Iceland, the land of fire and ice, beckons adventurous souls seeking to explore its hidden corners and embrace its majestic wildlife. Getting around this breathtaking country requires careful consideration, as it offers various modes of transportation, each with its own set of pros and cons.
Navigating Iceland can be an enchanting adventure, and the key to unlocking its secrets lies in choosing the right mode of transportation. Depending on your preferences, budget, and itinerary, you have several options to explore: car rental, bus travel, taxis, tours, and even flights for covering vast distances between regions.
The ideal mode of transportation depends on your travel preferences, budget, and the level of exploration you seek. If you crave independence and wish to explore off-the-beaten-path wonders, a car rental is your best bet. Combine this with ferries to really explore hidden corners.
For guided experiences and seamless transfers, tours and buses offer convenience. Taxis suit short journeys within cities, while flights become essential for covering long distances efficiently. Consider your itinerary and priorities to make an informed choice on the best way to get around Iceland.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the best ways to traverse the Icelandic landscapes, ensuring that you have a memorable and rewarding experience while uncovering the country’s natural wonders.
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Car rental in Iceland
For ultimate freedom and flexibility, renting a car is the preferred choice for many travellers. Driving allows you to discover Iceland at your own pace, deviating from the beaten path, and stumbling upon untamed beauty.
The island’s Ring Road provides an accessible route to numerous attractions, while F-roads open up remote and wild regions. Embrace the feeling of driving through diverse landscapes, from cascading waterfalls to volcanic terrains.
Pros and Cons of Car Rental in Iceland
Renting a car in Iceland is the epitome of freedom and adventure. Having your own wheels allows you to set your schedule and uncover hidden gems. The flexibility to stop at any viewpoint, explore remote areas, and chase the Northern Lights at your leisure is unbeatable.
However, car rental comes with certain challenges, particularly for solo travellers or those unfamiliar with driving in challenging weather conditions. Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, and road conditions may vary, especially during winter. Experience driving in winter conditions and a travel partner really is essential to safely hire a car during the winter months. Additionally, renting a car can be expensive, especially if not booked in advance.
Cost of Car Rental in Iceland
Car rental costs in Iceland vary depending on the type of vehicle, rental duration, and the time of year. In peak tourist seasons, such as summer, prices tend to be higher. Compact cars are generally more affordable, while 4×4 vehicles are necessary for F-roads and off-road adventures.
Buying fuel in Iceland
Petrol (gas) stations are not found everywhere in Iceland so it is worth filling up whenever you see a petrol station, especially in the more remote areas. While the lack of fuel stations is not a concern on the main routes around the country, it could pose problems in the more remote regions of the Westfjords and Highlands.
Generally, fuel stations in Iceland are self-service and payment is made by credit card, although there are some that are staffed. Don’t be concerned if a hold is put on your card when you pay for fuel, it is usually released within a few days.
Parking in Iceland
Given the low density of cars and the vast open spaces in Iceland, parking is not usually an issue. Most attractions have large car parks although some have parking meters or links to pay for parking online. Parka.is is the most widely used app for parking in Iceland and internet access is not usually a problem.
Parking in Reykjavík can be more difficult. Most parking is paid although there are some free areas around Hallsgrímskirkja and the National Museum of Iceland. Other streets have spaces but require you to buy a ticket to park there. Prices range from 200ISK (£1.20) to 385ISK (£2.30) for each hour.
If you street park always make sure you park in the same direction as the flow of traffic or you will be fined. Also, check that you are not in a private parking area.
Toll Roads in Iceland
There is only one toll road in Iceland. Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel was newly opened in 2020 in north Iceland outside Akureyri. The tunnel connects the east bank of the Eyjafjörður fjord and Akureyri shortening the journey along the Ring Road Route 1 by 16km.
The fee for the tunnel for a normal car is 1,500ISK (£8.85) for each trip with larger vehicles costing 2,500ISK (£14.75). The fee has to be paid online, in full within a 24-hour time frame either before or after using the tunnel. You can pay for a single tip via the veggjald.is website here
If you want to avoid the toll then it is possible to drive around the peninsula following Route 83 and Route 84 through Svalbarðseyri. It is a longer drive but passes through some beautiful landscapes.
Things to Consider When Renting a Car in Iceland
- Book in advance to secure better rates and availability.
- Choose a vehicle suitable for your itinerary and the season.
- Familiarize yourself with Icelandic road rules and conditions.
- Purchase comprehensive insurance coverage for peace of mind.
- Plan extra time for unforeseen delays due to weather or photo stops.
Bus travel in Iceland
Bus travel is a practical option for those who want to minimise driving responsibilities. Iceland’s bus network covers most major towns and tourist destinations, offering scheduled routes with experienced drivers. While it may lack the spontaneity of driving yourself, it provides a relaxed way to witness the scenic wonders while engaging with fellow travellers.
If you want to travel into the Highlands the bus service to Þórsmörk and Landmannalaugar are a great alternative to a full tour or attempting to drive yourself.
Pros and Cons of Bus Travel in Iceland
Bus travel in Iceland offers a stress-free experience, especially for those who prefer to leave the driving to professionals. It also provides a chance to connect with fellow travellers
However, bus travel may come with limitations on spontaneity, as you’ll be adhering to scheduled routes and timetables. It may also be less suited for exploring remote areas that aren’t covered by standard bus routes.
Travel by bus in Iceland is good for getting around Reykjavík and Akureyri but outside of the urban areas timetables can be sparse. If you do want to travel by bus then make sure you plan your itinerary around the bus schedules.
Cost of Bus Travel in Iceland
Bus travel in Iceland is relatively affordable, with various ticket options catering to different routes and durations. Multi-day passes or tourist cards can provide cost-effective solutions for extensive travel. To see Reykjavík and explore the landmarks then the Hop-on-Hop-off bus is a good option.
- Single bus ticket in Reykjavik 470ISK (£2.80)
- Night bus 940ISK (£5.60)
- Disabled passengers, seniors over 67 years old and young people between 6 and 17 years old 235ISK (£1.40).
- Children under 6 years old travel for free.
Things to Consider When Taking the Bus in Iceland:
- Research and plan your routes in advance.
- Check the timetables and ensure you arrive at bus stops on time.
- Consider purchasing multi-day or flexible passes for better value.
- Purchase tickets and plan your routes using the Strætó website and app
Taxis in Iceland
Taxis are readily available in urban areas and are ideal for short trips within cities or towns. Although they can be expensive for long-distance travel, they offer convenience, especially during unfavourable weather conditions or when you need a quick transfer to your destination.
Is there Uber or Bolt in Iceland?
There is no Uber or Bolt in Iceland. If you need a taxi, speak to your host or hotel reception who will be able to book one for you. Outside of Reykjavík and Akureyri taxis are limited.
Pros and Cons of Taking Taxis in Iceland
Taxis in Iceland are convenient and readily available, particularly in urban areas like Reykjavik. They offer a door-to-door service, making them ideal for short trips or when public transportation is limited.
However, taxis can be expensive, especially for long-distance travel or excursions to remote areas. Pre-booking may be necessary, especially during peak tourist seasons, to ensure availability. In more remote areas the use of taxis is very limited and you may need to look at car hire to really get off the beaten track.
Cost of taxis in Iceland
Taxis in Iceland charge based on a metered system, and rates can be higher during evenings, weekends, or public holidays. Be aware that additional fees may apply for baggage or special requests.
Taxi prices in Iceland, like other services in the country, are quite high. Below, you can see an example of taxi fares:
- Minimum fare: 730ISK (£4.30)
- Each kilometre: 341ISK (£2)
- One hour wait: 7,920ISK (£46.71)
Taxis between Reykjavík and Keflavik Airport
One of the most common taxi service routes in Iceland is between Reykjavik city centre and Keflavik Airport. The price of this journey is not fixed and varies according to traffic. It usually takes around 45 minutes and can cost between 16,000ISK (£95) and 20,000ISK (£120).
If you are looking for an easier taxi fare then it may be easier to take the FlyBus to the airport and stay in Keflavík overnight. The taxi fare from Keflavík to the airport is only about 2,000ISK (£12).
Things to Consider When Taking a Taxi in Iceland
- Use official taxi services to ensure safety and fair pricing.
- Inquire about the estimated fare before starting your journey.
- Consider ride-sharing options or group taxis for cost-sharing.
Tours in Iceland
For an immersive experience with in-depth insights, guided tours are unbeatable. Joining a tour allows you to focus on the wonders around you, leaving all logistics in the hands of experts. Whether it’s a thrilling glacier hike, a fascinating Northern Lights tour, or a wildlife excursion, tours cater to various interests and time constraints.
Pros and Cons of Taking Tours in Iceland
Tours in Iceland offer curated experiences, expert guides, and hassle-free logistics. The tours will allow you to travel and learn from experienced guides, who often share fascinating insights about the country’s history, geology, and culture.
However, guided tours may follow fixed itineraries, limiting spontaneity. Additionally, popular tours can get crowded during peak tourist seasons.
Cost of Tours in Iceland
Tour prices vary depending on the type of activity, duration, and inclusions. While some tours may seem expensive, they often cover equipment, transportation, and knowledgeable guides.
Things to Consider When Taking a Tour in Iceland
- Research and choose reputable tour operators.
- Check reviews and ratings to ensure high-quality experiences.
- Select tours that align with your interests and fitness levels.
- Flights in Iceland:
Flights in Iceland
When time is limited or you want to explore the distant corners of Iceland, domestic flights become invaluable. They connect major towns and remote areas, granting access to otherwise inaccessible locations and saving precious time.
Each region of Iceland has a small airport and these can become a lifeline in the winter months when roads are closed. If bad weather comes in flights will be cancelled but IcelandAir will always rebook as soon as the weather improves.
Pros and Cons of Flying in Iceland
Domestic flights in Iceland are a time-efficient way to cover vast distances between regions. They offer a bird’s-eye view of Iceland’s mesmerizing landscapes, and they’re essential for reaching remote areas not accessible by road.
However, flying may not allow for the same ground-level exploration and connection to the landscape that other modes of transportation provide. It’s also a pricier option compared to buses or car rentals.
You also need to think about transport when you arrive at a regional airport. Buses are limited and taxis can be expensive so a hire car may be your only option.
Cost of Flights in Iceland
Domestic flight costs depend on factors such as the distance, the season, and the airline. Booking in advance and being flexible with travel dates can help secure more affordable fares.
Things to Consider When Flying to Iceland
- Consider the trade-off between time saved and ground exploration.
- Check luggage restrictions and additional fees before booking.
- Book flights early for better availability and pricing.
Ferry travel in Iceland
Ferry travel in Iceland offers a unique and scenic way to explore the country’s stunning coastline and nearby islands. While not as extensive as other modes of transportation, ferries provide a delightful experience for those looking to witness Iceland’s beauty from the sea.
The two ferry journeys most commonly found on a road trip around Iceland are to the Westman Islands from Landeyjahöfn to Vestmannaeyjar and the Bladur ferry across Breiðafjörður between Brjánslækur and Stykkishólmur.
Pros and Cons of Ferry Travel in Iceland
Taking a ferry in Iceland grants you the opportunity to see the country’s rugged coastlines, majestic fjords, and picturesque islands from a different perspective. It allows for a leisurely journey, with ample time to enjoy the breathtaking views and possibly spot marine wildlife along the way.
However, ferry routes can be limited, and the availability of services may be seasonal. Additionally, if you’re on a tight schedule, ferry travel might not be the most time-efficient option, especially if you need to cover long distances.
Cost of Ferry Travel in Iceland
Ferry ticket prices in Iceland vary based on the route, duration, and cabin options. Shorter ferry trips between nearby islands tend to be more affordable, while longer journeys along the coastline may be relatively costlier.
Things to Consider When Taking a Ferry in Iceland
- Check the ferry schedule and availability in advance, especially for less-frequented routes.
- Dress warmly and be prepared for potential weather changes during the voyage.
- Consider booking a cabin for longer journeys to ensure a comfortable experience.
Accessibility in Iceland
Iceland aims to be an inclusive and accessible destination for travellers with disabilities. Many attractions, accommodations, and transport services have taken steps to cater to the needs of all visitors.
Useful resources for Iceland travel
- Iceland Tourism Official Website
- Car Rental Companies in Iceland
- Bus Schedules and Routes in Iceland
- Guided Tours and Activities in Iceland
- Domestic Flights in Iceland
- Ferry Routes and Schedules in Iceland
- Ferry Services to Icelandic Islands
- Icelandic Maritime Administration
Planning your travel around Iceland
Exploring Iceland’s hidden corners and wildlife is a journey of a lifetime. By choosing the right mode of transportation, you can craft an experience that perfectly aligns with your preferences and goals. Whether you opt for the freedom of car rental, the convenience of guided tours, or the adventure of bus travel, Iceland’s beauty will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on your heart. Embrace the diverse landscapes, encounter unique wildlife, and immerse yourself in the enchanting magic of Iceland, a place where nature reigns supreme.
- Car rental offers freedom, but weather and cost considerations apply.
- Bus travel provides guided experiences and cost-effectiveness.
- Taxis are convenient but can be expensive for long-distance travel.
- Tours offer expert guidance and curated adventures.
- Flights are time-efficient for covering long distances, but exploration on the ground is limited.
- Ferries can be limited and you will need to plan ahead to fit your itinerary.
- Iceland aims to be inclusive for travellers with disabilities.
Planning a road trip to Iceland? Read all my Iceland Travel Guides