Iceland is a land of natural wonders and home to vast expanses of unspoilt wilderness. This island paradise is a bucket list destination for many travellers. It’s is also a relatively easy country to travel around once you get your bearings. So, if you are planning a Nordic adventure, make sure you have a read of our guide on how to travel in Iceland.
How to Travel in Iceland
1. Getting from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik
You will arrive at Keflavik International Airport, which is located outside of the capital city of Reykjavik near the town Keflavik. The airport is 50km away from Reykjavik which is about a 45-minute drive. Located right outside the terminal there is a regular bus service. The bus is the cheapest way to get from the airport to Reykjavik. The bus stops at the central bus station in Reykjavik, called BSI. After stopping at the bus station, the bus driver will, for an additional fare, take you to your Reykjavik hotel. You can also take a taxi from the airport to Reykjavik which will cost you about 15,000 ISK (about $120). You can also rent a car in Iceland at the airport.
2. How to get around Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a relatively small city so you can see quite a lot of it on foot or by bicycle. The city has plenty of dedicated bike lanes. Reykjavik also has a reliable and affordable bus system and this is a great way of getting around and seeing the sights. Because of the compact nature of the city, taxis are also a good option as you won’t be travelling far so the prices won’t be too high.
3. Driving the Ring Road in Iceland
The hardest thing about getting around Iceland is the language as the street signs are all in Icelandic. If you are going to be renting a car in Iceland, do consider splashing out for a car with a sat-nav system, otherwise, invest in a good, up-to-date map. The main road in Iceland is called Route 1, or the Ring Road. As the name suggests, the road circumnavigates Iceland in 1,332 kilometres. Be careful though, 33km of the Ring Road is a dirt road. The most famous section of the Ring Road is the 230km loop route called the Golden Circle. This route links three of the most popular attractions in southwest Iceland: Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area and Gullfoss waterfall. You can drive the entire loop in about 3 hours, but you should allow a full day to fully enjoy each attraction.
4. Driving the F-Roads in Iceland
If you plan on venturing off the Ring Road, you are going to need a vehicle with four-wheel drive. By law, you need a four-wheel drive vehicle to drive on Iceland’s F-Roads. These are known as ‘mountain roads’ and you’ll find F-Roads in the Highlands, Landmanalaugar and parts of the Diamond Circle and Westfjords. These roads are not paved and are over gravel, which is why you need four-wheel drive. You should also consider taking out gravel insurance if you plan on driving these roads in a rental car.
5. Travelling in Iceland in the winter
How you travel in Iceland will also depend on the time of year you visit. For instance, the F-Roads are closed in the winter and reopen at different times depending on the weather conditions. If you want to get off the beaten track, you may need to wait and visit Iceland in the summer months. Even driving the Ring Road in the winter poses hazards as there are slick surfaces, black ice and wet and snow-covered roads. If driving in the winter you should also rent a car with four- or all-wheel drive. The additional traction will come in handy, for sure.
6. Getting the bus around Iceland
You could just leave the driving to the experts and join a bus tour around Iceland. This is a great way to see the country as you can relax and enjoy the scenery passing by whilst someone else does all the tiring driving and navigating. There are plenty of tour operators but the main bus service company in Iceland is Reykjavik Excursions. You’ll find a good selection of tours as well as point-to-point scheduled services.
7. Cycling around Iceland
If you want to experience the beauty of Iceland from the saddle and under pedal power, you can cycle the Ring Road. You can bike the 1,332km (828-mile) route in about two weeks, although if you are super fit you could probably do it in less. But why rush? This is a journey best enjoyed slowly to soak in the remarkable scenery.