There are plenty of budget airlines that fly direct from the UK to Keflavik which is a pleasant airport near the Blue Lagoon around 50 minutes from Reykjavik.
Click on the links at the bottom of the page if you want to find out more about Reykjavik and the surrounding area.
Airport transfers can be quite pricey so it’s best to consider your options in advance. The cheapest and most convenient is to use the bus transfer services which you can book online. There are two main companies:-
Flybus will take you to the BSI terminal which is on the edge of Reykjavik and if your accomodation is central you can walk there from the terminal. For a bit extra you can change to a smaller bus at the terminal which then takes you to a range of stops which hopefully will be near where you are staying. The full size coach cannot fit through all of the small streets in Reykjavik.
Another option is to use Airport Express which is run by Grayline. They give you a choice of 3 bustops in the city and like Flybus offer a shuttle transfer service to near your hotel for an extra fee.
A taxi costs loads.
There is plenty of choice here but it’s expensive to hire a car in Iceland. In Febuary 2017 we used Sadcars [really!] as they were the cheapest we could find. They are based near Keflavik airport and picked us up from the arrival hall. Our four wheel drive car was great and, given the heavy snow that fell over the next few days, we were grateful that it was so reliable. We did see other cars that did not look so pristine though. I have heard good reports about Blue Car Rental and I intend to try them out on our next visit.
Some of the driving on this trip was the most challenging I have ever attempted, you need to be so cautious even with the studded tyres. We stayed on the main roads. Driving in Iceland in the winter is not for the faint hearted, you should heed the advice given by Safe Travel.
Icelandic currency is Króna [ISK], you probably won’t need it or even see any! Use plastic. Tipping at restaurants is not necessary.
There are the normal large choice of accommodation options one would expect of a capital city ranging from hostels, Airbnb and plush hotels. The more affordable hotels tend to be a way from the city centre which can be a pain but it does normally mean there is plenty of free on street parking. Some hostels such as Kex offer hostel type dorms as well as hotel style en- suite rooms so the word hostel is misleading.
On our first visit we took a Thomas Cook package as it was pretty good value and we stayed at the aptly named Cabin Hotel. The hotel was large and the room was tiny! Apart from that it was good value for the money.
In 2017 we stayed at the Arctic Comfort Hotel, a smaller hotel where the staff were really friendly. Breakfast was extra and cost around £16 per person each day, but this is a typical price for Icelandic hotels! Luckily our bedroom came with a fridge, so we stocked up on Skyr and other bits and that sorted out our breakfast. It was a fair walk into the city centre though, further exacerbated by heavy snow which was its only drawback.
On our last visit we tried out our first Airbnb and were very pleased. Our room was great. I think there were eight rooms in total, a shared kitchen and two bathrooms. It was in the city centre, so no local parking, but on this ocassion we did not hire a car so that was not a problem. We walked there from the BSI bus terminal [we did get a bit lost].
What to wear ?
I have added this section after seeing numerous posts on forums from people asking this very question. The weather in Iceland can change dramatically and quickly. Whatever the season you need to be prepared for this and my simple answer is – wear layers. I tend to visit Iceland in the colder months. I wear a good quality long waterproof jacket and have options of t-shirt / thermal vest / thin cotton top and wool jumper [or my lovely woollen Icelandic cardy] which can be peeled on or off as appropriate. I wear jeans and have thermals to put on underneath if required. Yes, I know jeans are not advisable if you are hiking, so waterproof overtrousers are essential if you are going to venture into the wilderness. Oooh and don’t forget a hat and gloves.
You may also consider crampons if you don’t want to slip or fall on icy paths. I have not bothered with these yet, so I do fall over quite alot! I also have never used hand warmers or other magic warming gadgets. Good walking boots and a choice of cotton rich thin and thicker socks are essential. The challenge is how to cram all of this into one cabin bag and stay under the required weight! [It is possible for shorter trips].
Food and drink [booze]
Bonus supermarkets are dotted around and are good value [for Iceland]. The 24 hour supermarkets are best avoided unless you are desperate as they are much more expensive. If you want alcohol the cheapest option is to buy it when you arrive at Keflavik airport where it is surpisingly good value. The state controlled off-licence, Vinbudin, is the expensive alternative option.
It’s difficult to eat out cheaply in Iceland. A ‘budget’ meal is often not much cheaper than a mid priced one. Icelanders do love hotdogs which are cheap and burgers which are not. Petrol garages sell hot dogs and often even have restaurants in them that seem popular with families. The one near the BSI terminal looked pleasant. It’s possible to have a fairly good value soup lunch in a cafe but this could still set you back around £12 or more per person. Pizza seems pretty well priced, curries cost the earth! However whenever I travel I want to eat local food for local people – local fish, lamb, duck, stews and veg – yum.
For my recommendations on eating and drinking out click here.
Yay! – you can now get Skyr in the UK. True Icelandic Skyr is wonderful, thick and creamy in various flavours.
BUT make sure you get the real thing – Icelandic style Skyr made in Germany is NOT Skyr and tastes wrong. Real Icelandic Skyr can be bought from Waitrose and Aldi. However Sainsbury, Asda and Tesco all sell tubs of stuff pretending to be Skyr and, in my opinion, it should be avoided at all costs!
I recently came across this article from the Huffington Post- 25 mistakes tourists make while visiting Iceland. This article may seem obvious to some, and I have covered some of it above, but it has some good advice for newbies to Iceland.