Reykjavík  is the capital and largest city of Iceland and with an urban area population of around 200,000, it is the home of the vast majority of Iceland’s inhabitants. It is the centre of culture and life of the Icelandic people as well as being one of the focal points of tourism in Iceland. The city itself is spread out, with sprawling suburbs. The city centre, however, is a very small area characterized by eclectic and colourful houses, with good shopping, dining, and drinking. There is no need to tip anyone, despite all too many restaurants and shops having tip jars besides their cash register. Off-road driving (in all of Iceland) is illegal and huge fines are imposed when you are caught.When it started to develop as a town in the 18th century, Reykjavík had already been inhabited for almost a thousand years. Legend has it that the first permanent settler in Iceland was a Norwegian named Ingólfur Arnarson. He is said to have thrown his seat pillars into the sea en route to Iceland, and decided to settle wherever the pillars were found. The pillars washed up in Reykjavík, and so that was where he set up his farm.Although the story of Ingólfur Arnarson is not widely believed to be true by modern historians, it’s clear that Reykjavík was one of the very first settlements in Iceland. Archaeological remains confirm that people were living there around the year 871, and for the first few centuries of Icelandic settlement Reykjavík was a large manor farm. Its fortunes steadily waned as other centres of power increased in importance. By the 18th century, the farm of Reykjavík was owned by the king of Denmark (under whose domain Iceland fell at the time). In 1752, the estate was donated to a firm, Innríttingarnar, led by Icelandic politician Skuli Magnusson. Innríttingarnar were meant to become an important industrial exporter and a source of development in Iceland, and their main base was in what is now the heart of Reykjavík. Although the company didn’t achieve all its high ideals, it did lay the foundations of Reykjavík as it is today. In 1786, Reykjavík got a trading charter and it soon started to grow in importance.The year 1801 is when Reykjavík went from being the largest town in the country to its capital. That year a new supreme court, Landsyfirríttur, was set up in the city after the abolition of Alaingi (which no longer had any legislative functions). The same year the office of the Bishop of Iceland was founded in Reykjavík, merging the bishoprics of Hólar and Skálholt. In 1845, Alaingi was re-founded as an advisory council to the king on the affairs of Iceland, located in Reykjavík and in 1874 it regained legislative powers. As the sovereignty of the country grew, so too did Reykjavík, which by the beginning of the 20th century had been transformed from a small trading and fishing village to a fully fledged capital.The Second World War was a boom era in Reykjavík. The city wasn’t directly affected by the many horrors of the war, but the occupation of Iceland by first the UK and later the US provided increased employment opportunities and inflows of cash that enabled the rapid expansion and modernisation of the Icelandic fishing fleet. Reykjavík was a leader in this development and it grew very rapidly in the years following the war. New suburbs were built and the city started to reach across municipal limits, subsuming various surrounding communities. The city continued expanding until the financial collapse of 2008. Due to its young age, and in particular its rapid expansion in the late 20th century, Reykjavík is very different from the other Nordic capitals. It lacks their grand buildings and the picturesque old quarters. Instead it has come to resemble cities on Canada’s east coast with their sprawling suburbs and big motorways, as was recommended by the urban planners of the post-World War 2 era. Nevertheless Reykjavík has a charm of its own, quite unique, shaped by the dualistic nature of this place which still doesn’t seem to have made up its mind on whether it’s a small town or a big city.Up to date weather information from the Icelandic Met Office: .The weather in Reykjavík is notoriously unpredictable. One minute the sun may be shining on a nice summers day, the next it may change into a windy, rainy autumn. Temperatures in Reykjavík are quite bland: They don’t go very high in the summer, nor do they go much below zero during winter. It follows that the differences between seasons are relatively small compared to what people experience on either side of the Atlantic. January is the coldest month and usually has some snow, while there is frequently no snow on the ground during Christmas in December. Summer is without a doubt the favorite season of most Reykjavík inhabitants. Many of them seem to imagine their city is slightly warmer than it really is and it takes little to get them to start wearing shorts and t-shirts, or to go sunbathing in parks. Don’t think too much about how silly it may seem, just join them in enjoying the season!Wind is the main problem with the Reykjavík weather. The city is quite open to the seas, and the winds can be strong and chilling to the bone. Windy spots generally feel significantly colder than those with more shelter.Two airports serve the Reykjavík area, one for international flights and another for domestic flights. They are 50 km away from each other.Keflavík International Airport (Icelandic: Keflavíkurflugvallur, IATA: KEF, ICAO: BIKF) International Airport is Iceland’s main international airport, and is located 50 km southwest of Reykjavík, in the town of Keflavík. Note that WOW Air is now out of business as of 20 March 2019. Some of the international airlines flying to Keflavík include:To travel between the airport and Reykjavik city center:Reykjavík Airport (Icelandic: Reykjavíkurflugvallur, IATA: RKV, ICAO: BIRK)Sterna  and Reykjavík Excursions  operate regular bus service from West Iceland, South Iceland and Akureyri. If you find yourself in other parts of the country, it will be difficult to find a direct bus route to Reykjavík. The best option, if relying on buses, is to first get into the aforementioned regions and catch a bus to Reykjavík from there. This will probably require an overnight stay.Three main roads serve as entry points into Reykjavík: If you’re driving into town from South Iceland or West Iceland, beware of some quite heavy traffic jams on Sundays when people are going back home after a weekend away. This mainly applies during the summer, and becomes even worse on Mondays after three-day weekends, not to mention if the weather has been good.There are rental car services all over Iceland, and many in Reykjavík. The cheapest car at the cheapest dealer you may find would average out to about 5500 ISK each day. If you intend to just stay in Reykjavík, renting a car is not necessary as the bus system is great and it is easy to walk around. If you plan to leave Reykjavík and go to the countryside, then renting a car is the best way to experience Iceland. It is much cheaper to rent a car from the facility next to the BSI Bus Station (Hertz, Europcar and several local agencies have a presence here) than from Keflavik Airport.Several cruise liners stop in Reykjavík each summer, mostly arriving in Sundahafn which is 3 kilometers east from the city centre. Cruise Iceland is a website run by several companies that service cruise liners in the country and has a list of companies that sail to Iceland: .Reykjavík itself is not served by any ferries, but if you have an abundance of time it is possible to take the Smyril Line (a cruise company based out of the Faroe Islands) from Hirtshals or Esbjerg to Seyaisfjaraur (a small town on the east of Iceland), via Tórshavn. This service is on the expensive side, and puts you on the other side of the country. However, it offers the possibility of bringing a car, which can be one of the best ways to travel around Iceland. If you take the ferry and drive from Seyaisfjaraur to Reykjavík, you should plan to spend the night somewhere along the way.Of course, if you have a boat capable of crossing the Atlantic it is possible to sail to Reykjavík. Check with the port authority, the United Ports of Faxaflói , to find out about harbour options.Walking in Reykjavík is highly recommended, as many attractions are within walking distance from the hotel area. The city is very beautiful, and the sidewalk and pathway system is first-rate. Reykjavík drivers are in general very friendly, and will sometimes stop for you even when there is no crossing facility.Unknown to many tourists a very long and scenic pathway for walking and cycling circles almost the whole city. A good starting point is anywhere where the city touches the sea. The path leads by an outdoor swimming pool, a sandy beach, a golf course, and a salmon river.Reykjavík has a public bus system that is clean and reliable, called Stra¦tó . The price of a single fare for adults within the capital area is 470 ISK. The price for kids aged 6-18 is 210 ISK. 0-5 years old ride for free. When paying with cash, please note that our drivers cannot give any change (May 2017). Travelers that are going to spend couple of days in the capital, can also get one or three day passes. These passes can be used without limit in the capital area through the date which is stated on the pass. The prices for the passes are: One day pass: 1,560 ISK (Oct 2017) and Three-day pass: 3,650 ISK (Oct 2017). If you need to switch buses to get to your final destination, ask the driver for a transfer ticket (skiptimiai), which is valid for the next 75 minutes on any bus. The exchange ticket is only necessary when customers pay for fares via cash or bus tickets. If you are using a 1 or 3 day pass you can just show your pass.If you’re staying outside the city centre it may be best best to get a Reykjavík City Card, which allows unlimited access to the buses, along with free access to several museums, some discounts and free internet at the hostel. The ‘City’ cards are available at the Tourist Information Center inside City Hall, and also at some hotels. A one-day card costs 3500 kr., two days costs 4700 kr., and three days costs 5500 ISK (April 2016). Other possibilities include buying 11 tickets for 3,000 kr., a 1-day pass at 800 kr. or a 3-day pass at 2,000 kr. If you’re staying for longer you can buy a long-term pass: A green pass lasts a month and costs 11,750 ISK. (Oct 2017), a red pass is for three months and costs 25,700 ISK (Oct 2017) and a blue pass lasts 9 months and costs 61,000 ISK (Oct 2017).Stra¦tó drives to various places around Iceland. Buses that travel outside the capital usually have a blue and yellow color. These buses accept cards, cash (they can give change) and bus tickets. Passengers pay for the fares on board of the bus. The prices between location varies on how many districts the passenger travels through. The capital area is one district and every trip within the capital area costs a single fare. 440 ISK or 1 bus ticket. So, when traveling outside the capital, passengers pay for each district they travel through. For example: A trip from Reykjavík to Akureyri is through 22 districts. Therefore, the price to Akureyri is 9,680 ISK (which is 440 x 22) or 22 bus tickets. The trip between Reykjavík and Keflavík International Airport is through four districts and the price is 1.760 ISK or 4 bus tickets.Hlemmur and La¦kjartorg are the main bus interchanges in central Reykjavík, with buses that can take you to any part of the city. The Stra¦tó system has buses going all the way east to Selfoss and north to Akranes, the former leaving from Mjódd and the latter from Háholt. Both of these stations can be reached from Hlemmur.Note that while most areas of Reykjavík and the neighboring towns are accessible by bus, the last buses leave around 11pm and the city has no night buses.Driving in Reykjavík is the preferred method for most residents there. As a tourist though, you should be able to manage without a car if you’re only staying in the city. Driving is recommended though for travel outside of Reykjavík and its suburbs. Note that many streets in central Reykjavík are one-way only and some of them are closed to cars in good weather.Compared to most other modern European cities, Reykjavík actually manages to have a reasonable number of parking spaces, especially for a city that boasts the most cars per capita in the world. If you’re in the centre and can’t find a place to park, there are big parking lots by the harbour and in front of Kolaportia (the flea market). Parking spaces in the city centre generally have parking meters charging between 80 and 340 kr. per hour. The city recently introduced a new type of meters and you can now pay by card if you don’t have coins on you. In the city center parking is arranged into 4 parking zones which are all clearly identified on blue signs P1, P2, P3, P4. Parking must be paid 0900-1800 Monday to Saturday. Central meters should be in every block or at least corner. The machine can be set for various languages. It is important to note that you must enter the license plate number of your car into the machine. Coins or credit cards accepted. The price per hour is ISK340 in P1, ISK170 in P2, and lower for the other zones (2018). You can also pay for a whole day, which is sometimes cheaper than the hours you want… handy if you are staying downtown with the car parked. You can also come and go on the same parking payment since your license plate number has been entered on the receipt, as long as you repark in the same zone you paid for. The fine for not paying is ISK2400 if paid within 7 days. It can be difficult to find street parking in evenings when residents are using it.The main taxi companies in Reykjavík are City Taxi (+354 422 2222), Hreyfill-Ba¦jarleiair (+354 588 5522) and BSR (+354 561 0000). All taxis are metered and most are very clean and comfortable, but be warned that travelling by taxi is one of the most expensive ways of getting around Reykjavík. There is a start fee of 600-700 kr. and a fee of 200-400 kr. per kilometer. Taking a taxi is, however, the best way to get home after a night on the town. Paying by card is not a problem, nor is splitting the bill. You can either order a taxi by phone or find one at a taxi rank, of which there are several in the city. In central Reykjavík there is one rank by La¦kjargata and another by Hallgrímskirkja or in front of Harpa Concert Hall on the waterfront.It is easy to get around Reykjavík by bicycle, if you can deal with sometimes strong headwinds and a few hills. There are not many dedicated bicycle paths and so most cycling is done on the street or on the sidewalk (both are legal). When cycling on the street you must obey the same traffic rules as cars. When cycling on the sidewalk it’s important to be considerate of people who are walking there, they have the right of way. Where there are specially marked paths for cyclists these are frequently shared with pedestrians, with a painted white line indicating the division between the two forms of transport. In these cases the narrower section is the bicycle path. Dedicated bicycle paths are a new phenomenon in Reykjavík but their number is increasing every year. These mostly link the city centre with the suburbs.Bicycles can be rented at the following locations:Reykjavík’s old town is small and easy to walk around. The houses have some very distinct features, most notably their brightly colored corrugated metal siding. Plan to spend at least a couple hours just wandering around, taking in the city. And for further feasts of the eyes, there are several museums and art galleries in the city, most of them within easy reach of the downtown area.A forested hill that is situated east of Reykjavík airport. It contains the building Perlan, where there are panoramic views over the city. There are many paths in the forest some of which lead to nearby Fossvogur cemetary. During the Second World War the United States Army occupation force built various bunkers on the hill. Remnants of them can be found close to the Bowling alley Keiluhallin.Along the southwestern coast of Reykjavík there is a path along the sea that leads from the neighbourhood of Vesturba¦r and further along the southern coast to the Nauthólsvík beach and a–skjuhlía. The path continues to Fossvogur Valley.Along the boundaries of Reykjavík and Kópavogur there is a long, narrow, green area and a path for pedestrians and cyclists. Keflavík (pronounce it “kep-la-vik”) is a town in Southwest Iceland that is home to the country’s international airport. The population is approximately 13,000.Keflavík International Airport (Icelandic: Keflavíkurflugvallur) (IATA: KEF) (ICAO: BIKF), . Keflavik is easily accessible from the airport. Simply follow signs indicating “Keflavik.” The airport is about 5 km away from the town proper.The town itself is small and easily explored on foot.Transport between the airport and Reykjavik city is by road only. The distance is 50 km. A new fast freeway (dual carriageway road) was opened 2008. The buses have a timetable adapted to the flight schedule. They go to and from the Reykjavik bus terminal, taking around 45 minutes. To get to the domestic airport a bus change is needed at the bus terminal.Whale watching tours leave from the harbor. These tours generally last about 3 hours and see dolphins, orca, minke and humpback whales. There is also a festival of lights in late August. Numerous walking paths lead out from town, including a stone path along the water that meanders several miles past seabirds to the lighthouse on the point.There are plenty of things to do and see in Keflavik. The town is fairly close to the Blue Lagoon and is often chosen by travellers for that particular reason. Keflavik has a one of a kind historical Viking museum, Viking World, along with many other things to see and do.
Airport: KEF Keflavik International Airport Cities in Iceland