Major Changes to Reykjavík Bus Routes

Strætó bus Reykjavík miðborgin umferð fólk

There will be major changes to Reykjavík bus routes in the coming months due to construction at Hlemmur, the main bus terminal in downtown Reykjavík. All bus routes in the area will be temporarily diverted and new end stops will be implemented on each route. When construction is complete, only four bus routes will stop at Hlemmur and there will be no central end stop for Reykjavík bus routes.

End stops move to Grandi, Skúlagata, and the University of Iceland

A notice from Reykjavík public bus service operator Strætó outlines the changes to routes due to the construction at Hlemmur. The end stops of routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 16, 17 and 18 will move from Hlemmur to Skúlagata, Grandi and HÍ (University of Iceland).

Route 3 will use Grandi as an end stop. Routes 1, 4, 16, 17 and 18 will temporarily make their final stop in Skúlagata street, a new terminal station in the city. Routes 2 and 6 will temporarily end at the University of Iceland. All of the new routes can be seen in detail on the Strætó website.

Read more about public transport funding in Iceland and Reykjavík’s planned Borgarlína bus rapid transit system.

Point of Sale

Shopping malls Iceland

Reykjavík streetlife is something of an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. In the winter in particular, locals abandon the main street Laugavegur to the droves of travellers, seeking the comfort of home during the dark days. But even during the shortest days of the season, there are oases in Reykjavík, beacons of light where families […]

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Laugavegur Pedestrian Zone to be Better Marked

Reykjavík walking district laugavegur

The intersection of Laugavegur and Frakkastígur, where Laugavegur turns into a pedestrian zone, will be better marked in the coming days.

Two-Thirds of Reykjavík Residents Support Pedestrian Zones

According to Vísir, preparations will be made for the changes in signage in the coming weeks leading up to Easter, with the new signage implemented soon after Easter.

City authorities have identified the intersection as a problem, with many drivers confused as to whether or not they can drive through the pedestrian-only area. It needs to be clearer, say city planners, that the relevant section of Laugavegur is indeed a walking district.

laugavegur pedestrian zone
City of Reykjavík

In an announcement by the City of Reykjavík, it is stated that the curbs and surface of the area highlighted above will be re-paved. The work will only be on the surface, with no digging or plumbing work. However, during construction, which will last for six to eight weeks, the street will be closed. The city notes, however, that access to foot and bicycle traffic will still be open during the work.

A section of Frakkastígur will also be narrowed during the work. Plans are also in place for an expansion of outdoor dining areas in the walking district.


Urban Design Contest Envisions a Carbon-Neutral, Car-Free Future

The City of Reykjavík has launched an open design competition to “create a dense, mixed, diverse, and carbon-neutral new urban quarter” in Keldur, an underdeveloped area on the eastern outskirts of Reykjavík. Streetsblog reports that the contest, which will accept submissions until mid-April, is open to anyone—not just professional designers and urban planners—and will be judged anonymously by a team of local officials and international expert advisors.

The finalists from the first round of the competition will receive €50,000 [$53,582; ISK 7.7 million]. The final winner will receive an additional €50,000.

Where is Keldur?

Sandwiched between the neighbourhoods of Grafarvogur, Úlfarsárdalur, Grafarholt, Halsar, and Höfðar, the 288-acre parcel that, according to the Keldur Competition Brief, city officials are dividing into Keldur East and Keldur West, is a 30-minute bike ride away from downtown.

via Keldur Competition Brief

The area is currently served by four bus routes “with stops in the vicinity” but once the city unveils its new bus route and the first phase of the Borgarlína Rapid Transit (BRT) service in 2026-27, Keldur will have much more direct public transportation options to and from the city centre. Officials estimate that travel time on the BRT from Keldur and Lækjartorg will be approximately 20 minutes.

‘Against excessive parking’

While the building of a new residential community on the outskirts of a city might naturally imply high car ownership, “officials are are recommending against excessive parking,” explains Streetblog, and have “already promised to devote 100% of the profits from the development and sale of the land towards bringing frequent bus rapid transit service to residents. More broadly, the contest organizers called on entrants to ‘prioritize the eco-friendliest, most compact, and least cumbersome mode of transportation’ in their designs.”

Brad Toderian, one of the international experts serving on the Keldur competition’s judging panel, applauds the City of Reykjavík’s focus on creating “a truly urban place, not just a better suburb,” one that is “not just a little less car dependent, but that’s truly multimodal.” Toderian says that from a North American perspective, the competition is unique not only in that it accepts submissions from anyone, but also because “it’s more ambitious than North America is usually willing to be in these kinds of contexts.”

Cycle city

In addition to linking to the BRT, the Keldur neighborhood is intended to attract cyclists and encourage two-wheeled transit. The contest brief particularly emphasizes the “importance of integrating the region into the city’s ambitious Cycling plan — the city wants 10% of all trips to be taken on two wheels by 2025 — creating reliable pedestrian connections to surrounding areas, and making sure residents can meet their basic needs with a twenty minute walk or less.”

“BRT has a prime role to play,” says Toderian, “but it’s also about walkability and bikeability; it’s about carbon neutrality; it’s about green building design.”

Read the full Streetsblog article, in English, here. The Keldur Contest Brief (also in English), with information about how to submit a design proposal is available here. Queries about phase one of the project will be accepted until March 17, 2023; submissions will be accepted until April 19, 2023.

Underwater Restaurant, Swimming Pool, and Preschool Planned for Gufunes Neighbourhood

Gufunesbryggja Yrki arkitektar

Sea bathing facilities, a swimming pool, a preschool, a packaging-free grocery store, and an underwater restaurant are all projects that will soon be built in the developing Gufunes neighbourhood in eastern Reykjavík, RÚV reports. Reykjavík City Council has approved the development proposal submitted by Þorpið-Vistfélag that won a competition for the design of Gufunes pier.

Industrial neighbourhood reinvented

“This area is changing from being an old, dead industrial neighbourhood to being very lively,” stated Áslaug Guðrúnardóttir, chief communications and marketing officer of Þorpið-Vistfélag. “Our proposal is to construct two buildings there that will open onto the old Gufunes pier. The idea is to […] have sea bathing facilities there, have a swimming pool and hot tubs, apartments, and there will be a restaurant there that has already been designed and it will be partly underwater. We will have a preschool there and a grocery store, and it will all be in the same style.”

Áslaug expects the project to be completed in the next three to five years. Renderings of the design can be seen below.

The Gufunes area was long the site of a fertiliser plant and waste-sorting facilities, but since those operations have left the area, it has seen significant development. For some years, Gufunes has been the location of film production company Reykjavík Studios, which is now expanding its facilities at the site. The City of Reykjavík has offered abandoned industrial facilities at the site to artists and creative workers who would like to develop them into studios and workspaces.

Water taxi would shorten trip to city centre

Þorpið-Vistfélag has already built an environmentally-friendly residential neighbourhood in Gufunes. It made headlines, however, when some residents complained of the poor quality of the buildings and the lack of public transportation to and from the site (particularly as the units were advertised as “sustainable”).

Áslaug mentioned ideas to construct a pedestrian bridge out to nearby Viðey island, from which a water taxi would be available to the city centre. Travelling from Gufunes to the city centre by land is a significantly longer trip, as it requires going around an inlet.

First Phase of Borgarlína Project Delayed by One Year

borgarlína rapid bus transit

The construction of the first phase of Reykjavík’s rapid bus transit line Borgarlína has been pushed back by a year. According to the updated schedule, the first section of the line will be operational in 2026, not 2025 as previously expected. Davíð Þorláksson, the CEO of Transport for the Capital Area (Betri samgöngur) says various factors have caused the delay.

“As the project advances, the variables decrease, and the plan becomes more precise,” Davíð told RÚV. “Now the timetable for the first phase is being updated. The line from Hamraborg to downtown Reykjavík will be delayed by one year.”

The Borgarlína project is technically complex, Davíð says, and adds that the initial timeline for the rapid transit service was unrealistic, as it did not take into account other construction projects in the capital area. “We need to coordinate this with for example the construction of the tunnels under Miklabraut and Sæbraut and so on. So, there are many things that are causing the timeline to change.”

A notice on the Transport for the Capital Area website states that COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine have also delayed the project’s first phase.

Borgarlína aims to upgrade sections of existing road infrastructure with long stretches of dedicated public transport lanes. It is spearheaded by the city of Reykjavík, in co-operation with surrounding municipalities including Hafnarfjörður, Kópavogur, and Mosfellsbær. Borgarlína lanes will be exclusively for public transportation vehicles (and emergency services).

The first phase of Borgarlína also includes the construction of a bridge over Fossvogur bay. The bridge will be exclusively dedicated to public transport vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Ministry Suspends Residential Development by City Airport

The Ministry of Infrastructure considers the new residential development by Reykjavík City Airport to threaten the operational safety of the airport and has ordered construction at the site to be postponed, RÚV reports. A letter from the Minister of Infrastructure sent to the Mayor of Reykjavík last week states that the planned development would significantly reduce the operational safety of the airport. The City of Reykjavík’s land-use plan assumes that the airport will be relocated – but the government’s transport policy states that it must continue to operate until another airport is built.

The letter states that it is “totally unacceptable for such projects to be undertaken without fully examining whether – and in what way, it is ensured that they do not have a negative effect on the operational safety of Reykjavík Airport. The Ministry cannot agree to the commencement of construction unless it is demonstrated that aviation and operational safety are not endangered.” The Ministry has appointed a working group of experts to research the issue. They are expected to submit their findings on October 1.

Einar Þorsteinsson, Acting Mayor of Reykjavík while Dagur B. Eggertsson is on leave, says the city cannot afford to lose the 690 new apartments that are in the first phase of construction of the new neighbourhood. He points out that the neighbourhood’s design is based on two previous reports concerning airport safety in the context of the construction.

“I hope it will be possible to build a beautiful neighbourhood there, which serves those groups who are in dire need of housing and at the same time ensure the operational safety of the airport,” Einar stated.

Read More: Relocating Reykjavík Airport

There have been tentative plans to relocate Reykjavík City Airport for decades. The City of Reykjavík’s 2010-2030 land-use plan assumes that the airport will be relocated – but the government’s 2019-2033 Transport Policy states that Reykjavík City Airport in Vatnsmýri must continue to serve domestic flights in a satisfactory manner until another equally good or better option exists. City authorities have maintained that the first phase of construction in Skerjafjörður would not affect the airport’s operation.

In Focus: Relocating Reykjavík Airport

Reykjavík City Airport flugvöllur

BackgroundThe dispute over the location of the Reykjavík City Airport is nearly as old as the airport itself. An agreement has now been made to move it from its current location in Vatnsmýri and build a residential development in its place – but a new location for the airport is yet to be determined.The airport […]

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Transport Minister: Reykjavík Cannot Build Next to City Airport


The City of Reykjavík cannot start building a residential development beside the City Airport until another location for the airport has been established, Iceland’s Transport Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhansson has stated. Officials of Isavia, the company that operates the airport, have expressed concern that planned buildings near runways would create wind currents that would impact flight safety. City authorities had planned to begin construction of the new development this summer.

Agreement between city and state

In an interview taken at the City Airport this morning, Sigurður Ingi pointed to an agreement made between the City of Reykjavík and the state in November 2019. “As long as another option, equally good or better, has not been found nor constructed, then the agreement stipulates that this airport here, that we are standing on, must remain unchanged, both operationally and in terms of safety. And it would not, according to the analysis of Isavia and their consultants, if this construction in Skerjafjörður begins,” Sigurður Ingi stated. The development in question would involve not only building next to the airport, but on a section of the current airport lot.

1,200 apartments

The proposal for the residential development in Skerjafjörður was first approved in 2018 and is one of the areas targeted by the City of Reykjavík’s 2010-2030 municipal plan. City authorities have stated that the development “will not impair the current operations nor the utilisation of Reykjavík Airport.”

The location of the airport has been a hot topic for years: its supporters argue that moving it out of the city centre would negatively impact countryside residents and complicate emergency flights to the National Hospital, while its detractors argue that relocating the airport would free up much-needed space for housing in the city centre. A decision has in fact been made to move the City Airport, but a suitable alternate location is yet to be found.

Building Blocks

architecture Kirkjusandur apartments

“Our city belongs to all of us. It’s so much more than a collection of buildings.” To architect Jórunn Ragnarsdóttir, a city is an organic entity, a collaboration between the architects who design its buildings and the inhabitants who populate them and traverse the streets between them. Jórunn is one of Iceland’s most respected architects […]

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