Public Transportation – How to Take the Bus in Reykjavík!

If you‘re staying in Reykjavík for any period of time, you might want to get acquainted with the public transportation system, Strætó. We don’t have trains, or underground system, only our beautiful yellow public buses. They‘ll take you anywhere you need to go but I understand that it might be a bit confusing to figure out how the system works. If you’re looking for some tips to make your life easier on the streets of Reykjavík, here’s how to take the bus in Reykjavík:

Where can I buy tickets and how much does it cost?

The single fare price for adults is 440 ISK. Children (6+), seniors and disabled should pay 210 ISK (from 1st of Jan 2017). You can buy a ticket on the bus, but only if you have the exact amount in cash (the drivers don‘t have change). Tickets can also be bought in 10-11 supermarkets, Kringlan shopping centre, swimming pools and Mjódd Bus Terminal.

Wow, that seems really complicated, there must be some easier way I can do this?

Yes, there is! If you don‘t like carrying around exact change for your fare, there’s now a free Strætó app that will solve all your problems. You can buy a ticket before going on the bus, look up which buses to take and at what time and there‘s even a map where you can see in real-time how far away your bus is. If you‘re worried about the charges for the internet use, don‘t be, Strætó has free Wi-Fi as well!

But I don‘t have a Smartphone! Can I still take the bus without carrying change or buying more tickets than I need?

I‘m glad you asked! Strætó sells day passes and 3-day passes, but the Reykjavík city card is another option. It‘s available for 24, 48 or 72 hours and gives you access to all of Reykjavík‘s public museums (and discounted access to the private ones), geothermal pools, the Reykjavík Family Zoo in Laugardalur as well as the bus system!

Okay, so the fare is sorted. Next question, how do I know when my bus arrives?

The timetables can be found on the Strætó website, and each bus stop has the departure times for the buses that stop there. The Strætó app also has the departure times and will calculate your route for you. In general, the buses start running before 7 am on weekdays (slightly later on weekends, but still before 10 am) and run until ca 11 pm or 11:30 pm, depending on routes.

Wait, the bus doesn’t run after midnight? What if I have to get places during the night?

If you need to travel after hours and walking is not feasible, taking a taxi is your best (and only) option. If you’re downtown, there are queues for taxis at Ingólfstorg and Lækjartorg. You can also stop them in the street if you see one with the lights on. Outside the city centre, it’s best to call a car. Taxis in Iceland are well regulated, clearly marked (with lights on top) and generally safe.

Okay, so I’ve got my ticket and I know which bus to take and when it arrives, but there are bus stops on both sides of the street with buses going in opposite directions! How do I know if I’m heading the right way?

When deciding which bus to take, get the route number and the terminus. While you’re waiting for the bus, check to make sure you’re waiting on the right side of the street. On a little sign right next to the bus stop you’ll find the timetable for your route. Above the timetable, you’ll find the names of the bus stops on the way (the one you’re on is specially marked) with the terminus at the end of the line, make sure it matches the one you’re supposed to take. If it doesn’t, cross the street. When the bus arrives it will also be clearly marked with the route number and the terminus.Occasionally the bus drivers forget to change it at the end of the line, so just in case, it doesn’t hurt to ask the driver. He can also help you figure out when to step off the bus.

public transportation in iceland

What do I do if I have to change buses on my route?

Just ask for a “transfer ticket” when you enter the bus. The ticket is valid for 75 minutes and you can show it to the bus driver when you enter the next bus.

What if I want to get out of the city? Do you really have no other modes of public transportation? No trains?

Nope, if you’re not renting a car it’s Strætó all the way. When you’ve mastered how to take the bus in Reykjavík, it’s time to learn how to use it to get out of the city. Strætó has routes outside of the city, with destinations such as Akureyri, Hveragerði, Vík and Jökulsárlón (the Glacial Lagoon). Prices differ, depending on where you’re going, but buses going out of the city take credit cards. However, if you’re travelling long distances, you might want to consider flying instead, especially in the winter, since weather can cause interruptions.

If you had a different question about strætó, let us know! There’s also more information on the Strætó website and on the app.

See you in Strætó!

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