5 Tips Before you Road trip Iceland
1. Renting the right vehicle
Renting the right kind of transportation for you Iceland adventure is one of the most important tips be for you road trip Iceland.
If you are going between the late spring and early autumn and sticking to the ring road and south Iceland, a regular mid-sized car should do the job. Therefore, try to rent a hybrid to save a ton of money on gas (it can add up fast and be very expensive).
During certain parts of the year, driving can be daunting and dangerous in some areas. If you plan to drive during the months from October to early April I would recommend renting a 4x4 vehicle with really good snow tires. The weather is very unpredictable and you’d need a car that can handle rough conditions.
If you are looking to drive through the highlands and some unpaved roads, a 4x4 is always recommended (you may drive through some streams).
4x4 are usually more expensive and get rented out fast so make sure booking a car rental is the first thing you do before you book anything else for your trip, you’ll save money and get first dibs on the cool cars.
Renting a camper van can be a lot of fun! You can cook, eat and sleep in the van without setting up a campsite. This option is great if you don’t want to spend the money on accommodation and want to make an efficient route to your priority. You can see what you want when you want without rushing back to your Airbnb or your next one.
Camper vans also get booked up fast so make sure to hire one pronto!
They can cost around 100 – 150 a day but it saves you the hassle of finding accommodations along your route. Most importantly, just like 4x4s, gas can run out fast on these so always fill up when you can.
2. Rental Insurance
From gravel insurance to collision damage to sand protection… it can be confusing.
Personally, I think the best option is to book all car rentals with a travel credit card that offers premium rental insurance. I use Chase Sapphire or United Mileage. This will save you money and will have a full range of coverage so you don’t have to worry. (but make sure you don’t purchase insurance with the company too, this will cancel out your credit card coverage!)
If you don’t have a credit card with coverage, check if your travel insurance covers it (some do).
3rd party insurance providers are also a good choice to save money and have full coverage.
Always get gravel insurance and take pictures of your rental before you leave the lot. Better safe than sorry
3. Keep your gas tank filled
When you’re at the gas station, make sure you use a card with a Pin!
To save yourself from using your debit card and having forgiven transaction fees, set up a pin with your travel credit card. If you don’t you can’t get gas and a lot of the machines are self-service and none take cash. so now you know, don’t run into this issue as I did!
4. Which season should you go?
Your trip to Iceland will be completely different experiences depending on the months you go.
Summertime – Extremely long days with little to no darkness, lots of tourists, everything so green, all the highland roads are opened up to explore, high season price increase
Autumn – Northern lights can be seen again, highland roads are still open in early fall, start to close when snowfall increases, prices are lower, fewer tourists, normal day and night ratio, fall colors emerge
Winter – Not for the faint of heart, little daylight hours, intense and unpredictable weather, ice caves and glacier tours are open, no access to highland roads unless with guided tour,
Spring – Longer days, fewer tourists, decent weather, still a chance to see the northern lights, some highland road might be closed in early spring but should open up around June. Ice caves are still open early spring but close shortly after the weather warms up.
5. How much time do you need?
it will take you at least a week with stops on along the way.
If it’s your first time to Iceland and you’re doing a stopover trip for 3/4 days you would want to stay in 1 to 2.5 hr radius of Reykjavik so you don’t spend your entire time driving.
Spend 2 days exploring the city of Reykjavik. There are plenty of museums, galleries, restaurants, and boutiques to check out. The nightlife is also something worth experiencing when you’re there. Icelandic beer is fantastic!
Say you have around 6-8 days you can travel half the ring road from Reykjavik to Hofn. Another route to if you want your trip to be more unique and avoid the crowds hit up the west coast towards the Westfjords! Some people attempt the whole ring road with this amount of time but if you want to spend some time outside of your car, plan to finish the rest of the country on a follow-up trip. You’re going to want to come back and see Iceland in another season. trust me on this! every season has its perks.
If you are planning to road trip around the whole country I would defiantly give it at least 2 weeks if you want to fully enjoy your time without constantly rushing around. It will also give you some extra time if the weather isn’t in your favor (which is often).
These are our 5 tips before you road trip Iceland. Let us know what your tips are!
Check Out How to Road Trip Iceland like a pro to help plan out your ultimate itinerary.