The first step in starting your epic Icelandic adventure is getting there! And as Iceland is an island, you will only be able to reach it by sea or sky. We wouldn’t recommend taking a boat unless you’re prepared for a 2-day journey from the closest point in Denmark.
Traveling by air is much more convenient. Although the country may look isolated on a map, it’s very well connected with destinations in Europe and America, with frequent daily flights in and out of the international airports.
There are actually 4 international airports in Iceland, giving visitors multiple options when traveling to Iceland. But certain airlines only fly to and from specific destinations, and not all land at each airport. There are a lot of inexpensive flight options from Europe and America to Iceland, especially if you’re visiting Iceland in the off-season. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about Iceland flights, including Icelandic airlines, airports, and destinations.
- Related links: Rent a car in Iceland; Everything about driving in Iceland
Table of content
- Everything about Local Icelandic airlines: Icelandair, PLAY Airlines and NICEair
- Destinations with direct flights to Iceland – and how long does it take to get to Iceland?
- Iceland flights for travelers not arriving from Europe or North America
- How much does it cost to fly to Iceland?
- How much does a round-trip flight to Iceland cost?
- How much does a one-way flight to Iceland cost?
- When is the best time of year to buy flights to Iceland?
- Iceland Airports: the international airports in Iceland
- Tips for a self-drive trip in Iceland
Local Icelandic airlines: Icelandair, PLAY Airlines and NICEair
Iceland has three local airlines that operate directly out of the country and serve multiple destinations. Here is what you need to know about each of them:
Icelandair – the biggest local airline
Icelandair is the most popular Icelandic airline, and it serves the highest volume of global destinations. The airline has been flying since 1937 and is considered the highest-quality airline in the country and offers flyers the most upgrade options.
There are direct flights with Icelandair to many hub airports in Canada, America, and Europe. These include New York, Boston, Denver, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and multiple cities in Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom, and more! Icelandair has also designed its route network around the fact that Iceland is uniquely situated between Europe and North America, making it the perfect stopover hub. All international Icelandair flights operate out of Keflavík International Airport (KEF).
Beyond operating international flights, Icelandair also offers domestic flights between Reykjavík Domestic Airport (RKV) and Akureyri Airport (AEY), Egilsstaðir Airport (EGS) or Ísafjörður Airport (IFJ).
PLAY – the budget airline of Iceland
Every country has a budget airline option, and in Iceland, that is PLAY. PLAY is classified as an Ultra Low-Cost Carrier (ULCC), meaning their fares only cover base transportation and everything else in an add-on, including seat selection, carry-on baggage and in-flight beverages. PLAY’s entire fleet is of Airbus A320 aircrafts, which seat between 140 and 170 people.
With the motto “the sky is our playground,” PLAY flies from Iceland to many destinations in Europe and a few hubs in North America. The destinations that PLAY flies to in America include New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C, Boston, and Toronto.
And in Europe, some of the cities include Dublin, Barcelona, Athens, London, Liverpool, Berlin, and more! They offer travelers a lower cost option when booking flights in and out of Iceland, which is a great benefit as Iceland can be an expensive travel destination. They are a brand new airline and only began operating in 2021 between Iceland and Europe, and then began offering flights to North America in 2022.
NICEair – based in Northern Iceland
NICEair is a new airline in Iceland that is based out of Akureyri International Airport (AEY), serving as the gateway to Arctic Iceland. NICEair leases its aircraft from Hifly Malta, an established Maltese charter airline, and they currently only have one Airbus A319-100 in operation.
Direct flights run all year round to and from Akureyri with destinations including Tenerife, Copenhagen, and Alicante. In fact, these are the only three destinations currently offered by NICEair. But as they only began operating in 2022, we’re sure that more will be added to the list, with plans to add a route to Düsseldorf in the pipeline.
Destinations with direct flights to Iceland – and how long does it take to get to Iceland?
Although Iceland is quite isolated from much of the world, there are many direct flights that will bring you to the international hub of Keflavík International Airport (KEF), which is located about 45 minutes from Reykjavik city center. There are currently over 90 airports that offer direct flights into Reykjavik, spread across 27 countries.
|Direct routes from Europe to Iceland +Est. Flight time from the destination to Iceland|
|Alicante: 4h 45m|
Amsterdam: 3h 25m
Barcelona: 4h 40m
Berlin: 3h 45m
Billund: 3h 0m
Brussel: 3h 25m
Copenhagen: 3h 20m
Dublin: 3h 45m
Frankfurt: 3h 40m
Geneva: 4h 10m
Gothenburg: 3h 5m
Glasgow: 2h 30m
Hamborg: 3h 25m
Helsinki: 3h 40m
London Gatwick: 3h 15m
London Heathrow: 3h 15m
Lisbon: 4h 30m
Liverpool: 2h 45m
Madrid: 4h 25m
Manchester: 2h 45m
Malaga: 4h 50m
Milano: 4h 25m
Munchen: 4h 5m
Oslo: 2h 55m
Paris: 3h 40m
Prague: 4h 5m
Rome: 4h 50m
Stockholm: 3h 25m
Tenerife: 5h 40m
Zurich: 3h 55m
|Direct routes from North America to Iceland +Est. flight time from the destination|
|Baltimore: 5h 55m|
Boston: 5h 25m
Chicago: 6h 5m
Denver: 7h 15m
Montreal: 5h 5m
New York (JFK): 5h 40m
New York (Newark): 5h 45m
Orlando: 7h 30m
Portland: 7h 35m
Raleigh-Durham: 6h 05m
Seattle | SEA: 7h 25m
Toronto 5h 20m
Vancouver: 7h 20m
Washington DC: 5h 50m
Main European destinations
(On average 3-5 hrs from most European destinations)
- London – 3h
- Frankfurt – 3h 20m
- Copenhagen – 3h
- Paris – 3h 45m
- Barcelona – 4h 30m
Main North American destinations
(On average 5-7hrs from North American destinations)
- New York – 5h 30m
- Toronto – 5h 15m
- Seattle – 7h 25m
- San Francisco – 9h
- Boston- 5h 25m
Iceland flights for travelers not arriving from Europe or North America(Asia, Africa, Africa etc)
But what if you’re visiting Iceland from somewhere other than Europe or North America, like Asia, Africa, or Australia? The reality is that unless you’re flying in from a European or North American hub, then you can expect at least 1 stopover (sometimes more) on your way to Iceland.
You will first have to stop at a North American or European destination before boarding a continuing flight over to Iceland. And including that layover time, you can expect that your travel journey will take 12+ hours. While long travel days are never fun, they’re worth it to get to a country like Iceland.
How much does it cost to fly to Iceland?
The cost of flying to Iceland can vary greatly depending on a number of factors. The airline you fly with, the location you’re flying from, and the time of year you’re visiting can all impact the price of your flight. Here’s what you need to know about the cost of flying to Iceland.
We talked about some of the different local Icelandic airline options above, but there are many other airline options that will bring you to and from Iceland. The price for the flights can vary greatly depending on which airline you choose to fly with.
For example, you could fly with a premium carrier like United, Delta, Icelandair, British Airways, or Lufthansa, all of which come at a higher cost but offer more amenities. Or, you could fly a budget carrier like PLAY, WizzAir, or airBaltic for a more cost-effective option.
The cost of your flight will also depend on where you’re flying from. Flights from major cities in Europe and North America that have more frequent flights tend to be less expensive than flights from smaller cities. And the time of year that you’re visiting Iceland will also impact how much it costs to fly to Iceland. Flights during peak travel season (June-August) will be more expensive than flights during the off-season (September-May).
How much does a round-trip flight to Iceland cost?
On average, round-trip flights to Iceland from major cities in North America, can range from $500 to $1,200 USD during the off-season, while flights during peak season can range from $600 to $2,500 USD. From Europe, round-trip flights during off-season range from €200 to €600, and peak season from €400 to €900.
How much does a one-way flight to Iceland cost?
One way flights from major cities in North America to Iceland, can range from $400 to $1000 USD during the off-season, while flights during peak season can range from $500 to $1600 USD. From Europe, one way flights during off-season range from €200 to €600, and peak season from €300 to €800.
Overall, it’s important to compare prices from different airlines and to be flexible with your travel dates in order to find the best deals on flights to Iceland.
When is the best time of year to buy flights to Iceland?
Every season of the year in Iceland offers something different. February and March typically offer the most affordable airfares to Iceland, as airlines tend to lower their prices during these months. This is also the best time to see the northern lights in Iceland, but because of the short, cold days it’s a less popular time for tourists to visit.
However, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, April and May are also great choices as the weather begins to improve and prices remain lower than during the peak summer months. June through August is the most expensive time to visit Iceland because of the milder weather, and it’s also the time when people take holidays from work and school.
You may also see high prices extend into the early fall months as well. The best time of year to buy flights to Iceland is as far in advance as possible. Booking ahead of time is the best way to secure the lowest fares.
Iceland Airports: the international airports in Iceland
There are four main airports in Iceland. These include:
Keflavik International Airport – Iceland’s primary airport
Keflavik Internation Airport (KEF) is Iceland’s primary airport, and the one you’re most likely to fly into. People often assume that this airport is located in Reykjavik, and you may even see KEF labelled as Reykjavik on flight search engines.
Keflavik International Airport is 50 kilometers (30 miles) and a 40 minutes drive southwest of Reykjavik city centre, and the hub for almost all international flights into Iceland. The airport has free Wi-Fi, currency exchange and, best of all, a Keflavik Hertz rental desk right inside the arrivals hall. That means you can pick up your Iceland rental car directly at the airport.
Reykjavik Airport (RKV) is a small airport just 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Reykjavik city centre. This airport is not to be confused with Keflavik International Airport, which is located 40 minutes outside of the city.
While Reykjavik Airport is technically an international airport, it primarily handles domestic flights around Iceland. International flights are generally just private charters and the odd flight to Greenland. You can find a Reykjavik Hertz car rental desk directly in the arrivals hall at Reykjavik Airport, so you can pick up your car on-site.
Akureyri Airport is an international airport located in Iceland’s “capital of the north” about 3 kilometres (1.8 miles) from the town itself. While it mainly handles domestic flights around Iceland they also have their own aircraft operated by NICEair which connects Akureryi with a few different destinations in Europe. There is a Akureryi Hertz car rental desk located in the arrivals hall where you can collect your rental car.
Egilsstaðir airport (EGS) is the main airport in East Iceland. This airport is only a single lane airport and most of the flights that land here come from Reykjavik Airport, although they are equipped to receive international private charter flights. It’s located only a few minutes outside of the city centre, and there’s a Egilsstaðir Hertz rental desk in the arrivals hall where you can pick up your rental car.
Tips for a self-drive trip in Iceland
No matter what airport you fly into in Iceland you can pick up a rental car directly on-site so you can begin your self-drive trip in Iceland. First you need to decide when is the best time to visit Iceland for you.
If you want to see the northern lights in Iceland or explore the glacier ice caves, then the best time for a self-drive trip is during the winter. But keep in mind you will need to rent a 4X4 rental vehicle when travelling during the winter months.
If you’d prefer to rent a campervan and camp around the highlands of Iceland, or plan to spend a lot of time hiking then we’d recommend planning your self-drive itinerary in the summer.
In the summer months, if you’re sticking to the Iceland Ring Road, or driving the Golden Circle Iceland than you may only need a compact or economy vehicle (depending on the size of your group). But if you do plan on driving any F-roads in Iceland then make sure to rent a 4X4.
It’s time to book your Iceland flights
Getting to Iceland by air is the most convenient and popular option with many direct flights available from Europe and North America to Keflavik International Airport.
Icelandair, PLAY Airlines, and NICEair are the three local airlines operating out of Iceland, offering multiple destinations for travelers to choose from. But there are many more international airlines that also serve Iceland.
Keep in mind that Keflavik International Airport is not the same as Reykjavik Airport, as this is a common mistake. So when you book your rental car, ensure that you choose Keflavik International Airport (KEF) as your pick-up location. And make sure to book your car online and in advance with Hertz Iceland so your car is ready and waiting for you as soon as you arrive off your flight.