Driving in Iceland? Right here Are 33 Issues You NEED To Know


Driving round Iceland is a implausible expertise and can significantly improve any journey to the nation. Iceland is a tremendous nation; with each twist and switch within the highway comes a brand new breathtaking view.

Nonetheless, driving in Iceland might be a lot totally different than driving in your personal nation and there are a lot of issues it is best to know earlier than you undertake the duty. Driving in Iceland isn’t as scary or unhealthy as chances are you’ll suppose and with just a few suggestions right here you’re more likely to have a way more gratifying expertise across the land of fireside and ice!

Ideas for Driving in Iceland

Is it Secure to Drive in Iceland?

iceland driving blog

Iceland is likely one of the most secure nations on the planet! It was the third nation I traveled to solo and the very first nation I hitchhiked round. The crime rate is shockingly low, which makes it a super locations to journey to for solo female travelers.

Nonetheless, don’t be lulled in by low crime charges as a result of Mom Nature is a bitch. Clueless vacationers discover themselves in life-threatening conditions as many as three to 4 occasions a day within the excessive season. It’s often of their very own doing. Iceland’s climate is notoriously unpredictable and life-threatening, particularly in case you are touring Iceland within the winter.

All the time use your head when within the wilderness, inform somebody the place you’re going, and just be sure you have a cell sign so you’ll be able to name 112 in you’re in unsafe situations. I recommend trying out Safe Travel to remain updated on climate situations. Take the waves significantly, like on Reynisfjara black sand beach, as a lot of vacationers have drowned after being swept away.

Campervan vs Automotive Rental?

iceland drive

The 2 predominant varieties of vehicles to drive round Iceland with is both a campervan or normal automobile rental. You’ll see loads of each on the roads. We went with a campervan as a result of this meant we didn’t should pay for inns alongside the way in which. Plus we might correctly take pleasure in being in nature, cook dinner our personal meals, keep at campsites, and benefit from the firm of different campers. Having a campervan in Iceland is the last word freedom.

You may drive so long as you need, cease once you need, and sleep in no matter nearest campsite is round you once you determine your day is completed. There’s no dinner reservations, as you’ll be able to cook dinner every thing in your campervan. It’s your resort, automobile rental, and kitchen!

Vehicles are extra gasoline environment friendly, simpler to drive, and cheaper to lease, however you’ll need one thing to sleep in each night time, should pay for meals out at costly Iceland eating places, and chances are you’ll not really feel that sense of neighborhood you get at campsites. So in the long run a campervan may very well work out cheaper for you. We rented our campervan with Happy Campers, and cannot recommend them enough!

Hire From the Airport

driving in iceland

If you plan to rent a car or campervan to get round make sure that to select it up and drop it off on the airport. It might find yourself saving you a buck. There isn’t a public transport and the Reykjavik Specific, one of many solely buses from Reykjavik metropolis to Keflavik airport, is 3000 Icelandic Kroner a technique. That’s a $30 airport switch on a bus! I’d suggest choosing up and dropping off your automobile on the airport to avoid wasting on this charge.

If you wish to lease a camper van like us, firm to go along with is Happy Campers. We had a beautiful expertise with them they usually have positioned close by the airport and can give you a free switch to their places of work as soon as your flight lands and drop you again off on the airport on the finish of your journey.

You may simply book using this link, however make sure that to e book effectively prematurely throughout the excessive season.


Automotive and Van Rental Ideas

Driving in Iceland in Summer season
Guide vs. Computerized

You need to be ready to drive a guide automobile and van in Iceland. As with the remainder of the world (apart from the US), many of the campervans in Iceland are guide, however there are just a few computerized car and vehicles. When you do require one computerized car make sure that to e book effectively prematurely and anticipate to pay a premium for it.

Dimension Issues

Think about the dimensions of your campervan and automobile earlier than you e book. For campervans, there are just a few totally different dimension choices best for one, two, three, and as much as 5 individuals.  We went with a Completely satisfied 2 for the 2 of us.

The van was spacious and cozy for 2 individuals. Nonetheless, with a bigger automobile comes lowered gasoline economic system so that you’ll be paying extra for that bigger car in additional methods than one. Gasoline is absolutely costly in Iceland, nearly $8 a gallon. Think twice in regards to the mannequin of the automobile you select.

Insurance coverage points

When trying out a campervan or automobile in Iceland you may have a variety of choices for selecting insurance coverage. Happy Campers, for instance, consists of CDW as it’s obligatory in Iceland. Additionally, look into what your bank card covers for auto insurance coverage.

Most American bank cards provide auto rental insurance coverage as a profit and I’d suggest calling your bank card firm beforehand to double-check what they cowl. When you don’t have a bank card it’s positively time to get one because it’s an important part of travel banking.

What are the Roads Like in Iceland?

driving in iceland

The roads in Iceland are, for essentially the most half, paved, signed, and effectively maintained. The ring highway is fairly simple to drive, however when you begin venturing off it’s when a GPS will come in useful.

It will be nice to organize your self for small and slim roads like many different nations in Europe. The velocity restrict is 30-50 km in populated areas and 90 km on paved roads. It’s essential to go the velocity restrict as there are a lot of velocity cameras in Iceland.

These cameras are usually not hidden and there may be sometimes a warning stating that one is coming, however you don’t wish to get caught flying by one because the ticket costs are between $250-$500!

It’s required to put on a seatbelt in Iceland. It’s ILLEGAL to drive inebriated at any restrict in Iceland. So do your consuming after you may have settled in for the night time.

A 4×4 is Not Crucial for Journey Round Iceland

When you’re planning to drive Iceland’s iconic Ring Road (Route 1 across the nation) or the Golden Circle a 4×4 car isn’t essential. A lot of the roads are paved and simple to navigate with a sedan.

If you wish to go down an unpaved or unmarked highway make sure that your automobile can deal with it first! We noticed quite a few small sedans attempting to push their automobile an excessive amount of down bumpy roads and ended up getting caught or tearing out the underside of their rental!

You Completely Want a 4×4 to Go on F Roads in Iceland

driving in iceland

The F-Roads in Iceland grant you entry to lovely, off-tourist path areas in Iceland. Nonetheless, they’re additionally essentially the most treacherous to drive. Driving on an F-road is an off-road journey, and you’ll 100% want a 4×4 for these roads. When you get caught driving on an F-road with a non 4×4 car, your insurance coverage is voided.

Our campervan was not a 4×4 so we took a particular tour out to Landmannalaugar in a heavy-duty four-wheel drive car. There have been some sketchy roads and river crossings concerned and I’m comfortable I didn’t should navigate them myself. There’s little to no cellular phone protection out on these roads and within the winter this may change into particularly difficult and harmful to those that are usually not ready.

It’s an epic expertise with superb views. Simply be sure you know what you’re entering into.


Get Off Iceland’s Ring Highway

Hiking in Iceland

A few of Iceland’s finest websites and sights are usually not on the Ring Highway. We advise trying up the websites you wish to see on-line and thru guidebooks. Upon getting an thought of what you wish to see, put it aside all to an offline Google Map. Areas which are value mentioning not on the ring highway are the Snaefellsnes peninsula, Landmannalaugar, Husafell, Husavik, and Dettifoss. Here’s our exact route.

Everybody additionally really helpful that we journey and camp in Iceland’s Western Fjords, as they’re the least traveled place within the nation. We, sadly, haven’t had the time to benefit from that detour.

Allocate Sufficient Time for Your Ring Highway journey

driving in iceland

How lengthy do you have to spend driving the Ring Highway? It relies upon. The Ring Highway or “Route 1” is 1,332 kilometers, so technically you possibly can do it in lower than 16 hours and by no means cease – however what’s the purpose of that? We made our Iceland ring highway journey clockwise in 10 days. We felt it was the proper period of time to see all the primary websites.

Positive, we missed some issues, however we by no means felt too rushed or that we hung round for too lengthy in a spot. In a super world, I’d recommend 7-10 days to drive the Ring Highway, however we met individuals doing it in 3-5, which simply sounds exhausting.

Take Warning When Driving in Iceland in Winter

driving in iceland
Iceland landscapes with a recent snowfall

Talking of winter now is an efficient time to say that Iceland continues to be accessible throughout the chilly months. It’s truly a good time to journey as tourism is low that means extra magnificence for your self!

Nonetheless, like in lots of locations, winter brings sketchy situations to the roads. Excessive winds, snow, and ice are frequent so it’s a must to take care when driving within the winter.

Keep updated with Iceland journey alerts and be a part of some Fb teams so you’ll be able to ask questions and get recommendation from different vacationers.

You Can’t Drive Off Highway in Iceland

Iceland Travel

It’s ILLEGAL to drive off the roads in Iceland. When you get caught, be ready for a hefty high-quality and perhaps even some backlash. Icelanders don’t wish to see their valuable setting ruined by guests driving off the highway, so please don’t do it when driving round Iceland.

You Can Drive in Iceland with a Latin License

driving in iceland

All it is advisable to lease a automobile and drive in Iceland is a sound driver’s license. You don’t want a particular Worldwide Drivers License, however your license does want to make use of the Latin alphabet.

Drive on the Proper Facet of the Highway in Iceland

Camping in Iceland Ring Road Trip Happy Campers Van

Like many elements of Europe and North America, drivers drive on the precise aspect of the highway in Iceland. The steering wheel can also be on the left aspect of the automobile so these coming from North America should not have any drawback in any respect adjusting to the roads right here.

Obtain Google Maps When You Drive in Iceland

driving in iceland

We all the time decide up native SIM playing cards and suggest each traveler do the identical. We advise getting an Airalo sim card. Happy Campers additionally presents limitless WiFi units when renting, which we positively suggest utilizing. Their WiFi labored our complete journey round Iceland, and we had been even capable of stream 4K Netflix reveals with it!

Additionally, we all the time obtain an offline map through the Google Maps utility and one through Maps.me. Your cellular phone GPS runs with no need knowledge, and because the maps are saved in your telephone, you may have a working GPS without cost!

After driving overland across Africa, we don’t mess around with instructions – granted chances are you’ll be solely driving one highway in Iceland, so it’s onerous to get misplaced!

If You Are a Nervous Driver, There are Different Choices for Driving in Iceland

driving in iceland

When you don’t really feel snug driving in Iceland, it’s okay – there are many different methods to expertise the nation. On my first journey to Iceland, I didn’t even take into consideration renting a automobile. As an alternative, I relied on public buses to get me exterior of Reykjavik.

Quite a few tour suppliers will take you across the Ring Highway. Or you’ll be able to all the time try to collect a bunch collectively to search out another person who will wish to do the drive with you.


If You’re Going to Pull Over for Photographs, Do So Safely

Residing close to Banff National Park, we see this on a regular basis. Vacationers pulling over wherever they wish to nab the proper photograph. It’s harmful and annoying. When you see an excellent photograph alternative and must decelerate or cease to get your digital camera out, achieve this responsibly.

Be sure you don’t slam in your breaks with vehicles behind you. It’s additionally essential to tug over someplace protected and away from the highway defending your self and others from hurt, ideally a chosen spot for vehicles. If strolling a half mile out of your automobile to your photograph spot means pulling over in a protected spot, then achieve this.

Iceland is a photographer’s dream and naturally, you’re doubtless going to wish to take 1,000,000 pictures when driving, so it’s essential to maintain this all in thoughts.

Maintain the Door!

driving in iceland

Within the lead as much as our journey to Iceland, we got here from a North Coast 500 road trip in Scotland and a road trip around the Faroe Islands so we knew what to anticipate.

The North Atlantic and Iceland have some significantly excessive winds. While you’re exiting a automobile make sure that to carry firmly to your automobile door – in any other case it could blow proper off the automobile and that isn’t coated by insurance coverage. We’re not kidding!

Get a Journey Credit score Card

Have we talked about Iceland is dear? Iceland is a bank card nation and we bought by nearly our complete journey with out utilizing money.

Make certain to select up a decent rewards credit card as a way to earn miles, factors, and even money again in your purchases right here. It’s the small bills which are key to our success in saving for travel.

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage

The extra we journey, the extra we respect having journey insurance coverage. Journey journey, climbing, safari, snowboarding, and driving in overseas nations include an inherent threat. With the price of healthcare and the chance of needing medical evacuation, we all the time carry journey insurance coverage.

Dependable journey insurance coverage covers you past well being as it will possibly cowl rental vehicles, missed flights, journey cancellations, and extra. Our suggestion is to select up a coverage with Heymondo as they’re glorious at medium – short-term plans.

Obtain a Good Playlist

You’ll spend a variety of time within the automobile, so the precise travel playlist is crucial. Obtain one to your telephone earlier than you go so you’re able to roll!

Make Positive to Map Out Your Gasoline Stations

Iceland Travel

Be ready to shell out some cash once you head to the pump in Iceland. Gasoline prices practically $2 USD a liter or $8 a gallon in Iceland. We discovered that you possibly can pay for gasoline with faucet on the pumps!

For our ten day itinerary, we spent round $400 on gasoline, on our subsequent journey we spent practically $600 on a 13 day journey round Iceland! Make certain to funds for this one, because it’s straightforward to neglect.

It’s additionally essential to concentrate on distances in between gasoline stations, granted we discovered them throughout Iceland, although there are some stretches the place it would be best to plan forward.

Be Ready to Spend lots on Gasoline

driving in iceland

As talked about above – this one is essential for driving round Iceland. I believed I used to be solely going to have one coronary heart assault in my life after we paid $2 a liter for gasoline within the middle of nowhere Zimbabwe. We simply hadn’t traveled by way of Iceland but. Gas in Iceland is dear at about $2 a liter – that’s roughly $8 a gallon for all my American mates on the market!

If you wish to save what you’ll be able to on the gasoline, then go for a fuel-efficient car. When you’re touring in a campervan or 4×4 like us be ready to buck up and pay.

There Aren’t Many Public Bogs

driving in iceland

Be ready to do your corporation earlier than you set out for a full day of driving round Iceland. Public bathrooms in Iceland are a uncommon discover particularly up north and away from the preferred part within the south.

Even going primary generally is a mission as there are sometimes many individuals round, particularly in the summertime so discovering that hidden nook for (girls particularly) to squat and do their factor is a mission.

Know What You’re Doing Earlier than You Cross Any Rivers

Things to know about Iceland
with a 4×4 round Landmannalauger

You’re doubtless solely to come back throughout river mattress crossings on F roads in Iceland, but when there may be extreme rainfall or flooding, they will additionally occur on the ring highway. Earlier than you cross any physique of water along with your car in Iceland, it is best to know what you’re doing and be a reliable driver.

Relating to river crossings there are a number of issues to bear in mind. We’ve efficiently carried out them on our travels a number of occasions around the globe. First, it is advisable to verify the depth of the water whether or not that’s visible, with a stick or wading by way of the water. As soon as you chose a protected route it is best to method the river at a good velocity after which keep that velocity all through the crossing.

For good reference that’s about 12 mph or 20 kph, or second gear in a guide car (don’t shift gears). At a constant velocity, it is best to have the ability to create a wave in entrance of the car that retains water from getting into the engine or rolling over the hood.

You don’t wish to harm your car – and even worse – be in a life-threatening state of affairs.

Know the Emergency Quantity in Iceland

Watch the Moss in Iceland - Travel Water Bottle

112 is the one emergency quantity in Iceland. Bear in mind it and retailer it in your telephone in case you ever want it. You by no means know once you’ll be confronted in a life-threatening state of affairs – however keep in mind solely use it if you happen to completely must. Safetravel.is places up all related alerts and warnings and must be checked usually when driving in Iceland.

I additionally like to affix related Facebook groups to remain updated on present journey conditions. Individuals are typically fairly useful!

You Can’t Simply Camp Anyplace

campervanning around iceland-1
At Seljalandsfoss, the place you can’t camp in a single day

We got here to Iceland anticipating to tug as much as waterfalls, cliffs, and oceans and camp at Iceland’s most gorgeous areas. We had our personal gasoline range and kitchenware, might bathe at public swimming pools, and use public bathrooms. We’d get up at each vacation spot with a type of killer #vanlife pictures. We must always have carried out extra analysis. It’s now the regulation that each one campervans should have written permission to camp on the property, or in different phrases, a receipt from a chosen Iceland campsite.

Given the explosion of tourism in Iceland, it was certain to occur. There are simply too many vacationers and campervans parking everywhere in the nation to permit anarchy. The legislation is targeted at vehicles and land rights, not particularly tents or tenting. You may nonetheless pitch a conventional tent within the Iceland wilderness, however meaning it’s a must to be on foot.

So the place do you camp in Iceland? There are many campsites across the ring highway. Most of those campsites present essential amenities like a rest room, bathe, communal space, and perhaps if you happen to’re fortunate some WiFi — campsites in Iceland cost between 1300-2500 ISK per individual per night time. If you’re touring between October and Could, chances are you’ll discover many Iceland campsites closed. Don’t fear an excessive amount of as a result of a lot of the websites help you camp without cost within the offseason, with the dearth of amenities as they’re locked.

The place Are the Finest Campsites in Iceland?

Tep Wireless Iceland Laptop

Like beforehand talked about, you’ll have to keep at designated campsites in a single day whereas tenting in Iceland. There are loads across the nation (see the full list here).

Lots of the campsites at the least have scorching showers obtainable, however for essentially the most half, you’re paying for the precise to park your automobile there. When you’re fortunate, you’ll discover some with WiFi, a communal space, and cooking amenities.  A couple of of our favourite campsites in Iceland that we stayed at had been Skaftafell, Snorrastaðir, and Staðarholt.

All the time do your analysis on campsites earlier than paying, to make sure you aren’t disillusioned, or find yourself at a dirty campsite. We researched all campsites on Google Opinions, and all the time seemed for campsites with a 4.0 or above!

Do You Have to Drive in Iceland to Have a Good Time?

Having fun with Diamond Seaside!

No! A automobile isn’t important to your enjoyment in Iceland. Nonetheless, it’s going to significantly improve your expertise, particularly in case you are quick on time or wish to discover as a lot as potential with limitless freedom.

The primary time I visited Iceland I didn’t have a automobile and based mostly myself out of Reykjavik doing day journeys. My solely strategies of transport had been hitchhiking, discovering one other traveler or group to tag together with, or paying for a bus tour. It saved me cash, but it surely did restrict my motion and affected the areas I might see.

All are good choices. Nonetheless, I don’t suppose you see as a lot, are in giant teams herded like cattle, and have to stay to a set route with a bus tour. Hitchhiking will solely get you to date, though if you happen to’re up for an journey hitchhiking in Iceland is fairly protected.

Assembly one other group of vacationers both on-line beforehand or at a hostel in Reykjavik is great for solo vacationers.

When is the Finest time to Go to Iceland?

Iceland in June

For my part, the most effective occasions to go to Iceland are June, July, September, October, and December – but it surely all depends upon what you need! June-August is excessive season, however additionally it is summer season in Iceland and when you can see essentially the most nice temperatures and limitless wildflowers (and lupines!).

Summer season can also be when you’ll expertise essentially the most quantity of daylight and get essentially the most out of your journey. December is nice as a result of it’s winter, you stand a robust probability of seeing the Northern Lights, it’s off-season, and the temperatures haven’t gone to finish freezing but. 

Nonetheless, my favourite time to journey in Iceland is throughout the fall months. It’s throughout September and October the place you will note the leaves change vibrant colours across the nation. Temperatures are nonetheless delicate, and tourism is slowing down. You can see the full month by month breakdown for Iceland travel here.

Issues to do in Iceland

On the well-known Blue Lagoon

There are actually so many issues to do in Iceland I might write a e book about it. Sadly, I don’t have that form of time so I’m exhibiting you the last word Iceland bucket list here. Some issues which are a should do are go to an Iceland swimming pool, soak in a pure scorching spring, stand below a waterfall, and see the Northern Lights.

Carry a Digicam When Driving in Iceland!

Northern Lights in Iceland

A high-quality digital camera is an essential packing merchandise for Iceland if you need some nice pictures whereas in your trip. We journey with our Fujifilm Digicam and 200mm telephoto lens. Drones have kind of taken Iceland by storm, and may seize implausible footage as effectively.

We had our DJI Mavic in Iceland, however make sure that to make use of your drone responsibly as many locals are getting more and more irritated on the sight of them. No matter you do don’t forget a tripod for Iceland – particularly if you happen to plan on photographing the Northern Lights. You’ll want one for the lengthy exposures.

Pack Sensible for Your Journey to Iceland

I’ve traveled to Iceland in each the summer season and winter, and each occasions it was fairly windy and chilly. I’d suggest packing garments that layer effectively. Necessities are rain jacket and climbing boots. Even in Reykjavik, individuals gown fairly casually so there isn’t a lot must be tremendous trendy. Pack snug, fast drying, and waterproof clothes for time. Read more about what to pack for Iceland here.

Different gadgets to pack for Iceland

It doesn’t matter what it is best to positively throw the next gadgets in your Iceland packing checklist.

  • Reusable Luggage: We don’t ever journey with out our reusable baggage that we are able to take grocery purchasing. And that is no totally different for grocery shopping in Iceland. We love to avoid wasting the world from yet one more plastic bag – please think about choosing some up!
  • A superb jacket: Shock! It will get chilly in Iceland, even in the summertime. I discovered this the onerous method after I went climbing there in the midst of July with no correct jacket.  I really like my Patagonia nano puff jacket as a result of it’s one of many best packable down jackets on the market. This must be on any Iceland packing checklist regardless of the season.
  • Ear Muffs: I really like sporting ear muffs so I don’t mess up my hair. I additionally put on my hair in a ponytail lots so ear muffs make sure that I can preserve my pony! When you put on your hair down then think about a pleasant knit hat.
  • Flannel: It doesn’t matter what local weather I’m touring to I convey my Patagonia flannel in every single place and it has by no means let me know.
  • Swimsuits: I made a decision to skip the Blue Lagoon and went to the local hot springs instead. When you plan on doing it would be best to convey a swimsuit except you wish to go bare.
  • Mountaineering Footwear: When you plan on doing any quick hikes I’d convey pair of climbing footwear. I personally journey in every single place with my Merrell Moab Ventilators.
  • Adaptor: Do not forget that Iceland makes use of the Europlug. Be sure you discover a good adapter just like the one I’ve to maintain you charged. In any other case, chances are you’ll be paying for an inexpensive one when you land.
  • Waterbottle: We discovered the water in Iceland superb to drink, if you need further assurance then we love touring with our Grayl.
  • Towel: Except you’re solely staying at inns you’ll need a towel in Iceland. If you’re tenting or in a campervan, a lightweight travel towel is best. The Icelandic swimming pools can even cost you to lease a towel so it by no means hurts to have agood one in your baggage.
  • Backpack: I’d recommend bringing a backpack to Iceland if you’ll be in a camper or are backpacking, they’re much much less of ache to journey with. Read more about our favorite backpacks here.

Extra Common Iceland Journey Ideas

Studlagil Basalt Canyon
  • Icelanders converse Icelandic, however each single individual I got here throughout spoke good English.
  • The native foreign money is the Icelandic króna (ISK). ATM’s are discovered all through the nation, although we by no means had to make use of money in Iceland.
  • Have I discussed Iceland is dear? Effectively, it’s! Lower your expenses by consuming in and cooking for your self. Try our Iceland grocery store guide for all the guidelines!
  • Iceland is likely one of the most secure nations on the planet; nonetheless, it’s all the time essential to make use of frequent sense when strolling alone at night time.
  • Tipping is not customary in Iceland.
  • Iceland has sturdy web infrastructure and it is best to have the ability to simply keep linked.
  • Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage: We by no means journey with out journey insurance coverage, verify charges on HeyMondo to your journey and driving in Iceland!

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