Getting There and Getting Around Iceland

The Blesi hot springs in the Haukadalur geothermal field, where the original Geysir was located. Credit: Sara E. Pratt The Blesi hot springs in the Haukadalur geothermal field, where the original Geysir was located. Credit: Sara E. Pratt

Iceland Air is the main airline serving Iceland, but many major American and international carriers stop there. The airport is in Keflavik, about 50 kilometers from the capital city of Reykjavik. Public buses timed to flight arrivals run to and from Reykjavik.

If you stick to the beaten path, it is tough to get lost in Iceland, as there is only one road that goes around the island. Known as the Ring Road, it is generally paved, though you should pay attention to warning signs about high winds and glacial washouts. During summer, public transportation runs regularly around the Ring Road, but it can be costly. You can rent a car at the airport, which is also not cheap, especially with gas prices usually about double what they are in the U.S. Driving does give you the most flexibility, but guided tours are also an option. To explore the inner part of the island, some people choose to go with guided tours because they access the generally unpaved and more rugged roads — on which many standard rental cars are prohibited — by means of four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles. All of the places mentioned in this article are accessible by non-4WD rental cars.

The Mývatn Nature Baths, an outdoor geothermal spa, is fed by effluent from a nearby geothermal power plant. High silica content gives the water its brilliant blue color. Credit: Sara E. Pratt The Mývatn Nature Baths, an outdoor geothermal spa, is fed by effluent from a nearby geothermal power plant. High silica content gives the water its brilliant blue color. Credit: Sara E. Pratt

To reach Heimaey, you can fly or take one of two different ferries. The shorter trip (on a newer ferry) departs from Landeyjahöfn, about two hours from Reykjavik. The ferry from Þorlákshöfn, which is closer to the capital, takes a little less than three hours to reach the island.

A range of accommodations is available, from hostels to bed and breakfasts and hotels. For more information, visit www.visiticeland.com.

David B. Williams

EARTH contributor

Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 06:00