5 Tips Before you Road trip Iceland

Road tripping Iceland should be something on everyone’s bucket list. Nothing like clearing your mind on the open road with the most majestic views around you. Renting a car here gives you the freedom to go at your own pace and explore some off the beaten path places. Here are 5 key tips before you start your Iceland road trip.
5 Tips Before You Travel 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.

Regular car

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. 

Camper Vans

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.

 Tips Before You Travel Iceland

2. Rental Insurance

I know this can be daunting to figure out when you first pick up your rental. The person at the front desk makes you sign your life away while talking about all these insurance packages combinations.

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 

5 Tips to Travel Iceland

3. Keep your gas tank filled

There are many long stretches of road where you won’t come across a gas station for hours. Whenever you see one along your journey just tip off the gas tank. Don’t risk getting stuck! You’ll go through gas faster than you think, especially with the larger off-roading cars.

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!

 Before You Travel Iceland

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 Tips Before You Travel Iceland

5. How much time do you need?

Iceland’s Ring Road encircles the entire country covering over 800 miles on Route 1.

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!

 Travel Iceland
Day 3/4 You should venture out along the Golden Circle to see Geysers, waterfalls and cute Icelandic horses. If you’re feeling lucky head a little outside of the city at night to catch a glimpse of the northern lights! On your last day before you head back to the airport spend a spa day at the blue lagoon!

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.