Using public transport in an unfamiliar city can be tricky. What are the ways to pay? Can you get around late at night using public transport? How can you find out which bus gets you where you need to go? Read on to discover all this and more about public transport in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavík.
Photo from Denys Nevozhai
All buses in Reykjavík are operated by Strætó BS, a bus company run by Reykjavík City and neighbouring municipalities. Strætó BS’ network consists of 27 bus routes in the capital city and 21 routes outside of the city. There are no other public transport networks in the city so Strætó is pretty much the only way to get around Reykjavík without a car or a bicycle.
The name of the company ‘Strætó’ is short for ‘Strætisvagn’ which directly translates to ‘Street Car’. The word strætó is so embedded in the Icelandic language that Icelanders call public buses everywhere in the world strætó. The city buses in Reykjavík are easily recognizable due to their cheerful yellow colour.
Below you can find all the practical information you need about how, when and where to catch the bus in Reykjavík.
The buses in Reykjavík start running around 6:30 on weekdays, 7:30 on Saturdays, and 9:30 on Sundays and public holidays. Most routes stop running shortly before or just after midnight, with the exception of the night bus routes which run on Fridays and Saturdays, more information on the night buses can be found later in this article.
To find out which bus you need to catch you can use the Strætó website’s handy route planner, which is also available in the app or the timetables for each bus route.
To use the route planner you simply have to input the location you’ll be departing from, your destination and if you want, your preferred time of departure or arrival. The route planner will then show you several journeys to your destination.
The timetables show what time of day the buses stop at specific locations. Detailed information on individual schedules can be seen at each bus stop and searched on the website bus.is.
Most routes have buses running at least every half-hour. Journeys are more frequent during peak hours, which are between 7-9 am and 3-6 pm on weekdays, with buses departing every 15-minutes.
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by NAC
Routes 1 and 6 have more journeys than other routes, on a normal weekday those buses depart every 10 minutes during peak times, every 15 minutes the rest of the day and every half hour in the evening.
The following days of the year have unusual operating hours; On January 1st and December 25th the buses which drive from Reykjavík to other regions don’t run. On December 24th and December 31st the buses stop running at 3 pm. On other public holidays, the buses operate on a Sunday schedule.
Strætó bus stops are easy to identify, they are all marked with the Strætó BS logo, a red and yellow S. Some bus stops are only a pole with the logo on top and timetables attached, others have a shelter for you to wait for the bus in.
To find out where the nearest bus stop is you can search on the bus.is website or check the live map in the Strætó app, which also allows you to track the location of all buses.
It’s not guaranteed that one bus will get you where you need to go, you might have to transfer between buses. There are several bus stops in the capital region which are specifically designed to connect routes from across the bus network for easy transfer.
These stops are Fjörður, Ásgarður, Hamraborg, Mjódd and Ártún. The journeys are strategically planned so that buses arrive simultaneously to make switching buses easy for commuters.
The bus stops Hlemmur, Spöngin and Háholt are also connection stops but waiting times might be longer there since their timetables aren’t specifically designed to make transfers smoother.
The stop which connects the city buses and the buses heading outside the capital region is Mjódd, in the Breiðholt neighbourhood in Reykjavík.
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Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Raf24
There are five ways to pay for the bus in Reykjavík: Cash, ticket, day-pass, bus-card, or the app.
Children under the age of 6 and legally blind people don’t have to pay to ride the bus.
You can pay the bus fare in cash, each bus has a fare collecting box next to the driver. At the time this is written (Spring 2019) the fare for an adult is 470 ISK. For pensioners, disabled people and children aged 6-17 the fare is 235 ISK. Please note that the drivers cannot give you change, you must either have the exact amount or overpay.
To check the current price of fares, go to the Strætó website.
You can pay the bus fare with a single ride ticket. The tickets are small slips of paper, each one can be exchanged for a bus ride. They come in tear-away sheets which look a bit like what you’d get if you buy postage stamps in bulk.
A sheet of paper tickets can be purchased online and either sent to your address or picked up in Strætó’s information centre in Mjódd. You can also purchase them at designated retail locations, including swimming pools, 10-11 stores and Strætó information desks. The full list of locations where you can buy bus tickets is available here.
See also: The Best Swimming Pools in Reykjavik
One bus ticket equals one fare within the city limits. If you are transferring between buses on your journey you can ask the bus driver for a “skiptimiði”, a transfer ticket which can be used for any journey within 75 minutes of the time they’re issued.
You can pay the fare with a day pass, perhaps the best choice for visitors to the city. Day passes, valid for either one or three days, are the perfect way for those who are stopping in Reykjavík for a few days to get around. They are available at some of the aforementioned designated retail locations, further information found here.
You can use a bus card to ride the bus, this is the best option for those staying in Reykjavík for a longer stretch of time.
Two different types of bus cards are available, personal or non-personal. To get a personal bus card you need an Icelandic social security number (kennitala). These cards have a photo to ID the owner and can only be used by the owner. To obtain a personal bus card you must apply for it online. These are plastic and therefore very durable.
Non-personal cards can be used by anyone who has the card in their possession. You can choose how many months your card is valid for, from one month up to a whole year. These are made of thick paper and therefore less durable than the personal bus cards.
Like physical bus fares, the app also has an option to either buy single tickets or subscribe to a bus card for your selected amount of months. Further info on the app below.
The Strætó app is available in the App Store for Apple devices and on Google Play for Android devices, the app does not work on Windows Phones (sorry Bill Gates). It can be set to either Icelandic or English.
The Strætó app is a heaven-send for anyone who’s trying to use public transport in Iceland. The app allows you to buy tickets, plan routes, view real-time updates of your bus’ location and even listen to podcasts.
To use the app you simply download it, register with your phone number and card details (the app does not accept American Express) and you can start riding the bus.
Photo by Juan Encalada
When you buy a ticket it isn’t automatically activated so you can buy tickets and save them for later. They will continue to be available under the ‘My Tickets’ section of the app. Once activated, a single fare ticket is valid for 75 minutes.
You need an internet connection to buy tickets from the app. Most buses in Reykjavík have free wifi, but it’s better to purchase tickets beforehand and not to rely on the bus wifi.
The app also has the option of buying group tickets for up to 20 people.
The app offers a Live Map where you can track your bus in real time, as well as service updates, which takes all the guesswork out of riding the bus. Information on where your bus is and when it will arrive and your ticket are all in one place, so you can relax and enjoy listening to one of the podcasts available in the app.
Strætó runs a Nightbus service late night on Fridays and Saturdays, which are the nights when Reykjavík’s vibrant nightlife is at its wildest.
See also: Nightlife in Reykjavik
There are six routes 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, and 111 each does three journeys a night between 01:00-04:30. They all depart from either Stjórnarráðið or Hlemmur, in downtown Reykjavík, and drive away from the city centre, no buses run towards the city centre after midnight.
You can catch the Nightbus from other locations than where they depart from but there is no set time table for when the bus arrives at those stops. We recommend tracking their whereabouts through the app.
The fare for a Nightbus ride is double that of a normal bus ride, 970 ISK or two bus tickets. Unless you have a bus card, which allows you to ride the bus at any time.
You can only get on and off the bus at designated stops. The bus might not stop unless you clearly indicate your intention to board, for example by sticking your hand out to flag down the bus. If a bus displays the text 'Er ekki á leið' it means the bus is not in service.
Unless you have a bicycle, baby carriage or any other reason to enter at the middle of the bus, you should enter through the front doors. You should have your payment ready before boarding the bus.
You are not allowed to exit at the front of the bus, instead use one of the two rear doors. Iceland can be very slippery so take care when stepping off the bus.
You are allowed to bring bicycles and suitcases on the bus, however, wheelchairs and baby prams have priority of the designated area at the middle of the bus.
See also: What to do With Young Kids in Reykjavik
There is space for one wheelchair on each bus. The wheelchair user must be able to get on and off the bus by themselves or have someone with them to assist.
Please note that although many do, drivers are not required to speak English and might not be able to provide you with information in any other language than Icelandic. Make sure you have all the information you need before your journey.
Scooters, rollerblades and skateboards must be carried if you bring them on the bus, they cannot be used during the ride.
Pets are allowed on city buses under the following conditions. Pets have to get on the bus through the back sets of doors and stay at the back while they ride the bus. The pet’s caretaker must be over 18 years of age to be allowed to bring the pet on the bus and each person is only allowed to bring one pet. Dogs must be on a lead, other pets must be secured in a cage.
Photo by Brandan Keller
Pets are not allowed on the bus at the busiest times of day, 07:00-09:00 AM and 03:00-06:00 PM on weekdays. Guide dogs are exempt from these rules.
Be mindful of other passengers, there are priority seats for those less-able to stand, if you sit in one of those, be ready to offer it to someone who needs it more. Please note that Icelanders are usually quiet on the bus (unless you happen to encounter a group of pre-school children on a field trip).
You are not allowed to eat or smoke on the bus in Reykjavík.
Find more articles in our Reykjavik Guide series
We hope this article answered your questions about Reykjavík public transport. Enjoy whizzing around the city of Reykjavík in a beautiful yellow Strætó!