Getting Around Iceland Without a Car, A Comprehensive Guide to Exploring the Land of Fire and Ice

How to get around iceland without a car – Exploring Iceland without a car is an adventure in itself, offering a unique perspective on the country’s stunning landscapes and vibrant culture. From organized tours to local transportation options, there’s a myriad of ways to navigate this enchanting island nation.

Whether you’re a budget traveler seeking cost-effective options or a thrill-seeker embracing the spontaneity of hitchhiking, this comprehensive guide will empower you to plan an unforgettable Icelandic journey tailored to your preferences and needs.

Public Transportation Options

Iceland offers a well-developed public transportation system, enabling visitors to explore the country without the need for a car. Buses, trains, and ferries provide convenient and affordable ways to reach major destinations and remote areas alike.

The frequency and accessibility of public transportation services vary depending on the region and time of year. In general, services are more frequent and comprehensive during the peak tourist season (June to August) and less frequent during the off-season (September to May).


Buses are the most common form of public transportation in Iceland, connecting major cities, towns, and tourist attractions. The national bus carrier, Strætó, operates an extensive network of routes, including regular services between Reykjavik and Akureyri, as well as connections to smaller towns and villages.

  • Frequency: Buses generally operate on a daily basis, with multiple departures throughout the day. However, the frequency may vary depending on the route and time of year.
  • Cost: Bus fares vary depending on the distance traveled. Single tickets can be purchased on board, while multi-day passes are available for extended travel.
  • Accessibility: Bus stops are located in central areas of towns and cities, making them easily accessible for travelers.


Iceland has a limited rail network, with only one passenger train line connecting Reykjavik to Akureyri. The train journey takes approximately 6 hours and offers scenic views of the Icelandic countryside.

  • Frequency: The train operates daily, with multiple departures in each direction.
  • Cost: Train fares are comparable to bus fares, with discounts available for multi-day passes.
  • Accessibility: Train stations are located in Reykjavik and Akureyri, providing easy access to the rail network.


Ferries provide a vital connection to Iceland’s offshore islands and remote coastal areas. The largest ferry operator, Smyril Line, offers regular services between Reykjavik and the Westman Islands, as well as seasonal routes to the Faroe Islands and Denmark.

  • Frequency: Ferry schedules vary depending on the route and time of year. In general, ferries operate daily during the peak season and less frequently during the off-season.
  • Cost: Ferry fares vary depending on the destination and travel class. Discounts are available for multi-day passes and group bookings.
  • Accessibility: Ferry terminals are located in Reykjavik and other major coastal towns, providing convenient access to ferry services.

Organized Tours

For travelers without cars, organized tours offer a convenient and hassle-free way to explore Iceland’s diverse landscapes and attractions.

These tours cater to various interests and budgets, ranging from day trips to multi-day excursions. Some tours even provide self-guided options for those who prefer a more independent experience.

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Advantages of Organized Tours

  • Flexibility:Tours offer a wide range of itineraries, allowing travelers to choose experiences that align with their interests and time constraints.
  • Cost-effective:Compared to renting a car and arranging accommodations independently, organized tours can be more cost-efficient, especially for group travelers.
  • Convenience:Tours eliminate the hassle of planning and driving, providing a stress-free and comfortable way to explore Iceland.

Disadvantages of Organized Tours

  • Limited flexibility:Group tours follow a set itinerary, which may not accommodate spontaneous changes or personal preferences.
  • Crowds:Popular tours can attract large groups, potentially compromising the intimate experience of exploring Iceland’s natural wonders.
  • Cost:While some tours offer budget-friendly options, others can be expensive, especially for solo travelers or those on a tight budget.

Taxis and Ride-Sharing Services

Taxis and ride-sharing services are widely available in Iceland, particularly in major cities like Reykjavik. Taxis are easily recognizable by their yellow color and can be hailed on the street or ordered through a taxi company. Ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Bolt, are also prevalent and can be booked through their respective mobile apps.

Taxis tend to be more expensive than ride-sharing services, but they offer the convenience of being able to hail a ride directly from the street. Ride-sharing services, on the other hand, are typically cheaper but may require some waiting time, especially during peak hours.

Both taxis and ride-sharing services accept cash and credit cards as payment methods.

Alternative Ride-Sharing Options

In addition to traditional taxis and ride-sharing services, there are also alternative ride-sharing options available in Iceland. These include carpooling and ride-splitting, which can be arranged through online platforms or social media groups. Carpooling involves sharing a ride with other passengers who are traveling in the same direction, while ride-splitting is a form of carpooling where passengers share the cost of a taxi or ride-sharing service.

Walking and Cycling

Walking and cycling are feasible and safe options for getting around Iceland, particularly in urban areas like Reykjavik. Designated trails and bike paths are available, and many areas are pedestrian-friendly. Exploring Iceland on foot or by bike offers benefits such as fitness, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility to remote areas.

However, it’s important to consider the limitations, including weather conditions and the distances between destinations.

Designated Trails and Bike Paths

Iceland has an extensive network of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging multi-day treks. Popular trails include the Laugavegur Trail, Fimmvörðuháls Pass, and Glymur Waterfall Trail. Bike paths are also available in major cities and along some scenic routes, such as the Ring Road.

Benefits of Walking and Cycling



Walking and cycling are excellent ways to stay active while exploring Iceland.

  • -*Cost-effectiveness

    These modes of transportation are significantly cheaper than renting a car or taking organized tours.

  • -*Accessibility

    Walking and cycling allow you to access remote areas not easily accessible by car, providing a more immersive experience.

Limitations of Walking and Cycling



Iceland’s unpredictable weather can make walking and cycling challenging, especially during winter months.


The distances between destinations in Iceland can be significant, making it impractical to rely solely on walking or cycling for long-distance travel.


Hitchhiking in Iceland is legal and generally considered safe, but it is essential to exercise caution and take necessary precautions. It is a common practice, especially among budget travelers and adventure enthusiasts.

Finding Rides

Finding rides in Iceland is relatively easy, especially during the summer months when there is more traffic. Head to popular tourist destinations, gas stations, or roadside rest areas where drivers are likely to stop. Carry a clear sign indicating your destination and be patient.

Communicating with Drivers

When approaching a vehicle, be polite and respectful. Knock on the window and ask if the driver is heading towards your destination. If they agree, clearly communicate your destination and any specific preferences you may have.

Ensuring a Positive Experience

To ensure a positive hitchhiking experience, follow these tips:

  • Be prepared for long waits, especially in remote areas.
  • Carry a map or GPS device to assist drivers with directions.
  • Offer to contribute to gas expenses if possible.
  • Be friendly and engage in conversation with drivers.
  • Trust your instincts and avoid riding with anyone who makes you uncomfortable.

Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking


  • Cost-effective way to travel.
  • Flexibility and freedom to explore at your own pace.
  • Opportunity to meet locals and learn about the country.


  • Can be time-consuming and unpredictable.
  • Potential safety risks if proper precautions are not taken.
  • Limited availability of rides in remote areas.

Local Transportation Options: How To Get Around Iceland Without A Car

Getting around within cities and towns in Iceland is generally convenient, with a range of transportation options available.


Public buses operate in most major towns and cities, providing reliable and affordable transportation. Bus fares vary depending on the distance traveled.

Taxis, How to get around iceland without a car

Taxis are widely available in urban areas, but they can be expensive. It’s recommended to book taxis in advance, especially during peak tourist season.

Bike Rentals

Cycling is a popular way to explore Icelandic cities and towns. Bike rental shops are available in most tourist areas, offering a variety of bikes to choose from.

Unique Transportation Solutions

In some cities, unique transportation solutions are available, such as:

Electric scooters

Electric scooters can be rented in Reykjavik and other major cities, providing a convenient and eco-friendly way to get around.

Boat taxis

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In some coastal towns, boat taxis offer scenic transportation between different parts of the town or to nearby islands.

Planning and Itinerary Considerations

Exploring Iceland without a car requires meticulous planning to ensure a seamless and fulfilling experience. It is crucial to align your itinerary with the available transportation options and optimize your travel routes. This section provides essential tips on planning your journey, booking tours, and managing time and resources effectively.

Optimizing Travel Routes

When planning your itinerary, consider the locations you want to visit and the transportation options available. Research bus routes, ferry schedules, and tour availability to create a feasible travel plan. Utilize online resources and consult with local tourism offices for up-to-date information on transportation options.

Booking Tours in Advance

To avoid disappointment, book organized tours in advance, especially during peak season. Research reputable tour operators and compare their offerings to find the best fit for your interests and budget. Consider the duration, itinerary, and group size of each tour to ensure it aligns with your preferences.

Allowing for Flexibility

Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, so allow for flexibility in your itinerary. Have backup plans in case of cancellations or delays. Consider alternative transportation options or adjust your schedule to accommodate any unexpected circumstances.

Managing Time and Resources

Plan your itinerary realistically, considering your physical limitations and budget. Iceland offers a vast array of attractions, but it is important to prioritize your interests and allocate your time wisely. Research the estimated travel times between destinations and factor in breaks for rest and meals.


Embarking on an Icelandic adventure without a car opens up a world of possibilities, allowing you to immerse yourself in the country’s natural wonders and cultural heritage. By carefully planning your itinerary, embracing flexibility, and exploring the diverse transportation options available, you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime.

FAQ Insights

Is public transportation in Iceland reliable?

Yes, Iceland’s public transportation system is generally reliable, with buses and trains operating on schedule. However, during peak tourist season or in remote areas, services may be less frequent.

How expensive are taxis in Iceland?

Taxis in Iceland are relatively expensive, with fares starting around 1,000 ISK (approximately $7 USD) for the first kilometer. Additional kilometers cost around 150 ISK ($1 USD).

Is hitchhiking safe in Iceland?

Hitchhiking in Iceland is generally considered safe, but as with any form of travel, it’s essential to exercise caution. Always trust your instincts and be aware of your surroundings.

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