of our packages include accommodation, local transport, a 24/7 helpline, and more.
Many of our packages also include breakfast and activities. So you won’t need to worry about saving up as much money to spend when you’re in Iceland.
What’s the weather like in Iceland?
As its name suggests, Iceland can get a little cold. But more than anything else, Icelandic weather is really changeable. Expect to experience every season in a single day, even in summer.
In that warmest season, temperatures can hit about 68°F (20°C). That said, if there’s a breeze it might feel a little cooler than that. Meanwhile, winter temperatures don’t often go below 28°F (-2°C), in Reykjavík and the capital area, at least.
4. The best time to visit Iceland and where to go
Now you know a bit about what Iceland’s like, it’s time to start planning your trip. Read on to discover when to visit and some of the travel destinations you cannot miss.
When is the best time to go to Iceland?
The best time for you to visit Iceland will depend on what you want to get up to while you’re here. Every season has something incredible to offer.
For example, winter’s the season of the Northern Lights. Thanks to Iceland’s dark nights, it is the world’s best place to see the Aurora Borealis. Meanwhile, winter offers ice caves to discover, glaciers to explore, and spas to unwind in. And let’s not forget Icelandic Christmas, when Reykjavík’s at its prettiest.
Spring is typically known as the shoulder season. But it’s the moment when wildflowers bloom and there are fewer visitors around.
Where are the best places to visit?
For such a small country, Iceland has so many breathtaking places to visit:
- Reykjavík – This is Iceland’s buzzing capital city. Discover captivating museums, thriving nightlife, and unforgettable cultural experiences.
- Golden Circle – Combining the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Þingvellir National Park, with Gullfoss Waterfall and Geysir, it’s Iceland’s best-known itinerary.
- Snæfellsnes peninsula – It’s known as ‘Iceland in Miniature’ thanks to its staggering variety of landforms, including iconic mountains and rugged coasts.
- Blue Lagoon – Unwind in a world-famous spa with soothing blue waters.
- Vatnajökull National Park – The home of Europe’s second-largest glacier.
There’s much more to see. Discover what else you can get up to in our complete guide to Iceland.
- Related: 13 Best places to visit in Iceland.
Discover Iceland with Iceland Tours
Travel to Iceland from the US and discover volcanic landscapes, black-sand beaches, glaciers, and the magical Northern Lights. Whenever you visit, and whatever your travel plans, Iceland is a destination you won’t forget.
At Iceland Tours, we can help you organize the perfect trip. If you like exploring alone, take a self-drive tour of Iceland. Or, if you want to meet like-minded travelers to enjoy your experience with, join a group tour.
Book a trip with us and we’ll take care of your travel within Iceland, accommodation, and any activities. What’s more, you can customize everything for your dream holiday. All you need is a 5% deposit to secure your booking.
About the author
Max has been back and forth from Iceland since 2009. He lived and worked there for several years, and although he’s moved away, he left a piece of his heart there. When he’s in Iceland, he loves to relax in the ‘hot pot’, chow down on some local food, and catch up with friends. He speaks Icelandic fluently, so if you need to know how to pronounce ‘Fagradalsfjall’, he’s your guy.View more posts by Max