13 Iceland Road Trip Tips: What You Need to Know Before You Get

Posted: 4/2/2024 | April 2nd, 2024Iceland is a beautiful country. It simply feels out of this earth, like you’re on another planet. The island appears lonely but impressive due to its steep volcanoes and black-sand beaches. When it comes to the most beautiful nations on earth, it ranks alongside Norway and New Zealand. And, only like both of those sites, it’s an awesome place to take a road trip. Thanks to its spectacular natural beauty, protection, and ease of transportation, Iceland has become a favorite place for solo travelers and primary- period road trippers. Yes, it has a price, but it has so much to see and do, including plenty of wonderful excursions and rivers that are open to the public. You do n’t need to break the bank here. I’ve visited Iceland a few times over the years, so I believe taking a road journey is the best way to examine the place. Therefore, to ensure you save time and money and remain protected during your vacation, here are my best 13 Iceland street- trip tips: Table of Contents1. Make sure you have automobile insurance2. Rent the appropriate vehicle3. Get the appropriate apps4. Bring a document map5. Choose your manner wisely6. Avoid the F- roads ( if you have a vehicle ) 7. Check the weather often8. Simply take over where there is a space9. Keep an eye on your gasoline tank10. Do n’t rush11. Avoid the summers ( and also the spring ) 12. Pick up passengers13. Following the Iceland Road Trip FAQGet the In-Depth Budget Guide to Iceland! 1. Make sure you have coverage for your auto. I never leave my house without insurance for travel. Additionally, I always hire a car without extensive automobile insurance. In most locations, this might seem like overdone. I mean, how often do you really use your car insurance? In Iceland, nevertheless, the temperature changes often — and significantly. Rain and snow are frequent, and gravel and sand usually injury windows. The weather, however, poses the real risk that the majority of individuals are n’t prepared for. Vehicle doors are frequently ripped off their hinges because of the severe winds around ( the rental company has reminded me of this every time I’ve rented a vehicle here ). Combine that with winding, narrow streets and an abundance of effective mountains, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for automobile problems. I always advise visitors to Iceland to have extensive car hire coverage. Because being protected here is much better than being sorry! I suggest Discover Trucks for renting a vehicle. With the click of a button, it’s very simple to add auto coverage to your purchase when you make a reservation. They specify exactly what is covered and how much. To get a quote, use the app below. It’s quick and completely: 2. Rent the correct vehicleIt’s easy to rent a vehicle in Iceland. If you have a current license and are using Latin letters with a license number, photo, and expiration date, you do n’t need an international driving permit. That means Americans, Canadians, Australians, Brits, and New Zealanders is all rent a car these with their normal certificate. When renting a car in Iceland, you have three major choices: A auto
A 4×4 ( 4WD )
A van/RV
If you’re only planning to see the major places while sleeping in dorms, hotels, and/or Airbnbs, a standard vehicle will do the trick. It’s the cheapest option also. If you want to explore the rugged interior ( known as the Highlands ), a 4×4 is required, since the roads there are often unpaved, gravel ones called” F- roads”, which can only be traversed by 4×4 vehicles ( if you drive a regular car on them, your insurance coverage will be void ). Your ultimate choice is a campervan/RV. These are intended for tourists who want to go while sleeping in their vehicles. They are the most expensive solution, but you’ll save money on accommodation, so it kind of balances up. Just remember that this is the norm, so if that’s your thing, you can supply an automatic transmission car. ( Note: No matter what type of vehicle you have, always push off- path. It is very improper due to the fragility of Iceland’s ecology. Not only does off- roading injury this beautiful culture, but you could face stiff sanctions if caught. ) 3. Get the appropriate software Everyone traveling through Iceland should have the following apps or websites bookmarked on their phones: Google Translate – Although English is widely used, the app can be useful for reading directions and signs. Just make sure to get Icelandic for offline use so you can convert even without using your phone’s data.
Google Maps – The best software for looking up guidelines. Make sure you download your drawings so that you can access them online.
Safetravel. is – This apps stock weather alerts, street closing information, and more. It’s beneficial to have in case of unexpected events or bad conditions.
Vedur. is – This is the best conditions software for Iceland.
Samferda – This site is great for locating customers if you want to ride with someone. ( If you’re a passenger and need a ride, you can post here too. ) Another good site for finding people is Couchsurfing.
Before leaving, check the global policies and fees on your phone plan to prevent sudden fees when using these apps and/or websites. Getting an eSIM if you want to be connected throughout your trip with infinite data. 4. Bring a document image When traveling by road, I often have a copy. I know, Google Maps is simple and completely, and mobile data protection in Iceland is credible. But it’s better to be safe than sorry. You never know when your phone is going to tear, if your message will become lost, or there will be an incident. Bring a document highway map with you and place it in your glove box to offer yourself some peace of mind. You likely wo n’t need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have it! 5. Choose your course wiselyThe huge bulk of travelers street- tripping through Iceland pull the Ring Road (aka Route 1, the region’s main highway ) counterclockwise. Starting with the famous Golden Circle, you can then travel to more well-known attractions like the Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, the Sólheimasandur crash site, the glacier lagoon, and more. If you only have a few days to explore, this is the best direction to choose. If it’s your first- time visiting Iceland, this is the direction I suggest. However, if you want to be contrarian or you want to get off the beaten path, head clockwise. There are still some places you can go to to start the day off, like Mount Kirkjufell, which is postcard-perfect, and the rugged Snfellsnes Peninsula. If you really want to get off the beaten path and beat the crowds, head to the Westfjords. It’s home to some of the most unspoiled landscapes in the country because only a small percentage of travelers travel here. It was also my time in Iceland’s highlight of course. 6. Avoid the F- roads ( if you have a car ) As mentioned above, F- roads are rugged, unpaved routes that generally lead off the main Ring Road into the interior. Driving on these roads requires a 4×4 ( 4WD ). If you have a regular car, you wo n’t be permitted to drive on them. You run the risk of losing your insurance while also putting your car in danger. It’s not worth it! 7. Check the weather often I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the weather in Iceland changes rapidly. For that reason, you’ll want to keep an eye on the forecast. While driving in wind or rain might not be an issue, if you’re planning to get out and hike or visit some of the waterfalls, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for the weather. The Vedur. is app ( mentioned above ) is a must. No matter what time of year you visit, bring rain gear ( including a hat ), waterproof footwear, and a sweater. Even in the summer, Iceland is rarely hot, and rain is n’t uncommon either. Make sure you’re prepared so that your trip does n’t go wrong (especially if you’re hiking ). 8. Only pull over where there is parking. You’re going to be drawn to stop your car frequently to take pictures. And I mean really often. The main sights in Iceland are amazing, but the average sights are also stunning. You’ll come across random vistas and waterfalls, craggy moss- covered hills, black- sand beaches, and so much more. It will be tempting to pull over to take pictures, but do so with caution. Only if there are designated stops on the road or if there is room to go without causing any delays. While the Ring Road is n’t a superhighway, it is a busy route with regular traffic in both directions. Do n’t endanger yourself or others for a photo. Stick to the designated areas for stopping. 9. Keep an eye on your gas tank Once you leave Reykjavik, the busier region of the island, gas stations start to appear infrequently. For that reason, you’ll want to fill up when you can. Do n’t wait until you have a quarter tank; you might run out of gas before you get to the next station. I always make sure to top up whenever I can, even though you can typically look up where gas stations are using Google Maps. It pays to have peace of mind. You’ll also be protected if your travel plans are delayed or changed at the last minute. 10. Do n’t rushA lot of people believe that Iceland can be seen in just a few days due to the small size of the country. You ca n’t. If you’re looking to drive the entire Ring Road, plan for at least 10- 14 days. Although you can accomplish it in less time, you will be rushed and will spend more time driving than I’d suggest. ( If you just want to see the main highlights in the south and east, 5- 7 days is sufficient. ) I always advise travelers to slow down and fully soak in the sights because I prefer quality over quantity. You wo n’t regret it. If you’re looking for recommended itineraries, this post breaks down all my suggestions for different time frames, all the way up to an entire month. 11. Avoid the summer ( and also the winter ) Iceland suffers from success. Between late June and early August, the country is flooded by tourists during the summer because that is the time of year when the weather is the hottest and the days are the triest. Iceland is not as busy as it is in cities like Barcelona or Venice, but it is still busy around Reykjavik and the sights that are closest to it. For that reason, I suggest visiting in the shoulder season. There wo n’t be as many people there, and the weather is still warm. Everything will also be a little less expensive. If you are set on going in the summer, I’d suggest heading off to the Westfjords. It has some of Iceland’s most unspoiled and stunning landscapes, making it the least-visited region of the nation. Additionally, I suggest avoiding winter visits too if you plan on driving. Road conditions are less than ideal, and snowstorms are frequent. Unless you have lots of experience with winter driving, skip that season. ( You can definitely do a winter visit to see the northern lights, I just would n’t rent a car for that. ) The best times to visit are late May through early June, and late August through early September, in my opinion. Prices are cheaper, the weather is decent, and the crowds are thinner. 12. Pick up passengersIf you’re traveling on a budget, consider taking passengers. Being able to save money while also connecting with like-minded travelers is a great way to save money while having people chip in for gas for a leg or two of your journey. As previously mentioned, you can find them using services like Couchsurfing or Samferda. Another option is to pick up hitchhikers. Hitchhiking is extremely common along the Ring Road in the warmer months ( I hitchhiked here and had a great time ). While they generally do n’t have money to contribute, they likely have cool stories and great tips. It’s a simple way to cheer up other travelers and spice up your own trip. 13. Respect local customs and lawsBeing a responsible traveler means adhering to local customs and laws. Be aware that Iceland has stricter driving regulations and penalties than you might expect. Make sure to do the following: Never drive off- road. Respect the fragile Icelandic ecosystem and never drive off-road.
Never drink and drive. Driving while intoxicated in Iceland is prohibited in the country ( 0.02 % ). Not only are you endangering yourself and others, but the fines are extremely high ( 100, 000 ISK).
Never use your phone while driving. If you need to talk and drive or pull over, use a hands-free setup. Not only is it dangerous, but you could face high fines as well.
Watch out for traveling companions. This includes sheep ( there are more sheep than people here ) and cyclists. Give them a wide berth and pass slowly.
Know who to call. If you experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance. It’s the equivalent of 911 in the US/Canada.
Iceland Road Trip FAQHow challenging is a road trip in Iceland? One of the easiest nations on earth to travel by road is Iceland. The reason is that Route 1, or the Ring Road, is essentially just one long road that circles the nation. That makes it relatively simple to navigate while also making it challenging to get lost. How long will it take you to drive around Iceland? If you plan to drive the entire Ring Road, you’ll want at least 10 days ( 14 days would be better ). If you just want to see the main sights in the south and east, 5- 7 days should be plenty. Is Iceland very expensive? Iceland can be very expensive. Food, accommodation, rental cars, and gas are all pricey. However, there are plenty of ways to save too. By sharing a vehicle ( and splitting costs ), cooking all your meals, and camping or sticking to hostels, you can easily do it for under$ 100 USD per day. Is renting a 4×4 worthwhile? If you have used a 4×4 before and intend to travel off-road, I would only rent one. For the average visitor looking to see the main sights, a 4×4 is not necessary. What is an F- road? An F- road is a route on which only 4×4 vehicles can travel. They are very rugged, unpaved roads, generally leading you into the interior. If you have a regular rental vehicle, you’re forbidden to drive on them. Is it safe to drive solo in Iceland? Iceland consistently ranks among the safest nations on the planet. If you’re new to solo travel, it’s the perfect place to start. ***Iceland is one of the world’s most stunning nations. It’s also one of the best ( and easiest ) places to do a road trip. While it may be expensive, it’s very safe and easy to get around, and there are lots of free things to see and do to keep costs down. Simply adhere to the advice provided above, and you’ll have a fun and safe visit to this rugged island nation! CLICK HERE TO GET A FREE RENTAL CAR QUOTE! Get the In- Depth Budget Guide to Iceland! Want to make the ideal trip to Iceland? Check out my comprehensive guide to Iceland, which was written specifically for low-cost travelers like you! It eliminates the unnecessary detail in other guides and delivers the relevant, actionable information you require. You’ll find suggested itineraries, tips, budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, and my favorite non- touristy restaurants, markets, bars, transportation tips, and much more! Click here to access more information and order a copy today.