If like me you have a real sense of adventure on holiday, you’re probably going to want to rent a car if you ever visit Iceland. I had my concerns about doing this, but road tripping our way around the country was the best thing we could have done. To help you get up to speed with it all (pun intended), here are my top 8 tips for driving in Iceland.
Read more: 4 day Iceland itinerary
I’m sure they’re all very similar, but it’s worth doing a bit of research beforehand. Better still, ask around for recommendations from friends or family who have been. I saw a couple of people recommended Atak, who turned out to be a great choice. We booked our car about two months before we visited Iceland, which I’d advise to others so you don’t miss out on a rental’s availability.
If you’re going in winter, I’d advise upgrading to a 4×4. These are far safer for driving in winter weather because of their build, power and driving capabilities. Most cars will have snow tyres too, so double check this before you set off. We chose a 5-door 4×4 and it was such a good decision for our March trip. If you’re going in summer, you can probably get away with paying slightly less for a more standard car.
Car rental insurance is not something you want to do on the cheap. The weather in Iceland fluctuates often, so you could easily pick up small damages, or worse (but hopefully not) be involved in an accident. It just isn’t worth the risk. Of course, this makes car rental far more expensive, but it’s worth every penny.
Iceland has one very important law which can result in you being heavily fined (and potentially arrested) for pulling over on an F road, which are their main roads. As pretty as the view might be, it’s worth waiting to find a designated stopping point to get the photo. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with their speed limits before you go too.
They’ll need the card that you used to book the car when you collect it, so do not forget to pack it! You’ll also need your driving license. We took the paper part too, but they only needed to see the actual card.
We used safetravel.is daily to check the road conditions. If you’re going out into unpopulated areas, it wouldn’t be surprising to be caught out in a dangerous weather such as snow or sand storms. This site will also alert you to any road closures.
Your journeys will be long and sometimes you won’t see a shop or service station for a really long time, so stocking up on supplies from a cheap supermarket such as Bonus beforehand is the best idea! We’ve never eaten so many Pringles and biscuits…
I say this because one day we got down to only a few miles left in the tank, and couldn’t find an open fuel station for the life of us. Luckily we were near our Airbnb so could just go back out first thing the next morning, but if you’re far from home, you might find yourselves in a sticky situation.
Read more: How to plan a trip to Iceland
Driving in Iceland might feel intimidating and potentially risky, but if you’re sensible, keep your wits about you and feel reasonably confident in driving in all weathers, you will be fine.
We spent £360 on our 4×4 car rental with Atak (inc. insurance) for four days and it was worth every single penny! For info, we didn’t choose any extras such as GPS. We just used our phone’s data for Google Maps as Iceland is in the Eurozone.
Have you been to Iceland before? Would you like to go on a your own Icelandic road trip?