Wondering how to get around Reykjavik and the countryside of Iceland via public transport? Here's all you need to know!
Does traveling, honestly, stress you out a bit? Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here. Arriving in a new country where you don’t speak the language can be a bit daunting, especially when it comes to navigating around the city via public transport. Let’s break down your options for getting around town, from the budget-friendly public bus system to the convenient taxicab options, and everything in between.
So, let’s start big: how are you getting to the island in the first place? Iceland has two major international airlines: Icelandair and WOW. Plus, of course, there are plenty of other international airlines that stop in Keflavík airport.
Icelandair is a very popular option from the USA to Europe and Iceland. Complete with in-flight entertainment, this looks and feels like your general international airline. WOW, on the other hand, is a great option if you’re on a budget – tickets are much cheaper, though do keep in mind that you pay separately for baggage, so factor that into your total when considering flight options.
Personally, I have traveled with both airlines and have had truly lovely experiences with either. The flight crew is always incredibly friendly, the planes are comfortable, and navigating the airport is fairly easy. So, relax and choose the airline that best fits your needs. Iceland itself is a very popular stopover country, so you can always factor a day or two into a longer trip abroad… because why not take a spa trip to the Blue Lagoon for some relaxation in between long flights? I mean, it is quite close to the airport, after all!
But hey, let’s say you want to travel domestically during your trip. There’s plenty to do in the rest of the country! You have a couple of domestic airlines to choose from – there’s Air Iceland Connect, which travels to various areas in Iceland as well as Greenland and the Faroe Islands. You can see here for their list of destinations. There is also Eagle Air, which offers flights specifically to Höfn, Húsavík, Bíldudalur, Árneshreppur, and Heimaey. Both of these airlines travel right out of Reykjavík Airport, right in the capital city. Do keep in mind that these flights tend to be on the expensive side.
Okay, you’ve landed – awesome. Welcome to Iceland! But now you’ve got to get from Keflavík to Reykjavík, right? After a long flight, you’re probably excited to get to your hotel for a shower, or to drop all the bags off at the hostel and start exploring at once. There are shuttles that run to and from the airport to the capital, with connection options right to many hotels and hostels. This is great if you’ve got baggage and cannot take a regular bus, and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a private cab. One popular option is Flybus for 2.950 ISK for adults, 1.475 ISK for those 12-15 years old, and free for children 11 and under, which is quite popular and takes you to BSÍ Bus Terminal. They also offer a Flybus+ option for 3.950 ISK for adults, 1.975 ISK for teenagers to get you right to your hotel. These run after every flight arrival, so you don’t have to worry if you see a Flybus pulling out of the parking lot – there will generally always be another one departing shortly, so it’s very convenient. The trip generally takes 45 min to the bus terminal.
You also can use Gray Line, at 2.180 ISK for a general one way, which works quite like Flybus. They also offer to connect right to your accommodations, as you can see on their website. Again, this is a convenient shuttle option that really takes the stress out of traveling to the capital. You do need to book ahead of time online for this company, though you can purchase a Flybus ticket at the airport.
Finally, there’s also the option for Airport Direct, which offers various types of trips ranging in cost from 2.390 ISK and up, and which drops you off at the Old Harbour. As a note, this only includes one piece of baggage up to 23 kg per person.
For a more detailed overview of your transportation options from Keflavík, check out this helpful guide!
You may notice that there’s no subway system in Reykjavík – but we do have very reliable and comfortable buses here. Called Strætó, they are very recognizable – bright yellow! – and run quite often throughout the day. In the capital, bus fare is 460 ISK for adults, 220 ISK for kids aged 6-17, and free for those under 5 years old ride for free. If you’re staying here long term, you can look into their options for bulk tickets and passes.
You can pay in exact cash when you get on the bus, but if you have a smartphone I do recommend getting their app. Simply look up Strætó, or Straeto, in your app store – it is free, aside from ticket purchases, of course. It’s very handy and I often prefer using a credit card so I don’t have to worry about keeping exact cash on me – do note that bus drivers are not able to give you change. If you use the app, your mobile ticket is active for 75 minutes after activation, just in case you need to use the ticket for a second bus transfer on your journey. If you are using the app outside of the capital, you can buy your ticket under COUNTRY TICKET. Also, the app is available in English, so don’t worry if your Icelandic is not great! What is particularly nice about the app is that it also includes a trip planner and even an incredibly helpful live map, so you can see just how long you’ll have to wait for your bus to arrive.
Their website, also, is a treasure trove of information, from timetables, to frequently asked questions, to pass purchasing… though my favorite feature they offer is their route planner, which definitely takes the stress out of figuring out your bus route! See here for more information… I really do recommend taking a bus, as they’re quite nice here, have substantial route options, and definitely cheaper than taking a taxi.
Plus… did I mention buses have free Wi-Fi?
Another great option for getting around town is renting a bike. WOW now offers a City Bike! They’re kind of tough to miss – if you see those bright purple rows of bicycles, you’ve found them. The rates are 350 ISK for a half hour, and then 500 ISK for each additional half hour. You simply pay at a station, ride, and return to an empty station around town. Make sure the green like shows when you dock your bike as confirmation that it is locked! They also offer long term passes that you can purchase: 3.900 ISK for 30 days, 9.900 for 90 days, or even 16.900 for a year. See their website for more information.
The good news is, if you’re staying in downtown Reykjavík and simply want to explore the city, much of it is within walking distance. Keep in mind, though, that parts of the city are quite hilly, and so if walking long distances is difficult or not possible for you or your party, public transport is always there as an option. Plus, there’s the weather! It’s so unpredictable here in Iceland, but be sure that you’ll run into our famous gusty winds and rain at some point during your stay here - or, well, at several points, honestly. If it’s absolutely dreary out, hop on a bus instead of walking around!
If you prefer, you can also call for a taxi while you are in town. Hreyfill is a very popular option, and there is also Taxi Reykjavík, which offers taxi tours to places such as the Blue Lagoon and also airport service, and Airport Taxi, which also offers a wide selection of destination tours outside of the capital.
Maybe public transport isn’t your thing. Or, perhaps, you’re ready to go out and explore the rest of the country, and don’t want to rely on a bus or a taxi. To rent a car, check out Enterprise or Lagoon. As always – be very careful on the countryside roads in Iceland. Accidents are incredibly common, so stay cautious, don’t be distracted by the lovely countryside views, and make sure you are driving slowly in inclement weather. As we all know, Icelandic weather can be quite unpredictable, so stay safe!
Photos: Mae Kellert