Does Reykjavík Have Uber?

Hopp car share Reykjavík

Uber has not arrived in Iceland yet. However, there is a new, similar company called Hopp Taxis. The company is known as an electric scooter rental but recently introduced their car-sharing service and Hopp Taxis. You can download the Hopp app on both Apple and Android free of charge, and there is no subscription fee. It works like Uber; you can see the car’s location, arrival time, and price before confirming the ride, and the payment is made through the app. The drivers are all licensed taxi drivers and drive carbon-neutral or electric cars. Currently, Hopp Taxi operates in Reykjavík and its closest suburbs, such as Kópavogur, Garðabær, Hafnarfjörður, and Mosfellsbær, as well as Keflavík airport.

Taking the taxi in Reykjavík

Another option is to take a regular taxi. Taxi companies, such as Hreyfill and BSR, offer apps you can download to order a cab and monitor its location. The taxis have a much wider service area. Unlike Hopp Taxis, you will know the price once you have arrived at your destination, and the payment goes directly through the taxi driver, not the app. Note that taking taxis to and from Keflavík International can be expensive. An average taxi trip from the capital region to the airport may run from ISK 15,000 – 20,000 [$110-146, €100-134], so budget-minded travellers may find the Fly Bus a more economical option.

Iceland’s bus system

Iceland’s bus system, Strætó, is a great, economical transportation choice. You can plan your trip and see more comprehensive route maps on their website. To pay the fare, buy a ticket through the app Klappið or pay the exact amount in cash on the bus. About half of the buses run from 6:30 AM to midnight, but some services may start later and end earlier. A night bus on Friday and Saturday nights runs from downtown Reykjavík to some of its surrounding suburbs. Note that the night route only runs from Reykjavík, not towards it.

 

What Is Iceland Like in the Spring and Fall?

Hraunfossar Waterfalls in Iceland

Icelandic nature during shoulder seasons

During fall, Iceland’s nature takes on a unique palate of orange, maroon, and moss green, making autumn in Iceland a treat for your eyes. During the spring, the empty branches start blooming after a long winter’s rest, and the grass turns green again. Both fall and spring are excellent times to observe the rich birdlife of Iceland, as migrant birds pass through during this time. The well-known Atlantic Puffins arrive in April and stay until September. You can see the puffins in several places, but the most convenient way is to take a boat tour to Akurey island or Lundey island from Reykjavík harbour.

The weather in Iceland during fall and spring

During any season, Iceland’s weather can change often and quickly. Sometimes, you can even experience all four seasons in just one day! For this reason, it is best to be prepared and regularly check for weather updates and road conditions. In the fall, the average temperature is 4-7°C [39-45°F], and in the spring, 0-7°C [32-45°F]. In the spring, the daylight is, on average, 15 hours. During fall, it averages 10 hours. Fall and spring bring more rain than the other seasons, so bringing water-resistant coats and footwear may be a good idea.

The roads in Iceland

Route 1, often referred to as “the ring road”, will take you around the island with clear road signs and paved roads. However, some remote locations may only be accessible by gravel roads. You will not be able to travel to the Highland, as the F-roads that take you there are only open from June to August.

Foggy road in Iceland
Photo: Golli.

Driving safe

Due to rainfall, water can accumulate in the roads’ tyre tracks or other dips, causing hydroplaning. If this happens, slow down by letting go of the accelerator and pump lightly on the break if needed. Note that rain, fog, and snow can reduce visibility, especially during the darker hours. Make sure to never stop in the middle of the road or enter closed roads; it is illegal and can cause serious accidents. In case of an emergency, call 112. Make sure to bring essentials such as warm clothing, snacks and beverages, and to have a GPS/map at hand. It is good to familiarise yourself with Icelandic road signs before driving. For information regarding weather and road conditions, you can call 1777. With some preparation and research, you can have a safe and adventurous journey!

Northern lights in Iceland during spring and fall

Late fall and early spring are good times to see the northern lights, though never guaranteed. You can catch them yourself from wherever the skies are clear, but tours are available to see the northern lights shining brighter from better vantage points. The tours usually run from mid-September to mid-April, as the rest of the year brings too much daylight to see the aurora. You can view the northern lights forecast here. Note that the white areas on the map indicate clear skies and a higher chance of seeing them. You will see numbers in the upper right corner representing their activity level.

What is there to do in the spring and fall in Iceland?

Inside:

Iceland offers a diverse range of museums. In Reykjavík, Perlan museum has interesting interactive exhibitions presenting virtual northern lights and a man-made glacier, in addition to educational exhibitions on natural history and geology. Other museums in Reykjavík include the Maritime Museum, the Whale Museum, the National Museum of Iceland, and the Reykjavík Art Museum. Iceland offers a variety of restaurants and cafes where you can experience both Icelandic and foreign cuisine. You can browse Iceland’s unique art, clothing, and jewellery designs in local shops around the country.

Perlan Museum in Reykjavík, Iceland
Photo: Perlan Museum in Reykjavík, Iceland

Outside:

Hikes in areas such as Heiðmörk nature reserve and Þingvellir national park will bring you a new appreciation of the scenic nature of Iceland through lava, moss, lakes, and rich history. Road trips to the villages and towns of Iceland are a great way to experience authentic Icelandic culture. To keep warm during cold days, submerge yourself in some of Iceland’s many geothermal pools and lagoons. Mountains, black sand beaches, waterfalls, glaciers, and geysers are some of the natural wonders of Iceland worth exploring, whether on your own or by going on various excursions.

As summer and winter are the peak seasons of tourism in Iceland, fall and spring are more affordable for flights and accommodation while bringing fewer crowds. Whether chasing the aurora, exploring Iceland’s nature and its wildlife, or immersing yourself in the local culture, the shoulder seasons provide fascinating scenery for a vacation to remember.

 

Iceland Weather: Storms, Road Closures, and Avalanche Risk

winter tires reykjavík

Iceland’s Ring Road (Route 1) is currently closed over Öxnadalsheiði heath, between Akureyri and Reykjavík, due to weather. Yellow weather warnings have also been issued across much of the country today due to strong winds. The Icelandic Met Office declared an “uncertainty phase” in the East Fjords this morning due to the risk of avalanches.

Seyðisfjörður alavanche risk

There was heavy precipitation in Seyðisfjörður last night, with continuing precipitation at higher elevations and a strong E-ENE wind in the mountains, according to a notice from the Icelandic Met Office. Precipitation should slow throughout the day, and the wind speed is expected to slow and change direction to a northerly. Experts are monitoring conditions closely.

Strong winds and blowing snow

Gale-force winds are expected today across much of Iceland, including the Westfjords, West, North, East, and Southeast. Wind speeds in these areas could reach speeds of 20 metres per second. Blowing snow is in the forecast for most of these regions as well. Poor driving conditions can be expected as a result of weather, as well as traffic disruptions and road closures.

Travellers and affected residents are encouraged to monitor weather and road conditions before setting out.

Wine, Gas, and Swimming Pool Prices Rise

Laugardalslaug geothermal swimming pool in Reykjavík

With the new year, changes to public price structures all over Iceland come into effect. Municipalities have upped the fees for some of the services they offer, while the 2024 budget, recently approved by Alþingi, heralds new taxes and adjustments to the existing ones.

Tax rates on alcohol and tobacco go up by 3.5 percent, Morgunblaðið reports. As does the licensing fee for public broadcasting and the tax on gasoline. The litre will cost an extra ISK 4.20 [$0.03, €0.03], while the litre of diesel goes up by ISK 3.70 [$0.03, €0.02]. The vehicle tax on lighter automobiles rises by 30 percent as well, while owners of electric cars will need to pay a new fee per kilometre, which for the average driver will amount to ISK 90,000 [$666, €599] per year.

Trash and tickets pricier

Municipalities have also announced higher prices for trash collection, as a new system for sorting refuse is being implemented in the capital area. The biggest increase is in Reykjavík, where the price for two bins goes from ISK 52,600 [$389, €350] to ISK 73,500 [$544, €489]. The highest fee remains in the more affluent neighbouring municipality of Seltjarnarnes and amounts to ISK 75,000 [$555, €499].

In Reykjavík, the prices for trips to the swimming pool, museum tickets and petting zoo admissions have also gone up. A single adult ticket to a public pool goes up by 6 percent and will now cost ISK 1,330 [$10, €9]. Yearly tickets go up by 5.5 percent, while prices for towel and swimming trunk rentals also rise. A hike in bus fare prices has also been announced. They will rise by an average of 11 percent.

Hellisheiði Closed Temporarily Today Due to Roadwork

Route 1 Iceland

A section of Iceland’s Ring Road over the Hellisheiði mountain pass will be closed today for roadwork. Traffic will be rerouted via Þrengslavegur and Þorlákshafnarvegur during the closure.

Closed between 9 AM and 2 PM

A portion of Iceland´s Ring Road (Route 1) leading over the Hellisheiði mountain pass — connecting the capital area to the South Coast — will be temporarily closed today due to roadwork.

The road will be closed eastbound, towards Hveragerði, between 9 AM and 12 noon. From 10 AM to 2 PM, the road will be closed westbound, towards Reykjavík. Traffic will be redirected via Þrengslavegur and Þorlákshafnarvegur road (see below image of the Þrengslavegur reroute).

Ring Road
Þrengslavegur reroute (Google Maps)

 

 

Hellisheiði Closed After First Snowfall of the Year

winter weather iceland

After the first snowfall of the year, Hellisheiði, the section of road connecting the capital region to the South Coast, has been closed.

Several weather warnings were in effect through the night, and much of West, Southwest, and South Iceland are still under a yellow warning. Travellers can expect high winds, and unnecessary travel is to be avoided.

Expect Closures

G. Pétur Matthíasson, a spokesperson for the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, stated to RÚV: “This is the first weather like this here in the southwest of the country, where most of the traffic is. So, the conditions on Hellisheiði and Þrengsli [an alternate route to the South Coast] are not very good, which is why Hellisheiði has been closed due to the weather, and Þrengsli is at an uncertain stage.”

There are also reports of several stranded cars and drivers have encountered difficulties this morning due to severe conditions in the area. “This morning on Hellisheiði, there were quite a few cars that still had summer tires. The conditions were such that it’s not enough,” says G. Pétur stated to RÚV.

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration will reassess the situation throughout the day. Hellisheiði will be reopened as soon as possible.

There was widespread snow in the countryside this morning, including in areas of the capital region.

Get the latest information on weather conditions at the Met Office. Live information on travel conditions and road closures can be viewed at the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration’s travel website.

Orange Weather Warning For Much of Iceland

Björgunarfélag Vestmannaeyja

Today, there is an orange warning in effect due to a severe storm from the north and heavy precipitation in the northern part of the country. Snowfall is expected in the mountains in addition to sleet and rain in the lowland.

The Met Office has also stated that the first snow avalanches of the autumn cannot be ruled out if snow accumulation is rapid. Likewise, rockslides and landslides cannot be ruled out in the lower parts of mountain slopes in this weather, given the expected precipitation. The Met Office notes that there is no perceived threat to settlements.

Damage Caused to Residences

Sharp winds have however caused some damage to residences throughout Iceland. The Westman Island ICE-SAR team was called out today to assist in fixing roofs when sheet metal began to fly around Heimaey.

Björgunarfélag Vestmannaeyja
Björgunarfélag Vestmannaeyja helping to fix roofs in Heimaey.

RÚV also reports that rescue teams were called out in Höfn in Hornafjörður due to a door that had flown off a building.  The door flew off from the Glacier World guesthouse, which is about 19 kilometres from Höfn and approximately three kilometres from the main road.

Impassable Roads in North Iceland

The orange weather warning has also caused difficult driving conditions, and motorists are advised to avoid highland areas. Conditions are particularly bad in North Iceland, where a severe storm is expected overnight. In the Southeast, there will be a blizzard east of Vatnajökull Glacier starting in the afternoon and continuing into the evening.

For more information on weather conditions and safe travel, see the website of the Icelandic Met Office.

Parking Fees Rise in Downtown Reykjavík

architecture downtown Reykjavík houses square

Higher parking fees took effect in central Reykjavík this month and have been criticised by some politicians and locals. The city has instituted paid parking on Sundays for the first time and extended the hours when parking is paid on other days.

In the P1 and P2 zones, parking will be paid until 9:00 PM throughout the week. It was previously free after 6:00 PM on weekdays and 4:00 PM on Saturdays. On Sundays, parking will be subject to fees between 10:00 AM and 9:00 PM.

Three-hour limit in P1 and P2

Guðbjörg Lilja Erlendsdóttir, Director of Transport at the City of Reykjavík, says this change was implemented to accommodate residents and shop owners in the city centre. “The aim of the fees is that as many people as possible can get parking when they need it. Therefore, in toll zone 1, where there are a lot of shops and services, we are also implementing a maximum time of three hours, and are extending the toll hours in zones 1 and 2. All this is done so that residents and visitors get more parking when they need it,” Guðbjörg told RÚV. It’s important to note that residents within paid parking zones can apply for residential cards, allowing them to park within applicable parking zones for free.

Fee increase to ISK 600 in P1

In the P1 zone, the cost of parking will also increase to ISK 600 [$4.31, €4.11] per hour, from the previous rate of ISK 430 [$2.95, €3.09] per hour. However, parking will now be free in zone P3 on Saturdays. A count revealed that parking spaces were better used on Sundays than Saturdays, so the change may help to better distribute weekend traffic in the city centre.

Independence Party politician Kjartan Magnússon criticised the steep price hike in the P1 zone, which amounts to some 40%. Guðbjörg says there has been relatively little response to the changes overall, however.

Icelandic Roads Least Lethal Worldwide

Route 1 Iceland

German car subscription service, FINN, has recently rated Iceland the number 1 nation “where you are least likely to die on the road.”

The survey included OECD member states and considered such factors as road deaths per 100,000, overall road quality, speed limits, traffic volume and levels, and percentages of alcohol-related road deaths.

Iceland came in first place for “least likely to die on the road,” with only 2.05 road death per 100,000. Peer nation Norway came in second place, at 2.12, followed by Switzerland in third, with 2.25.

The survey stated: “Despite poor weather conditions and many unpaved roads, Icelandic drivers are some of the least likely in the world to face fatalities on the road. Iceland is a hub for tourism, consequently, many popular roads around the golden circle and Reykjavik are tarmacked and well-maintained compared to the sparsely populated centre of the country which is connected by a network of gravel roads.”

Notably, this category was distinct from “safest roads,” which took more factors into account, such as those mentioned above. The Netherlands placed first in the category, followed by Norway, and a third-place tie between Sweden and Estonia. Iceland was rated 8th for overall road safety.

Argentina had the honour of taking first place for “most dangerous roads,” whereas Saudia Arabia placed first for “countries where you are most likely to die on the road.”

Lack of Funding to Maintain Westfjords Roads

2018 Vatnsnesvegur, A screenshot from RÚV

Many roads in the Westfjords and West Iceland have become dangerous due to lack of maintenance, according to representatives of the Road and Coastal Administration, RÚV reports. In both regions, a lack of funding has left roads in poor shape, posing risks for travellers. Infrastructure funding would need to be quadrupled to complete all of the maintenance and construction currently needed on West Iceland roads, says Pálmi Þór Sævarsson, the area’s regional director for the Road and Coastal Administration.

A driver narrowly avoided a rollover last Sunday on the road between Búðardalur and Bifröst in West Iceland. He stated that he lost control of the car due to the number of potholes in the road. Despite the road’s poor condition, the speed limit was set at 90 km [56 miles] per hour. Sæmundur Kristánsson, the head supervisor of the Road and Coastal Administration in Búðardalur, says the road where the near-rollover occurred is narrower than the standard width. While widening the road is on the agenda, its financing has not yet been approved.

Pálmi Þór says similarly poor road conditions can be found across West Iceland, the Snæfellsnes peninsula, and the Westfjords, and they point to a larger problem across the Icelandic countryside: a lack of funding for road maintenance. Iceland has a “maintenance debt” that has been built up over many years, says Pálmi, and many roads are starting to give way under increasing traffic. The problem needs to be dealt with before it goes from bad to worse.