7 Things To Know When Renting A Car In Iceland

Iceland is a land of hot springs and volcanoes, lava fields and geysers. It has sweeping dramatic landscapes, is fully aware of its Viking heritage, and has strong friendly people with exciting places to see and amazing things to do. Most of the people live in the capital city of Reykjavik.

Iceland is quite a small country. It is around one third the size of the UK or an American state. Renting a car in Iceland is the best and easiest way to get around. There are plenty of good options here with many opting for Reykjavik Cars thanks to their solid reputation. So once you have your rental car sorted what next?

Decide what Kind of Iceland Adventure you Want to Have

Iceland’s rugged beauty is quite wonderful but there are parts of it where a 4 wheel drive vehicle is going to be essential.  As such, it is important to decide where you are going before you decide what kind of hire car you need.

If your plan is to travel around the Golden Circle or the Ring Road you should be able to do this in a 2 wheel drive car although there are gravel areas on the Ring Road.

Driving the Ring Road

It is possible to drive around the Ring Road in a day but most take their time and do the journey in about a week. Iceland is a beautiful country, what’s the rush?

Iceland’s F-Roads

Iceland’s F-Roads are adventurous gravel trails that take you up mountains and across glacier river crossings. The landscape has a harsh beauty and only 4 wheel drive rental cars will be able to take on this terrain. It is advised that an F-Road adventure consists of two vehicles in case one breaks down. Although a small country, you won’t find many others on this route so a breakdown could leave you isolated.

This is why it is important to rent a car from a reputable company so you get the best.

Iceland’s H-Roads

The term H-Road refers to gravel tracks that in the summer can be driven on by a 2 wheel drive vehicle. Often, this leads to farms and private homes. They are not as well maintained as the tarmacked roads but unless you are traveling in the winter you should have no difficulty in negotiating them.

Make the Golden Circle a Day Trip

Iceland’s Golden Circle is a popular route as it takes in many of the country’s landmarks. It is possible to do the circle from the Keflavík International Airport or the capital Reykjavik.

The Golden circle features a 190-mile loop from the capital into the southern uplands. Along the way you will experience:

  • Þingvellir National Park – The park was home to the country’s first parliament in 930AD. Today, weather permitting you can go snorkelling in the fissures that are being created as the North American & Eurasian tectonic plates split apart.
  • Geysers At Haukadalur – This geothermal region is home to two geysers; Geysir and Strokkur. Although Geysir is no longer active, Strokkur blasts water a hundred feet into the air every ten minutes or so.
  • Gullfoss Waterfall – This hugely popular attraction sees water falling hundreds of feet. This creates rainbows to form when the sun shines and the mist rises from the surface constantly.

The Golden Circle can be experienced in a day and thanks to the amazing things to see you can spend more time here.

6 Drive Counter Clockwise on the Ring Road

Iceland’s Ring Road is best experienced driving counterclockwise. You will take in the more touristy parts first before moving into more remote areas. Iceland is a land to savour, quite possibly like no other you have seen before. As such, being surrounded by rugged and beautiful landscapes is profound.

Some of the things you will see are:

  • The Golden Circle – Some of the most iconic experiences.
  • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall and Skógafoss Waterfall – These waterfalls are both 200 feet in height with the latter being wide and more powerful. Viewing platforms and trails offer great views of both waterfalls but taking photos behind Seljalandsfoss is tricky because of the spray. If you’re an early riser make sure you catch the sunrises at these locations.
  • Sólheimasandur Plane Crash – In 1973 an American military plane crashed on the beach. It has been used for music videos and now is an Icelandic landmark. You can park and hike to the plane and explore.
  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach – This beach is simply amazing. Formed by the mixing of lava and ocean water this is a must visit on any tour of Iceland.

This snapshot gives you an idea of what you will see on any Ring Road tour.

Get the Extra Insurance

Finally when renting a car in Iceland, get the extra insurance on your Iceland rental car. It is unlikely you have ever driven on terrain like this and it may save you a considerable sum in repairs especially if you are going off-road.


 What say you?
Thoughts on these 7 Things To Know When Renting A Car In Iceland?
Let’s hear it!

Looking for more Iceland?


Written By
More from Contributor
5 Quebec Road Trips for Wintertime Fun
Quebec is arguably one Canada’s most beautiful and unique provinces and one...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *