Reykjavik Iceland’s remote location in the north Atlantic makes it nearly equidistant from London and New York City. Yet, it’s austere volcanic terrain, dramatic waterfalls and sky-blue glaciers make it totally unlike either of those locations.
The Icelandic airlines have leveraged Iceland’s unique landscape and growing tourism industry into a vehicle for capturing a market share of travelers winging between North America and Europe.
This is great for you because it means that both of Iceland’s air carriers, WOW Airline and Icelandair make traveling through Reykjavik an appealing and affordable proposition.
What follows are some suggestions for why to plan a long stopover in Reykjavik and tips for making it happen.
Four Reasons to Plan a Long Stopover in Iceland
Escape the cramping and stale air of a long flight
Direct flights used to be the preferred way to fly, but as the airlines have squeezed more legroom and comfort out of air travel, layovers have become more appealing. Rather than being stuck on an 8-12 hour flight, your long stopover in Iceland will get you out of the airport, allowing you to stretch your legs and breathe in some of Iceland’s bracing fresh air.
You can count a new country
If you are one of those travelers who like to count how many countries you’ve visited, doing a stopover in Reykjavik will give you a fresh passport stamp and bragging rights to all of your friends.
You can see some pretty cool stuff on a day tour from Reykjavik
There are several tour operators running day trips from Reykjavik around the Golden Circle which includes stops at Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National Park and Geysir geothermal area. Alternatively, you can choose a southern tour and see the Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls and visit the basalt columns on Reynisfjara black sand beach. If you are visiting in the winter, you can book an evening Northern Lights tour that will take you a quick thirty minutes away from the city lights for the clear dark skies that are perfect for viewing the aurora. We can help you book those days tours- check out our listings here.
You can also see some pretty cool stuff right in Reykjavik
If you are into a good hot soak, the popular Blue Lagoon is conveniently located halfway between the airport and down Reykjavik and there are also several municipal hot pools in the city. You can also get great views of the city from the top of Hallgrimskirkja church, check out the street art or learn about the history of Iceland at the National Museum. If you are on a budget, check out our list of ten free things to do in Reykjavik.
Four Tips for Planning a Stopover
Figure out which carrier best serves your region.
Check the route maps for WOW Air and Icelandair to determine which would make a better departure point for your city. WOW has nonstops to Reykjavik from fifteen cities in the US and Canada, twenty European cities and also Tel Aviv. Icelandair hubs from twenty-two US and Canadian cities and twenty-two European cities.
Play around with your itinerary dates in order to score the best deal
Each carrier has slightly different rules regarding stopovers. Icelandair allows for stopovers up to seven days for no additional cost. Their rules are more coherent and their booking engine is easier to use but their fares are usually higher than WOW’s. WOW Air is always running deals and so their rates fluctuate quite a bit. WOW requires that you purchase the stopover as part of a round trip ticket. For WOW, the pricing varies depending upon the dates that you choose for the stopover, so to get the best deal, you’ll need to play around with your dates.
Getting into Reykjavik from the airport
Taking a cab will cost 15.000ISK (€122 or $150USD), so don’t do that. You can use the airport trasfer service for less than 3.000ISK. They both take about forty-five minutes and stop at pre-determined drop offs located in central Reykjavik. You don’t need to book in advance but they do offer that option. You can save money by purchasing a round trip ticket and your hotel or hostel will help you schedule the return trip
Stay with us in Reykjavik
HI Iceland has three great hostels right in downtown Reykjavik. Reykjavik City HI Hostel is a newly renovated and comfortable hostel in Laugardalur Park, next to the city's largest geothermal pool and Reykjavík Campsite. Reykjavik Downtown HI Hostel is a stone’s throw from the harbor area and located on a quiet residential street. Reykjavik Loft HI Hostel is located on the main shopping street and has a large rooftop café and bar. The staff at HI Iceland will help you book a tour, make restaurant recommendations and schedule your bus transportation back to the airport at the end of your stopover.
Come and sample Iceland on a stopover and we know that you’ll want to come back for a longer visit.
Carol is a travel writer. She is an experienced traveler with an independent streak and she is always on the look out for something extraordinary when travelling. You can find her itineraries, travel advice and Iceland content at Wayfaringviews.com