Iceland Mobile Network and Coverage
Updated: Nov 1, 2019
Using a cell phone overseas can get both complicated and expensive. It is sometimes hard to know what operators will charge and whether your cell phone will actually work. In this article, we take you through the ins and outs of carriers in Iceland along with mobile coverage. We also outline some of the main plus points of carrying a cell phone with you on your Iceland vacation.
Can I use my cell phone in Iceland?
European mobile phones don’t have roaming fees attached to them in Iceland. Handy! If however you are travelling to Iceland from the US or most other countries you’ll need to make other arrangements. You will possibly need to buy an Iceland Sim Card for your cell phones. If so you must make sure that your smart phone is unlocked in order to receive it. It is well worth talking to your home cell phone contract provider first. If the rates are reasonable there may be no need to bother.
Whether you get a Sim also depends on how much you are likely to want to use your smart phone. Weigh it up before you make the decision. If you do decide to buy a prepaid sim card there are a few good options. Siminn usually offer the best deals and have some of the most extensive mobile coverage in Iceland. Good news if you are travelling to the more remote corners of the country. Other reliable companies are Vodafone and Nova.
Is there good mobile coverage in Iceland?
Mobile coverage in Iceland is pretty reliable. There could be some mountainous or remote areas where you might find intermittent coverage. But if you drive around the next corner or across the valley it should kick back in. One thing to bear in mind is that google maps can have trouble loading outside of the towns and cities. It is perfect for urban areas but out in the countryside you will need a map. Either a dedicated travel App or a paper map if you’d like to go old school. Taking both is probably your best bet. You can expect pretty good coverage throughout the country for calls, messaging and Apps though.
Why should I use a cell phone to travel in Iceland?
Although these days it is much more uncommon some people do prefer to travel phone free. There is certainly something to be said for a complete digital detox. But if you are taking a self-drive road trip in Iceland a mobile phone is extremely useful. There are so many plus points that this might not be the right trip for a complete screen break. Of course you can always exercise self-control. Use it and then switch it off and put it away!
Your cell as a safety precaution
This is probably the single most important reason to organise a cell phone for your trip. If you are hiring a camper and driving in Iceland a cell will be nigh on the indispensable. And it will be especially important if you are visiting Iceland during the winter months. The sheer wildness of the Iceland weather conditions makes it a must. In a worst-case scenario if you are caught out in a storm or break down you may well need to call for help.
In remote areas with very few inhabitants around having the means to call for help is vital. Once more you should always keep an extra portable charger with you as a backup. Cold weather can use up your regular battery charge much more quickly than you might expect.
Navigation, convenience and ease
If you are hiring a motorhome or campervan in Iceland then a smart phone can help keep you on track. It isn’t a difficult country to navigate especially if you are looping around the Ring Road. There are times though when satellite mapping comes in really handy. In more remote corners of the country or when time is of the essence it sets your mind at rest. If you are up in the highlands it can be reassuring to know how much further you have to go. Another plus is the convenience of being in touch. You can make a rough estimate on arrival times for your journey but things can and do come up. In this case it is very convenient to be able to message or call your campsite, hotel or B&B to let them know.
Get App happy
There are so many great fun and informative Iceland travel apps available these days. For starters a good weather App is essential if you are driving around the island. You will need to keep tabs on what the weather will be doing each day and adjust your plans accordingly. There are other really useful road related apps as well as things like historical and cultural audio guides available. There are happy hour apps for bar hopping in Reykjavik. Aurora apps to help you spot the Northern Lights and others to help you find the perfect Iceland hiking trail. For more on apps visit our article on the Best Mobile Apps for Tourists in Iceland.
Bang for your buck when eating out
Iceland is well known to be quite pricey when it comes to eating and drinking out. So when you do opt to dine out at a restaurant you will want to make sure it hits the spot. TripAdvisor and other review sites can help you make an informed choice. A quick scroll on your smartphone when you arrive somewhere hungry should stand you in good stead.
Gloating about your holiday
Some choose to shun social media holiday snaps. Others love it. Whatever your stance you are probably going to want to share at least some pictures with friends back home. Iceland’s landscapes are just too beautiful not to! Sharing to social is a sure fire way of coaxing out the green eyed monster amongst your followers. And a cell phone is essential equipment!