TRAVEL UPDATE - Coronavirus (Covid-19)


Is Iceland Safe to Visit?

Last Updated: 28/08/2020
Posted in: Blogs, Nordic, Iceland, In Focus

Wherever you travel, it's important to know that you're not at risk. Iceland has for many years been a safe country to visit, thanks to its excellent healthcare standards, low crime rate, and other key factors.

Now there is a whole new context of what “safe travel” looks like for us all, with the coronavirus changing the world of travel for the foreseeable future.

You may have heard that the government has brought the outbreak under control in Iceland. It has opened the borders to visitors in line with a carefully thought out process. Iceland is setting a precedent for other countries on how they can do the same in the era of Covid-19.

So is it safe to travel to Iceland in 2020? Why is Iceland safe generally? Read on for information on why Iceland is one of the safest countries to explore now and how you can visit.

The coronavirus situation in Iceland

Iceland has handled the coronavirus outbreak extremely well. The government was swift to react in February 2020, implementing a rigorous strategy of tracing, testing and isolating to mitigate the spread of the virus. This has led to one of the world’s lowest infection rates.

It is thought that Iceland has tested more than any other country in the world, which is one of the main reasons why it has successfully contained the outbreak. Iceland has had fewer than 25 active coronavirus cases daily since mid-May. Check the Worldometers website for more details.

Life goes on almost as normal now. You can dine out, swim in geothermal pools, and go to the office. And it’s good news for travellers too, as Iceland is open again and welcoming visitors with open arms.

Landmannalaugar hot spring

Is it safe to travel to Iceland in 2020?

Iceland is one of the safest countries you can visit this year. There are precautions in place to protect both visitors and people living in Iceland, as everyone’s health and safety is the government’s top priority.

The PCR tests

From August 19th, all travellers arriving in Iceland will be required to undergo two Covid-19 screenings and quarantine for 5-6 days in between tests.

The test costs either 11,000 ISK (£62/€70/$80) at the airport, or 9,000 ISK (£51/€57/$65) when bought in advance.

  • Nordic Visitor will pay for your PCR test and protect your booking as part of our flexible Book With Confidence plan

Health precautions

During your time in Iceland, you should follow the government guidelines for keeping yourself and others around you safe. This includes washing your hands frequently and using disinfectants.

If you explore Iceland on a guided small group tour, rest assured that new safety measures are in place to protect you. For example, your bus and accommodation will have all major touch-points sanitised regularly. These include switches, handles, surfaces and all utilities and amenities.

You are also encouraged to download the Rakning C-19 tracking app as part of these new safety measures. This helps to trace everyone’s movements should cases of suspected infection rise.

Waving the Icelandic flag in Reynisfjara, Iceland

Iceland is the world’s safest country (again)

Iceland’s successful strategy for containing the coronavirus may not come as a surprise to you. After all, this is a country that ranks highly in the global peace, safety and happiness indexes, year after year.

Did you know that Iceland is ranked at the top of the Global Peace Index? The Institute for Economics and Peace carries out this study each year to decipher which nations are the safest. Iceland has been the most peaceful country in the world for 12 years now.

Iceland is also the 4th happiest country according to the World Happiness Report, which evaluates 6 cornerstones of wellbeing. These are income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. This is good news for you as a visitor!

Iceland continues to rank highly in these indexes due to its strong healthcare system and one of the lowest crime rates in the world. What’s more, this Nordic nation is one of the best destinations for LGBTQ+, female and solo travellers thanks to its liberal outlook and welcoming atmosphere.

Why Iceland is the perfect refuge

Iceland’s patchwork of wild, untamed landscapes is unlike anywhere else you’ve been. The country’s raw elemental beauty is composed of volcanoes, glaciers, geysers and waterfalls. You’ll soon realise why it is known as the Land of Fire & Ice!

This pristine place begs to be explored now more than ever. Here are just a few of the reasons why Iceland is the perfect refuge.

It’s crowd-fee & clean

Roam Iceland and you’ll be greeted by clean, unpolluted scenery. The wide, open landscapes reinvigorate your soul, with dramatic sights to behold, such as thundering waterfalls and explosive geysers. Breathe in the fresh air as you immerse yourself in these remote, awe-inspiring surroundings.

Right now some of the most iconic places in Iceland are more empty than they usually would be. This is a great time to soak up the jaw-dropping views with fewer visitors around compared to normal, so you’ll have even more space to yourself. It really could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Active pursuits are abundant

You can have as much adventure as you please here. Iceland is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with a huge range of activities to choose from.

You could trek through a national park, hike on a glacier, or snorkel between two tectonic plates. You may also like the idea of snowmobiling, kayaking, climbing or ice caving.

After many months of inactivity, you might be drawn to Iceland for the incredible outdoor pursuits that await you here. The sheer scope for adventure is more appealing than ever.

Glacier lagoon in Iceland

Restorative moments await you

It isn’t all about the action, though. You’ll find in Iceland that nature is wonderfully soothing, so if you’re looking for a slower-paced experience, you’ll get that here too.

You might come here to relax and reconnect with yourself, whether that’s by bathing in hot springs, or taking a mindful stroll along a black sand beach. Another example is watching the northern lights flicker and dance – an extremely humbling experience.

There’s no “off-season”

You can escape to Iceland at any time of year, as there really is no “bad time” to go. Each season has its own charm, so you’ll always be treated to special experiences and make unforgettable memories.

Visit in summer and you could make the most of long daylight hours and better weather. Perhaps drive around the Ring Road and reach the hidden corners of Iceland.

Come to Iceland in winter and you can see the spectacular scenery sprinkled in snow and frost. You could hunt for the northern lights, enjoy activities in the snow, and admire the Golden Circle in its wintry splendour.

Skogafoss waterfall in winter

How to visit Iceland in 2020

If you’re looking to make travel plans for 2020, then a trip to Iceland could be the ideal solution for you. Here are some key tips for travelling to Iceland this year.

Check your eligibility to travel

The first thing to do is check with your local travel advisory to see if you are eligible to visit Iceland. Only citizens from certain countries may enter Iceland at the moment, but the EU is reviewing this list every 2 weeks (14 days) from 1 July 2020. Stay updated on this via the Icelandic government’s website.

Search for flights

The global flight network is much more limited these days so it is important to check for suitable flights before you book your tour. You can see which airlines are flying into Iceland and stay up to date by checking our Iceland travel safety advice.

To prepare for your flight, be sure to bring a mask and hand sanitiser, and follow any other guidance from your airline provider.

Get travel insurance

It is very important that you have travel insurance before beginning your tour of Iceland. Make sure your policy is comprehensive and covers coronavirus-related claims. If you are from an EEA country, bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you.

Travel responsibly

During your time in Iceland, you must follow guidelines issued from the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding hygiene practices. You are also encouraged to download the Rakning C-19 app, which is available for iOs and Android devices.

If you’re on a road trip around Iceland, we recommend you download the 112 Iceland app. This will track your location in case of a breakdown, for example. It’s also a good idea to read these tips on driving in Iceland to prepare for your visit.

  • During your trip, our local travel experts will be just a call away from you 24/7

If you’re ready to travel and want to visit one of the safest countries in the world, Iceland awaits you. Our Book With Confidence travel plan provides you with the most flexible booking terms around, designed to protect your purchase.  

You can rearrange your dates or cancel if you need to and we’ll pay for your PCR test. During your tour, you can relax knowing that you have an emergency helpline 24/7. Plus, we constantly monitor the situation so you don't have to.

Get in touch with us and we’ll help you plan your trip to Iceland with peace of mind, so you can look forward to travelling again.

Post by: Emma Gillies

Wanderlust has taken Emma across much of the world, but it was Scotland that she made her adopted home. Aside from enjoying countryside walks, campervan weekends and gigs in Glasgow, you’ll often find her writing about European travel and plotting her next trip.

More posts by Emma Gillies

Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.