How To Travel In Iceland - Getting Around

Magazine How To Travel In Iceland - Getting Around

So, you’ve made the brilliant decision to visit Iceland. Kudos!  We are confident that you’ll enjoy Iceland, what with it’s unspoiled nature, exotic attractions and amazing vistas.  But, when traveling to a lesser-known destination sometimes the basic travel questions come up - things like, logistics, lodging, food and the like.  This post is all about getting around in Iceland, so without further ado, we offer How To Travel in Iceland:

Getting from the Airport to Reykjavik

You will be arriving at Keflavik International Airport. This airport is located outside of the capital city of Reykjavik near the town Keflavik - where it gets its namesake. The airport is located west- southwest of Reykjavik and is typically a 45 minute drive (50 km). There is regular bus service, located right outside the terminal, from the airport to Reykjavik - this is the cheapest option (1950 Icelandic crowns ISK is about $15). The bus will, by default, take you to the central bus station in Reykjavik, called BSI. For 2500 ISK, the bus will also take you to your Reykjavik hotel, after stopping at the bus terminal. You can also take a taxi to the city (pricier but more direct option at approximately 15,000 ISK or about $120), or pick up a rental car at the airport.

If you do rent a car at the hotel, you will receive a map of Iceland’s roads. Don’t worry, getting around in Iceland on your own is fairly simple.  But, if you are not the ‘map-reading’ type, inquire about renting a navigation system - most of Iceland’s rental cars will not have built in navigation. Potentially, the hardest thing about getting around Iceland will be the language; street signs and such are all in Icelandic.

Getting around in the Capital

Assuming you do not have a rental car, there are a few options for getting around the capital area. Put simply, your options are taxi, bus, walk, or bike.  Reykjavik has a decent and affordable bus system.  We would suggest asking for some basic instructions from your hotel receptionist to help facilitate getting where you want to go.  Also, some hotels offer free bus passes!  Because Reykjavik is a relatively small city, taxis are an affordable option. Iceland taxis are very nice and clean too.  Many hotels offer bike rentals, and as long as the weather is decent this is a great option. Reykjavik has tons of dedicated bike lanes.  Lastly, you can access quite a bit of the capital city on foot if you are so inclined. If you do decide to walk, bring layers because Iceland’s weather changes frequently.

Seeing the country - Behind the wheel

Rental car keys in hand - and a good map or nav system - and you are ready to become an explorer; at least that’s how it might feel as you set out on Iceland’s Ring Road. Head South and you’ll be driving towards Vik, Kirkjubaerklaustur, Skaftafell Park and Vatnajokull - all amazing places. Along the way, you’ll see waterfalls, and ever changing exotic landscapes!  Head north, and you’ll pass through the small and charming village of Borgarnes and on towards Snaefellsness Peninsula, Snaefellsjokull and more. Keep heading north and you can access Isafjordur and the West Fjords, or take a diversion heading northeast towards Akureyri, Iceland’s northern capital. Heck, if you have the time and inclination, you can drive the whole Ring Road, a part of which is unpaved!  If you see this part, you’ll understand why it’s unpaved (ooh a mystery!).

If you decide to rent a car here are some important road rules:

  • It is strictly forbidden to drive off-road. Meaning, don’t just pull off the road and forge a new path!

  • Stay on roads and marked trails, all of which are available for viewing on Iceland road maps.

  • If you are unsure, ask for help. If no help is available, assume you can’t drive in that area.

  • Find out in advance when mountain roads will be open. This information is available in any visitor center or from a park ranger.

  • Illegal off-roading can result in a fine from 500,000 isk (~$4500).

Learn more about driving in Iceland.

Seeing the country - Sightseeing style

If you want, you can see much of Iceland via bus. The main bus service company in Iceland is Reykjavik Excursions and they offer a great selection of tours as well as point-to-point scheduled services.

There you are, your guide to Getting Around in Iceland. From Icelandair Hotels, Iceland’s trusted hotel chain with 9 hotel properties to serve your Iceland adventure. Cheers!

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