Getting Around Iceland
Air Iceland (www.airiceland.is) and Eagle Air (www.eagleair.is) run domestic services to all major airports within Iceland from Reykjavík’s city airport, linking up with air or bus connections in over 40 towns. Air Iceland also flies to Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
From Reykjavík to Akureyri in the north, it takes 45 minutes; to Egilsstaðir in the east, it takes 1 hour. Flights to Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, take around 2 hours.
If you’re in Iceland for a short amount of time, flying can be a great way to see the different areas of the country and it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can take a bus one way and fly the other; this mode of transport also allows you to see the country by air, which can be singularly dramatic. Both internal airlines offer day tours of the country as well as day trips, guided tours and scheduled flights. You need a passport to travel to Greenland or the Faroe Islands from Iceland.
Side of the roadRight
A major road, the Route One, which links all the main towns and runs in a circular route around the island, rings Iceland. Outside Reykjavík, roads are often quiet and empty; sheep and horses can be hazardous, as can weather conditions, but driving itself is usually relaxed.
There are roads serving all settlements, but outside major settlements, they can be gravel rather than tarred. Every year, lesser-used roads through the central highlands of the country are re-marked by the first vehicles to drive the route.
Most mountain roads are only open in summer, and some of them can only be used by 4-wheel-drive vehicles.
The Icelandic Tourist Board provides maps, and a helpful online guide (in both brochure and video format) to driving in Iceland.
For information on road conditions, contact the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (tel: +354 522 1100 or 1777, in Iceland only; www.road.is).
Additionally, www.safetravel.is offers advice about driving and other activities in the country, particularly for those veering off main routes.
Services are available from Reykjavík, Akureyri and many other towns.
Available from all hotels and airports and downtown areas of Reykjavík and Akureyri.
Iceland has some appeal to cyclists; the quiet roads and scenery have made it popular with touring European cyclists and several cycle tour options are available. Cycle hire is available in Reykjavík by the day as well as for longer-term rental.
The BSI bus station in Reykjavík is the hub for buses in the country. Routes are available to take you everywhere (they are much more frequent in the summer than the winter) including tourist packages, flight and bus links and scheduled routes. Reservations are not always necessary and you can buy tickets from the driver. Check BSI (www.bsi.is) for bus schedules and routes.
Speed limits are 30kph (19mph) in residential areas, 50kph (31mph) in urban areas, while outside towns they are 90kph (56mph) on paved roads and 80kph (50mph) on gravel roads. Driving under the influence of alcohol is prohibited. It is obligatory to use headlights at all times of the day and night, and to wear seatbelts, both in the front and back seats.
Remote areas of Iceland have poor mobile and GPS reception; it is always advisable to tell someone where you are going and when you will return and to take a map. Some roads receive few passersby, so you should be prepared in the event of an emergency. Costs for breakdown recovery can be high. Check details thoroughly with your car hire company.
A valid national driving licence.
Changing weather conditions can make driving in Iceland like nowhere else in the world. Be prepared and take all reasonable precautions.
Most of Iceland’s cities are easy to drive round and easier to walk around. Parking is usually easy and there is little traffic.
There are no trains in Iceland.
There are ferry links to the Westman Islands off the southwest coast served by Herjolfur ferries (www.herjolfur.is). Sæfari (www.landflutningar.is/saefari) offers scheduled trips from Grimsey Island in the Arctic Circle to the north of Iceland, while Seatours (www.seatours.is) offers journeys around the Westfjords from Stikkisholmur on the Snaefellsjokull peninsula.
Ferry services to the Westman Islands can be beset by bad weather; an alternative route is to take an internal flight from Reykjavík.