Looking for ways to make your travel around Iceland easier? This guide lists the best and most useful apps to download for planning a successful trip to Iceland.

Travelling across Iceland has never been easier. List of useful apps doing things like predicting northern lights, tips on when driving Iceland Ring Road, useful offline maps and detailing happy hours in Reykjavík, your Icelandic trip is bound to be a breeze. The following is a list of the essential apps to have downloaded to help make the most of your time in the country.

1. Veður – the Icelandic Weather App

The Veður app grants you easy access to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, with its weather maps, temperature, wind and snow forecasts, and weather warnings. Checking this app whilst travelling around Iceland will quickly become second nature once you experience the dramatic shifts in weather that Iceland is famous for. Winds, rains and snow might just make you think twice about your destination, whereas bouts of sunshine and warmer temperatures might make you hang around somewhere. If you’re driving, watch out for wind speeds over 15km/h, which are generally strong enough to whip back car doors and do some serious damage.


2.   112 Iceland – Icelandic Emergency Services

An essential app to have if you’re planning on doing any hiking around the country. Developed by the Emergency Services, the use of the 112 is simple. Two buttons fill the screen, one green and one red. Push the green button to send your location data to the emergency services database; your last 5 locations are stored, and you’re encouraged to do it as often as possible. If need be, the emergency services can dig into the database to check your location in case there’s an emergency in the area. The red button is more serious. Press it to directly text your location information to the emergency services, letting them know that you’re in trouble. It’s important to note that you should do this even if you don’t have enough reception to make a call, as there is generally enough service for text messages. 

3. Aurora Forecast

If you’re in the country between September and April and are looking to catch the northern lights, this app will quickly become your best friend. A world map lets you see where the northern light activity is strongest, while push notifications alert you when they might appear at your location. If you’re not hunting them yourself and looking to join a tour, there’s also information on the best of the bunch. Data geeks will love reading up on solar wind activity, solar flares, and all the other details that go into revealing the northern lights. Happy hunting!


4. Iceland Road Guide

Iceland’s exotic and surreal landscapes also bring with them a lot of challenges when it comes to the roads. Road trips are one of the best ways to experience Iceland, and this app helps you understand the strange driving signs posted on roads. It also provides plenty of information about road rules in the country, as well as pointing out the best things to see and do. Driving in Iceland can be difficult, with cars contending for space with sheep, reindeer, and even other tourists pulling over to snap a photo; always make sure to drive carefully, and never use a mobile whilst driving.


5. Appy Hour & Appening Today

The Reykjavík Grapevine is Iceland’s English language newspaper, that you can pick up for free at businesses, cafés and stores around the country. Featuring stories on culture, travel, news and the best events, it’s a good idea to pick up the latest edition when you’re in the country. They have also developed two different apps that will help you navigate the scene in Reykjavík. The first is the ingenious Appy Hour, which tracks all the happy hours of bars in Reykjavík. This is a seriously good tool to have once you start converting the price of that pint back to your home currency. Their other app, Appening Today, lets you know what events are on in the city on that day, be it music, art, or something else. Both are great tools to help you experience the local culture in Reykjavík when you’re in town.


6. Vegan Iceland

If you’re a vegan and worried about where you’ll be able to find something to eat in Iceland, this app is a complete lifesaver. The dedicated team have researched menus across Reykjavík and the entire country, detailing where vegans can find something to fit their dietary requirements. Open the app and you’ll be greeted by an interactive map of Iceland; zoom in and select the pins to see what delicious vegan food awaits you. You’ll be surprised at just how much there actually is out there, especially in a country so smitten with its lamb and dairy products.


7.  WAPP – a GPS Hiking App

WAPP is an app for the serious hikers out there. Developed by dedicated hiker Einar Skúlason, it contains trail information for almost all of Iceland’s most interesting hiking routes. On top of that, it also delves into the history and folk lore surrounding the area. If you see a trail that you like the look of, a one-off payment grants you access to detailed information about the route. The route is then downloaded to your phone so you can reliably use it when you inevitably go offline. As a bonus, it also features general safety tips and advice for treks into Iceland’s wilderness. 


8.   Straeto – Public Transport

If you’re looking to catch a bus while traveling around Reykjavík, the Strætó Bus app will come in handy. The app tracks locations of buses, helps with planning routes, and of course contains all the timetables for buses in Reykjavík. You can also use the app to purchase bus tickers with a debit or credit card. The buses in Reykjavík are one of the only places in the country that don’t accept plastic, so unless you’re planning on paying with the exact change (490ISK as of 2020) then get the app to buy your tickets.


9.  Icelandic Phrasebook

Icelandic is a notoriously hard language to learn, but even just a few basic phrases will get you a lot of credit with the locals. Icelanders never really expect foreigners to bother with the language, and English is widely spoken across the country. Of course, a few Icelandic phrases will always impress; it shows you’re interested in not only the landscapes, but also the people. For an even better reception, investigate the weird and wonderful Icelandic sayings. Their English translations are often hilariously strange, and Icelanders will love explaining them to you.

10. Map of Iceland Offline

While it will likely come in handy only a handful of times, having an offline map of Iceland is a must when travelling the country. It’s an all-too-common occurrence in Iceland for phone signal to drop out, always at the most annoying moments. Quickly switching over to an offline map might just save you from an aggravating and unnecessary detour on your travels. You can either download the data on Google Maps or look for the dedicated Icelandic offline map on the app store; both will ensure you’re never lost. 

James Taylor is a travel journalist from Australia who lived in Iceland for three years.

Falling in love with the country, he began to write about his travels for magazines and websites in Australia, Europe and the U.S.A.