Travel to Iceland

http://www.powderhounds.com/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/images/Europe/Iceland/travel/01.JPG
Driving across Iceland is an interesting experience
Driving across Iceland is an interesting experience
Entry to Iceland is via Keflavik (KEF) airport in the south-west of the country near Reykjavik
Entry to Iceland is via Keflavik (KEF) airport in the south-west of the country near Reykjavik
Rental cars are readily available at Keflavik airport
Rental cars are readily available at Keflavik airport
Akureyri (AEY) airport is the gateway to the troll Peninsula & northern Iceland
Akureyri (AEY) airport is the gateway to the troll Peninsula & northern Iceland
Studded winter tyres are best for driving across Iceland
Studded winter tyres are best for driving across Iceland
Road & driveway clearing in Iceland can limited during storms
Road & driveway clearing in Iceland can limited during storms
Driving up to Blafjoll ski area near Reykjavik late in the day
Driving up to Blafjoll ski area near Reykjavik late in the day
Blafjoll car park is ski-out, ski-in!
Blafjoll car park is ski-out, ski-in!
Rental cars are one of the best ways to get to the powder in Iceland
Rental cars are one of the best ways to get to the powder in Iceland
Driving the to the Dalvik & Troll Peninsula is fascinating
Driving the to the Dalvik & Troll Peninsula is fascinating
The road to the ski area in Dalvik
The road to the ski area in Dalvik
Dalvik ski area car park
Dalvik ski area car park
Typical northern Iceland road conditions in the town of Dalvik
Typical northern Iceland road conditions in the town of Dalvik
Tunnels on the Troll Peninsula are generally single lane, beware of oncoming traffic!
Tunnels on the Troll Peninsula are generally single lane, beware of oncoming traffic!
Finding a pullover in the single lane tunnels can be fun!
Finding a pullover in the single lane tunnels can be fun!
Troll Peninsula, Iceland
Troll Peninsula, Iceland
The road conditon signs are VERY important in Iceland - ignore them at your peril!
The road conditon signs are VERY important in Iceland - ignore them at your peril!
Driving in Iceland
Driving in Iceland
Coastal road on the Troll Peninsula - prone to avalanche closures after storms
Coastal road on the Troll Peninsula - prone to avalanche closures after storms
Ski Iceland
Ski Iceland

Travel to Iceland

Europe Tours

Helpful Links

Flight Bookings

Book Flights Here

Car Hire

Rent & Hire Cars Here

Travel Insurance

Get Ski Travel Insurance Here

Airport Transfers

Book Airport & Hotel Shuttles Here

Where is Iceland?

The island of Iceland is situated in the mid-north Atlantic, between Greenland & Norway. The capital, Reykjavik, is around 1,900km northwest of London & 4,200km northeast of New York. Iceland is just below the Arctic Circle

Flights to Iceland & Beyond

Flights to Iceland are plentiful from a host of North American & European origins. International flights arrive at the Reykjavik Keflavik International Airport (KEF), 50km west of Reykjavik. KEF airport should not be confused with the second Reykjavik airport (RKV) located closer to the city (see below). Flight times to KEF from UK & Europe are around 3-3½hr & from the east coast of North America about 6hr.

All internal (domestic) flights depart from the Reykjavik Airport (RKV), located in the heart of the city. A handful of regular international flights to/from Greenland (Nuuk, Kulusuk et al), plus a few from the UK (London Stansted) & Spain (Madrid) et al use RKV on occasions. The major heli-ski, ski-touring & sail-ski locations like Akureyri (AEY) & Ísafjörður (IFJ) are most efficiently accessed by flights direct from Reykjavik (RKV).

During winter & early Spring, flights to Akureyri(AEY) depart Reykjavik domestic airport (RKV) around 3 to 5 times daily. The flight takes only 45min & is relatively well priced. Flights to Isafjordur (IFJ) depart RKV twice daily for the short 40min flight.

Search & book a flight to Reykjavik-Keflavik (KEF) or other Icelandic destination here.

Airport & Hotel Transfers

Once you arrive in Iceland (presumably at KEF), several private & shared transfer options exist from Keflavik International Airport into Reykjavik.

Regular bus shuttles depart KEF for the centre of Reykjavik (generally the BSÍ city centre bus terminal) with the journey taking 30 to 45min. Alternatively, the cheapest option is the Route 55 public bus which makes the journey every 2hr, although it requires a change at Fjordur on occasions.

Taxis or private transfers are the most expensive but also the most convenient & comfortable options, providing transport direct to your door. Larger groups (of 4 or more) are best to go with a private transfer. Transfers for anything up to 12 passengers can be booked for a competitive rate.

Search & book your private transfer from Keflavik to Reykjavik here.

The Reykjavik domestic airport (RKV) is only 3km from the city centre. It is possible to walk there on a series of designated paths. Otherwise, local buses & taxis will get you moving.

If continuing on from Reykjavik on a flight to Akureyri, local transport services are more limited, but still readily available to coincide with plane arrivals. many tour operators on the Troll Peninsula will do pick-ups at the Akureyri airport.

Getting Around Reykjavik & Iceland

Unless you are on a guided tour departing from Reykjavik or Akureyri, you will require additional forms of transport to get around Iceland. In Iceland, no passenger trains exist, taxis & private transfers over major distances are expensive & the bus network is limited in winter. The bus can be utilised on a few important routes around Reykjavik but should not generally be relied upon elsewhere. A cost-effective transport mode is by rental car (see Driving in Iceland section below).

Bus Services Throughout Iceland

Winter bus services throughout Iceland beyond Reykjavik are far more limited than during the summer ‘tourist’ season. For many skiers, the route 57 bus to Akureyri will be a good value but time-consuming option for heading toward the Troll Peninsula. Two buses per day (one on Thursday & Saturday) make the 6hr journey. If in a group of two or more, a flight is more efficient when being met by a tour operator & a rental car is better value if moving on from Akureyri under one’s own steam! Once in Akureyri, all local city buses are free which is cool. The route 78 bus completes the journey around the coast from Akureyri via Dalvik to Siglufjordur 3 times a day during the week & once on Sundays. See the Iceland public bus timetables here.

Driving in Iceland

Driving in Iceland is filled with both tales of pleasure & horror. More often than not, the horror stories revolve about driving errors is poor weather conditions or on icy roads. Otherwise, the freedom and value afforded by driving yourself (or hiring a driver if you have the krona, euro or dollars!) cannot be measured. Of course, many people drive in Iceland & never encounter anything more serious than a wet windscreen & sun in their eyes. The weather in Iceland can be unpredictable & that can be good, bad or a combination of the two.

A cautionary tale…….. On our last trip, we drove from Reykjavik to the premier ski region, the Troll Peninsula. In future we would fly to Akureyri from Reykjavik and pick up a car at the airport, avoiding the worst & most exposed driving across the country. Having driven in winter conditions all over the globe, we can say that driving conditions during March 2020 in Iceland were the most consistently brutal we have ever faced. Regardless of the snow forecast or temperatures, the roads threw up new driving challenges every hour of every day, usually courtesy of the wind. And it is the wind that causes most of the road issues. Whether it be closures due to wind drifts, due wind-loaded snow slopes above roads causing high avalanche danger, extreme ice, or actual avalanches blocking roads or tunnel entrances. The wind is king in Iceland. Get used to it!

Road clearing in Iceland appears to be a more ‘relaxed’ exercise than in other comparative environments. They start later in the day and seem to give up early if conditions deteriorate too much. Pay close attention to road signage and observe all closures. No roads get cleared 24hr a day. Highway 1, the ring road, get a ‘winter service’ between 8am and 11pm, but this should not be relied upon & it can decrease markedly during the worst storms. Make good decisions about when and where you travel, always have some food and water with you and fill up the cars tank regularly.

The north & north-west of Iceland (including the Troll Peninsula), is particularly vulnerable to road closures in winter up until the end of March. Closures are mainly due to either low visibility, blowing snow, snow drifts, extreme winds & ice, avalanche danger or a combination of these factors.

Our most recent trip to Iceland was seriously interrupted by road closures, including one on the way to Akureyri that forced us to stop overnight and organise alternative accommodation. This was easy to do. The locals were all very understanding and helpful. If in doubt just ask at a local petrol station or shop!

Hints, Tips & Warnings When Driving in Iceland

The idea of a self-drive ski holiday in Iceland is great, but there are certain points to consider if visiting from December to the end of March. Based on our own experiences, things to know & points to remember when driving a rental car in Iceland include the following.

  • Make sure your rental car is AWD or 4WD & equipped with studded winter tyres. Do a thorough check of the exterior & interior, noting all damage BEFORE leaving the rental agency.
  • Prior to any travel, check weather & road conditions and plan ahead.
  • Do not rely on snow-clearers keeping roads free of ice & snow, especially off Highway1.
  • Take heed of roadside signage regarding road closures.
  • Drive slowly, particularly on narrow roads, icy roads, during poor visibility, in tunnels & when approaching single lane bridges.
  • It seems obvious, but don’t enter a single lane bridge if someone is already on it coming the other way!
  • Avoid driving at night, noting that daylight hours in mid-winter are short - plan accordingly.
  • Avoid driving long distances during winter storms & during high winds.
  • If driving conditions degrade to a degree beyond your driving ability find a safe place OFF the road & wait for conditions to improve. However, avoid driving off the road into snow-drifts, use only cleared areas as pullovers.
  • Have enough provisions & equipment in the vehicle to spend some time in your car if needing to ride out a storm or dangerous driving conditions.
  • If in doubt don’t drive, but remember that where there is risk, there is reward!

Check local road conditions here.

Check the Iceland weather forecast here.

Rentals Cars

If undertaking a road trip for sightseeing & ski touring, a rental car is the best & most efficient means of travel. Rental outlets are most prolific at the Keflavik International Airport terminal (9 options), plus in Reykjavik or Akureyri.

Read the ‘Hints, Tips & Warnings’ section above before renting a car!

From a cost perspective, renting cars in Iceland is generally comparative to western Europe (rental fee/fuel etc), with one major difference. The damage excess can be huge - up to €10,000. It is not generally possible to reduce it to zero. Making good decisions on the road and having prior winter driving experience is essential. It is also worth noting that most rental cars in Iceland have relatively high security deposits. The security deposits range from €1700 to €3500 & higher, like Switzerland. A fat credit card is required to cover it all.

Search & book all rental cars in Iceland here.