Parking in large cities is often difficult. If you want to do it in Iceland's capital, we have prepared this Reykjavik parking guide for you so that you know everything before heading to the city!
It’s hard not to love the convenience of renting a car in Iceland for your vacation. That said, when your trip takes you into the heart of a strange city, the pitfalls of falling foul of parking restrictions can prove quite the headache. If you’re planning to drive in Iceland and will be in the capital for all or some of your vacation, then you’re going to need this guide for parking in Reykjavik.
First up, yes, you’re going to have to pay for parking. How much you pay will depend on how close to the center you need to be and how far you’re prepared to walk. Downtown Reykjavik is basically subdivided into zones. Each of four parking zones identified by color has different charges; street parking outside these demarcated areas is usually free. Look for a P sign which is displayed in the vicinity; most can be seen on lamp posts.
The parking zones and current 2020 charges are as follows:
Red and pink (P1) parking zone
It currently costs 370 ISK (approx $2,58) per hour to leave your vehicle in one of these streets, though approval has been granted to raise this to 400 ISK ($2,79 approx). You’ll now have to pay to park there from 9 am to 6 pm every weekday and from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays. Soon, those hours will be extended and Sunday parking will be similarly restricted.
This is the most central part of Reykjavik, such as Laugavegur and thus the most sought after, so it follows that this is where you’ll pay most to park. This autumn, changes have been approved which extend the area covered by the P1 zone as well as the hours that charges apply.
Blue (P2), Green (P3) and Orange (P4)
These zones are slightly less central and so parking charges are a little less. You can park in each of these zones for 190 ISK ($1,32 approx), though in P3, the rate after two hours drops to 55 ISK ($0,38), making this a slightly more affordable choice for longer stays. Charging hours for P2 and P3 are the same as P1, but in P4, you’ll only have to stump up some cash Mondays to Fridays from 8 am until 4 pm, making this zone more attractive to weekend visitors.
These zones are linked to parking meters or ticket machines. If you’re not sure which zone you’re about to park in, it’s clearly displayed on the meter. You’ll also need to enter your registration number in some of the machines, so make sure the rental company has written it down on the key fob or make a note of your license plate.
Meters take cash, but helpfully you’ll also be able to use your MasterCard or Visa credit card instead, so you don’t have to concern yourself with keeping a pocketful of change just in case. There’s an app too, aimed at locals; check out the website. However, unless you intend to be a very frequent visitor, it’s not really worth using this as a tourist.
In addition to these street parking zones, Reykjavik has a number of multi-story car parks. If you want to get your car parked in a hurry, these are an especially good idea, thanks to an initiative that allows you to track available spaces in real-time. This live availability can be seen here.
Simply navigate to the website on your phone and click on the parking garage that is closest to where you need to be. For each one, the number of spaces it has in total is displayed beside a figure showing how many of them are currently unfilled.
Most of the time, you’ll find it relatively easy to park, but if there’s a big event on, this system could really come into its own as you grab that last space before someone else beats you to it.
Most multi-story car parks in Reykjavik are open from 7 am to midnight every day and charges are as follows:
150 ISK ($1,50 approx) for the first hour100 ISK ($ 0,70) for each hour after that
240 ISK ($1,68 approx) for the first hour120 ISK ($0,84) for each hour after that
Note that Harpa has its own car park, accommodating 545 vehicles. You can drop off outside the venue but aside from some disabled parking spaces near the entrance, everyone else has to use the main car park. Buy a ticket at the machine or the box office and display it in your front windscreen. Parking at Harpa costs 275 ISK ($1,92 approx) per hour, with a maximum charge of 2000 ISK ($14 approx) for an 8-hour stay.
Yes, there is actually. Unusually for a capital city, you can still find places in downtown Reykjavik where you can park free of charge. As you would expect, these spaces are highly sought after and you’ll need to be lucky to find one, especially in high season. Be careful not to park illegally, such as blocking someone’s driveway or restricting access to a fire hydrant. That will get you a parking fine and you could end up shelling out far more than if you’d have simply found space in a car park in the first place.
If you rent an eco-friendly car, and you see it has a clock shaped sticker in the windscreen, then you’ll be pleased to learn you qualify for free parking, so long as you leave within 90 minutes. Though it’s not necessarily free, you might also consider booking a hotel or guesthouse with a parking garage and allocated parking if you know you’re likely to have a car during your stay.
There are a few places where you can leave a campervan, but navigating the narrow streets of Reykjavik’s old town is tricky in a large vehicle. There’s nothing to stop those driving motorhomes or campervans from parking in downtown Reykjavik, but particularly if you’ve just picked it up, you may wish to leave your vehicle in a car park on the edge of town and either walk or catch a bus to the city center. If you’re pitching at one of the campsites around the capital, leave the motorhome or campervan there – you’ll find that considerably less stressful than trying to find a space. Note also that although IKEA at Garðabær used to permit motorhomes and campervans to stay in their car parks, recently this hasn’t been the case. You may wish to chance your luck and ask, but don’t rely on it being possible.
Unfortunately, Reykjavik’s parking is strictly monitored to ensure the traffic is able to move freely. If you don’t pay and you park in a space that incurs a charge, you’ll be issued a penalty notice. The amount you pay depends on how quickly you settle your fine:
And don’t think that you can avoid paying up simply because you’re a tourist. Car rental agencies will pass the cost onto you together with an administration fee on top. Do the smart thing and pay it at a bank before you return the car.