An example of an Icelandic Road sign, showing the way to many farms and villages

The modes of transport in Iceland are governed by the country's rugged terrain and sparse population. The principal mode of personal transport is the car. There are no public railways, although there are bus services.[1] Transport from one major town to another, for example Reykjavík to Akureyri, may be by aeroplane on a domestic flight. The only ways of getting in and out of the country are by air and sea. Most of the country's transport infrastructure is concentrated near the Capital Region, which is home to 64% of the country's population.[2]


Main article: Rail transport in Iceland

Iceland has no public railways, although proposals to build a passenger line between Keflavík and Reykjavík have been made as well as proposals to build a light rail system in Reykjavík.[3]

In the past, locomotive-powered and hand-operated rails have been temporarily set up during certain construction projects, and have long since been dismantled.[4] Some artifacts from their existence remains in museums and as static exhibits.[5]


Main article: Roads in Iceland

Road across Eyjafjörður in northern Iceland from the western exit of the Öxnadalsheiði pass
The Ring Road of Iceland and some towns it passes through: 1.Reykjavík, 2.Borgarnes, 3.Blönduós, 4.Akureyri, 5.Egilsstaðir, 6.Höfn, 7.Selfoss

Iceland has 12,869 kilometres (7,996 mi) of publicly administered roads, 5,040 kilometres (3,130 mi) of which are paved.[6] Organized road building began about 1900 and has greatly expanded since 1980. Vegagerðin (Icelandic Roads Administration) is the legal owner and constructor of the roads, and oversees and maintains them as well. 11.4% of passenger-kilometres are by bus and 88.6% by car.[7]


The major harbours in Iceland are:

Merchant marine:
total: 3 ships (with a tonnage of 1,000gt or over) totaling 13,085gt/16,938 tonnes deadweight (DWT)
ships by type: chemical tanker 1, container ship 1, petroleum tanker 1 (1999 est.)

Transport ferries: The only habitable islands around Iceland are supplied and infrastructurally connected with the mainland via ferries which run regularly. Those islands are:

Those ferries are considered part of the infrastructure system such as roads, and are therefore run by Vegagerðin like the roads.


See also: Air transport in Iceland

A Boeing 757-200 of Icelandair, the main airline of Iceland

As of 2010,[8] there are 99 airports in Iceland:

Airport runways in Iceland
Length Paved Unpaved Totals
over 3,047 m 1 0 1
1,524 to 2,437 m 3 3 6
914 to 1,523 m 2 27 29
under 914 m 0 63 63
Total 6 93 99

Public transport

A Strætó bus in Reykjavík.
A bus stop in Reykjavík.

Public transport systems in Iceland are relatively underdeveloped and many areas are poorly served by public transport.[9]

Limited services are provided in major urban areas, for example Strætó bs operates bus services in Reykjavík, and Strætisvagnar Akureyrar in the northern town of Akureyri. Bus4u Iceland runs the public transport in the municipality Reykjanesbær. There are nationwide coach and bus services linking the major towns, although many Icelanders use domestic flights to get from one major town to another including, Reykjavík, Keflavík and Grímsey.[10][dubiousdiscuss]

Automobile ownership is also relatively high—the country has one of the highest rates in the world—with 580 cars per 1000 people (as of 2000), a figure similar to the United States.[11] Unusually, this does not cause as much traffic congestion as one might imagine, as the urban area of Reykjavík is relatively spread out in comparison to its population.[citation needed] Therefore, demand for public transport services is low and has not developed as much as it has in countries with similar levels of economic development.

In recent years[when?], there have been proposals to construct a railway between Keflavík Airport and Reykjavík. The airport in Keflavík is Iceland's main international airport; however, it is not situated close to the capital. It is currently served by a coach service, but Reykjavik City Council has agreed to conduct a feasibility study on the railway proposal, saying they are prepared to contribute 10 million krónur of funding.[12] A light rail network within the capital has also been proposed.[13]

The country is served by some sea services. For example, ferries are available from the Faroe Islands and Denmark notable operators include Smyril Line amongst others.[dubiousdiscuss] Ferry services also operate between Þorlákshöfn and the Westman Islands, operated by Eimskip.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "Three major projects (EUR1 billion) at Keflavik Airport in next 12 years – right choice? Part one". CAPA - Centre for Aviation. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  2. ^ "Population by municipality, age and sex 1998-2022 - Division into municipalites as of 1 January 2023". PX-Web. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  3. ^ "MPs Propose Trains in Iceland". Iceland Review. 2008-02-20. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  4. ^ Kirk, N. P. (1902). "Map of Reykjavík Harbour Railway". Minjasafnið.
  5. ^ "Minjasafn Reykjavík" (PDF). 1982.
  6. ^ "Samgönguáætlun 2009-2012 (National transport plan 2009-2012)" (PDF). Alþingi (Icelandic parliament). Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  7. ^ "Eurostat - Modal split of passenger transport". Retrieved 2018-04-20.
  8. ^ "CIA World Factbook". CIA. 23 May 2024.
  9. ^ Upham, Paul; Sovacool, Benjamin K.; Monyei, Chukwuka G. (2022). "Energy and transport poverty amidst plenty: Exploring just transition, lived experiences and policy implications in Iceland". Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 163: 112533. Bibcode:2022RSERv.16312533U. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2022.112533.
  10. ^ "Should You Rent a Car or Use Public Transportation in Iceland?". 12 April 2023. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  11. ^ "ICELAND WORLDWIDE – Practical information". Archived from the original on 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
  12. ^ "Iceland Review—Reykjavík City Wants Feasibility Study on Trains". 28 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
  13. ^ "Iceland Review—MPs Propose Trains in Iceland". 20 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
  14. ^ "Eimskip – Forsíða". Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-05-24.