Getting to and Staying in Reykjavik, Iceland: the Preliminaries

Fancy visiting Iceland? This guide will help you about the preliminaries on getting to and staying in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital.

Getting to Reykjavik, Iceland.

The Reykjavik-bound Easyjet plane my wife, our son and I boarded at London Luton airport reached and settled in its maximum flying altitude. Almost hypnotically or so it seemed, my thoughts flew back to the time when I first heard of Iceland. Reykjavik was hosting the World Chess Championship and it appears the Russian defending champion Boris Spassky will lose his crown to American challenger Bobby Fischer. It was in the early 1970’s and also, it was the height of the Cold War.  I was a young boy then and hence, was excitedly learning the wonderful game of lazy kings, galloping knights and advancing foot soldiers. Probably due to my innocence and naivety then, I thought of Iceland as a country covered in ice all year round.

Fast forward to spring of 2010 – my family was on holiday in the US when this Icelandic tongue-twister of a volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, erupted. Volcanic ash spread across Europe. As a result, airports were forced to shut down. Furthermore, flights were cancelled stranding thousands of passengers including us. Iceland is not only a country of ice, it has volcanoes as well – fiery ones and they are in abundance (as I would know later).

My recollections were disrupted when the pilot announced that we will be landing shortly at Keflavik International Airport, Iceland’s main hub for international air travels. Thud! We have just arrived in the land of ice and fire!

Keflavik International Airport: Getting to Reykjavik, Iceland.

Keflavik International Airport

Getting to Reykjavik

There are several ways of getting from the airport to Reykjavik city centre – by bus, taxi or rent-a-car. We booked via online our return bus journeys at FlyBus several days before our departure. It costed us 12,000.00 Icelandic Krona or ISK (around £70.00). It takes about 45 minutes of travel time from the airport to the bus terminal. You may wish to book a bus trip from the airport to your hotel/guesthouse and/or a pickup from your hotel to the airport. In each case, the transport cost will be slightly higher. For the bus timetable and a list of hotels where drop-off/pickup services are available and for other information, please check FlyBus’ website.

Keflavik International Airport: Getting to Reykjavik, Iceland.

Snow covered mountain range and lava fields greeted us out of the airport on the way to Reykjavik.

Staying in Reykjavik

We stayed at Bus Hostel Reykjavik for 4 nights – a prize  I won in a travel writing contest. The prize was for two people so we paid for our son’s dorm room. The hostel was about 10-15 minutes’ walk from the bus terminal. What we most love about the hostel is its kitchen where guests can cook proper food. As you may or may not know, food is very expensive in Iceland. Therefore, cooking our own food in the hostel’s kitchen saved us a lot.

Bus Hostel Reykjavik: Staying in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Bus Hostel Reykjavik

Bus Hostel Reykjavik: Staying in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Hostel’s lobby

Housed in the hostel is the office of its car rental partner, SadCars  where we booked a Toyota RAV 4×4 which we will use for our two-day road trip. The company claims to be the cheapest car rental in Iceland. I couldn’t agree more as their fleet of cars has almost seen better days. The company offers 10% discount and a further 10% for hostel guests. Hence, we paid 98 euros (about £80.00) for “Sly.”

SadCars: Getting around Reykjavik and the rest of Iceland.

“Sly” – the 4WD Toyota RAV4 we rented with a little over 265,000 kms. mileage, a deep dent on the right side and some rusty body parts but is still a beast of a machine.

Packaged Tours or DIY?

A lot of packaged tours are on offer in Iceland but we opted to do our own. It’s cheaper to hire a vehicle to tour the country. In addition, we have all the time to ourselves and can go and explore as many places as we want. If you want to stretch your budget, it is advisable to rent a car instead of availing packaged tours. Furthermore, It’s better to hire a 4WD which we did so you can drive in rough terrains which small cars are not allowed to.

Exchanging Currency

It’s nearing noontime and check-in is not until 3pm. We left our backpacks in a secured place in the hostel. Afterwards, we set off to a local bank in the city centre for one final and important task – to exchange our sterling pounds to local currency. During the time of our visit (last week of April 2016), rate was at £1.00 to about ISK 177.00.

Icelandic Krona (ISK): Exchanging Currency and Spending in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Our £240.00 in Icelandic Krona

Lunch at Reykjavik

We have a quick walking and sightseeing tour of the city. After checking out some random shops, we found ourselves near Old Harbour. We found Reykjavik Fish Restaurant while searching for a place to eat. Once inside, we were welcomed by a giant menu board you will not find anywhere outside of Iceland.

Reykjavik Fish Restaurant: Dining and Eating Out in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Rotten shark, anyone?

A friendly staff explained to us those unfamiliar food items. “Plokkari” is fish pie served in sizzling skillet with rye bread and butter.  Rotten shark is an Icelandic delicacy which is buried for up to six months in sand while “brennivin” is a local spirit distilled from potatoes and flavoured with caraway seeds.

Reykjavik Fish Restaurant: Dining and Eating Out in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Simple lunch: gastronomical delight at an astronomical price (plokkari costing £13 on the bottom left).

It was worth remembering that as we are about to finish our lunch, an Eagles’ song was playing in the air.

And I got a peaceful easy feeling,
And I know you won’t let me down
’cause I’m already standing on the ground.

It’s time to move on and explore. First of all, we have two days to do that in Reykjavik. Also, a day for the Golden Circle and Southern Iceland and finally another day for Western Iceland.

I know Iceland won’t let us down.

20 thoughts on “Getting to and Staying in Reykjavik, Iceland: the Preliminaries

    1. Ash Post author

      You should visit Iceland, Alice. Majestic mountains, sweeping landscape, unspoilt nature, amazing waterfalls and the list goes on. Fishing is one of Iceland’s top industries and they serve the best fish dishes including some bizarre ones.

  1. Brianna

    Reykjavik is definitely high on my list of places to travel. This is some really useful information! I never knew the airport was so far away and that it was so costly to get into the city!

    1. Ash Post author

      Almost everything is expensive in Iceland but the experiences you’ll have there are definitely worth more than what you’ll spend. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Only By Land

    This is exactly what I’m doing in March, taking the Easyjet flight to Iceland, only I’m going from Manchester. I’ll take the Flybus like you guys! I wish I had won a competition, I’m paying quite a lot for an airbnb. I was wondering about taking a tour or hiring a car, I think I’ll go with your advise and get the 4WD, thanks for sharing, very useful!

    1. Ash Post author

      You’re welcome! Iceland is amazing and I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time there. We would like to go back and complete the whole Route 1 (the country’s ring road).

  3. Hendrik

    How much I miss Reykjavik and whole Iceland. Your post brings back a lot of amazing memories.. Yes Iceland is really expensive, for sure, but since the crisis some years ago it is at least affordable for many travellers to go there haha
    Great to hear that you booked a tour on your own, in my opinion by far the best way to explore this incredible island.

    1. Ash Post author

      We have amazing memories of Iceland, too! I’m sure for every one that had been there. We would like to come back and possibly rent a camper van to explore the whole country in our own sweet time. DIY road trip rules!

  4. melbtravel

    I went to Iceland over 10years ago before the credit crisis and tourists were visiting. I would be so keen to go back now and see the difference. It has changed so much over the last 10years and now it is one of the hottest tourist destinations to go. Great post and tips.

    1. Ash Post author

      I guess there are more tourists now than a decade ago. Although I would like to think that Iceland still maintains its rugged but unspoilt nature and innocence. Thanks!

  5. Marie

    I loved your post and photos! Unlike others I’ve read it shows ‘the real’ sides of travelling to Iceland. I would love to visit the country someday as well!

  6. Janine Good

    I was supposed to go to Iceland last year via Icelandair stopover, but sadly it got cancelled. Seeing your post makes me regret not going! Lucky you winning the trip through a contest! The accommodation looks like it would do the trick amidst the beautiful scenic backdrop.

  7. Stephanie Frias

    The second post today that I’ve read about travel bloggers traveling on someone else´s dime as a direct result of their hard work. Things like this give hope to the rest of us! Also, the second time I have heard about the volcanoes in Iceland today. Congratulations on your achievements and in visiting this beautiful land!

    1. Ash Post author

      Thank you very much for your kind words! Yes, hard work gets results and rewards – hope you can travel to the land of ice and fire soon.

  8. Mohit Agarwal

    iceland is one of my most wanted place to visit…mainly because of the northern lights…great that you went on your own rather than booking a guided tour…you get to explore better

    1. Ash Post author

      Thanks, Iceland is out of this world and you should get there. DIY is definitely better than packaged tours and more economical.

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