Reykjavik, Iceland is not like most European cities. First, it is only about 300,000 people. Second, its airport isn’t even in Reykjavik – its in Keflavik, Iceland about 1 hour (52 kilometers) away. There are really only two ways to get there – a ridiculously expensive taxi ride or the Reykjavik FlyBus operated by Reykjavik Excursions. We found that the FlyBus Iceland service is a fiasco.
Taking the FlyBus into Reykjavik from the Keflavik airport takes a load of faith. There’s no set schedule. And there’s a good reason why: the company organizes the bus to maximize profits. And this can leave you waiting for a very long time.
The company, Reykjavik Excursions, claims that the Flybus leaves Keflavik airport after every arriving flight, approximately 35-40 minutes after an arriving flight. In our experience, there weren’t many people who signed up for the service, so they just kept holding the bus…and holding the bus…and holding the bus.
So, we didn’t leave Keflavik until 2 hours and 10 minutes after the flight landed. They kept telling us (the five of us waiting on the big bus) that it would leave shortly.
Now, if the company kept to their process (and what is published on their slickly produced website and marketing materials), there should have been 3-4 buses in the time where none actually went. In our experience, when the giant bus finally did go, there were only 5 really upset people on the bus.
Put simply, Reykjavik Excursions held the bus for over 2 hours hoping to get more paying passengers before finally letting the bus leave the airport. The company didn’t make much money on that trip, and they were all tourists. I can only assume that locals know better than to take the Reykjavik Excursions Flybus.
Now, truth in disclosure, the service from the hotel to the airport was better – and also operates on a set schedule. It was absolutely packed – 100% of the seats filled…and the bus went on time.
As a country, Iceland is working hard to boost tourism. And yes, we thoroughly enjoyed our 10 days in Iceland. However, travelers generally expect a certain level of infrastructure. And this is especially true in Europe. Having reliable and timely transportation from the city center to the airport is one of those things.
If Iceland wants to boost tourism it would benefit them to have reliable and economical airport service. And the Reykjavik Excursions Flybus in Iceland is not it.
Travelers to Iceland have few options to get from the airport into Reykjavik. But they should be warned that there’s a good chance of them being stranded at the airport for an extended period of time. Travelers should allow plenty of extra time and not assume the bus will run as promised. We would strongly encourage travelers to investigate other options.
Note: It doesn’t seem that the Reykjavik Excursions Flybus experience has improved. We found this article on The Pickup Pickle and the Dramas of Drop Off with the service. And in 2018, there is a lengthy thread in a popular travel forum site discussing the nearly identical problem we faced. And we saw the exact thing happen again in December 2019 (although, thankfully, we’d made other options and were not using the service).
Options For The Flybus Iceland
There are two options:
The Flybus takes you from the Keflavik airport to the Reykjavík BSÍ Bus terminal. Once the bus actually leaves the airport, the trip should take around 45 minutes. Cost is 3299 Icelandic Króna (~$27) one way and 6299 Iceland Krona (~$51) round trip.
Reykjavik Excursions uses large commercial buses for this transfer. The company generally tries to fill the bus before it leaves the Keflavik airport. Other companies use smaller buses which make the journey more frequently (and faster) than the Flybus.
The Flybus+ takes you from the Keflavik airport to the Reykjavík BSÍ Bus terminal, where you will switch from the big bus onto small mini-buses to be taken directly to your hotel. Once the bus actually leaves the airport, the trip should take around 45 minutes.
The mini-buses also don’t operate on a set schedule and the whole system is a bit disorganized. The layover at the bus terminal is around 10 minutes. On the mini-bus, you should allow 10-30 minutes to reach your specific hotel (depending on when you will get dropped off). Cost is 4299 Icelandic Króna (~$36) one way.
If you insist on traveling on the Flybus, we would strongly encourage you to purchase your tickets through a third-party consolidator, where you have some recourse when things go wrong. Large companies like Viator that re-sell Flybus tickets have more buying power than you do individually and Viator has a generous policy when there are problems. You can buy tickets on Viator here.
Note: If you want to be assured of reliable transportation in Iceland and you will be exploring the region around the capital (such as the Golden Circle), we strongly recommend renting a car and driving yourself.
Saturday 4th of January 2020
Hæ Lance Longwell, I just stumble on your blog and this flybus rant which is originally 8 years old or so but still sort of active. But outdated, sorry. My 2 cents: Articles like this are not helpful and extremely one-sided and a clear example of how internet is actually corrupting the world.
1) I've been in Iceland to work and to travel for like 30 times back and forth since 2008. There were never ever any problems with flybus, so your experience, as sad as it has been, was obviously a random tragedy but nothing normal. The way you write this, personally offended as you were, reads like a call to boykott this bloody company forever.
2) Experienced world travelers, yes? How nice to call for developing tourism on one hand but then suggesting twice to not book a bus sightseeing trip which is simply the most efficient and sustainable way regarding environmental polluting but become a part of the problem (and the traffic jam) and NOT supporting local guide and tourism industry and strongly recommending to rent a private car. How progressive, how participating.
3) there are more options to get to Reykjavik, there is not just flybus, there is also a PUBLIC bus (scheduled, look at bus.is), there are also Grayline and Airport Direct. Grayline was doing this service already when you posted your single eyed article.
Kær kveðja frá Berlín, Philipp
Saturday 4th of January 2020
Thank you for your comment. This blog is still very much active, still one of the oldest travel blogs on the Internet, and still one of the more popular travel sites with millions of readers. The article was originally published in 2010, and has been updated numerous times to reflect our ongoing experience. It also doesn't mean the Flybus has gotten any better. We were in Reykjavik (...again...) two weeks ago with the same situation. And we've linked to other news accounts highlighting the same problems over the last decade from other people. You can believe this is some isolated personal tragedy, or...perhaps...there are more systemic problems reflected in all of these accounts. As our most recent trip demonstrated (again), the Flybus just isn't a reliable means of transportation.
In the interest of accuracy, Grayline was not operating airport transfers when we originally posted our article, but started shortly thereafter...about 5 months later. Yes, there are several other companies offering airport transfers in Iceland now. And, over the last 10 years, a number of companies have started...and gone out of business...also offering Reykjavik airport transfers.
We don't call on a boycott of Flybus. We are not so presumptuous as to believe anyone will do what we tell them to. We can only share our experience (and that of others) and share how consumers might make that experience better. Buying their Flybus tickets from a third-party who has more buying power/credibility is one way. In our experience, the Flybus customer service is as problematic as the service itself.
Of course, being from Berlin, you know all about airport problems and this doesn't seem like such a big deal. Thanks again for dropping by and offering your perspective. Look for our latest Flybus update based on our December 2019 trip soon.
Monday 28th of January 2019
we are having a 1 day layover on June 11th 2019 and it seems grayling might be a better iff not just as good an option
Monday 28th of January 2019
That may work. Although, if you have a day and you're 2 or more people, why not just rent a car? You can see the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik at your own speed!
Sunday 5th of June 2011
Thanks for your comment and am happy to hear you had a positive experience on the FlyBus (our trip to the airport was much better as well). I still don't understand why FlyBus refuses to operate on actual schedule from KEF to Reykjavik. They do it the other way around, so why not? The service is unreliable.
Friday 3rd of June 2011
We have just returned from Reykjavic. I read your comments prior to our departure and was concerned, however I need not have been.A Flybus was waiting on arrival. Noticing that we were uncertain a Reykjavic Excursions driver quietly told us we should simply put our luggage in the coach hold and then board.It left in good time. We changed to a smaller bus at the BSI terminal (all of which was explained) and we were delivered to our hotel comfortably, efficiently and politely.We took a Blue Lagoon trip with Reykjavic Excursions and were collected from our hotel at the time given and returned promptly too.A smaller bus collected us on time for our return to Keflavik, picked up at other hotels and delivered everyone to the BSI terminal for the larger coach to the airport.We knew that Keflavik airport was some distance from Reykjavik itself before we went because we had read the information freely available online before our trip.We would highly recommend Reykjavik Excursions and the Flybus without hesitation based on our experience.
Sunday 14th of November 2010
Thank you for contacting us regarding our experience with your company and your FlyBus service.
Our day of travel with the FlyBus was: August 27, 2010. Flight arrival was scheduled for 22:20, but arrived 20 minutes early 22:00. We were told the bus would leave at 23:15 (which is clearly more than 40 minutes after the flight landed). However, the FlyBus did not actually depart KEF until 00:05 (which means the bus didn't even actually leave KEF until August 28, 2010).
I have to admit, our experience with your company was not positive. As is evidenced by our blog, we are experienced travelers and have been around the world many times. I can think of few experiences we've had that were as bad as the FlyBus. We've utilized bus transfer services at airports all over the world, and never found a company like Reykjavik Excursions. It is possible to operate a bus service on an actual schedule. You publish a schedule from Reykjavik to KEF. Why not from KEF to Reykjavik????? This way, travelers would be able to depend on your service. As it is, the FlyBus is unreliable.
We believe that for tourism to flourish in Iceland, the country needs reliable transfers from KEF to the city of Reykjavik. The FlyBus service is unreliable. We hope that competition will improve the experience for future travelers.