Iceland road trip tips
Driving around Iceland and seeing the natural wonders is definitely the best way to experience the country and see its true beauty. It can be a little intimidating to do this, especially if you haven’t driven in a foreign country before. This was the case for me, but I set off with a friend for 6 days and had an unbelivable time!
Here are some tips I’d give with the benefit of hindsight!
Before you leave
1. Get a map of the whole country (that you can actually fold back into place). You can usually find free ones in hostels and information centres.
2. Do some research and see if there are any specific things or places you want to see, and mark them on the map. This can help you see if there is an obvious route to take that links in everything you want to see.
Every direction you decide to take is beautiful, so be realistic about time and it might be better to focus on one area and loop back to Reykjavik, unless you have ample time to go around the whole country.
3. Find people to go with! If you’re staying in a hostel, write a note saying who you are and where you want to go and leave your email or number. A lot of people are wanting to do this sort of trip so it will be easy to find company. I had about 18 people ask to join me!
It’s way more fun to experience all these things with friends, and is also makes the price of renting a car a lot more manageable. However if you can’t find anyone, or prefer to be alone, don’t let this hold you back from going!
4. Find a rental car. Your hostel should call up companies and do the hard work for you, but if you want go to the tourist info centres and check out prices for yourself.
I went with RED and got a Hyundai for 1450Kr per day (plus some insurance) and it was split between two people so this was managable.
A lot of people say you need a bit 4WD to see everything, as the small cars aren’t insured or allowed to drive on some dirt roads inland. But we didn’t miss anything without one, as everything is accessible on the main, or at least paved roads.
On the road
5. Plan where you want to go at the start of each day. Mark out some things you want to see in the direction you’re going, and note what routes and highways to take so you don’t miss any turnoffs. There aren’t that many U turn opportunities on the roads!
6. Don’t plan too much! It’s way more relaxing if you can stop and hang out at a cool unexpected place without feeling rushed to get to your next destination. It’s good to have some accommodation booked, but other than that just drive and see what happens!
7. Save money where you can so you can afford crazy adventure stuff. When I stayed at a bnb or guest house that had breakfast, I would make a sandwich for lunch and dinner to save each day. Also, buy local snacks from the supermarkets to get through driving munchies. These little bits will help over the days.
8. If you see a cool turn off, take it! Everywhere is really well signed for tourists and you never know what kind of beautiful waterfall or landscape might be at the end. The best things to see aren’t the towns, they’re the beautiful landscapes you see in between them, so be open to flexibility.
9. Take note of your gas. There are often gas stations in each town (where you get awesome hot dogs), but you never know when the next town is, so when you pass one it’s a good idea to top up. Prices are around 250Kr per litre.
So what are you waiting for- go explore Iceland!
Make sure you buy a Lonely Planet guide for this road trip. There were so many hidden spots I wouldn’t have seen without it!