Road trip in Iceland – save on your car rental

Go on an unforgettable Iceland road trip

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Check out free-to-use road trip plans

Here are several road trip plans, which I hope will help you have a great trip to Iceland.

Discover Road Trip Stories

Stuck in Iceland has many stories of going on a road trip in Iceland. Not everybody had the road trip they anticipated, but real adventures are seldom planned out.

Find inspiration for your Iceland road trip

I hope these Iceland road trips inspire you to visit Iceland. Imagine driving on the Icelandic ring road seeing incredible sights such as the Vatnajokull glacier, the famous south shore of Iceland with the famous black beach, the stunning natural wonders on the Diamond Circle or the Golden Circle.

Rent a car in Iceland and go on a road trip.
Rent a car in Iceland and go on a road trip.

Rent a car from a reputable car rental company

I have heard many horror stories from people who wanted to save a little money and rent a car from disreputable car rentals. I recommend always renting a vehicle from a reputable car rental company, although it may cost a little more. There are just too many horror stories from people who have to save a few bucks to have significant issues with crooks renting cars. When I rent a car, I always photograph it to make sure that I am not charged for scratches or dents that were there already.

Make your road trip carbon neutral

We urge you to make your road trip and flight to Iceland carbon neutral.

Read this guide on how to drive in Iceland

Going on a road trip in Iceland is on the bucket list for many people. But there are several things to keep in mind, especially about safety. I hope that this guide to driving in Iceland helps you enjoy your road trip in Iceland safely.

Important! Stay safe when driving in Iceland!

Icelandic roads are narrower than roads in Europe, so keep your speed down and your eyes open. NEVER, EVER STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD TO PHOTOGRAPH SOMETHING.

Where to get information on driving safely, road conditions, and weather

Follow road conditions on the Icelandic Road Authority Websitefollow the weather forecast carefully, study, and follow the advice on Safetravel.is. If you are looking for information on traffic regulations and road signs, this is the right page.

Read this guide on how to drive in Iceland

Going on a road trip in Iceland is on the bucket list for many people. But there are several things to keep in mind, especially about safety. I hope that this guide to driving in Iceland helps you enjoy your road trip in Iceland safely.

Driving in winter in Iceland

If you rent a car for use in winter, please consider renting a 4×4 vehicle. When driving in Iceland in winter, the car and yourself must be ready to handle icy and slippery roads, snow, darkness, low (or zero) visibility, heavy rain, gale-force winds, and frost.

If you are driving in winter, ensure that your car is equipped for winter driving. This means good tires, either with studs or certified whole-year tires. Never rent a car with worn-out tires. Breaks need to work 100%. In winter, when driving in Iceland, you will have to contend with slippery roads, snow, strong winds, driving rain, and darkness. Winter days in Iceland are short and limited visibility is often a challenge. Keep lights, back and front, uncovered by snow. Make sure you scrape your windows free of ice and snow. Check that the windshield wipers work. If you think you should not try to save money by renting a cheap or old car when in Iceland, you are right.

Obey the speed limit

Fines for speeding are very steep in Iceland, and if you are caught going significantly above the speed limit, you might even lose your license. Penalties can be up to $1.200. The police enforce the speed limit strictly. The speed limit is shown on road signs, but generally speaking, it is 90KM an hour on a paved highway and 80KM on a gravel road. The relatively low-speed limits are simply that the roads in Iceland are narrow, which makes driving fast dangerous. The speed limit is typically 50KM per hour within towns, but it is often 30Km an hour in residential areas.

Respect road closures

If there is a travel warning or a road closure, make sure you always respect that. You can always study the road conditions in real-time around the country.

Nobody issues a travel warning or closes a road for fun. You will be the object of scorn if the volunteer rescue services need to get you out of trouble because you didn’t follow essential advice. Remember that if you put yourself at risk, you are also putting volunteers at the rescue services at risk too. At the very least, they have to take time away from family and work to look for you.

Watch out on narrow roads

Iceland has narrow roads, and one-lane bridges are standard. This is one more reason to follow the legal speed limit as detailed above. Sometimes sheep wander onto the road in the countryside at the last minute. Concentrate on your driving at all times.

Icelandic road in winter. Watch out for slippery roads to stay safe in winter.
Icelandic road in winter. Watch out for slippery roads to stay safe in winter. Icelandic road in winter Photo by Bailey Zindel on Unsplash

Take your time on the road

My best advice to stay safe in Iceland when driving is to drive slowly. You will look uncool, but speeding is super dangerous on slippery roads. Black ice may form on road surfaces if the temperature goes below 3 degrees celsius. So things may get slippery, even if there is no snow. If you are heading out of Reykjavik, I recommend renting a well-equipped 4×4. If you are not a good enough driver for winter driving, it may not matter how good your car is. So make sure you can handle Icelandic winter driving. There is no shame in admitting that you don’t have enough experience. I do it all the time. For example, I generally avoid driving cross country in winter.

No random stops in the middle of the road

Never, ever stop on the road. I have had to maneuver at the last second to avoid a collision with a stopped car. The people were out of the car, photographing a flock of sheep on a nearby field. Roads are narrow, so even if you are on the shoulder, you might be risking lives by stopping there. So if you have to stop, only do so at a designated area. Think before you rush out of the car and onto the road. Read the guide on how to stay safe in Iceland.

When you are renting a car, check your insurance

Make sure that you are well insured when you rent a car., I don’t want to specify what is included or not included. I advise you to ask about your insurance. One thing is sure; you are not insured if you try to go on an F-Road on a regular car. An F-road is a road that is specified as a mountain road and is only suitable for well-equipped 4×4 vehicles and experienced drivers. The same goes if you try to cross a river. So make sure you have the experience, the right kind of vehicle, sufficient insurance if you venture outside of the regular roads.

Fuel is expensive

Gasoline and Diesel are expensive in Iceland. It is often about or significantly above 200 ISK per liter or about 800 ISK for the gallon. That is about $1.60 per liter or $4.60 per gallon. You can save a bit by using self-service gas stations, but for that, you will need your credit card and PIN. Fortunately, fossil fuel prices will rise even further as carbon taxes are implemented. Read the guide on saving money in Iceland and how to pay for things.

If you are caught driving offroad, you will face a massive fine. Some say some humiliation is often on the cards for those caught driving illegally offroad. I don’t want to fuel rumors, however, it is better to be caught by the police than angry locals who might want to teach offenders a lesson or two. I have been on a guided tour where the guide gave people who had gone offroad a piece of their mind, to put it mildly.

Tunnel in the North of Iceland

When you are driving from Akureyri to the town of Húsavík, you will have the option of shortening your trip a little bit. If you do this, you will have to register your car and pay  1500 ISK online at the tunnel website.

Some car rental companies have added this charge to the rental price. Please enquire with your car rental company about this. If you are driving in summer and have good road conditions, you may ignore this tunnel and take the mountain pass of Víkurskarð. The view there is pretty great.

Support this independent travel magazine – save on car rental and camper van rental in Iceland

Please take advantage of our discount promo codes for top-rated tours; rent a car from Europcar with a 15% discount or book accommodation on this page and help support this independent travel magazine. We earn a commission that helps us run the magazine and keep all content free with each booking. Since 2012 we have been helping people who want to experience Iceland plan and book their Icelandic adventure. We have interviewed dozens of travelers who have visited Iceland to get their unique perspectives and advice on traveling in Iceland. Many people have sought inspiration from our articles on great destinations in Iceland. To go on a road trip in Iceland is just fantastic; we dare say it is a life-changing adventure. So go ahead and rent a car in Iceland today.

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