Iceland’s international Keflavik airport is roughly 49 KM (30 Miles) away from the capital city. The drive from the airport to Reykjavik takes around 40-50 minutes. While there are plenty of airport transfer options, knowing in advance can be incredibly helpful especially for those arriving first time in Iceland. There are mainly three transportation choices: bus service, rental cars, and taxi. If you are planning to go on a road trip, renting a car is perhaps the best choice. Just make sure that you choose to pick up the car at Keflavik Airport. Taxi services take you to the capital fastest, but are pretty expensive. Bus services are available from the Keflavik airport every hour. Buses are the least expensive option among all three.
Note: Temporarily, the majority of bus services have been suspended due to the COVID-19 situation. Current restrictions allow travelers to take private transport services that means you have three options: rent a car, private airport transfer, and taxi service (most expensive).
1. Public Transport – Bus from KEF Airport to Reykjavik
Iceland’s public bus service, Straeto, is perhaps the cheapest option. You will find all the information about bus routes (across the country) on its website. If you are going to use the public bus services while staying in Iceland, you can also download the Straeto app. The bus that takes you from the airport to Reyjavik is bus No.55 that stops at BSÍ Bus Terminal. The bus terminal is located within a walking distance of the airport, it takes around 7-10 minutes. The walk can be a little annoying in bad weather especially in winter.
Strangely, there are no signs or direction posts inside the airport that indicates you can use the public bus service. So it’s recommended that you gather all the information and save it on your smartphone before landing at the KEF airport. Alternatively, you can download the Straeto app. The bus journey takes approximately 90 minutes. So, it takes almost twice the time in comparison to taxi or rental cars.
2. Private Transport – Bus/Minibus from KEF Airport to Reykjavik
There are many private bus operators offering airport transfers. The bus tickets are priced somewhat similarly, and most buses provide free WIFI. However, they differ in their schedule, luggage restrictions, and drop-off locations. This is also one of the least expensive transport options after Straeto. It takes roughly 45-50 minutes. The bus ticket remains valid for the entire day which means you don’t have to worry about if you have missed one, another will be available in just a few minutes.
I. Flybus Shuttles
The Flybus runs from the airport to City Center. The airport shuttles are available every 15 minutes or so during the busiest hours. Generally, you will find a Flybus after every 35 minutes in normal hours. A one-way ticket will cost you around $30 and a round-trip is just $55. You can do an online booking or buy a ticket from the counter. It’s much better to download the bus ticket on your smartphone because getting a ticket during rush hours can be time-consuming.
It is also possible to book the premium bus service, Flybus+. It provides pickup and drops facilities from selected hotels and bus-stops in Reykjavik. This means that you will get from the airport and to your hotel, or at least very close to your hotel, instead of ending up at the bus station in Reykjavik. The Flybus+ will cost you an extra ten bucks but can be helpful if your hotel is far from the BSI bus station.
II. Airport Shuttle
The Airport Shuttle offers similar bus tours as Flybus. However, there is a big difference. The Airport Shuttle drives from Keflavik Airport to Holtagarðar terminal. Holtagarðar terminal is a little farther away from the city center. Luckily, the bus makes a stop near the Culture House which is conveniently situated in downtown Reykjavik. The buses are available 24/7. While booking online, you have to also select the timing. You can likely take another bus which is available every 30 minutes if you happen to miss the one that you have booked. A one-way ticket is around $22, and a round trip costs $44. Airport Shuttle+ provides similar pick/drop facilities as described for the Flybus+. But it is slightly cheaper than Flybus.
III. Airport Direct
Airport Direct offers the widest range of travel options from/to KEF airport and Reykjavik. Unlike the other two bus services mentioned above, they use mini-buses for transportation. The price varies for each of the options, from the lowest $24 for Economy to a maximum of $450 for Airport Direct Luxury. If you are short on time, this shuttle can be your best choice.
However, there are some drawbacks if you book a ticket online. There are no Airport Direct buses in the evening after 5:15 PM. From the airport to the city, the buses are available between 4:15 AM and 5:15 PM. The capital to airport buses run from 4 AM through 4 PM. Secondly, you can carry only a suitcase and one carry bag, extra baggage will attract extra costs.
3. Taxi Services
Taxi is perhaps the most expensive option among all the other transportation choices. Unfortunately, there is still no Uber in Iceland. For those traveling on a low budget, a taxi is not an ideal option. The one-way taxi from the airport to your destination can cost you anywhere between $150 to $250, depending upon the travel season.
If you prefer your vacation topped with a little bit of luxury and want to save time, a taxi is perhaps one of the most convenient options. Iceland’s unpredictable weather conditions can sometimes make it annoying to walk to the bus station. Summer months are fine, but winters can be stormy and snowy, and mornings very dark. The biggest advantage of traveling by taxi is you don’t have to think about your arrival timing. Whether it’s day or night, you will find a taxi waiting for you.
4. Rental Cars and Airport Transfers
For those who would like to have complete control over their trip without succumbing to schedules and such, car rentals are an ideal choice. For those who prefer self-driving or planning to go on a road trip, renting a car at the airport certainly makes more sense. It is recommended that you book your car rental well in advance. During high season all cars are rented out, and the price will be much higher for the few cars that might be available. Once you arrive, you can collect the key and drive on the Reykjanesbraut road (the road that connects the airport to Reykjavik city). The rental companies usually tend to be flexible with timing. That means you can pick up the car keys anytime. Drive safely especially during the winters when the visibility is pretty low.
Alternatively, you can book a private airport transport service. A chauffeur will be waiting for you provided that you have pre-booked it. The airport transfer can also be a good choice if you are traveling with your family or in a group. While selecting, compare the prices offered by taxis and airport transfer providers. Sometimes the latter’s price can be more expensive than a taxi.