Updated: Sep 19, 2022
Whether you are a tech lover or a reluctant convert, there is no denying how useful a smartphone can be. Traveling before the dawn of the digital age was a wholly different matter from what it is today.
Many might look back on those pre-Internet days with nostalgia. Some may argue that because there is so much information available now, there is less spontaneity. Others would say that with the Internet, we can all be far more independent in the way in which we travel. These days there is no need to rely on tour guides and organized trips if we choose not to.
All the information that we could need is just a click or two away. We can also connect with people far more easily. That friend of a friend in Reykjavik might just become your host for the evening through a simple Facebook exchange. And Google Translate might just get you out of an awkward situation by helping you transcend a language barrier.
Convenience is another big factor. We can now download all of our travel documents to our smartphones. No need for printing and paperwork to mislay or leave in the taxi. No need for unwieldy paper maps either when you have Google Maps in Iceland, too, right there on your phone. All of this new technology can help streamline our experience so that we can make the most of our travel time. In this article, we will run through the best travel Apps for tourists in Iceland. These are Iceland-specific travel apps and there are some real gems amongst them.
The Vedur App
For anyone planning on driving in Iceland, this App is indispensable. This is especially true if you are taking any long road trips beyond the Golden Circle. And it is absolutely vital if you are planning to travel to Iceland during the winter months. Managed by the Icelandic Meteorological Office, this is basically your go-to travel app for all things weather in Iceland.
The weather in Iceland is notoriously changeable. Storms can roll in suddenly and with great force. If you are caught in a serious one, there is very little you can do other than pull over and wait it out. Vedur will offer you up-to-date information on weather conditions and any other hazards that might be coming your way. You can use it to check the Icelandic weather forecast for your itinerary and switch travel plans as appropriate. If you are planning any sort of road trip in Iceland, we highly recommend that you download the Vedur app.
The Vegagerðin App
This is another great app for any kind of Iceland road trip. It is run by the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration and is very regularly updated. The app provides webcams, and some really useful real-time road conditions and route planning tools. Drivers can use it to calculate the best routes to take if certain roads are closed. If you are driving in the winter months, there are often road closures in Iceland. Combine this one with the weather app Vedur and you will have all bases covered.
112 Iceland App
This app allows you to send a distress signal to the emergency services should you need to. It is run on GPS so you do not need a phone signal to trigger it. The app also tracks your route so that emergency teams can find you swiftly should they need to. This app is quite literally a lifesaver.
On a lighter note, Appy Hour is a fabulous Reykjavik-based App. This one gives advice on where to find the best bars for happy hours and which ones are closest to you. This is not an app that partners very well with a road trip, but if you are staying in Reykjavik for a few days, then it is great. Drinking in Iceland is an expensive business. Alcohol consumption is treated differently in Iceland than it is in many other countries. You can only buy alcohol at state-run shops or in bars and restaurants in Iceland (and at quite a premium!). Many Reykjavik bars have happy hours from around 4 pm, but with this app, you’ll be totally in the know. There is a good app for restaurant recommendations and live music events run by the same people.
This is a great travel app if you are planning on hiking in Iceland's national parks and beyond. It usefully allows you to access offline maps. So there is no need for slow-loading google maps when you are out in the wilderness. Especially useful when there isn't the best mobile network coverage where you are. It is the number one app for Iceland hiking trails and has a wealth of fascinating information to boot. As well as detailed trail maps, you will be able to find out about the history, nature and geological features of an area. You can also access traditional Icelandic folk stories about the places that you are walking through.
Icelandic Film Locations App
This is a fun one. With its incredible landscapes, Iceland has featured in many films and TV shoots. Many sections of the popular TV series Game of Thrones were shot on location in Iceland as were several dramatic scenes in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and some o Star Wars: Rouge One, among others. The Icelandic Film Locations App will tell you all about it. You can also access a couple of walking tours around Reykjavik and beyond.
Aurora Forecast App
This is an essential travel app if you are on a mission to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. With lots of detailed information on where and when to catch the lights, this is an indispensable app for Aurora hunters. It will even send you alerts if and when the lights are expected so that you can get into position.