Getting Here and Around
Getting Here and Around
Because so much of Iceland's central region is uninhabited, domestic air transport has been well developed to link the coastal towns. It isn't particularly cheap—round-trip fares for open tickets range from ISK 10,000 to ISK 20,000—but discounts are available, particularly for those under 25. The longest domestic flight takes just over an hour.
In summer, Air Iceland (Flugfélag Íslands) schedules daily or frequent flights from Reykjavík to most of the large areas, such as Akureyri, Egilsstaðir, Höfn, Ísafjörður, and Vestmannaeyjar as well as several destinations in Greenland. Bus connections between airports outside Reykjavík and nearby towns and villages are available.
Eagle Air also flies from Reykjavík to Höfn and Vestmannaeyjar, as well as to Bíldudalur, Gjögur, and Húsavík, in the summer months. Icelandair operates regular direct flights—which take around 6½ hours to the nearest destinations—to Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York's JFK Airport, Orlando, Seattle and Washington DC. The frequency of flights depends on the season. Icelandair also operates regular flights to and from numerous European destinations, with even more flights during summer. The flight from London takes three hours. WOW, the country's low-cost carrier, flies several times a week to London's Gatwick Airport, and also flies to several European destinations, expanding to other destinations in summertime.
Boat and Ferry Travel
It is possible to sail to Iceland on the car-and-passenger ferry Norröna, operated by Smyril Line. The Norræna plies among Hirtshals in Denmark and the Faroes and Seyðisfjörður on Iceland's east coast. Special offers for accommodations may be available through Smyril Line, and special fly-cruise arrangements are available through Smyril Line and Icelandair.
The town of Seyðisfjörður on the eastern side of the country is the arrival port for the ferry from Europe. It's a short drive to join the Ring Road and head either to the north or south from this quaint seaside village with 18th-century buildings and Norwegian-style wooden houses, either with a car rented in town or brought on the ferry.
The Baldur car ferry sails twice daily in summer from Stykkishólmur, on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, across Breiðafjörður Bay to Brjánslækur, via Flatey Island. Ferries run daily between Landeyjahöfn on Iceland's south coast and Vestmannaeyjar on the ferry Herjólfur.
An extensive network of buses serves most parts of Iceland. Services are intermittent in the winter season, and some routes are operated only in summer. Fares from Reykjavík range from ISK 2,100 for a one-way trip in summer to ingvellir, to ISK 11,800 for a summer round-trip to Akureyri. The bus network is operated by Bifreiðastöð Íslands; its BSÍ terminal is on the northern rim of Reykjavík Airport.
The Ring Road, which generally hugs the coastline, runs for 1,332 km (827 miles) around Iceland. Although most of the road is paved, a stretch across the Möðrudalsöræfi highlands and stretches in the east are still gravel. Much of Iceland's secondary road system is unpaved. Take great care on these roads, as driving on loose gravel surface takes some getting used to and is not for the timid motorist. Be careful of livestock that may stray onto roadways.
Caution pays off when driving in Iceland's interior, too. The terrain can be treacherous, and many roads can be traversed only in four-wheel-drive vehicles; always drive in the company of at least one other car. Unbridged rivers that must be forded constitute a real hazard and should never be crossed without the advice of an experienced Iceland highland driver. Most mountain roads are closed by snow in winter and do not open again until mid-June or early July, when the road surface has dried out after the spring thaw. Most car rentals won't insure you for river-crossings.
Use extra caution when approaching single-lane bridges or blind hills (blindhæð). Before driving any distance in rural Iceland, be sure to pick up the brochure Driving in Iceland from any Tourist Information Center, if your rental agency hasn't already given you one. It has informative tips and advice about driving the country's back roads.
Ships dock at Skarfabakki Quay in Reykjavik, which sits 4 km (2½ miles) from the city center. The Cruise Visitor Welcome Centre has a range of facilities, including currency exchange, V.A.T. refunds, car rental, a shop, Internet access (including Wi-Fi), and toilets. Free shuttle buses transfer passengers downtown, but taxis also generally wait to meet the ship. If you want to walk, it is an easy stroll into town, but you can never be sure of the weather.
A car rental is expensive in summertime per day for a compact manual vehicle. All the international companies have offices in the city. Many roads outside the capital are hard surface but not asphalt, so a car is necessary if you want to explore on your own. Driving can be difficult in snow and ice.
There are many companies in Reykjavík offering group or individual tours, including Iceland Total, but the costs for these activities can be high. Tourist information centers in Reykjavík have many brochures for day tours. Taxis can also perform tour services. Prices may be fixed or, for shorter journeys, metered, and taxis accept credit cards.
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