Parking in Reykjavik
We drove to Reykjavik from our hotel in Keflavik, and had checked our route carefully beforehand. We decided to park near the university, which was convenient for the direction from which we would be coming, and where Regina1965 had advised me that we should find space. She was right; arriving at about 10.30 on a weekday morning we found plenty of space. It cost us a reasonable 80 krona (about 45p) per hour, which we were able to pay on our VISA debit card – useful as we had not yet amassed much small change.
As it happened, we also saw quite a lot of free parking spaces available on the road beside the Tjörnin Pond, a little nearer to the centre, and some in the centre itself. But it was better to have the security of a near-certain spot, and to avoid having to drive into the very centre, so we were pleased to have had the good advice.
After lunch we drove up to the Hallgrimskikja. This was another place where Regina had suggested we might find parking spaces, and again she was right, although by this time in the day (around 1.30 pm) it was much busier and we had to hunt for the empty places. Parking here was free of charge.
Flying to Reykjavik
Iceland has 2 airlines, both with flights from London (and other cities). Iceland Express (http://www.icelandexpress.com/), the 'budget' option, with flights between London and Reykjavik and Copenhagen, and Iceland Air (http://www.icelandair.co.uk/), the official carrier of Iceland, with flights from London, other European Cities and North America.
We were lucky enough to get a cheap fair with Iceland Air, flying from London Heathrow airport, which is the closest and most convenient airport to us. Flying time from London to Reykjavik was 2.5 - 3 hours.
One great thing about flying with Iceland Air was that there was no queues at check-in - at either end - which helped to make the airport experience a happy one.
The Iceland Air staff wore funky retro style uniforms. They were very friendly and the flight was relaxing and food edible. Soft drinks were free of charge, but you had to pay for alcoholic drinks.
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Transport from the Airport
Upon arrival in Iceland at Keflavik Airport, there are 2 main ways for the tourist to get into Reykjavik. One would be to catch a taxi....but this would cost the equivalent of around 80-100 pounds!! The other and much cheaper option is to catch the Flybus.
The Flybus connects with all arriving flights, no matter how late - we arrived around 11.30pm, and there was a bus waiting for our flight. It departs from just outside the arrivals terminal. When we were there the cost was 1,150 Kroner each (around 10 pounds) and the trip took between 35-50 mins - we bought a ticket aboard the bus.
The bus goes straight from the airport to the BSI (Bus Terminal) in the centre of Reykjavik. From here, if you are staying at one of the major hotels or guest houses you can then board a smaller bus and be dropped off at the door.
If, like us, you are staying in private accommodation, you can either walk or catch a taxi from the bus terminal - nothing is too far away.
To catch the bus back to the airport, there is a set timetable (see website). You can purchase a ticket inside the bus station.
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Getting around Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a pretty compact city. Most of the main attractions in town are all within walking distance. We spent half a day checking out the main attractions and found everything conveniently centrally located.
The bus network can take you anywhere else you may want to go within the city. There are two main bus stations in town (not to be confused with the main BSI Bus Terminal), and a flat fare of 220 kroner is charged.
The website link below gives you details of bus schedules and routes.
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Car hire in Iceland
The easiest way to see the sites in Iceland is by hiring a car. Ok, so car hire in Iceland is amongst the dearest in Europe...but it gives you the flexibility to visit all the amazing sights at your pace. (Though of course, there are plenty of bus tours you can go on that cover many of these sights)
Due to local contacts, we found affordable car rental through AG Car Rental. We hired a small Daewoo Kalos, perfect for the two of us, though meant that we had to stick to the main roads - but the "main" sights were easily accessible. If you hire a (much more expensive) 4WD you can visit all those real off the beaten track places.
Our car was delivered to us at our apartment in Reykjavik at a pre-agreed time and then collected again as arranged. The car was clean and the service friendly.
If you are going to hire a car, make sure you do some research so that you understand all the road signs. Also, ensure that you drive with your headlights on at all times, as this is law in Iceland - our hire car actually had its headlights wired to turn on whenever the engine was on.
We found driving easy in Iceland - the roads were in good condition and well sign posted.
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The Bus - strætó.
Our bus is called "Strætó" short for "Strætisvagn" and is yellow. The buses from Reykjavík can take you all over the Great-Reykjavík-area, i.e. Garðabær, Hafnarfjörður, Seltjarnarnes, Álftanes, Mosfellsbær and you can even go by bus to the neighbouring town Akranes.
The main service areas are at Hlemmur and Mjódd (in Reykjavík) and at Fjörður in Hafnarfjörður and there you can buy tickets and get information.
Our buses run from 6:30/7-24 on week-days and 12-24 weekends. Most of our busses run every 30 minutes during the week-days, and every hour after 19h and weekends. There are some variations to that though. Following the financial crisis (2009) there were big changes in how the buses run, so do check it out at the time you visit. Now in 2011 there have been even more changes to the timetable - to the worse.
If you are only in the capital for a few days you can buy The Reykjavík Tourist card which gives you admission to the buses, all the geothermal pools in Reykjavík, the museums, Reykjavík Zoo and Family Park and discount on other tours and a lot more. You can get these cards at The Centre - The Official Tourist Information Centre in Reykjavík in Aðalstræti.
You will need to have the exact fare ready as the bus-drivers don't give you back change. The busfare (2013) if paid in cash is ISK 350 for adults and children alike. But if you buy a buscard then it is way cheaper, especially for children.
Jokingly it is said that the unwritten Icelandic bus-rules are that if there are 2 seats free, then one sits there and not next to another passanger. And that there is no talking to strangers ;)
Organized day tours and other tours from Reykjavík
There are several private companies in Iceland from which you can order private tours f.ex. Mountaineers of Iceland and Activity.is and Iceland on track which will take you on day tours, Golden Circle tours, Lava tube caving, snowmobile, northern lights and midsummer night tours to name some of their tours - on super jeeps.
There are also:
Daytrips - they offer day trips by super 4x4 Jeep and by buses.
VIP tours which offer customized tours in Iceland, be it daytours or driving you around the country. They can seat up to 9 people.
BSI - Bus terminal - The Flybus.
BSÍ - Bus terminal "Umferðamiðstöðin" is open from 4:30-24:00 and from there you can catch the Flybus to Keflavík airport and busses all around Iceland. The trip to the airport is ca 40-50 minutes and I have used the Flybus services a lot myself. They are fast, cheap and comfortable. And now they have installed wireless Internet in the Flybus.
From BSÍ you can take excursions with Reykjavík Excursions to go on the Golden Circle tour or the Blue Lagoon express f.ex. or just buy a bus passport and go where ever in Iceland your heart desires. Take a look at their website for a myriad of organised tours and other options.
The bus terminal is in Vatnsmýrarvegur 10, 101 Reykjavík, which is paralell to Hringbraut and right next to the northern-end of the domestic-flights' airport.
In the bus terminal there is a really popular restaurant which serves traditional Icelandic food amongst other food and there shinged-sheep-head is on the menu f.ex. You can often catch well-known people eating out in this restaurant. Last time I went there in June 2012 I saw that an another restaurant had opened instead of the old one.
Taxis in Reykjavík.
There are a lot of taxis in Reykjavík which can take you all over, even to and from Keflavík airport. You can either call them, the two agencies are Hreyfill-Bæjarleiðir 354 5533500 354 5885522 and BSR 354 5610000 or find them down-town by Bankastræti f.ex. where they line up or just wave at one on the street.
Tipping is not a custom here.
Flybus from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik
The Flybus, operated by Reykjavik Excursions, is by far the cheapest means of getting from the international airport at Keflavik to the centre of Reykjavik.
My friend and I used the Flybus service during our visit to Iceland in December 2007, and the following details were correct at that time:
- the Flybus buses leave Keflavik airport after the arrival of each flight. We caught a bus which left the airport at around 3:15pm and which coincided with the arrival of a 2:30pm flight;
- prices at the time of our visit were 1200 Kr (10 GBP) each way, or 2100 Kr for a return ticket. An advertisement stated that prices were rising to 1300 Kr each way from 1 January 2008. Children up to 11 travel free, while 12-15 years olds travel for half price;
- tickets are purchased from a small kiosk inside the airport after passing through customs;
- the journey from the airport to the BSI bus terminal in Reykjavik takes approximately 45 minutes. At this point, passengers are split into different buses to take them to their hotels/guesthouses;
- one of the afternoon buses from the airport to Reykjavik goes via the Blue Lagoon, while one of the morning buses from the BSI bus terminal to the airport also stops off at the Blue Lagoon;
- upon departure, ask your hotel/guesthouse to contact the bus company and arrange for you to be picked up there, or make your own way to the BSI bus terminal;
- at least two or three buses left simultaneously when we travelled, so don’t worry about there not being enough seats. The buses have large undercarriages to hold your suitcases;
- Up-to-date schedules of bus times can be found HERE
Domestic flight - Reykjavík Municipal airport.
Reykjavíkurflugvöllur - Reykjavík Municipal airport is mainly used for domestic flights, such as Akureyri, Egilsstaðir, Ísafjörður and The Vestman islands (Vestmannaeyjar). But you can also get international flights from there to Greenland (the flights to Nuuk are from Keflavík airport) and the Faroe islands. It has got two terminals and three airlines (I add the website of Air Iceland).
The airport is literally in the middle of the city, a 10 minutes' walk from Lækjartorg and the pond, and controversial as such, and you sometimes feel like the airplanes are going to land on your head. When it was built in 1940 in WW2 by the British military Reykjavík was a much smaller city, but now there are constant talks about moving the airport outside of the city. There have been talks about this for many years but no decision has been made nor will be made in the near future, I think.
Renting vs. buying a car in Iceland.
I was reading on the news yesterday (19.07.2010) that if you are staying in Iceland for 3 weeks and thinking of renting a car, then it would be more advisable just buying a car. Since our króna fell drastically during the crisis which hit us in October 2008, this could be an option you should look into.
I am going to add a list of the cheapest rental cars available at the car rentals and you can judge for yourself. This is a weekly rent from 20.07-27.07 in 2010:
Avis-Ísland .................................. Opel Corsa ..................................... 103.796
Hertz-Ísland ................................ Toyota Yaris ................................... 115.200
Bílaleiga Akureyrar (Europcar)...... VW Polo ......................................... 128.000
Route 1.is .................................... Toyota Yaris ................................... 105.800
Renting a car in Iceland is almost double the price of renting a car in Denmark. That is due to the fact that the high-season is only 3 months here and during 9 months hundreds of cars stand untouched. Off season you can rent a car much cheaper.
Renting an Opel Corsa for 3 weeks costs ca ISK 292.600, but buying an Opel Corsa 2001, driven 215.000 km costs ca ISK 320.000 at the car dealership. So it is well worth looking into buying a car if staying for a couple of weeks here in Iceland.
I add the links to two car rentals and a link to all our car dealerships.
Now this tip I added back in 2010. Now (August 2014) there is another brand new option: renting a car from a local. Look it up here Caritas.
Flybus - most convenient way to/from airport
After arriving in Keflavik International (KEF), I did go straight to Blue Lagoon using the bus from Reykjavik Excursions. But if I had not gone straight to Blue lagoon, I could have just purchased a roundtrip ticket for FlyBus for transit between the airport and the city center.
So, going from my hotel, I just told my concierge to have Fly Bus know that I wanted to be picked up next morning. The Fly Bus van picked me up and then brought me to the Fly Bus terminal where I just bought my ticket going to the airport for ISK 2200…there are other tour for this bus company so make sure you get on the correct bus outside the big terminal.
The great thing about this bus company is that bus rides are linked to flights and they have about 12 departures daily…and a bus leaves the bus terminal (BSI) 2 hours prior to departure. They even have pick-ups at major camping sites, other than the hotels. You can even book on-line before going, but it is easy to just buy the tickets when you get there at the airport.
Now this is an interesting site, this is an alternative choice in getting around. Log on to this site and find out more. Here you can accompany people from all over Iceland on their way to or from Reykjavík to places all over Iceland. Or just people going from one part of Iceland to the other. You share the cost of petrol and get to meet new people. I recommend this site.
In and around Reykjavik
Getting around Reyjkavik really isn't all too complicated. The inner city is not very large so you should have no problem exploring by foot. There are no subways but they do have a reliable bus system. You can consider using it or call for a cab. The cab, while more convenient, is much more expensive. I recommend walking.
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