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Transportation in Iceland

Traditionally, expats who dream of making Iceland their next destination may simply have the country’s stunning natural beauty in mind. But there is so much more to life on this volcanic island than just fjords and the Northern Lights. Our expat guide looks at many of the practicalities to consider when moving.
When driving around Iceland, keep in mind that many roads are impassable during the winter months.

Travelling by Car

Expats who are living in smaller towns or rural areas might find that travelling by car is the most convenient way of getting around. The same applies to expats who spend a lot of time travelling around the country. It may make sense to rent a car initially until you have purchased your own vehicle. However, keep in mind that most car rentals are rather expensive. Whether renting or buying a car, make sure to pick a four-wheel drive as country roads may be rather rough.

Aside from the main highway — Route 1— which circles the entire country, there are a lot of mountain and country roads in Iceland. Wet and muddy weather conditions often make mountain roads impassable for the better half of the year, and they’re usually closed until the end of June. Roads which require a four-wheel drive and/or snow tires carry the letter “F” as a prefix on street signs. Try to drive carefully and abide by the speed limits (90 kmph on paved, rural roads, 80 km/h on gravel) and familiarize yourself with Icelandic traffic laws as fines can be high.

For current information on the condition of different roads, please refer to the Icelandic Road Administration.

Bus, Boat, and Air Travel

For those who do not own a car, exploring the country by bus is a viable option. Several private bus companies operate long-distance lines in different parts of the country. However, all of these companies are organized by BSÍ (Bifreiðastöð Íslands), based in Reykjavik. At the booking desks, you can buy your bus ticket and get your free copy of Ísland á Eigin Vegum (Iceland on Your Own) which offers timetables for some destinations — copies of these are also available online. While the service is very regular between June and August, transportation is limited or non-existent throughout the rest of the year. You should check with BSÌ or the individual bus company for more information.

Domestic flights are quite common in Iceland and are often the simplest way of getting where you want to go. As is the case when travelling by car or bus, you should try to remain flexible as the schedule depends on weather conditions. Car ferries allow you to reach smaller islands and secluded areas, such as Þorlákshöfn, Flatey, and Brjánslækur.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Fjodor Andersen

"Finding other expats interested in playing squash in Reykjavik seemed difficult. But with InterNations I found them easily."

Michelle Guillemont

"Iceland is not the expat country number one. But I met truly global minds with InterNations. It really works."

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