Getting around in Iceland

Getting around in Iceland

Getting around in Iceland is not a huge challenge. The country boasts a surprisingly good road system and a developed infrastructure. That being said, it is a rather large country with very impassable terrain and a very small population. Highway 1, lovingly nicknamed the "ring road" since it takes you in a circle around the coast, is paved and well maintained, but as soon as you venture off the highway you can expect gravel roads or even dirt trails.

In the country at large, you have a choice between domestic flights, the coach system, renting a car, biking, hiking or hitch-hiking. The country does sport rather daunting distances and rough terrains, so the latter three are not so much a method of transportation as they are an activity, if you're into that sort of thing.

Domestic flights

Domestic flights arrive to the domestic airport in Reykjavík, which is located within a walking distance from the city center. It is recommended that passengers check in 30 minutes prior to their flight. No place in Iceland takes more than an hour to fly to.

From the domestic airport, Air Iceland offers flights to Isafjordur, Akureyri, Egilsstadir and the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar). Recently they started offering flights to the Faroe Islands and Greenland as well.

Eagle Air offers scheduled flights to Hofn in Hornafjordur, Saudarkrokur, Bildudalur and Gjogur Island. They also offer other specialized tours.

If you are scheduled to take a helicopter tour while in Iceland, you will most likely also depart from Iceland's domestic airport.

Beware that although flights to the major Icelandic municipalities will in all probability be scheduled daily, this is not the case for all flights. 

 

The coach system

If you take the flybus from the airport to Reykjavík, odds are you will see the central coach station of Reykjavík, BSÍ. From here you can easily and affordably catch a bus to almost anywhere on the island. Beware, however, that the journey can take a while, from Reykjavík to Akureyri in the North is easily 6 hours, and that's if you get a direct bus. You can book your trip online here.

Renting a car

Iceland boasts a number of first rate car rentals. It's just a question of signing a form, getting a map and you're on your way. The "ring road" (highway one) will take you in a circle along the coast to most anywhere you may want to go. It is roughly 1200 km (750 miles) and would take roughly a day to drive at top speed without stopping. However it can be quite tricky to drive in certain conditions in Iceland if you're not used to it, so we recommend you read our guide to driving in Iceland, check the website of the Icelandic traffic authorities, especially to look at the road conditions, and look at safetravel.is before you set off.

Biking/Hiking/Hitch-hiking

Iceland is a beautiful place to bike, and offers many opportunities to hike along its mountain-specled terrains. We don't particularly reccommend hitch-hiking, not that it's dangerous so much as just unreliable, there's not guarantee it will go smoothly. You should at least have a plan B and know where to go for the coach. If you're considering open-air travel of this sort, be sure to take into consideration that the distances are quite large (the ring road would take 11 days to walk without stopping to eat or sleep(!)) and the weather can be quite treacherous, even in summer. So pack a water-proof coat.

 

Getting around in Reykjavík

Getting around lovely Reykjavik city should be fairly easy. The central feature of downtown Reykjavík is Laugavegur, a sophisticated walking street, jam-packed with first class restaurants and shops. In fact the whole downtown area is best explored on foot, since it's a pretty small area with inconvenient traffic regulations. If you're planning to go somewhere outside the downtown area, you can choose between a rental car, a taxi or the bus, with an option to rent a bike or even walk if you have a bit of time. It's not a very large city at all.

If you plan on taking the bus to your destination, we advise you to use the Reykjavik bus website to get information on schedules and routes. The website offers an online search engine to find the most convenient route to your destination.

Taxis are available anywhere in the capital area. In downtown Reykjavik, they can be found in various designated places. More often than not they are also available outside the major hotels in Reykjavik. If not, you can always ask the staff at the front desk to call you a cab. You can spot them by their yellow (and sometimes pink) "taxi" sign on the roof. All taxis charge by the meter. Iceland has a closely regulated and monitored taxi system, so the risk of getting cheated or fleeced is minimal.

Hreyfill Svf, a taxi company in Reykjavik, with ca 370 cars in service, occasionally switches most of its fleet taxi signs from yellow to pink, to help raise funds for the fight against breast cancer. The X in TAXI has also been replaced with a pink ribbon, the international sign for breast cancer awareness, originally designed by Estée Lauder.

 

Taxi Numbers:

Hreyfill taxi
Tel. +354 5 88 55 22

BSR Taxi
Tel. +354 561 0000