Iceland during Covid?
July 29, 2021 8:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering a trip to Iceland in a few weeks and curious to know what to expect in terms of Covid restrictions, etc.

I'm fully vax'd. I've read the requirements in terms of entering the country, what documents are necessary, and so on. I'm more interested in what day-to-day activities feel like and how they are impacted by the pandemic. I understand that Covid has had a much more limited effect in Iceland than it has had here in NYC, but still - is outdoor dining a thing? Are any not-to-be-missed activities not available for health safety reasons?

And, Covid aside, I'm also curious to hear recommendations for anything from activities to restaurants, places/neighborhoods to stay in, things to do, etc.

posted by fingers_of_fire to Travel & Transportation around Iceland (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
We were in Iceland at the end of June. At that time, once you had completed the entry rigamarole -- masking on the airplane, COVID test at the airport, providing a COVID pre-registration barcode at the airport, providing proof of vaccination at the airport, quarantining at your hotel until test results came back a few hours later -- we essentially would never have known there was a pandemic at all.

We had to go to a local clinic to get a COVID test to come back a couple of days before the return flight, but that was it. All of these processes were super efficient and sane. When we checked into our airbnb on arrival our hosts arranged contactless and early check in since we were in quarantine (at that time) until we got our airport test results back.

After that, everything seemed very pre-pandemic normal. Masks were very rare. We brought ours but mostly didn't wear them. We ate indoors in crowded restaurants. We went snorkeling and horseback riding and to hot springs and museums and parks. There was a normal breakfast buffet in our Reykjavik hotel. There was hand sanitizer at the door of every restaurant and hotel, and folks asked you to use it upon arrival everywhere. It was a nice break from everything.

The restaurants in the airport were mostly still closed, but I can't think of anything else that seemed notably different because of COVID. Things may be different now, so YMMV.
posted by shadygrove at 11:12 PM on July 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh, and highlights of the trip for us were snorkeling at Silfra, the Icelandic feast at Tapas Barinn, having Siggi's lava bread with trout at Laugavatn, the Blue Lagoon and the Secret Lagoon, staying at Jathar, Gullfoss waterfall (the lamb soup in the cafe there has free refills if you ask), Icelandic hot dogs from the best hot dog stand, and horseback riding in Geysir.
posted by shadygrove at 11:29 PM on July 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

We were there in early July and as shadygrove says, it was utterly pre-pandemic normal after arrival except for the test we needed to take before departure to get back into the US. We actually arrived July 1, and they had just stopped testing vaccinated travelers. However, numbers are going up there and the situation is changing e.g. I believe they have reinstated testing for all incoming travelers and some restrictions within the country.

For things to do - we did a road trip more-or-less up the west coast to Akureyri, mostly not on the ring road, and then back to Keflavik, mostly along the ring road. We planned overnight stays in towns 2-4 hrs drive apart along the route and found things to do/see largely simply by zooming in on google maps along our route and partly by asking people along the way. Be warned - some of the things on google maps didn’t seem to actually exist. But others were quite lovely.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:16 PM on July 30, 2021

We were there in mid July, and had a very similar experience. We did a road trip around the ring road, and outside of Reykjavik it was pretty much as if there were no pandemic. As we got back to the capital there were a few more folks wearing masks (and we chose to in a couple of contexts), as the impact of delta was just starting to show up. But we still ate out, indoor and outdoor, and we did a lot of typical tourist stuff with no difficulty: horseback riding, whale watching, etc. I believe the new requirement is a negative test before departing for Iceland rather than test on arrival. You will also need a negative test before returning to the US -- fortunately, we found that testing in Reykjavik is quick and efficient.

Advice for things to do: similar to 2 cats in the yard, we planned stays a couple hundred km apart, and generally planned one activity or sight in advance for each stay, then improvised the rest. Agree that Google maps are not as reliable as in the US. Several of the most interesting sights we saw were things we didn't plan much in advance or thought would be 5 minute stops (e.g. Rauðfeldsgjá gorge on the , or the Höfði peninsula by Myvatn). Broadly the weather was much nicer in the north.
posted by egregious theorem at 4:50 PM on August 1, 2021

Yes, Höfði was lovely - that was actually one of my favorite stops on the trip though not the most impressive or “different”/“interesting” (from US perspective).
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 5:32 PM on August 1, 2021

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