I’ve always thought that one of the most fun things about visiting a foreign country is using the local bus system, especially when it’s so well organized (as it usually is in Europe). It’s an altogether different proposition in Latin America and Asia, where it’s not easy to find out beforehand where a particular bus goes and how often.
Reykjavík’s Stræto (pronounced STRY-toe), on the other hand, is pretty easy to use. Their yellow buses go all over the capital, and schedules are readily available on the Internet—in English. There are a number of regional terminals, such as Mjódd, from which the Stræto long-distance buses depart for the south and west of Iceland. These are usually a better deal than using the Reykjavík Excursions buses with their preponderance of backpackers. Then there is Háholt in Mosfellsbær and Fjörður in Hafnarfjörður in the southern part of the “metroplex.” (The quotes are there because Reykjavík has only about 150,000 residents.)
The bus fare for Stræto local buses is over $3.00, but there are several ways one can save. For more tourists, I recommend getting the Reykjavík Welcome Card, which allows you unlimited free bus travel for 1, 2, or 3 days. Also included is free admission to museums and swimming pools in the area. One could also buy panes of bus tickets. Note that long-distance services charge additional tickets, and these can either be purchased in advance at bus terminals or via credit card from the driver.
One interesting feature of the yellow Stræto buses is a display of what the next stop is, together with the name pronounced in proper Icelandic. It’s a great way to learn how to pronounce what is a real tongue-twister of a language.