Quick Q&A: How do taxis work in Iceland?

In an ever globalized world, with McDonald’s and H&M on every street corner no matter where you go (except Iceland, for the time being at least), it sometimes feels like the destinations you travel to all look and feel the same. With Google Maps and Streetview you can get familiar with even the most exotic places before you ever travel there and gone are the days of confused head scratching and upside down paper maps on street corners.

Thankfully, if you look beneath the surface, every country still has little details and nuances that will give you that dazed tourist feeling and judging by all the questions I get on my tours regarding the subject, taxis in Iceland are a constant cause of visitor bewilderment.

Question: How do the taxis work in Reykjavík / Iceland?

Before you ask: No, there is no Uber or Lyft in Iceland so you will have to rely on good old-fashioned taxis for  that kind of transportation. If you are staying downtown, you probably won’t need a taxi much but let’s just assume for the sake of this post that you do.

Taxis in Iceland don’t look like anything in particular. They are not all yellow like in New York or black and oddly shaped like in London. Back in the day, the taxis would often be luxury brands like a Mercedes and BMW, but nowadays they are of all brands and sizes. Therefore, if you are traveling with some odd shaped luggage or something that might not fit in a smaller car, it’s good to mention that when you book the taxi so they will send a car that fits your needs. The taxis all have yellow taxi signs on top of them, except in October when the signs are pink (for breast cancer awareness month).

In Iceland you don’t hail a cab, you call for one. If you are downtown, there are also a few taxi stands where the cabs wait in line for the next tour and you can also get one from there. If there’s nothing special going on, or if it’s not in the middle of the night on the weekend, it usually doesn’t take them long to get there when you’ve called.

On the weekend, when the nightlife is at its peak, the rules kind of go out the window. There’s a taxi line that you are supposed to go to but sometimes you can skip the line by hailing a cab in the right places. Not all of them will stop, though, the rule-abiding ones will probably go straight to the taxi line.

There are two major taxi companies in Iceland, Hreyfill Bæjarleiðir and BSR, and a few smaller ones that I personally never use. The number for Hreyfill is +354-588-5522 and BSR +354-561-0000. Every Icelander (older than 25) knows these numbers because of ads these companies ran some years ago where they made the numbers into songs that just stuck to your brain. You know, like the new emergency number on the IT Crowd.

Hreyfill also has an app you can use to book a taxi but I never use it so I don’t know whether it’s worth it.

Taxis in Iceland run by the meter, and they accept all major credit cards. If you are taking a taxi from the airport, they will have a set price for that and also if you are traveling out of the city. They are more or less all priced the same so it doesn’t matter which company you call. I usually use Hreyfill but it’s more a matter of habit rather than an actual preference.

Taxi drives in Iceland are also mostly very nice, and you don’t have to worry about them accidentally “getting lost” or driving around in circles to scam you. In my experience many of them will happily have a chat with you, if they are given a chance, and some will chat with you even if you’ve most politely tried to make it clear that you’re not in the chatting mood. This seems be the same everywhere you go though. More or less.

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46 thoughts on “Quick Q&A: How do taxis work in Iceland?”

  1. lee Okeeffe says:

    Hello,
    Typically how much is a taxi from the airport to the town center? BTW I find your blog most useful. Bravo!

    1. mm Auður says:

      Around 17.000 ISK I think

  2. Fiona Young says:

    Are both of these taxi companies only based in Reykjavik? We will be leaving the city on our last full day for a visit to The Blue Lagoon and I am looking to book a taxi to take us from there once our visit is finished to our hotel in Keflavik town.
    PS – Love your blog. I’ve spent hours reading it and have picked up loads of tips!

    1. mm Auður says:

      You would probably use either one of those two to get to the Blue Lagoon and then Aðalstöðin in Keflavík to get from the Blue Lagoon. I think they have a phone there where you can call a cab (just keep in mind it can take them half an hour to get there).

  3. Lana says:

    You should comment on tipping/taxis, for the North American crowd especially. I remember the first time I tried to tip a taxi driver there…it was like I was trying to give this little old man the plague! 😉

    1. mm Auður says:

      Things have changed a lot now – I don’t think you’ll meet many people in Iceland these days that don’t appreciate the tip. But of course there are always a few 🙂

  4. WONG Richard says:

    What is a minimum charge for a short ride?

    1. mm Auður says:

      The start fee (which you are always charged and then the distance and time are added on top of that) is 690 ISK at day time for 1-4 passengers.

  5. Harry says:

    A friend who once lived in Reykjavik told me that if you ask for a “good taxi”, it will come with a bottle of booze (he said vodka). Has anyone else heard of such a think?

    1. mm Auður says:

      I’ve also heard of this but I’m quite certain you cannot call the taxi companies up and ask for this. Mainly because it’s illegal.

  6. Harry K says:

    I’m pretty new to international travel, and Iceland seems to have its own set of rules. As my wife and I get closer to our Feb 7 journey, I’ll be asking more questions, and hopefully the answers will benefit others, including us, as it would be nice to know what to expect, and how to be prepared. We will only be there for 4 days and 3 nights. I know we should dress in layers, but I’m not sure how to handle what to wear during the “Golden Tour”, for instance. It’s 8 hours, and we’ll be in a bus most of the time, but should we be prepared for blizzard conditions when we step off the bus? I just have no idea what to expect being there in February. Boots, umbrella…I’m clueless…

    1. mm Auður says:

      I would recommend you check out some of these posts:

      https://www.iheartreykjavik.net/tag/what-to-wear/

  7. traveling feet says:

    Thanks so much for this taxi information! It’s good to know that taxis are different sizes.
    I’d like to ask about getting help with carrying one’s bags inside, and up stairs. I will be staying in Reykjavik for 4-5 weeks in the spring, so I’ll have several larger bags, since it’s a long stay. The place I’ll be staying is a 4th floor walk-up. I need help to carry the bags up to the 4th floor.
    Then, in days after that, i imagine that i’ll take the bus to go to a grocery store, buy a week’s worth of food, then maybe take a taxi home, and in that case, I’d also want help to carry the bags up. Of course I understand that this is additional work, and should have additional pay, but is it ok to ask for this help? What should I say, when i reserve, and how do i pay the extra?
    It’s really a big help to know what to expect ahead of time!

    1. mm Auður says:

      You cannot expect this service from a taxi driver, even if they can drive a car they might have back problems and such and can therefore not help you. You can always talk to the operator at the taxi station and see if they can find someone to help you but this would not be standard service.

  8. BASU says:

    Hi,
    We are two families of 4 adults & two children (12 yrs each)
    We generally plan our travels on our own so that we can move to places & enjoy them at our own pace.
    We want a minivan with a driver cum guide for our visit, The Van should accommodate 6 persons with luggage. We want to visit the places upto Akureyri with night stays in two towns (Hofn & Aureyri) other than Reyjavik.
    Kindly suggest whether such options are available from which taxi companies & if available what will be the approx cost for this 7 day trip

    1. mm Auður says:

      If you want a minivan with a driver for 7 days I think you would be better off to do a private tour than hire a taxi for it. If you want us to set something up for you, you can send us an e-mail hello[at]iheartreykjavik.net

  9. ARMY BARTOLOME says:

    My hotel is at Keflavik.
    I will be needing a taxi AT 4:00 AM.
    Are the taxis available at that hour?
    I am not sure if taxis are available 24 hours a day in Iceland.
    Please advise. Thank you.

    1. mm Auður says:

      There are taxis outside of the airport at all times of the day and night. If not, there are phones inside you can use to call them.

    2. Harry says:

      Being as the night life in Reykjavik lasts until the 4am area, I don’t think it’ll be a problem getting a taxi.

      1. mm Auður says:

        Taxis run 24/7.

  10. Diane says:

    We have a 7 hr layover in Iceland, can you recommend somewhere to visit by taxi? And how long it might take?

    1. mm Auður says:

      The Reykjanes peninsula is always nice and it’s where the airport is located so it should be easy.

  11. Fayanna says:

    How much would a taxi charge to travel from a Keflavik hostel to the Airport? Its 3.4 miles or 5.5 km away

    1. mm Auður says:

      I’m not sure – it depends on the taxi company and such (and the time of day and the date and many other things).

      They would and should charge you by the meter.

  12. Ulric Norwak says:

    15/4/2017. At airport arrival I showed the taxi driver my Reservation with ADDRESS. He dropped me off in the wilderness wrong address. Don’t tell them you are an American, I think he did that on purpose. He didn’t like Americans. Young guy saw me and offered to drive me to the right address and refused tip Euro 20, he was to ashamed what the taxi driver did. All other People I met (15 hour connection waiting time for connection flight to Frankfurt) have been very nice and friendly. So all other Reykjanes get a AA++++

    1. mm Auður says:

      I doubt it very much that this person did this on purpose. Taxi scams are not and have never been a problem here. And people don’t dislike Americans any more than any other nation. If anything, I hear most people in the tourist business speak nicely about Americans because they tend to be polite and chatty (which is often a welcome change from Icelanders that tend to be reserved).

  13. Michele says:

    Omg IT crowd. Going o be lost on most of the Americans I’m afraid but I love you for that!

  14. Ara says:

    Hello, do you know if there will be taxis available at the cruise terminal?
    I heard that it’s hard to grab a taxi there is it true? We will be docked in Midbakki.

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      I don’t know how hard it is to get a taxi there, I would think there are a few available when the ship docks. You can also call a taxi on +354-588-5522 or you can download the Hreyfill app and book a taxi through it.

  15. Amy says:

    Hello, going to be in Reykjavik in 3 days. Will hotels and museum personnel call taxis for us? (Our U.S. mobile phones may not work; or calls may be very expensive.) Thank you!

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hotels definitely will and I’d think most museum staff would too if you ask them nicely 🙂

      1. Amy says:

        Thank you! We are on our way. So excited to be visiting Iceland!

        1. Amy says:

          To follow up, every person at the museums that I asked to call taxis for us, was happy to do so. We had such a lovely visit, and thanks for helpful advice!

  16. Dr. Daniel Wu says:

    Hi Auour: I am so happy to have found your blog for its most useful information. I read every advice you gave and I hope you can also help my particular situation. I am of a 5-adult group having 9 hours of free time between our cruise docking at 7am and plane departure at 4pm. I would like to arrange a van or 2-3 taxis if necessary to take us from the cruise terminal to the Blue Lagoon for 4 hours and then to the airport. My questions are how can we arrange the van/taxis to do so and what should we do with our luggage (quite a number of pieces) if the van/taxis are not reserved for the whole day to leave it in? I would really appreciate your help. Daniel

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      The private transfers will mostly all wait while you soak in the lagoon and you’ll have to pay for the waiting time. If they don’t charge for the waiting time you might have to pay for both ways to and from Reykjavík for both transfers.

      If you want to avoid that I’d book a taxi if I were you. There’s a luggage storage at the Blue Lagoon where you pay I think 4 EUR per bag for storage.

      1. Daniel says:

        Thanks for your clear and precise advice as usual.

  17. Cathy says:

    Do taxis accepts credit card from airport to downtown hotel?

    1. mm Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Cathy,

      yes, taxis take credit cards. Pretty much everywhere (except the city bus) takes cards.

  18. Lina says:

    Can you pay for a taxi in Euros (cash)?

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      You can’t rely on it but I think most drivers would accept them. Just keep in mind that they can use whatever exchange rate they want for the conversion.

      1. Analeise says:

        Hi
        Do taxis work outside Reykjavik? I would be coming to Iceland next year April and would like to spend two days in Snaefellsnes for whale watching but cannot drive so renting a car isn’t an option. How do I get there and back to Reykjavik? Would be grateful for any guidance on this. Thank you

        1. mm Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

          Hi Analeise,

          There are public buses to places in Snæfellsnes. It may not be a brilliant service, not that many departures, but doable. You can check this out here, Snæfellsnes is listed under North and North West Iceland: https://straeto.is/en/timatoflur

          1. Analeise says:

            Hi thanks for your reply. I checked out the site but the bus would take over 10 hours to go and 15 hours to return a couple days after. Isn’t there a taxi service that we could hire to drop and pick us up in one day?

          2. mm Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

            Hi Analeise,

            You could get a taxi to do a private transfer, my guess is that it would be about 90.000-100.000 ISK. Send us an email at hello at iheartreykjavik.net if you would like us to book that for you. But have you considered doing a whale watching tour in Reykjavík? Snæfellsnes is a beautiful area, but perhaps a whale watching in Reykjavík and a separate daytour in a minibus to Snæfellsnes would be a better use of your time.

  19. Ian bain says:

    It’s a great shame that Uber isn’t allowed in iceland. The cost of a taxi from the international airport into Reykjavík is more than most air fares from Europe.

    1. mm Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Ian,

      luckily you can also take a bus, which costs less. It all depends on how you want to travel, where you want to save and where not 🙂

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