Virtually all international arrivals come through Keflavík International Airport (KEF), about 50km (31 miles) from Reykjavík. Until recently only Icelandair and Iceland Express flew to Iceland, but additional airlines have opened up routes. Typical flight times are 3 hours from London or 5 hours from Boston. Peak season, with correspondingly higher fares, is June to August, plus the 2 weeks before Christmas and the 2 weeks after the New Year.
Icelandair (tel. 800/223-5500 U.S. and Canada; 0870/787-4020 in London; 0207/387-5711 in Glasgow; www.icelandair.com) flies to Keflavík from Boston, New York, Minneapolis, Orlando, Toronto, Halifax (Nova Scotia), London, Manchester, Glasgow, and several other European cities. Flights from North America are usually overnight, though from May to October daytime flights are available from New York and Boston a few times per week.
Icelandair does not have codeshare agreements with North American airlines, so you'll need other means of getting to an Icelandair gateway airport. However, Icelandair does "interline" with major U.S. and Canadian domestic air carriers, allowing passengers to travel from non-Icelandair gateways on "through-fare" tickets. With through-fare tickets, passengers are protected in case of delays or re-routings, and can check luggage to their final destinations.
Icelandair offers a good range of discount packages, combining airfare, hotels, and sometimes tours. Midweek flights are often significantly cheaper. Icelandair fares between the U.S. and Europe can include a free stopover for up to 7 days in Iceland, pending availability. Icelandair's price schemes sometimes make a flight from the U.S. to London (with a free stopover in Reykjavík for up to 7 days) cheaper than a simple flight to Reykjavik.
If you have any flexibility with your travel dates, sign up for Icelandair's free "Lucky Fares" e-mail newsletter, which alerts you to special online-only fares. All fares, except for some special offers, are discounted for children under 12.
Join Icelandair's frequent flier program, called "Saga Club." Members earn extra miles by flying Air Iceland (Iceland's main domestic airline), upgrading to "Saga" class, or patronizing a few partner companies. U.S. Diners Club cardholders can exchange their award points for Saga Club miles, and Visa and MasterCard issue credit cards co-branded with Icelandair for earning Saga Club miles.
With average prices that are considerably lower than Icelandair's, Iceland Express (tel. 0870/240-5600 in the U.K.; 550-0600 in Iceland; www.icelandexpress.com) connects Reykjavík with London Stansted as well as 13 European countries in summer and six in winter. Iceland Express also has e-mail alerts for special offers; sign up at the website. Kids under 12 get 50% off Iceland Express flights.
Currently the cheapest flights from London to Iceland are on British Airways (tel. 800/247-9297 from North America; 0870-850-9850 from the U.K.; 1300-767-177 from Australia; 09-966-9777 from New Zealand; www.ba.com), which flies to Reykjavík from London Gatwick. Prices, however, vary significantly by day.
SAS Scandinavian Airlines (tel. 0208/990-7159 from the U.K.; www.flysas.com) flies to Reykjavík from Oslo and Stockholm; prices from Stockholm consistently beat Icelandair.
Atlantic Airways (tel. 298/341010; www.atlanticairways.com) connects the Faeroe Islands to Europe and Iceland, and is useful to those visiting the Faeroes on their way to or from Iceland.
Iceland and Greenland? -- If you've ever wanted to explore Greenland, your trip to Iceland could be an ideal opportunity. Iceland is Greenland's closest access point by plane, and you can even visit on a day tour. Air Iceland (570-3030; www.airiceland.is) flies year-round from Reykjavík to Greenland's east coast, and twice a week in summer to south Greenland. Air Iceland and Eagle Air (562-4200; www.eagleair.is) both offer Greenland day tours. Two-night packages from Reykjavík are available through Icelandair.
Arriving at Keflavík International Airport -- Keflavík International Airport (airport code KEF; tel. 425-0680; www.airport.is) is sometimes called "Leifur Eiríksson Air Terminal" or "Reykjavik Airport," even though Reykjavík has a small, domestic airport in the city proper. Extensive renovations to Keflavík International were completed in 2007, and the airport sees over two million passengers each year. Arriving passengers must go through another security check before clearing customs.
The airport has a tourist information desk with brochures galore, but the staffperson cannot make hotel or tour reservations for you.
Tip: Alcohol prices in the airport may seem high, but they're far lower than elsewhere in Iceland; so consider buying duty-free before you leave the airport. Icelandair prohibits alcohol from being transported in carry-on luggage, so if you're taking this airline and want to buy duty-free, wait until Keflavík. Customs limits you to 1 liter of wine or 6 liters of beer, plus 1 liter of spirits. If you're not carrying spirits or beer, then you can bring in 2.5 liters of wine.
The Norröna, a Faeroese car ferry operated by Smyril Line (tel. 570-8600; www.smyril-line.com), connects Iceland to the U.K., Norway, Denmark, and the Faeroe Islands. The ferry sails between April and early September from either Bergen (Norway) or Hanstholm (Denmark) to Seyðisfjörður in east Iceland. Along the way it stops at Lerwick (Shetland Islands) and Tórshavn (Faeroe Islands). From mid-June through August, the ferry also stops at Scrabster (Scotland). In April, May, early June, or September, car travelers coming from the U.K. can still connect to the Norröna by taking a different car ferry to Lerwick or Tórshavn and connecting there. P&O Scottish Ferry (tel. 0129/525-3455; www.poscottishferries.com) or North Link (tel. 0845/600-0449; www.northlinkferries.co.uk) sail from Aberdeen or Kirkwall (both Scotland) to Lerwick.
The Norröna arrives in Iceland once per week. The ferry makes a 2- or 3-night stopover in the Faeroe Islands in both directions. Passengers have three sleeping options: their cars, sleeping-bag accommodation in rather primitive rooms for nine persons with one bathroom, and cabins. In summer, round-trip tickets from Scotland to Iceland for two passengers with one car in sleeping-bag accommodation could be anywhere from $500/[£250 to $3,040/[£1,520. Package deals are advised, especially in summer, though you usually get a windowless room. Some packages also cover tours and accommodation on land in the Faeroes and Iceland. The ferry is best for travelers who want to bring their own vehicle; otherwise, it does not generally present any savings over flying.
From February to September, the cargo carrier Eimskip takes up to three passengers on its Dettifoss and Godafoss ships, which travel a weekly "northern route" between Reykjavík, Tórshavn, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Gothenburg, Fredriksstad, and Aarhus. Each carrier has one double cabin and two singles, and passengers receive full board. Depending on your point of origin and cabin type, prices range from 97,125kr-144,000kr ($1,554-$2,304/£777-£1,152) for a double cabin one way. Bringing a car costs around $700/£350 extra. Book though Iceland Total (tel. 585-4300 in Iceland; www.icelandtotal.com).
Anyone bringing a vehicle to Iceland must bring registration, proof of insurance, and a valid drivers' license. A temporary import permit for the car, valid for 1 month, is issued at the port of entry and can be extended.
Cruises -- Iceland is fast becoming a major cruise ship destination; the number of cruise ship visitors has expanded four-fold in the last 10 years. Iceland is often a featured stopover on transatlantic routes. Hurtigruten (from the U.K. tel. 020/8846-2666; from the U.S. tel. 800/323-7436; www.hurtigruten.com) is one place to check, and Princess Cruises (tel. 800/774-6237 in North America; www.princess.com) runs two cruises from London's Southampton port with stops in Iceland. Voyages of Discovery (from the U.S. tel. 866/623-2689; from the U.K. tel. 0144/446-2150; from Australia tel. 02/9955-8599; www.voyagesofdiscovery.com) includes Iceland in several cruises. Iceland Experience (tel. 800/661-3830 in North America; www.iceland-experience.com) lists three North Atlantic cruises that include Iceland. Elderhostel (tel. 800/454-5768; www.elderhostel.org), a nonprofit company organizing trips for travelers age 55 and up, has an excellent Arctic cruise. The website www.cruiseiceland.com has a useful page of links to most cruise companies that make Iceland stops.