Tips from driving around Iceland and for renting a car seemed like a useful post idea after my recent and completely last-minute trip to Iceland.
Having done zero research in advance of arriving in Iceland, and having a slightly limited budget, we decided to rent a car between the 3 of us and just “see what happens”.
Well, quite honestly, I can say that this was the best decision ever. It saved us money AND afforded us so much freedom as we explored Iceland!
So here are my best Iceland car rentals tips:
Car Rental Companies in Iceland
We opted to rent a car at the Budget rental desk at Iceland’s Kevlavik Airport arrivals area. The attendant was extremely helpful and he couldn’t have been more straight forward about our rental. We were out on the road in no time!
Car insurance in Iceland
Car insurance is absolutely essential in Iceland. Don’t risk it not having it, no matter what time of year you visit the country.
Since we were visiting Iceland in November, we were expecting the driving conditions to be a little sketchy. The roads in Iceland were in fact incredibly well-maintained. Despite drizzle and low temperatures, we had no issues whatsoever and didn’t need to use the snow chains. However, we were quite lucky to avoid any chips in the window from loose rock pieces on the road.
Are the roads busy in Iceland?
Nope. The roads were in Iceland basically empty. Iceland has a population density of just 3 people per sq km (the UK has 269 people per sq km), it’s not hard to see why.
It’s also worth noting that Icelanders are also very considerate drivers.
Iceland is a fairly unique country in that everything really is beautiful. There are no ugly buildings or eye sores, and things seem to blend seemlessly into the landscape.
As I mentioned, we had nothing planned at all. So (and not even exaggerating), we literally just looked at Google Maps, waved our fingers over it and went “there!!”
What a liberating way to travel..
Enjoy the freedom of driving in Iceland
Of the Iceland car rental tips I’ve shared in this blog post, this is the most important of them all.
We found ourselves visiting Sandvík (where you can cross the footbridge connecting the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates), the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, the Sólheimajökull glacier, and of course, the famous Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
That was in the space of just 2 days and you can read about these experiences here.
The Sólheimajökull glacier was an incredible discovery. We didn’t even know it existed yet saw it from a road and just thought “Let’s try and get as close as possible to that”.
We parked up and climbed over volcanic lava rock until we made it. It was the most incredible feeling and just such a surprise!
Ultimately, hiring a car in Iceland offered us a degree of flexibility and freedom that we couldn’t have even imagined. Even better than a car is to explore Iceland in a camper van if you’re planning on exploring further afield and don’t want to pay for the pricy accommodation in Iceland.
A few extra Iceland car rental tips
- Petrol: Fractionally more expensive than the UK (about 190 krona a litre)
- Roads: Excellent condition but some are gravelled (As I mentioned above, consider taking out a car insurance policy to cover chips and small dents from this – and drive with extra care!)
- Tolls: Apparently there’s only 1 in the country and it was nowhere near to Reykjavik
- Stopping: Due to very empty roads in Iceland, it was always very easy to pull over to take pics.
- Parking: It seemed to always be free at every waterfall/glacier etc and even ate the Blue Lagoon. However, in Reykjavik City Centre, it did take a bit of driving about to find spaces (which we did by the Hallgrímskirkja Church – a very standout building in the city)
- Lights: On. Always!
- Type of Car: We had a regular Hyundai i10, but had we visited Iceland with snowier/colder/wetter weather, we would have considered upgrading to a 4×4 for safety and ease!
Are you planning to go to Iceland soon? Check out my guide to Reykjavik here! I hope this post helps in planning your future trips here or at least inspiring you to visit this incredible country!
If you’ve already visited, let me know in the comments if you have any more top tips or any feedback! I’d love to hear from you 🙂 x
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