WHEN TO GO
All information about climatology, number of tourists, festivals and other events is detailed in the article ESSENTIAL INFORMATION IN ICELAND. To highlight in particular the main events of the city:
- Reykjavik Art Festival, the most important in the country, in June.
- Secret Solstice, music festival that coincides with the summer solstice in June and lasts 24 hours.
- And Iceland Airwaves, considered the best music festival, in November.
TRAVEL TIPS: REYKJAVIK CITY CARD
This pass can be purchased online or in any of the centers to which it allows access:
- The ferry to Videy Island.
- The zoo.
- Many museums, including the National Museum and the Settlement Exhibition.
- Almost all thermal pools in the city.
- All buses in the city.
Its duration is 24, 48 or 72 hours and their respective adult prices 3,900, 5,500 or 6,700 ISK. Given how expensive the entrances to the sites in Iceland are, it may be advisable if we want to see many places and hurry; We can buy the one day pass, visit several museums, have a couple of baths in thermal pools, and leave the free attractions for the second day.
HOW TO GET THERE
You can not get to Reykjavik by ferry, only by plane and by road. All information regarding Keflavik International Airport, Reykjavík Domestic Airport and how to travel in the country is reflected in the article TRANSPORT IN ICELAND.
Although we continue to recommend the rental vehicle as the first option, we will detail the buses to and from Reykjavík. There is an excellent map in this link, but the schedules and companies change a lot from one year to the next, so depending on the destination, we are interested in checking them directly on the bus company website that covers that area:
Destinations to the north and northeast of Reykjavik
SBA Nordurleid departs from BSI bus terminal, 2 km south of the city center, that can be reached by bus, lines 1, 3, 5, 6, 14 and 15. It is the only one that heads east passing by Selfoss, Geysir and Gullfoss and continues through the center of the country until Akureyri.
All other trips in this area of Iceland are carried out by Straeto: Borgarnes, Stykkisholmur, Akureyri, Husavik and even Egilsstadir, among others. It is by far the main company in the country, it has buses to all the destinations near Reykjavik and to some quite far away, the color assigned to it is red. Their buses depart from Mjódd terminal, 8 km southeast of the city center. There are many local buses that arrive there, including lines 2, 3, 4, 11, 12, 17, 21 and 24. Local buses in Reykjavik are also operated by Straeto, and they are assigned the yellow color. There is an App to check lines, schedules and buy tickets in the city but their ratings in Google Play Store are quite disappointing, it is more advisable to look for routes with the Route Planner on its official website, but incomprehensibly you can not buy long distance tickets on its website, which is why the authorized shops in Reykjavik are attached in this link. The most important line in this part of Iceland is number 57, from Reykjavik to Akureyri. All those destinations that are not in this line involve taking it and changing to another bus at some point, many of those places will only have one bus a day, so it is important to calculate the connections. Examples:
- Akureyri: line 57, 3 a day, 6h30min. 10,000 ISK.
- Stykkisholmur: line 57 to Borgarnes (3 a day), change to 58 (two a day), 3 hours with the combination in the morning, 10 hours in the afternoon. 5,500 ISK.
Destinations east of Reykjavik
There are several companies. Many are tour operators who, in addition to tours, offer a bus to certain locations; each one leaves a different terminal:
- Reykjavik Excursions (RE), which includes Flybus, Iceland On Your Own and Volcano Huts, leaves the BSI Terminal.
- Trex leaves from the tourist office or Reykjavik campsite.
- Sterna leaves from Harpa.
- Thule Travel, leaves city hall.
- The aforementioned SBA Nordurleid also leaves from BSI.
- And of course Straeto, whose base is line 51 and leaves from Mjódd terminal.
The following are the most demanded destinations. Prices are an estimate, since they vary in each company; their prices are usually similar, although Straeto is supposedly the least expensive:
- Selfoss: served by all companies, so there are several a day, 1h20min, from 2,000 ISK.
- There’s no public transport to Thingvellir.
- Geysir and Gullfoss: in 2019 only SBA Nordurleid plans to go on its way to Akureyri. 1 a day at 8 a.m., 3 hours. 5,000 ISK. Previously operated RE, so they may set buses in summer. Another option is to take line 73 from Straeto that arrives at a nearby town, Laugarvatn.
- Landmannalaugar: only from the end of June to the beginning of September: Trex, RE, Thule Travel and Sterna, 4h30min, from 8,500 ISK.
- Thorsmork: only from the end of June to the beginning of September: Trex, RE and Sterna, 4 hours, from 7,000 ISK.
- Skogar: Straeto all year, RE and Sterna in summer, one a day each, 3h, from 5,500 ISK.
- Vik: Straeto all year, Sterna in summer, one a day each, 4h, from 6,000 ISK.
- Skaftafell: Straeto all year, Sterna in summer, one a day each, 5h30m, from 10,000 ISK.
- Jokulsarlón: Straeto all year, Sterna in summer, one a day each, 6h15min, from 12,000 ISK.
- Höfn: Straeto all year round, one a day, 7h, 13,300 ISK.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN THE CITY
As we have already mentioned in the HALF OR ONE DAY ITINERARY section, most of the attractions in Reykjavik are within walking distance of each other. In case you want to use transport:
- Bike. There are a good number of bike lanes and it is allowed to circulate along the sidewalk with caution and without disturbing pedestrians.
- WOW citybike was the sharing system present in many cities. Purple bicycles could be rented for 30 minutes and left without penalty at another station. I speak in the past because its sponsor, WOW Air, went bankrupt in March, and its website does not show the stations, so it is possible that if it has not been disabled, it will end up doing it.
- They can be rented at Reykjavik Bike Tours, in the old port, near the Harpa. There are all kinds of bicycles, all Trek brand; the cheapest ones cost 3,500 ISK for 4 hours or 4,900 for a full day.
- Line buses, Straeto operates the city buses. Its Route Planner and the App allow you to check routes and schedules, and also buy tickets. A simple one costs 470 ISK, the one-day pass is 1,800 ISK and the 3-day ISK 4,200. There are endless long-duration passes, little useful for tourists, or you can buy 20 single tickets at a discount. The buses must be the only place in Iceland where you can not pay by credit card; accept cash or tickets already purchased online or on allowed shops.
- The double-decker red SightSeen Bus, which is so common in many European cities, costs € 29.42 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and has 16 stops in the city, with comments in 8 languages. There are options in combination with the different departments of Perlan Museum and with the Flybus to and from the airport.
- Getting into the center with our rented car is not advisable, being able to do it on foot or by bus. Almost the entire center is a paid parking area, designated in red (320 ISK / h) or blue, green and yellow (170 ISK / h) from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 p.m.
- Taxis are scarce and expensive. The lowering of the flag is 700 ISK. By July 2019 there’s neither Uber nor other similar companies in Iceland.
ACCOMMODATION AND RESTAURANTS IN REYKJAVIK
Where to eat and sleep in Reykjavik? It is no surprise that almost all the most recommended restaurants are on Laugavegur street and its continuation north of Lake Tjörnin to Whales of Iceland.
WHERE TO EAT AND TYPICAL GASTRONOMY
By the way, speaking of whales, if we have ever wanted to try this animal, Iceland is a good country to do it, being the Minke Whale the most frequently offered; for those who are horrified by these data, add that Icelandic government defends that only 1% of whales in its waters are hunted, although it is funny that according to surveys almost 80% of Icelanders have never eaten whale and 60 % of what is consumed is by tourists. Islenski barinn is the most famous place, but very close are Grillmarkadurinn, Apotek Restaurant and Tapas barinn (most curious, a Spanish tapas restaurant that serves whale and kangaroo). Many of them also offer the other adorable animal typical of the island, the puffin. A not very abundant ration of whale or puffin will cost from 3,000 ISK. When I was in Iceland, I came up with the brilliant idea of leaving for the last day to try the whale as the culmination of my trip; In 2009 there were not so many restaurants and it was not so easy to look for recommendations online, and when I arrived at the chosen restaurant I found that I had to wait more than an hour and a half to eat, and my bus to the airport was leaving in two hours, so I left without trying it. Yes, I did try the puffin, which in 2009 had increased so much in number that the government had allowed free hunting, and the truth is that taking into account the price I do not recommend it; currently their hunting is much more restricted by having drastically reduced populations in recent years (not because of hunting, but for the lack of the fish they eat in Icelandic waters because of global warming), and to follow this trend will be banned soon, although as I say, in my opinion you do not miss anything otherworldly.
WHERE TO GO SHOPPING AND GO OUT TO TAKE SOMETHING
Laugavegur and surroundings, especially Skolavordustigur, is also the place to go out for a drink or party, given its wide range of cafés, pubs and shops. The commercial zone extends more than one kilometer.
WHERE TO STAY
After remembering that booking in advance is essential in July and August, the best accommodation occupies a similar distribution, with Laugavegur and surroundings being the most advisable area.
Special mention for the very useful and popular Reykjavik Campsite, managed by the Reykjavik Youth Hostelling International, which is attached:
- The place is gigantic and is open all year. It does not require a reservation, although if the number of tourists continues to increase, it will soon be necessary.
- It is 3 km east of the city center, immediately north of the National Football Stadium and the Zoo, and south of the ferry to Videy Island. Both the Flybus and the AirPort Express stop at your door, and the bus line 14. From June to August there is a free shuttle that communicates with the Harpa and the BSI bus station.
- It costs ISK 2,400 per person per night, includes WiFi, access to kitchens and bathrooms.
- Sell all kinds of tours, tickets and even Bus Passports.
I stayed at the campsite when I arrived and it gave me a very good impression. Finishing the trip I spent one night in the hostel, and it was also good.
DANGERS AND ANNOYANCES
Iceland is considered the safest country in the world, as detailed in the article ESSENTIAL INFORMATION IN ICELAND, but the increase in tourism has led to a small increase in pickpockets, light robberies and thefts, especially in rental cars and tourist sites such as the Hallgrimskirkja.
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