Even though Iceland is a relatively small country, there’s an
extensive network of domestic flights and air travel is common, especially in winter
when it’s often the only way to get around. Air Iceland (www.airiceland.is) is he
main domestic carrier serving nine destinations: Reykjavík, Akurevri, Egilsstaðir,
Ísafjörður, Vopnafjörður, Grímsey, Hornafjörður, Thórshöfn and the Westman Islands.
Islandsflug (www.islandsflug.is) offers flights from Reykjavík and Akurevri to remoter
destinations, such as Vestmannaeyjar, Gjögur and Bildudalur.
The best way to get discount rates is to book online and most flights are ticketless.
If you plan to fly a lot, buying an Air Iceland pass might be a good idea. It’s
available with four, five or six legs for a discounted rate. It can be used on all
routes and is valid for one year. Also, there’s a 12-day Fly As You Please pass,
which allows for 12 days of unlimited air travel on all Air Iceland flights.
Keep in mind that bad weather can cause lateness or flight cancellations, especially
during the winter.
Flying in Iceland is affordable and discounts for children, students, seniors
and disabled travelers available.
Renting a car is a good way if you’d like to explore the island on your own and
be more independent. This freedom does, however, come at a certain price. Expect
to pay around ISK 7,000 per day for a small car with unlimited mileage. Prices for
4WD or SUVs start at ISK 12,000 per day. All vehicles can also be rented on a kilometer
basis, but this often turns out to be the more expensive alternative. These prices
can be a good value if you’re traveling in a group and share the cost. Parking can
be a hassle in Reykjavík, so only rent a car if you plan to go out of town. Most
attractions in Reykjavík are easily reachable by foot.
If you don’t want to be restricted to the main 930-mile long (1,500 km) Ringroad
that circles the entire island on the coastline, an off-road vehicle is recommended
since most roads into the interior are all but gravel. Occasionally, these often-winding
one-lane streets can be dangerous as they are bumpy and have blind hills and sometimes
even small streams to cross. They are only passable during summer (June to August)
anyways. It depends on the weather when exactly each one of them opens or if they
open at all. The Ringroad is mostly paved, but in winter, snow tires are necessary.
For more information on the current road conditions, check out
www.vegag.is before you leave.
Driving licenses from the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most European
countries are valid for short-term visits.
If you don’t want to rent a car, it’s possible to bring your own on a ferry that
runs between the mainland Europe and Iceland without having to pay import duty for
a limited time.
The price for regular gas is around IKR 378 per gallon (100 per liter). The Icelandic
Traffic Council (www.umferd.is)
issues a driving guide that is available at the car rental companies. In general,
Icelanders drive on the right side of the street, seat belts are compulsory for
all passengers and dipped headlights must be on at all times of the day. The legal
blood alcohol limit is 0.05 percent. It is also prohibited to drive while talking
on a cell phone.
Most rental car agencies deliver the car to the customer, who can later drop
it off at either the agency or at Keflavík, International Airport for a small surcharge.
The minimum age to rent a car in Iceland is 20.
Most agencies are headquartered in Reykjavík, but there are also branches in
Akureyri, Egilsstaðir, Höfn, Keflavík airport, Ísafjörður and other towns.
Here is a list of the major car rental agencies:
Hertz: Has locations at the Reykjavík and Keflavík airports and in Akureyri,
Höfn, Egilsstaðir, Ísafjörður and on the Westman Islands. Pick-up and drop off is
possible at any location, but you might get charged a one-way rental fee. (www.hertz.is)
Avis: Has nine locations around the country, including one at Akureyri airport,
but none at Keflavík. (www.avis.is)
Europcar: Has eight locations around the country, including the Höfn, Keflavík
and Siglufjörður airports. (www.europcar.is)
Budget: Has a location at Keflavík airport and Reykjavík. (www.budget.is)
Taking a bus is a convenient alternative if you don’t want to drive yourself.
There are 22 bus companies in Iceland altogether, but the BSI (www.bsi.is)
is Iceland’s nationwide bus network that coordinates all the different routes. In
summer, buses go around the entire Ringroad and even to interior destinations that
are otherwise only accessible with a four-wheel drive.
Buses in Reykjavík run at 15 or 20 minute intervals during the day and later
in the evening at 30 minute intervals. You’ll have to pay a flat fee and pay with
exact change. If you plan to change buses, ask for a transfer ticket, otherwise
no ticket is given.
For a fee and when there is space, you can also bring your bike on the bus. A
complete and free schedule of all the routes and departures is published in the
Iceland Independent Traveller, which is available at the BSI terminal at Vatnsmyrarvegur
10 in Reykjavík, at most tourist offices, at the bus station in Akureyri or on the
Internet at www.bsi.is. Reservations aren’t needed and you can buy the ticket at
the bus station or from the driver. There’s no charge for children under 4. Children
from 4 to 11 years of age only pay half price.
A disadvantage of taking the bus is that it can be expensive. Sometimes it even
costs less to fly to a certain destination. And if you’re traveling in a small group,
renting a car is much cheaper than taking a bus. Furthermore, between October and
May, routes into the interior close and long-distance connections along the Ringroad
only run as far as Akureyri and Höfn.
For longer journeys, bus passes save you money. With the Full-Circle Passport
for example, you can take a trip around the entire island on the Ringroad. You can
stop as many times as you want, but you must complete the tour in one direction.
The pass is available from May 21 to September 13. The standard one leaves out the
Westfjords, the northwestern part of the island. But for an additional fee, it can
be extended to include this area. Other passes that allow for unlimited travel for
periods from a week to a month are available as well.
Taxi services are available in most towns. To catch a cab, you can either call
the company or find one waiting on the street. A lighted “Taxi” sign on top of the
car means it’s available. Expect to pay at least IKR 1,000 for a short ride of about
2 miles (3.2 km). However, there’s no tipping in Iceland. Borgarbill and Hreyfill
are two major taxi companies in Reykjavík.
There are several passenger ferries in Iceland. The Sæfari, for example, runs
from Akureyri and Dalvik to the islands of Hrísey and Grímsey, which are known for
their natural beauty and great variety of birds. The Sævar leaves from Arsskogssandur
and sails to Hrísey. And the Herjólfur has scheduled trips to the Westmann Islands.
More information on routes, schedules and departure times is available in the Iceland
Independent Traveller tour guide, which is published by Destination Island/BSI and
available for free.
Bicycling is a great way to see the country’s spectacular landscape and remote
places. However, you should be well prepared for harsh weather conditions. Winds
can be strong and icy and the roads bumpy and muddy. You’ll need to bring waterproof,
warm clothes and pack everything in waterproof bags. If you want to drive into Iceland’s
interior, the Kjölur route, which passes between two of the island’s largest glaciers,
offers nice views. The Westfjords also offer great bicycle routes.
Even though Iceland’s crime rate is relatively low, it is best to hitch hike
together with a buddy and not all by yourself. Because Iceland is only sparsely
populated, you might have to wait for long periods until someone comes and stops