On a normal year, the small island nation receives nearly two million tourists – more than five times its own population.
But 2020’s pandemic-induced travel restrictions have slashed that number. Iceland has so far managed to avoid mass contagion, with only 5,170 recorded cases of Covid-19 and 25 deaths.
The country has just been added to the UK’s list of travel corridors – but does that mean Brits are allowed to travel there?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Am I allowed to travel to Iceland from the UK?
Not from England or Wales, unless it’s for a limited range of “essential” reasons, including work and education. The former is currently under lockdown until 2 December, meaning all leisure travel is banned and those caught breaking the rules are subject to a fine of between £200 and £6,400.
Although Wales has finished its own two-week “firebreak” lockdown, residents are still not permitted to travel for non-essential reasons.
People in Scotland are still permitted to travel, although those living in areas graded as tier 3 or 4 (where coronavirus infection rates are high) are advised to avoid travelling outside their local area.
Although the Northern Ireland government advises that “You should carefully consider your holiday and travel options, in light of the continuing Covid-19 threat. A ‘staycation’ is one way of mitigating the risks,” there is no official international travel ban.
How can I get there?
From December, Tui and Icelandair are both flying direct between London and Reykjavik Keflavik. More airlines may follow suit if travel restrictions from the UK are eased.
Will they let me in when I arrive?
Yes, although you must either pay for two tests or agree to a two-week quarantine upon arrival.
For those that opt for testing, they must take one test on arrival and another five to six days later, self-isolating until the second test result comes back negative. The fee for both tests is ISK 11,000 (£61) or ISK 9,000 (£50) if booked in advance, far cheaper than private tests in the UK currently cost.
Children born in or after 2005 are exempt from the screening and quarantine requirements.
You must also fill in a pre-registration form before departure.
Will I have to quarantine when I arrive?
Yes, although the time period may vary. If you test positive for Covid-19 on arrival into Iceland, you’ll be required to enter self-isolation (at your hotel or government-provided accommodation) unless further tests determine the infection is inactive.
If you test negative, you’ll still have to self-isolate for the five or six days until your second test (if this is negative too, you should be released from quarantine).
And if you choose not to get tested, you will have to submit to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
You may also need to be tested again or enter self-isolation if you are exposed to a possible infection during your trip, eg during the flight to Iceland.
Will I have to quarantine when I come home?
From 4am on Saturday 14 November, you won’t have to quarantine when you get back to the UK from Iceland. If you return before then, you’re still subject to 14 days of self-isolation.
The Department for Transport added the country to its list of travel corridors, from where arrivals are exempt from the blanket two-week quarantine policy currently applied to nearly all destinations.
Can I travel within Iceland?
Yes, once your quarantine time is up. There are currently no restrictions on travel within Iceland. However, the Foreign Office (FCDO) advises travellers to “regularly monitor government announcements for any rapid changes on the Government of Iceland’s website.”
Are hotels, restaurant, bars and attractions open?
Hotels and private rentals are open. “You will be expected to follow any Covid-19 related requirements that are displayed in hotels, guesthouses, car rentals and other tourism companies throughout the country,” says the FCDO.
Bars and nightclubs are currently closed.
Attractions can remain open, but with rules reducing capacity in place.
Restaurants can open and are able to serve alcohol if they are licenced, but must shut by 9pm. Takeaways may be served after this time.
What rules are in place?
Certain rules are currently in place until 17 November.
Gatherings are limited to 10 people, while shops must enforce a cap on the number of customers at any one time.
Sports and theatrical events are banned; swimming pools, hairdressers, beauty salons and gyms must close.
Masks must be worn wherever the two-metre social distancing rule cannot be kept between individuals “who are not closely linked”, according to the Iceland government website.
However, children born in 2005 or later are not subject to the above rules.