Several ferries operate in Iceland. The car ferry Herjólfur sails between Þorlákshöfn and Vestmannaeyjar , and the Baldur sails between Stykkishólmur, Flatey and Brjánslækur – at the time of writing both run year-round. A harbour terminal for the Vestmannaeyjar ferry has opened at Bakki, about 20km south of Hvolsvöllur; contact any tourist centre, or the ferry company Eimskip (481 2800; www.eimskip.com) and the BSÍ bus station (562 1011; www.bsi.is) to check the latest transport details. Passenger ferries include the Sævar between Arskógssandur and Hrísey, the Sæfari between Dalvík and Hrísey or Grímsey, and the Anný between Neskaupstaður and Mjóifjörður. Small summer-only ferries run from Reykjavík’s Sundahöfn harbour to the island of Viðey, and from Ísafjörður and Drangsnes to stops at Hornstrandir in the Westfjords.
Hitching anywhere in the world is never fully without risk. Nevertheless, we met scores of tourists that were hitching their way around the country (we even picked up a few) and most of them had very positive reports. Single female travellers and couples tend to get a lift the quickest – sorry guys, best find a woman to travel with. Of course when it comes to hitching, patience is a prerequisite, and logic is important too – be savvy about where you position yourself. Don’t stand in the middle of a long straight stretch of highway because drivers will zoom right by before they even notice you. Try standing at junctions, near petrol stations or even by Bónus supermarkets. When you arrive at your accommodation for the night it doesn’t hurt to let everyone else know where you’re trying to get to the next day. Chances are there’s another traveller going that way who can give you a ride. Summer is by far the best time to hitch a ride and you’ll find that both locals and tourists are up for helping hitchers out. You’ll get picked up in the winter out of pity – but there aren’t too many people driving around at that time of year. If the idea of hitching makes you uncomfortable, check out www.samferda.net, a handy car-sharing site.
Travelling by car is often the only way to get to parts of Iceland. Although hire-car rates are expensive by international standards, they compare favourably against bus or internal air travel within the country. The cheapest cars on offer, usually a Toyota Yaris or similar, cost around Ikr20,000 per day. Figure on paying around Ikr45,000 for a 4WD. Rates include unlimited mileage and VAT. You’d think that with such high prices it would be easy to find a car. Think again. In the height of summer many dealerships completely run out of rentals. To rent a car you must be 20 yea s old (25 years for a 4WD) and you will need to show a valid licence. Be sure to check the small print, as additional costs such as extra insurance, airport pick-up charges and one-way rental can really rack up.
Iceland has an extensive network of bus routes with services operated by a number of bus companies. All are members of the consortium BSÍ (Bifreiðastöð Íslands; 562 1011; www.bsi.is; Vatnsmýrarvegur 10), based in the BSÍ bus terminal in Reykjavík. The booking desk sells tickets and distributes the free Ísland á Eigin Vegum (Iceland on Your Own) brochure, which contains time tables. From June to August there are regular buses to most places on the Ring Road, and to larger towns in the Westfjords and on the Reykjanes and Snæfellsnes Peninsulas. During the rest of the year services range from daily to nonexistent. In small towns and villages, buses stop at the main petrol station.
Main bus companies:
SBA-Norðurleið (550 0700, 550 0770; www.sba.is) Northeast Iceland.
Stjörnubílar (456 5518; www.stjornubilar.is) Westfjords.
TREX (Bílar og Fólk; %551 1166; www.bogf.is) South, west and north Iceland.
Iceland has an extensive network of domestic flights, which locals use almost like buses. In winter a flight can be the only way to get between destinations, but weather at this time of year can play havoc with schedules.
Air Iceland (570 3030; www.airiceland.is) operates flights from Reykjavík to Akureyri (45 minutes, minimum five flights daily), Egilsstaðir (one hour, minimum two daily), Ísafjörður (40 minutes, minimum two daily) and Vestmannaeyjar (25 minutes, twice daily). One-way prices start at Ikr4990 for all domestic destinations.
Eagle Air (562 4200; www.ernir.is; Reykjavík Domestic Airport, IS-101 Reykjavík) operates flights to smaller airstrips, including Sauðárkrókur, Hornafjörður (Höfn), Bildudalur and Gjögur. Flights cost €115 one way.
Cycling through Iceland’s dramatic landscape is a fantastic way to see the country, but you should be prepared for some harsh conditions along the way. Gale-force winds, driving rain, sandstorms, sleet and sudden flurries of snow are all possible at any time of year. It’s essential to know how to do your own basic repairs and to bring several puncture-repair kits and spares, as supplies are hard to come by outside the city. Reykjavík has several well-stocked bike shops. Two of the best include Örninn (588 9890; Skeifan 11d, IS-108 Reykjavík) and Markið (553 5320; Ármúli 40, IS-108 Reykjavík). If you want to tackle the interior, the Kjölur route has bridges over all major rivers, making it fairly accessible to cyclists. A less challenging route is the F249 to Þórsmörk. The Westfjords also offers some wonderful cycling terrain, though the winding roads and steep passes can make for slow progress.