I am conteplating travelling from SFO (San Francisco, USA) to HEL (Helsinki, Findland) via Reykjavik. Besides de price, the trip is attractive because it has a 20 hour layover in Reykjavik, from 10:30am to (next day) 6:30am.

Is it possible to leave Reykjavik airport during a long layover?

If so, would you recommend a specific plan to visit the city or even some attraction outside the city?

[According to the Iceland government I don't need a visa to enter Iceland and I have a US Greencard.]

  • @HenningMakholm, good question, the layover (change planes) is listed in the ticket detail as "KEF (Reykjavik)" (sic). So, yes the layover is technically nearer Keflafik. I guess the question is whether to visit Keflafik and/or Reykjavik then. KEF is 50km from Reykjavik and there is (?) an hourly bus (works all day?)
    – alfC
    May 14, 2018 at 15:05
  • 4
    This is totally the plan as far as IcelandAir are concerned. You can buy your bus tickets while you are still on the plane. They actively want you to do it. May 14, 2018 at 15:11
  • @KateGregory agree, they were explicitly promoting that a few years ago. Their ad campaign essentially said "cheap flights to Europe, and visit Iceland for free!" May 14, 2018 at 15:14
  • 2
    Except that it is not really free (as you need to pay transport) and not much is cheap on Iceland.
    – Willeke
    May 14, 2018 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


Assuming that they layover is actually in Keflavik airport (which it almost certainly is; Reykjavik itself just has domestic flights, and a few connections to neighboring locations in the North Atlantic):

Yes, you can leave the airport during your layover. Since your destination is Finland, and both of Iceland and Finland are in the Schengen area, you'd be passing through immigration controls in Keflavik anyway, and then nothing stops you from leaving the terminal until your Schengen-internal flight to Helsinki departs.

Beware when putting your plan together, that Keflavik is quite a distance away from Reykjavik. It's about an hour's drive, and public transport options are limited to airport buses. Research in advance to find a bus departure that will get you to the airport in time to make it through security for your early-morning flight.

(This question looks relevant).

  • 1
    Yes, it is Keflavik. I think we will aim to limited public transportation as taxis are going to probably break our wallet.
    – alfC
    May 14, 2018 at 15:07
  • @alfC Be aware that the express buses and shuttle services are not exactly cheap either. You will pay at least around USD 60 per person from the airport to the city and back. Buses operated by Stræto, the public transport company, are a bit cheaper, but a lot slower, with USD 40 for a two-way-ticket. With a Stræto bus, you will have to go back to the airport in the evening, since the first bus is too late for your 6:30am flight. May 14, 2018 at 18:13
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I see, the private buses apparently run all night (from 2:30am) and one can reserve. re.is/flybus for ~$40 per person (one way). All options are expensive it seems. Thank you for the pointers. We are two people, if it is not much to ask, how much a taxi would cost?, I guess will be very expensive >$100.
    – alfC
    May 14, 2018 at 19:39
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    Thank you, the layover plan in principle worked and even rented a car. The bad and sad part was that WOW airline departed with a 8 hour delay which completely trashed the experience because everything was closed and dark when we arrived to the city. After that, WOW, on top of charging a lot for luggage lost it and didn't return it for three weeks. So the idea sounds good in principle but one is at the mercy of that single airline, so plan accordingly.
    – alfC
    Sep 18, 2018 at 19:08

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