Iceland is the country of ice. And fire. It is referred to as The Land of Fire and Ice. The ice part does not have to be explained, but Iceland has many active volcanoes. What can you do in Iceland?
Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, is a popular stopover hub for those flying with Icelandair over the Atlantic for relatively affordable prices. THe city itself has many museums, churches, and bars. The Thingvellir National Park has the Öxarárfoss waterfall, which is majestic, and you can find whales and puffins in Húsavík.
You probably want to share your Iceland experiences online, which you should! However, what is the most affordable way of doing so? Roaming with your provider in Iceland can be expensive, so that is why many travelers prefer to buy local SIM cards, like an Icelandic one.
Mobile data in Iceland is expensive for European standards. Luckily, Iceland is in the EU, which means those with an EU SIM card can roam for free in Iceland. Those with an non-EU SIM card should still consider getting an Icelandic SIM card, as it will most likely be cheaper than roaming in Iceland.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Iceland. Let's get started, shall we?
Telecom Providers in Iceland
Iceland has 3 telecom providers:
- Vodafone Iceland
All operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.
Which of these Icelandic operators have the best prepaid SIM cards and prepaid offerings?
Best SIM Card in Iceland
If you want to buy a SIM card in Iceland, then Síminn has the best prepaid offering. They have the best coverage and the fastest speeds.
However, Síminn is the most expensive operator in Iceland. Vodafone Iceland’s coverage is almost as good as the one of Síminn, and they are cheaper than Síminn.
The cheapest option in Iceland is Nova, which offers data packages with, sometimes, 10 times more data than their competitors. However, their coverage is limited compared to Síminn and Vodafone. As a result, Nova should be considered when staying in cities or large towns.
Iceland is part of the European Union (EU). As of June 2017, a new regulation has been enforced, which is known as roam like at home, meaning that those with a European Union (or EEA) SIM card should be allowed to use (some) of their data allowance in other EU/EEA countries without a surcharge.
Vodafone Iceland and Nova offer free EU roaming allowances with their packages. Síminn does not and sells a roaming package for 500 ISK a day for 500 MB.
With that being said, let’s see what Iceland has to offer to us.
Síminn is the largest operator in Iceland. They have the best coverage and the fastest speeds. Síminn is, however, the most expensive operator in the country, but you do pay for the high quality of service.
Síminn SIM cards, both the Prepaid Starter Pack (voice & data) and Síminn Prepaid Data (data-only), are sold for 2900 ISK ($21.15) in Síminn stores, gas stations, on Icelandair flights, and Keflavík airport. The SIM cards can also be delivered to your hotel when ordered online without additional charges.
The Prepaid Starter Pack comes with 5 GB and 50 minutes/50 SMS. The Síminn Prepaid Data SIM card comes with 10 GB.
If you need more data, the following options are available for both the voice & data SIM card and the data-only SIM card, which are all valid for 31 days and can be activated online:
- 800 ISK: 500 MB
- 1700 ISK: 1 GB
- 2700 ISK: 5 GB
- 3700 ISK: 10 GB
- 5700 ISK: 50 GB
Síminn does not offer free EU/EEA roaming with their unregistered prepaid SIM cards. Instead, you can buy a roaming package called Frelsi í útlöndum for 500 ISK a day, and you will get 500 MB roaming data for within the EU/EEA.
Vodafone Iceland, just Vodafone, is the second-largest operator in Vodafone. Their coverage is great and, in some places, better than Síminn, but overall lacks behind the one of Síminn. Moreover, Vodafone is cheaper than Síminn.
Vodafone SIM cards, both the Frelsi SIM card (standard) and 4G net (data-only) SIM card, are sold for 2000 ISK in Vodafone stores, gas stations, and at Keflavik airport. Furthermore, tourist information centers and several hotels also sell Vodafone SIM cards.
Additionally, there is the Vodafone Premium Starter SIM card, which is Vodafone’s tourist SIM card, that is sold on Icelandair flights. The Vodafone Premium Starter SIM card (package) is valid for 30 days. It comes with a data package of choice, unlimited local calls and SMS, and 50 international minutes to the following 33 destinations:
Finally, Vodafone claims that Arion, a local bank, hands out Vodafone SIM cards for free, which come with a data package of choice, unlimited local calls and SMS, and 100 international minutes (assumed to the destinations listed above). Not much more is unknown about this SIM card.
Vodafone Frelsi has 2 combo packs, which are valid for 30 days:
- 2190 ISK: 5 GB, 5 GB EU roaming, and unlimited local minutes and SMS
- 3190 ISK: 25 GB, 10 GB EU roaming, and unlimited local minutes and SMS
These packages can be purchased online or on the Vodafone app.
Vodafone 4G Net
Vodafone 4G Net has 6 data packages, which are valid for 30 days:
- 2190 ISK: 1 GB and 1 GB EU roaming
- 3190 ISK: 10 GB and 5 GB EU roaming
- 5190 ISK: 25 GB and 15 GB EU roaming
- 6190 ISK: 50 GB and 20 GB EU roaming
- 8190 ISK: 150 GB and 30 GB EU roaming
- 10 190 ISK: Unlimited data and 35 GB EU roaming
These packages can be purchased online or on the Vodafone app.
Nova is the smallest operator in Iceland. Their coverage is good, although it can be patchy in remote Iceland. Nova can be a good option if you are sticking to the cities and large towns. They are the cheapest operator in Iceland and give up to 10 times more data for the same price compared to Síminn and Vodafone.
A Nova prepaid SIM card is called Frelsi and is available for 1990 ISK in Nova stores and a few other stores. You used to be able to get them on WOW Air flights before the airline went bankrupt.
There are 2 types of Frelsi packages: monthly refills (mánaðarlegar áfyllingar) and one-time top-ups (netáfyllingar). If you are staying in Iceland for a while, the monthly refills may be appealing because they have better perks. Otherwise, stick to the one-time top-ups.
Nova Mánaðarlegar Áfyllingar (Monthly Refill Packages)
There are 4 monthly (30 days) refill packages, which all come with unlimited calls and SMS when in Iceland or in the EU:
- 2190 ISK: 10 GB and 5 GB EU roaming
- 3190 ISK: 60 GB and 6 GB EU roaming
- 5190 ISK: 100 GB and 9 GB EU roaming
- 7190 ISK: Unlimited data and 12 GB EU roaming
Nova Netáfyllingar (One-Off Packages)
There are 6 prepaid packages, which all come with unlimited calls and SMS when in Iceland or in the EU and are all valid for 30 days:
- 2290 ISK: 2 GB and 2 GB EU roaming
- 3290 ISK: 10 GB and 6 GB EU roaming
- 4490 ISK: 25 GB and 8 GB EU roaming
- 6190 ISK: 50 GB and 11 GB EU roaming
- 8190 ISK: 150 GB and 14 GB EU roaming
- 9990 ISK: Unlimited data and 17 GB EU roaming
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Iceland
The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Iceland
Getting a SIM card from Síminn and Vodafone would do you well when considering an Icelandic SIM card.
Local Prepaid SIM Cards in Other European Countries
Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
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