I t is no secret visiting Iceland takes a heavy toll on your bank account. Want to lessen that load? Then one idea could be to explore Reykjavik by local bus.
First off, be aware the bus system is rather awful and not exactly cheap either. Drivers are more often than not foreigners with no knowledge of particular places and often understand little English. There is but two night buses and in a number of cases hotels or guesthouses are quite a walk away from the nearest bus stop. You will need to have exact change, 490 ISK at time of writing, at all hours or download a special payment app and pay beforehand.
On weekends and evenings only two trips are made each hour either way on most routes and you cannot stay longer than until 23 to catch the very latest bus in most cases. There are definitely drawbacks here.
Another con is the fact that Reykjavik city is light years away from being highly interesting although this is slowly getting better. Outside of the downtown area places you could enjoy and be surprised about can be counted on the fingers of a one-armed man.
That said some buses can be quite useful.
- Should you wish to explore the neighborhood towns of Kopavogur, Gardabaer and Hafnarfjordur then grab bus no.1. The two first two towns have no center to speak of but in Kopavogur you can get close to the fine Kopavogur church and this bus will take you to the Hafnarfjordur center not far from the Viking village.
- To get close to the fine and scenic Grotta lighthouse in the westernmost tip of Reykjavik you grab bus no.11 on way to Nordurstrond. A short walk is necessary to get all the way but this is by the sea and quite nice a walk when weather is still or warm. Ask the driver about the closest stop.
- Should you wish to see the Reykjavik historical museum or the excellent Ellidaa salmon river hop onboard bus no.12 on way to Hamrar. It is quite a journey but fear not, you will notice the rows of ancient buildings massively out of place in an instant.
- Finding your way to the old harbor area of Reykjavik, a major tourist spot nowadays, is easy with bus no.14 on way to Grandi.
- Easiest way by bus to Perlan viewing platform, you know the spaceship-like building seen from afar, you will need bus no.18 from Hlemmur central station. Wear good shoes since there is a tiny bit of walk uphill from the stop.
- Also possible for Perlan but a longer walk is to take bus no 19 but the end stop for this one is right by the geothermal beach area called Nautholsvik.
The rest of the lines mostly go into forgettable suburbs or to IKEA or some-such nonsense. Keep in mind last buses for all lines leave about 23:00 hours and on Sundays you will have to wait until 11:00 for the first bus of the day. Also remember, should you be a fast-walker, to ask bus drivers for a change ticket, skiptimida in local language. This is valid for 60 minutes or so and allows unlimited travel during that time as long as you present the change ticket each time.
Do not hesitate to get in touch if we can help out in some way.