Keflavik (KEF), 30 miles from downtown Reykjavik
Icelandic Crowns / Krona / ISK
$1 ~ 125 ISK
Buses are served by Strætó (timetable here)
From North America, you’re likely to arrive at Keflavíkurflugvöllur (KEF) in the dead of the morning—an evening flight from New York’s JFK deposited me in Iceland at 6:15 a.m. A few minutes having my passport stamped, even fewer to retrieve my luggage at the carousel, and already, I’m done.
There are no subways and public buses from this airport to Reykjavik; your only options are shared shuttles, cabs, and private transport services. Shared shuttles run 24/7 and cost between $25–$45. This is the cheapest way to get to the city, but remember you’re sharing the bus with close to 40 other passengers, so be prepared to wait upwards of an hour. If you’re traveling in a group of three or more, consider just getting a private sedan, such as City Taxi. For about $200, you get to leave the airport with your friends and get chauffeured right up to the front door of your hotel or Airbnb. I don’t know if there are cabs but considering it would cost you upwards of $300 one way, you’re probably better off not even considering it.
The Blue Lagoon (bluelagoon.com, passes from $53) is midway between the city and the airport, and is a great way to pass the time while you’re waiting to check-in at your hotel. Many shared shuttles include a stopover at the Blue Lagoon for slightly more money. It’s a great way to not only relax after coming out of a cramped six-hour flight but to introduce you to one of Iceland’s best features: abundant hot springs. Change into your bathing suit and just…soak. If you prefer, pick up some of the mud and use it as a pore-clearing mask.
Be aware that the sulfur in the water can tarnish jewelry and make your hair stiff as a flagpole. Leave any bracelets, watches, rings, and earrings at the changing room, and coat your hair with a generous amount of the provided conditioner.
Once you’re all-lagooned-up, take another shuttle to Reykjavik and check-in to your hotel. I stayed at Center Hotels Laugavegur (singles from $200, centerhotels.com), right smack in the middle of the busy and bustling Laugavegur street.
Forgo any sight-seeing for about two–three hours; jetlag will start to hit once you’ve settled in your room. Set your alarm for 6:00 p.m. and get some much needed shut-eye before then.
When you wake up—hopefully refreshed at this point—take a quick shower and walk two blocks from the hotel to Jörgensen Kitchen & Bar (Laugavegur 120, mains from $25, jorgensenkitchen.com). Iceland is renowned for its lamb and seafood, and you can’t go wrong with just going for the fish or the meat of the day. My table had Icelandic Lamb (delicious although I would have preferred a medium temperature rather than medium-well), Fish & Chips (rivals any from Ireland), Salmon Duo, and a plate of nachos. All these were washed down with glasses of Viking lager.
With a full stomach and an even fuller bladder, call it a night.