If you are planning your trip to Iceland it would be best to think about what you are planning on doing. If you are just going to be staying in one place lets say in Reykjavik for instance you wouldn’t need a car for that as everything in the city centre is pretty much a decent walking distance from each other but if you are planning on travelling further afield I would either suggest booking a transfer transportation or hiring a car. We hired a car whilst in Iceland as we wanted the freedom of exploring on our own and in our own time without being rushed and sticking to a schedule. Both my parents are good drivers abroad as they’ve done it many of times in Spain and across Europe. I thought I would write up about what you’d need to know if you were going to book a hire car for your trip in Iceland. Also read my post Travelling Iceland’s Southern Ring Road for lots of different attractions and spots you need to see whilst driving around southern Iceland.
WHO DO I BOOK WITH?
We booked our hire car with Blue Car Rental as they came out the best at the time when we booked. All of the hire car offices are within a quick bus route or a short walk from Keflavik Airport. I would definitely recommend shopping around for the different car hire companies to find the best deal for you as they are always changing and doing special deals for different periods of time so you are bound to find one for the length of time you will be staying in Iceland for. We chose to book the Kid Cee’d 5 door car in red as it was the perfect size for the four of us and all of our luggage. I’ll write about the different cars to go for below.
WHAT CAR DO I GO FOR?
The type of car you choose will all depend on what you are planning on doing in Iceland.
Do you like going on hard roads and climbing steep mountain slopes, hike and use your tent to sleep overnight?
Do you want to have the ultimate Iceland experience by going through the the middle of the country, and set camp in the mountains instead of sleeping in hotels? If you are looking at doing more off-road driving down harsh roads I would definitely recommend looking at a 4×4 with all-wheel drive. It is not allowed to bring any other type of car on these F-roads and for good reason. The bigger the car the more interesting and fun it will be but it all depends on your budget. I would go for either a Suzuki Jimny or a Jeep Renegade. 4×4 cars are typically in the price range of 65 -130 euros per day for the cheaper models, or up to 150 -250 per day for the high end options, depending on the season. I would also recommend only hiring a 4×4 car during the winter as the weather is a lot harsher.
Are you going to take alternatives routes, or gravel roads to see fjords, waterfalls or other natural wonders only occasionally? If you are just looking for a leisure type car like we did for driving around the gorgeous, long and pothole free roads a standard 2 wheel-drive would be perfect. You can choose any of them depending on your budget and the comfort level you are looking for. I would go for a Kia Cee’d or Renault Clio. Standard 2 wheel-drive cars are typically in the price range of 50 to 100 euros, again, depending on the model and the season.
If you don’t have much time and will not wander more than the Golden Circle? Only want to make short trips around Reykjavik? I would recommend going for and will be fine with the cheapest tiniest car. Unless of course you need more comfort. I would go for something like the Toyota Aygo. This type of car is typically in the price range and anywhere between 35 to 75 euros for the same car, depending on the model and the season.
DRIVING RULES & LAWS
Like all countries Iceland do have some rules and laws you will need to follow, especially when driving on their roads.
– Drive on the right hand side of the road, overtake on the left and the drivers seat is on the left hand side of the car as well. Try to keep this in mind when you make any stops, such as at services, as it can be easily to slip back into old habits.
– The general speed limit is between 30 and 50 kilometres per hour in populated areas. 80 kilometres per hour on gravel roads in rural areas and 90 kilometres per hour on paved roads.
– Both passengers and drivers must wear their seatbelts at all times – this is the law in every country.
– Babies and young children must be in car-safety seats.
– You must have your headlights on at all times when driving, especially when it’s raining.
– Off-road driving is illegal in Iceland, so don’t be tempted as the consequences can be heavy.
– F roads are mountain roads which are very uneven and not safe for inexperienced drivers in those conditions. It is safer for you not to attempt driving on those roads without an experienced driver and the correct vehicle.
– Look out for stray wildlife on the roads which can include birds, horses and sheep.
– There are a few bridges scattered across the Ring Roads and Iceland that give way to the vehicle that approaches the bridge first. for example if you reach the bridge before the car coming the opposite way does, you are allowed to go across the vehicle before they are – they have to give you right of way.
– The weather can change quite drastically at times so make sure you are prepared and keep your eye on the road at all times.
– If you are doing long journeys around the Ring Roads, I would stock up on snacks, drinks and blankets as there is very few and far between on the Ring Road so it could be quite a drive until your next stop or service station.
Are you planning on hiring a car for your trip to Iceland?