A Guide to Reykjavík Airport

Reykjavík Airport.

Although Iceland is not the biggest country in terms of surface area, travelling between the south, west, north, and east can take a deceivingly long time. This is mostly due to the endless fjords and peninsulas you’ll weave through on the way. While these are quite often a sight for sore eyes, sometimes, you just don’t have the time or ability to make the journey. In these cases, domestic flights are a lifesaver, and, as luck would have it, there’s a domestic flight airport smack dab in the middle of Reykjavík: Reykjavík Airport. It’s been a topic of much debate due to its close proximity to residential areas, but for now, it’s here to help you explore Iceland in the quickest way possible. 

Airlines, destinations, and pricing

Three airlines fly from Reykjavík Airport, each to different towns and villages in Iceland. Icelandair flies to Akureyri in the north, Egilsstaðir in the east, Ísafjörður on the Westfjords, and Vestmannaeyjar islands in the south. Eagle Air (look for Flugfélagið Ernir on search engines) flies to Höfn in Hornafjörður in the southeast, and Norlandair flies to Bíldurdalur and Gjögur on the Westfjords, as well as Nerlerit Inaat in Greenland. Additionally, should none of the flight times or destinations meet your needs, Mýflug Air offers charter flights tailored to your plans.

This wide range of destinations allows a full and free exploration of Iceland for those who don’t have the time, desire, or capability to drive between the different parts of the country. Keep in mind that, as with most things in Iceland, airline tickets are probably quite a bit more expensive than what you’re used to. Prices for a one-way ticket range anywhere from ISK 14,000 [$99, €92] to 60,000 [$424, €395], depending on demand and location. To avoid the highest prices, book your tickets well in advance.

A group of people coming off an aeroplane at Akureyri Airport.
Photo: Golli. A group of people coming off an aeroplane at Akureyri Airport.

How to get to Reykjavík Airport

There are several ways to get to the airport. Firstly, with a walking distance of about 30 minutes from the city centre, there’s the option of going on foot. On a nice day, it’s a beautiful walk that will take you past Vatnsmýrin Nature Reserve, a small, protected moorland with 83 different plant species and plenty of birds. It’s equally pretty in winter as it is in summer, with the colder temperatures luring mystical-looking steam from the water.

If you don’t have a lot of luggage, you could also rent an e-scooter from Hopp. This is a great way to travel quickly and easily between locations while also enjoying the city. They have a pay-per-minute system, so depending on how far away you are, it might even be cheaper than taking the bus. Simply download the Hopp app, rent a scooter, and ride to the airport. Once you get there, you can park the scooter on the edge of the sidewalk and leave it for somebody else. 

A third option is to use Strætó, the public transport system which will take you almost to the door of the airport. Bus number 15 stops in a one-minute walking distance from the airport. If you haven’t been using Strætó, the best thing to do is download Klappið app, where you can purchase a single fair. For up-to-date pricing, see Strætó’s official pricing page. It is also possible to pay with cash, but as the drivers don’t have any change, you’ll have to have the exact amount to avoid paying more than you’re supposed to. 

Buses number 6, 4, and 15 at Hlemmur bus stop.
Buses number 6, 4, and 15 at Hlemmur bus stop.

If you have a rental car that you’re not dropping off before your flight, you can park it by the airport for a fee. The parking system uses automatic number plate recognition, which means that the system will calculate how much you owe based on the time you entered and exited the parking lot. To pay, you’ll need to create an account with Autopay. You should do this within 48 hours of exiting, or a late fee of ISK 1.490 [$10, €10] will be added to your charge. 

Lastly, there’s the option of taking a taxi. This is the most hassle-free way, allowing you to enjoy your journey without having to make any additional transportation plans, but note that taking a taxi in Iceland is very expensive. A 5 km trip within the city during the daytime will likely cost at least ISK 2,666 [$19, €18], or about four times the amount you would pay for a bus ticket.

How much luggage can you bring?

As for many international flights, on domestic flights in Iceland, 20 kg is a common maximum weight for checked-in bags and 6 kg for handbags. This will, of course, depend on the airline you’re flying with, so make sure to familiarize yourself with their rules. Security restrictions on what is allowed in hand luggage are similar to international flights, meaning that firearms, clubs, sharp tools, and anything else that could be considered a weapon are not allowed. However, you are allowed to travel with liquids. For a full list of restricted items, visit Isavia’s baggage information page

How long before departure should you arrive?

Seeing that the airport is a fraction of the size of Keflavík Airport, arriving to check in about 60 minutes before your departure is sufficient. The aeroplanes used to fly domestic flights are smaller than those used for international flights, and the amount of flights taking off and landing is far smaller than at Keflavík. This means that there are fewer people going through, leading to a less busy airport. There are also just two terminals, so you there’s no chance of getting lost and missing your flight. 

Reykjavík Airport from above.
Photo: Golli. Reykjavík Airport from above.

Are there food and beverages at Reykjavík Airport?

At the time of writing, the airport’s cafeteria is temporarily closed. However, there are a few vending machines where you can purchase food and coffee. Domestic flights generally do not offer food and beverages aboard, but if you think you might get hungry on the way, bringing your own refreshments – food and drink – is perfectly fine.  

Special assistance and hidden disabilities

Should you require a wheelchair or special assistance, please contact the airline you’re travelling with beforehand. This will allow them to plan ahead and make any necessary arrangements for your arrival. 

If you have a hidden disability, you can opt to wear the sunflower lanyard to make the journey as comfortable as possible. Airport staff are aware that passengers wearing them might need more time, patience, and understanding, and they will be happy to help you make your journey easier. If you don’t already have one, lanyards are available at the check-in desks in the departure hall and at the information desk in the arrival hall. 

Private flights

In addition to domestic flights flights and flights to Greenland, Reykjavík Airport is a common stopover for private jets. Due to Iceland’s convenient location in the middle of the Atlantic, it’s the ideal place to refuel your plane or divide up the journey between Europe and the United States. With its close proximity to Reykjavík city centre, it’s easy to hop off for a few hours to explore the attractions of the city or grab a bite at one of its exceptional restaurants before heading off again. 

In Focus: Traffic Safety

traffic safety iceland

 January of 2024 was the deadliest month in terms of traffic deaths in Iceland’s history. Six people lost their lives in car accidents; one in an accident near Vík, two on Grindavíkurvegur, two near Skaftafell, and one in Hvalfjörður. Such a rate of fatal accidents had not been seen since record keeping began some 50 […]

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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.

 

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.

Record Ring Road Traffic

The latest numbers from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration show that July 2023 was a record-breaking month. According to IRCA, never before has there been more traffic on Route 1 in a single month.

July 2023 proved to be about seven per cent higher than July 2022. Year-on-year increases can be seen across the board, with 16 key figures being measured by IRCA. On average, nearly 125 thousand vehicles were recorded across Route 1 daily.

vegagerðin route 1
Daily average combined traffic. IRCA.

The largest increase was noted in and around the capital area. IRCA speculates that the increase is likely due to comparatively lower figures in the area compared to the season last year.

However, traffic in North and East Iceland decreased, compared to the same month last year, by 1.9% and 4.5% respectively.

 

ring road iceland
Sum of daily average traffic, in thousands. IRCA.

 

Total traffic has increased on all weekdays, with the most significant increase on Mondays, around 12.1%, and the least on Sundays, around 5.1%.

Friday was shown to be the busiest day, and Sunday the least.

IRCA expects the current increase to hold for the remainder of 2023. If this forecast holds, this would set a new annual traffic record on Route 1.

 

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PLAY Adds Frankfurt Connection

iceland budget airline play

Icelandic budget airliner PLAY is opening a new connection to Frankfurt, Germany.

The first PLAY flight to Frankfurt will be on December 14th, and it will operate four to five times a week throughout the winter.

In a press release, PLAY CEO Birgir Jónsson stated: “It’s fantastic to be able to further enhance our connecting flight network, especially when there is a high demand for transatlantic flights from North America. Revenues from passengers coming from North America are much higher than before, making it a good time to increase our offerings in that market. With ten aircraft in the youngest fleet in Europe, we are well-prepared to expand our route system and generate revenues in good balance with costs.”

Frankfurt is the fourth destination for PLAY in Germany, as the company already operates flights year-round to Berlin and plans to have flights to Düsseldorf and Hamburg in the summer.

 

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.”

Bus Ticket Prices Rise in July

Strætó bus Reykjavík miðborgin umferð fólk

Strætó public bus service is raising single fares by 3.6% and the price of passes by 3.3% as of July 1. The change means a single fare will go from ISK 550 [$4.06, €3.70] to ISK 570 [$4.21, $3.84] and a 30-day student/senior pass will go from ISK 4,500 [$33.24, $30.30] to ISK 4,650 [$34.35, €31.31].

The board of Strætó approved the fare hike at a meeting on May 19. Strætó reviews fares twice a year, and also increased fares following its last review in October 2022. A notice from the organisation points out that the consumer price index has increased by 5.2% since that time.

“The aim of the tariff policy was and is to ensure that the tariffs go hand in hand with Strætó’s operating costs,” the notice states. These costs include salaries, oil, maintenance, repairs, and spare parts. There will be no change to fares for disabled patrons.

At the same time, the Road and Coastal Administration is raising public bus fares in the countryside, meaning that a trip from Reykjavík to Akureyri will go up from ISK 10,780 [$79.63, €72.58] to ISK 12,540 [$92.64, €84.43], and a trip from Reykjavík to Keflavík will go up from ISK 1,960 [$14.48, €13.20] to ISK 2,280 [$16.85, €15.35].

Strætó is also transitioning its payment systems by phasing out the Strætó app and fully transitioning to the Klapp app on July 1.

Progress Made on New Þorskafjörður Bridge

westfjords bridge

Significant progress has been made on the new Þorskafjörður bridge since construction began on the project some two years ago. The bridge is part of the Vestfjarðarvegur, which will better connect many communities in this remote region of Iceland.

“We currently have about fifteen people here. Eight excavators, two bulldozers, a dump truck. You name it, whatever is needed. This is a massive project. For example, with the bridge itself, about four thousand cubic meters of concrete were used. 400 tons of steel, so it’s quite significant,” stated project manager Einar Valur Valgarðsson to RÚV.

Einar believes it’s safe to say that the project is nearing completion.

“Now we’re just continuing to connect the western side and finish the filling work,” he continued. “We’re also breaking up rocks.”

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The bridge will be important to the region, as it will shorten the route through Þorskafjörður by some 22 km [13 mi].

It will also increase access to the Barðaströnd region, one of Iceland’s most remote regions. This region is largely dependent on the ferry Baldur which sails across Breiðafjörður. However, the ferry has had technical difficulties in recent years.

The completed bridge will be 260 m in length and will allow travellers to drive through the southern Westfjords on an entirely paved road.

The Þorskafjörður project began in 2021 and has cost roughly ISK 2 billion [$14 million; €13 million]. The project is due for completion in July 2024, but according to project manager Einar, it could well be done before that.

 

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.