How To Travel Around Reykjavík 

Reykjavík from above, housing crisis Iceland

Knowing how to get around Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital city, is essential for those hoping to truly maximise their visit. So what transportation options are available, and how much do they cost? 

Despite being home to over two-thirds of Iceland’s population, Reykjavík has a reputation for being a small capital city. This assessment is not entirely unfair; compared to the majority of other capitals around the world, the city could hardly be described as a metropolis. 

With that said, it still covers 232 sq km [144 mi,] often surprising those who bought into the misconception that Reykjavík is little more than a “quaint fishing town.”

A child rides a segway through Reykjavík
Photo: Golli. There are many creative ways to explore Reykjavík.

Thankfully, many of the most beloved attractions, be it the Sun Voyager sculpture, Harpa Concert Hall, or Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran Church, are all within easy walking distance from one another. 

However, other notable stops, like Perlan Museum, Árbær Open Air Museum, and Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach require a little more research into the transportation possibilities. To mention it briefly, City Sightseeing Reykjavík offers a hop-on, hop-off service that will take you to many of the best sites across the city.

Without further ado, let’s delve into the many ways you can travel across Reykjavík without breaking the bank!   

All About Public Transport Buses in Iceland 

Public bus in Reykjavík
Photo: Golli. Buses in Reykjavík are recognisable thanks to their bright yellow colour

Without trains or an underground tube service, Reykjavík’s residents must rely on city buses to get from A to B. The country’s only public transport company is called Strætó. They operate several bus lines throughout the city. As an aside, Strætó is an abbreviation of the word Strætisvagn, which translates to ‘street car.’ 

Hlemmur bus terminal is the major interchange for Strætó. The majority of bus lines pass through here. In 2017, the terminal’s building was transformed into a popular food hall, Hlemmur Mathöll, and is easily accessible at the bottom of Laugavegur. 

This renovation has been something of a blessing, having transformed what was once one of the more run-down areas of the city into someplace quite special. Why not make the most of it by grabbing a tasty bite while waiting for your next bus? 

A man using the klapp app in Reykjavík
Photo: Golli. A man waits for the bus in Reykjavík

It is always wise to check their website regularly to keep up to date with timetables and disruptions (many of the city’s residents will be happy to tell you that Strætó does not have the greatest reputation when it comes to reliability.) 

You can also use the app’s route-planner to help strategize your journey and see at which stops you might have to change buses.

You’ll instantly be able to recognise Strætó buses thanks to their canary-yellow colour. There are a vast number of bus stops across the city and beyond, with some being shelters, while others are a mere signpost. 

If you need to contact the company directly, you can reach their customer service by email at [email protected], or by telephone at +354 540 2700. 

How much does public transport cost in Reykjavík? 

public transportation iceland
Photo: Golli. Bus fares will cost more starting January 8 2024

If you have the cash handy, you can buy tickets on the bus directly. But, in an age where cards over coins has become the new standard, securing your route this way can often be more hassle than it’s worth. 

Naturally, one would think that a bus fare could be bought directly through Strætó’s app, but this is actually not the case. In fact, tickets are most widely purchased through a separate app, Klappið.

As of January 8, 2024, a single adult bus fare costs 630 kr [$4.60, €4.20]. Children between 12 – 17 years old, and adults above 67 years old, only have to pay 315 kr, while those 11 years old and younger are permitted to ride for free. Also, travellers with disabilities have a discounted rate at 189 kr when paid through Klappið. 

Both the Klappið and Strætó apps can be downloaded through the Apple Store or Google Play.

If you’re planning on staying in the capital for a while, another option might be the Reykjavik City Card. Not only does it permit you entry into the city’s museums, art galleries, and swimming pools, but it allows you unlimited rides on Strætó. The Reykjavik City Card comes in three varieties; 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours. 

What is Hopp in Iceland? 

Hopp scooters in front of Mount Esja in Reykjavík
Photo: Hopp Reykjavík. Scooters in front of Reykjavík’s Mount Esja.

Founded in Reykjavík in 2019, the micro mobility company, Hopp, provides its residents and guests a means to travel across the city by way of shared electric scooters, cars, and taxis. 

With a focus on sustainable travel and ease of access, Hopp is perfectly suited for travellers hoping to keep their trip to Iceland as carbon neutral as possible. 

Hopp vehicles of all shapes and sizes are now as common a sight around the city as souvenir stores, and have quickly become part of the fabric that makes up the Reykjavík tapestry. 

 

Renting a Hopp scooter costs ISK 115 up front, then ISK 39 a minute afterwards, making it a very affordable way of travelling short distances. Payment is all done through the app. 

As mentioned, Hopp also operates a taxi service, following a similar model to Uber in other countries. While this is a new operation, visitors to Iceland can check their driver’s rating before booking a ride. 

The Hopp app can be downloaded through Google Play or the Apple Store.   

Should I Rent a Car in Reykjavík? 

Renting a car can be a great way to get around Reykjavík
Photo: Golli. Renting a car is a good option for exploring Reykjavík city.

For the greatest freedom, renting a car remains the optimum choice. Not only does it allow you to set your own schedule, but also change your plans on the fly should the need arise.

There are a variety of vehicle options available depending on your requirements. If you’re planning on leaving the capital to head out to the Highlands during summer, do note that a 4X4 will be necessary so as not to become stranded on loose gravel, or midway through a deceptively deep river. 

Read more on driving in Iceland:

How to park in Reykjavík? 

Aerial view of Reykjavík city traffic during winter
Photo: Golli. Aerial view of Reykjavík city traffic during winter

As is often the case with capital cities, finding a place to park in Reykjavík can often be challenging. Fear not, for there are ways of mitigating this frustration, saving you unnecessary circles around downtown, and the predictable spilling of curse words.

What’s important to realise is that Reykjavík has four parking zones, each with different rates and time slots depending on where they are. Designated by signs stating, P1, P2, P3, and P4, it’s good to know that Parking Zone 1 is the most expensive, and the most central to the city. From each number out, the respective charge becomes less, but the distance furthers. 

When using a ticket machine to pay for parking, make sure to keep your licence plate number on hand. Note that not all parking machines will print a ticket, but this does not present an issue; parking attendants scan licence plates to check that a fare has been paid. 

However, oftentimes, finding a ticking machine is unnecessary. Actually, the easiest way to pay for parking in Iceland is through the mobile application, Parka. You can download the app on both the App Store and Google Play. 

Can you travel around Reykjavík by foot? 

Reykjavík walking district laugavegur
Photo: Golli. Pedestrians walking down Reykjavík’s busiest street, Laugavegur

Another great option is simply traversing Reykjavík by foot. For those remaining central to the city, Iceland’s capital is a fantastic place for walking, not only for its cleanliness and pleasant ambience, but for the way major port-of-calls are laid out. 

This is particularly true of Miðborg, the city’s downtown district, which is undoubtedly the cultural hub given its concentrations of shops, restaurants, and museums. 

Reykjavík’s most popular shopping streets are Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur, both found in Miðborg. 

Skólavörðustígur leads right up to Hallgrímskirkja church, and is better known as “Rainbow Street” due to the vibrant colours painted along its lower section. You’ll find a variety of easy going cafes and restaurants as well, as well as kitsch souvenir and grocery shops.

Pedestrians outside of Hallgrímskirkja church.
Photo: Golli. Pedestrians enjoy a walk in Reykjavík.

Laugavegur is the street most dense with foot traffic; for all intents and purposes, it begins at Hlemmur bus terminal and ends at Lækjartorg intersection, just a short way away from Harpa Concert Hall. Over recent years, vehicle traffic has been restricted on large sections of Laugavegur to help incentivise residents and travellers to walk.

Walking from Miðborg to neighbouring Grandi, home to the picturesque Old Harbour, takes approximately twenty minutes. This is a lovely stroll in itself, allowing great views of Reykjavík’s coastline and residential districts. 

Over recent years, efforts have been made to popularise Grandi among visitors, hosting such interesting stops as FlyOver Iceland, and the museums,  Whales of Iceland and Reykjavík Maritime Museum. There are also supermarkets, restaurants, and ice cream parlours nearby, as well as the iconic Kaffivagninn, Iceland’s oldest cafe. 

How to take a Taxi in Reykjavík? 

Taxi in Iceland's capital, Reykjavík
Photo: Golli. Taxis in Reykjavík

Sometimes, you’ll want to avoid the stress of planning your journey and instead leave it to those who know the city like the back of their hand. Fortunately, there are several taxi companies that operate 24/7 in Reykjavík. 

While this is by far the most expensive option from getting from place to place, it can sometimes be a useful option, especially late in the evening, or when no other transport options are available.

The two most respected taxi companies in Reykjavík are Hreyfill, founded in 1943, and BSR, which was founded in 1921. 

Hreyfill +354 588 5522

BSR +354 561 0000

In Summary 

A bridge in Reykjavík during summer.
Photo: Golli. However you travel, Reykjavík is a fantastic city to explore!

However you choose to explore Iceland’s gorgeous capital, you are sure to quickly fall in love with the city. The pace of life is slower here. And despite it very much being a city, travellers will pick up on its laid-back atmosphere. 

While transportation is an important facet of every vacation abroad, spend your time here at a leisurely pace. Still, remember that there are many options for how you choose to get around Reykjavík. But make sure to pick those that best suit your itinerary. 

Does Iceland 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 in the capital area 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.

New Law on Taxis Takes Effect

Taxi in Iceland's capital, Reykjavík

The much-protested law on taxis came into effect this April 1, leaving many taxi drivers uneasy about their future as a new company enters the market.

Among other reforms, the law loosens requirements for operating a taxi and removes restrictions on the number of taxi permits. According to lawmakers, the intent is to free the taxi market and to bring it up to date. The bill was opposed by interest groups, such as the Federation of Icelandic Taxi Drivers, who say it will both drive down their wages and lead to a decline in service quality.

Read more: Taxi Drivers Stage Protest in Reykjavík

The bill, however, was not opposed by all. Hopp, a popular electronic scooter rental company, is now making moves into the taxi market.

Reykjavík residents will soon be able to order a taxi through the Hopp app, 15% cheaper compared with traditional taxi services in Iceland. The law now also allows taxi drivers to operate within multiple companies, meaning that drivers in Iceland’s established taxi fleet may now choose to also work part-time gigs at Hopp as well.

Eyþór Máni Steinarsson, CEO of Hopp, stated to Morgunblaðið: “Times change and so should transportation. We can drive down prices in the taxi market, and we aim to be 15% cheaper than our competition. There is, of course, a vocal minority who are concerned about these changes. We only accept taxi drivers who are legal and registered. But of course, we would like to see extensions there as well. The barriers in becoming a registered taxi driver don’t quite match the spirit of the times.”

Eyþór Máni continued: “This is the next step in the revolution against the private car. The best car is no car, but the next best is the one you share with others, and we want to make it easy for people to share cars, both the ones they drive themselves and the ones others drive. We also believe that many working taxi drivers would be willing to work for more than one station and will be happy to receive more fares and a more transparent way of assigning them.”

Read more: Taxi Drivers Demand Hearing with the Government

Some, however, are still concerned over the shakeups in the taxi market.

Daniel O. Einarsson, chairperson of the Federation of Icelandic Taxi Drivers, stated: “They begin by undercutting the competition to establish themselves in the market. But then they raise their prices. We’ve seen this strategy before, just like how Uber operates.”

With the new taxi bill now in effect, Hopp has opened applications for new drivers. Hopp has stated that they hope to launch their taxi service when they have enough drivers, hopefully this spring.

New Parliamentary Bill to Restrict the Speed of Electric Scooters

The Minister of Infrastructure has proposed a bill to amend the Traffic Law. Among other things, the bill includes changes to the rules for electric scooters, Vísir reports.

Enormously popular over the past few years

Last week, the Minister of Infrastructure, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, proposed a bill to amend the Traffic Law (Umferðarlög, No. 77/2019), which, among other things, will alter the rules for electric scooters.

The popularity of electric scooters has increased enormously in recent years, and with growing popularity, there has been a slew of accidents – including one fatality. If the changes are implemented, scooters may no longer be driven faster than 25 kilometres per hour. Bicycles capable of exceeding that speed would also be banned from traffic.

The bill further stipulates that drivers of electric scooters would be allowed to drive on roads where the maximum speed does not exceed 30 kilometres per hour. Rules will also be set regarding the blood alcohol content of the electric-scooter operators, as well as an age limit; children under the age of thirteen will be prohibited from riding electric scooters, and children under the age of sixteen will be required to wear a helmet.

Hope to increase traffic safety

As noted in a press release from the government’s website: “The bill proposes changes based on the recommendations of a working group on small vehicles that were presented last year. Their aim is to increase the road safety of small vehicles without standing in the way of the further development of more diverse modes of transport.”

If the amendment is enshrined in law, a general ban on altering the speed settings of electric vehicles, light mopeds, and electric bicycles will also come into effect.

New Collaboration May Make It Possible to Hopp from Bus to E-Scooter in Same Trip

Hopp scooters in front of Mount Esja in Reykjavík

A new collaboration between electric scooter company Hopp and the Strætó bus service could make it possible for commuters to easily transfer from bus to scooter using the same app, Vísir reports.

When Hopp launched in Reykjavík in 2019, many observers thought it was a death knell for Strætó—that given the option of jumping on an e-scooter, many riders would stop taking the bus entirely. This hasn’t proven to be the case, though. In fact, the two transport modes seem to complement one another, as evidenced by the e-scooters often strewn around city bus shelters.

Two modes of transit, one app

Hopp was started by software developers and so it only makes sense that they’d be thinking about new ways to integrate their own software and app with Strætó’s. Hopp CEO Sæunn Ósk Unnsteinsdóttir says she believes it should be possible, for instance, for the company’s e-scooters to pop up on the bus map in the Strætó app.

“This is, of course, super important, because we know people are starting to pick up the Hopp app to look for scooters when they’re on the bus and coming into the city, for instance,” she explained.

Both Hopp and Strætó would also like it to be possible to use the same app to pay for a trip that is split between bus and scooter.

The technology exists

“Whether it’s a credit with Hopp or [the Strætó app] redirects you to the Hopp app, these are just technical implementations that need to happen when the conversation gets underway,” continued Sæunn. Strætó CEO Jóhannes Rúnarsson agrees. The technology exists, he says, it’s just a matter of kick-starting the process.

Other e-scooters have entered the Icelandic market, but Hopp is still the scooter of choice in Reykjavík, and in Iceland more generally. Outside of the capital, the company also has fleets in Akranes, Akureyri, Egilsstaðir, Hveragerði, Reykjanesbær, Selfoss, and the Westman Islands. Abroad, it has e-scooters in three cities in Spain, as well as Norway, Greece, and the Faroe Islands. Hopp records some 6,000 trips a day on its scooters and Sæunn foresees a day where there are e-scooter docks next to every bus station in the city. The company now employs 50 people and is growing its fleet from 1,000 scooters around the capital to 3,000. It is also looking to expand into nearby Árbær and Grafarvogur, as well as a number of other towns in Iceland and abroad (Poland, Hungary, Italy) in the coming year.

Electric Car Share Launches in Reykjavík

Hopp car share Reykjavík

There’s a new way to get around Reykjavík for residents and visitors: shared electric cars. Transportation app Hopp, which introduced shared electric scooters to the city in 2019, has now added ten electric cars to its fleet of vehicles. Users can rent a car through the app, drive it from A to B, and park and leave it anywhere within the active zone.

“People are calling for a variety of forms of transportation and the environment is calling for us to change our travel habits,” a Facebook post from the company reads. “We believe that the time is now; city residents are calling for diversity in transport, and by offering shared cars, we are bridging a certain gap. People can take public transport to work and then take a shared car if they need to run an errand during working hours. Families can therefore do away with the “extra car” and use a shared car when needed.” The shared cars are also useful for those who do not own a private car but need to run errands that are more difficult to do on public transport or a bike, such as making a trip to big box stores in the suburbs, the company points out.

The Hopp cars cost a flat fee of ISK 300 [$2.33; €2.11] to rent, and ISK 45 [$0.35; €0.32] per minute to drive, meaning a trip between the University of Iceland and the Grandi harbour area would cost around ISK 660 [$5.12; €4.63]. It costs ISK 10 [$0.08; €0.07] per minute to “pause” a rental, for example, to run an errand while the car is parked. Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson was the first to try one of the vehicles last week, as seen in the pictures below.