Keflavik airport is the main airport with international arrivals and departures in Iceland. It is about 45 minutes from the airport to the capital city, Reykjavik. Really there is not a good public transportation option when getting from the airport to the city and vice versa. Airport transfers from major companies are the best and most efficient way of transport. Once in Reykjavik, you do not need a car for the city, in fact it is best to walk. A car is needed to visit any other cities or to do the popular sites if you are not partaking in a commercialized tour. There are plenty of places to rent a car near the airport when you arrive. If you like to do things on your own time, have a specific itinerary you’ve made, or want to spend more time at a specific site, renting a car is your best option. Be aware that the roads can get treacherous in the winter for those not used to driving in snow and ice.
The capital city is a small Nordic city that is absolutely walk-able. Much like its Scandinavian counterparts, it is not cheap to eat, drink, or stay in the city. The city is impossibly cool, colorful, and tourist friendly. Anything you need is within an arm’s reach. Every type of food, fusion, souvenir shop, wool clothing, coffee shop, brewery, and bar is within walking distance. Be on the lookout for the rainbow road that leads to the famous Hallgrimskirkja church.
Here are some places that I love in Reykjavik:
- Loft HI hostel – I stayed here and I loved it. It was quaint, friendly, and had everything you need
- Public House Gastropub – lookout for the super affordable all you can eat gourmet brunch deal before 1pm
- Bastard Brew & Food – seriously fun atmosphere and inventive pub food
- Session Craft Bar
- Icelandic Craft Bar
- BrewDog – this chain present in Europe has made its mark in Reykjavik with European and American craft beers
- Reykjavik Roasters – many say this is the best coffee in Reykjavik
- Salka Valka – this seafood restaurant has the classic fish and chips and the classic Icelandish dishes as well
- Kol restaurant
- Kex Brewing – part of a larger hostel complex
Now that you’ve discovered your home base of Reykjavik, it is time to start exploring. There are many tour companies in the area all offering fantastic trips to places like the Golden Circle and South Coast, and adventures such as snowmobiling, whale watching, hunting the Northern Lights, helicopter rides, hot springs, glacier hikes, ice caving, and more.
Here are a few of the major reputable tour companies that I looked into:
- Arctic Adventures – I saw the Northern Lights with this company and absolutely loved it. My tour guide Frimann was funny, knowledgeable about the science behind the lights, and skilled in photography. The company was extremely professional, on time, and friendly.
- Reykjavik Excursions – This has to be the largest tour operator in the area because of how many times I saw their logo. This company has a great airport transfer system, as well as an incredible amount of options for single day or multi-day trips. I used this company to go on a 10 hour one day tour of the called the South Shore Adventure. We saw two major waterfalls, hiked on a glacier, saw two black sand beaches, and stopped in the small town, Vik, for lunch.
- Extreme Iceland – I looked into this company a lot before deciding on using the others. It has the best options for, you guessed it, “extreme” adventures. Definitely for the young and adventurous.
- Guide to Iceland – This company acts as a travel agency and advertises trip and offerings from many other smaller companies in the area. There are plenty of reviews to back up any option on this platform.
- Arctic Exposure – I saw this van while at a waterfall and had to look it up. This company takes aspiring photographers on multi-day trips across Iceland to photograph nature and wildlife. These guys seriously know what they are doing.
- Trip Advisor/Viator – This is obviously the most encompassing site, but I prefer to look into companies directly to see what kind of reputation and clout each one has. These are both wonderful resources for those who are not inclined to spend hours searching for the perfect tour.