If you are planning a trip to Iceland I definitely recommend renting a car. There are other options to see the country without a car (tour buses) but I found having our own car to be the best. We rented our car right in Reykjavik at the airport. We booked it in advance, and honestly just chose the cheapest place we could find. My advice? Rent an SUV. We had initially rented a tiny car to save money, but after further research we decided to splurge on the SUV. We also needed to make sure we had an automatic, many of the cars available to rent are manual which neither of us knew how to drive.
The road conditions in Iceland are very questionable. If you are driving the entire country there will be big stretches of unpacked roads. We wanted to be sure we had a car that could handle anything that we came across. You can check Road Conditions here. If you are just staying near Reykjavik and doing the Golden Circle a smaller car would be fine in the summer. In the winter time you can’t predict the road conditions so I would want the biggest most intense SUV offered!
We weren’t planning on buying insurance, but you pretty much have to get the basic package. If you don’t they put a giant hold on your credit card (like more than my limit) plus it covers any basic damage from gravel. We drove through a LOT of gravel, so in the end we were very happy to have paid for the insurance.
Before you go, know that Iceland is an extremely expensive country. Gas was insanely expensive, about $7.50 a gallon. When we rented the car they gave us our keys with a discount card at one gas station. To save a couple dollars we made sure to fill up whenever we passed one of these stations. Another perk with this card? Free coffee!
So now that you have the car all figured out, it’s time to hit the road. Luckily for this American in Iceland you drive in the right hand side. I drove the entire time in Iceland and Sarah got Ireland. The speed limit is SLOW in my opinion. 90km per hour on paved highways is only 55 mph. It’s extremely difficult to go this speed when you are the only car on the road. Be careful if you do decide to speed, cameras are set up all over the country and you will be ticketed after the fact. We just enjoyed the slow pace and took in all the beauty around us. No tickets for these girls (unless they haven’t arrived yet).
My absolute favorite part about driving in Iceland? Being able to stop whenever I wanted to. I would simply pull off the side of the road. We would pass maybe 3-5 cars a day in the less populated parts of the country meaning we could stop and take in the views ourselves. DO NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Safety first, make sure if you pull off you do so completely. There are plenty of scenic pullouts along the road. There were times we would just stop to relax, I even recall one nap on the side of the road after red eyeing to Iceland. I think we put about 3,000 miles onto the car during our jam packed adventures, having a trustworthy car was absolutely essential to our trip!
Stay tuned for our itinerary! Check out where we stayed here.