I'm heading to Europe this summer, and I'm flying El Cheapo Airlines. However, I have an 8 hour layover in the airport near Reykjavik. Free trip to Iceland? Count me in!

Can I leave and return to the airport freely with a valid United States passport? If not, what arrangements do I need to make with the Icelandic government?

  • possible duplicate of Do I need a visa to transit in the Schengen area? – Karlson Mar 16 '15 at 14:05
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    @Karlson: Not exactly, because he wants to go sightseeing instead of just transit. It happens that the answer to this one is part of the answer to the standard question, but the questions are different. – hmakholm left over Monica Mar 16 '15 at 14:09
  • Note that it will burn a whole day off your Schengen clock though – Gayot Fow Mar 16 '15 at 15:20
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    The whole trip is 7 days. I think I can make it back in time :P But thanks, that's also something I didn't know about either. – Ohnana Mar 16 '15 at 15:22
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    what time do you land in Keflavik? Depending on the night of the week Reykjavik does not have much to offer in the 'unsociable' hours. – davidb Mar 16 '15 at 16:23

Iceland is in the Schengen zone and follows the Schengen visa rules, which gives visa-free access to US nationals for short visits.

If your destination in Europe is another Schengen country, you will have to go through Schengen immigration in Keflavik anyway; the onward flight is treated as "domestic" as far as immigration checks are concerned.

If your connecting flight is to a non-Schengen country such as the UK, you have the option of staying in the airport terminal and not go through immigration.

Note that Reykjavik is quite some distance from the airport -- the bus ride is 45 minutes and buses may not depart frequently, so keep transportation time in mind when you decide whether an excursion to the capital will be worthwhile.

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  • I was also looking at Reykjanesbær, which seems to be a nice destination as well. I didn't know about the Schengen legislation, so thanks! – Ohnana Mar 16 '15 at 14:12
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    Buses to Reykjavik from Keflavik are quite frequent in summer months and usually follow international arrivals. You wont have to wait too long. – davidb Mar 16 '15 at 16:23

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