GETTING TO ICELAND
If you’re flying to Iceland, you have two Icelandic airlines to choose from:
Of course many other airlines from around the world run flights into Iceland everyday, but these are your two local choices, and good starting points for your flight search.
Before I left, I was told that flights into Iceland are often terrifyingly turbulent. I’m a nervous flyer, so this was causing me some anxiety, but my flights both into and out of the country were nothing but smooth. So if you’re also a nervous flyer, don’t worry. You got this.
VISAS INTO ICELAND
Pretty much every western nation (that’s Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., or Canada), gets visas arrival into Iceland. That means that you don’t have to do anything beyond just showing up. It’s easy, it’s free, and it’s usually pretty quick (depending on the time of day).
ICELAND’S MAIN AIRPORT ISN’T IN REYKJAVÍK
Iceland’s main international airport isn’t actually in Reykjavík. Rather, it’s in a smaller city about an hour to the south called Keflavík. It’s a small(ish) airport but it’s very nice, and is home to the best public bathrooms I’ve ever used… if that’s a factor for you.
There isn’t much going on in Keflavík, so I’d advise you against ever getting a hotel here. It’s small and ugly, but don’t be deterred! As soon as you get on the road, Iceland is amazing!
GETTING TO FROM THE KEFLAVÍK AIRPORT TO REYKJAVÍK
Because Iceland’s main international airport is in Keflavík, the first hurdle to any trip to Iceland is getting yourself from the airport into Reykjavík. You’ve got a few options to pick from here…
Option 1: Taxi
Don’t do this. The drive to Reykjavík will cost upwards of $150. Yikes!
Option 2: Public Bus
Taking the public bus is the cheapest way to get from Keflavík to Reykjavík. It’s 100% reliable, too. Prices vary, but in general, you’re look at 420 ISK/3.50 USD. You can book tickets HERE.
Option 3: Private Bus
Private buses are faster than public buses, and have better schedules. They are slightly more expensive, but most people think the perks are worth the extra money. If you want to take a private bus, you can choose Flybus (prices start at 2.200 ISK/18.55 USD), or Airport Express (prices start at 2.100 ISK/17.70 USD).
Option 4: Rent A Car
Renting a car in Iceland is expensive, and how much it costs depends on a wide array of variables, but for most people, this is already a sunk cost. However, if you’re gong to be renting a car, you’ll probably have the choice of either picking it up at the airport or in Reykjavík. Choosing a Reykjavík pick-up will shave at least a day off of your renting period. If this will save you more money (and effort) than you’d spend on a bus from the airport, then you might want to hold off on picking up your car until you get to Reykjavík. If not, then getting to Reykjavík will be easy: just drive! Maybe you could help out somebody choosing option 5…
Option 5: Hitchhike
If you’re really trying to save money, try to hitch a ride with somebody!
There is virtually no crime in Iceland, so hitchhiking is both safe and commonplace. So make sure you befriend whoever is sitting next to you on the plane! Maybe they have a car waiting for them when they land. And if they don’t, go out to the main road and put your thumb out! I’d be surprised if you weren’t picked up within 20 minutes.
RENTING A CAR IN ICELAND
The way to see Iceland is by renting a car and making a road trip out of it. Of course there are other ways to see the country, but I would highly recommend getting your own car.
By default, most car rental companies in Iceland only rent brand new cars, and this makes them even more expensive than they already would have been. Pretty much the only company that rents out used cars is SAD Cars. Yeah, it’s a funny name, but it’s an awesome company. I rented a sad car when I was in Iceland. I was a bit sketched out when a Nigerian guy picked me up at the airport and dropped me off at an old military bunker in the tundra 15 minutes from the airport, but time would soon prove the merits of this company. Everything was great. The car was almost $500 cheaper than it would have been through any other company, and they were a pleasure to do business with. GET A SAD CAR! And I’d recommend springing for the mobile wifi hotspot.
Another option would be carpooling. Samferda is a site that is like Match.com for people looking to share a vehicle for an Icelandic road trip. It will save you massive amounts of money on gas to find a travel buddy or two, so check it out!
LODGING IN REYKJAVÍK
If you’re looking for nice, affordable accommodations in Reykjavík, I would recommend staying at Hlemmur Square. They have great facilities, helpful staff, and large dorm rooms that are clean and cheap. That’s where I stayed, and I ended up booking with them again when I came back into Reykjavík.
Other Hostel Options…
- Kex Hostel [also gets great reviews]
- 101 Hostel [good reviews but no common area]
- Bus Hostel [nice hostel but bad location]
Or you could try Couchsurfing.com! It’d be a great way to meet locals and save money! It seems to public opinion that the Couchsurfing community of Reykjavik is very active, but my prospects didn’t seem quite so bountiful during my visit. So, if you’re interested in this option, start putting your feelers out 3 or 4 weeks in advance.