Iceland Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In Iceland
Less than one-third of Iceland’s total road network is paved, but most of the 900-mile ring road (Highway 1) that encircles the country is paved, but that highway sometimes closes in certain places for road repair. Many other roads outside the capital, especially those that run through the center of the country, are dirt or gravel tracks. Many routes in the interior of the country are impassable until July due to muddy conditions caused by snowmelt.You should ask the rental company if you need a 4WD at this time of year.

Also you may need to cross small rivers via fords, and its not always easy to judge the depth of the water. If theres no one around to ask, and no other vehicles crossing you may need to resort to wading in and testing the depth- chilly but better than getting stuck! The F208 and F225 to Landmannalaugar are two highland roads which are only open for a few months a year to 4WD vehicles and you should always check conditions before setting off to drive them as they entail a number of river crossings. They usually don’t open until mid June and close again in September. This website has useful info on likely opening dates for mountain roads.

Driving  in Iceland is generally stress free. The driving standards are high and drivers are considerate, even in the centre of Reykjavik, which feels like driving in a small town compared to most European Capital Cities.

One quirk of driving in Iceland to consider is that at the height of winter it only gets light at mid day for a couple of hours. Its a strange feeling to collect your hire car at 9am and drive for 3 hours before it gets light! One effect of the long hours of darkness in my experience is that you tend to feel more tired than you normally would, so you should take this into account when planning your trip. The flipside obviously is that in Summer you get long days which enable you to see more sights in a limited time frame.

Iceland is a bigger country than many people think. Some driving distances and approximate travel times to popular attractions and major settlements are as follows-

Reykjavik to Akureyi , 389 km, 5 hours

Reykjavik to Borganes , 74km, 1 hour

Reykjavik to Isafjordur, 457km,8 hrs 30

Reykjavik to Seydisfjordur 680km, 9hrs 30

Reyjavik to Geysir ,120km, 2 hours

Reykjavik to Skaftafell National Park 340km, 5 hours

Reykjavik to Grindavik (Blue Lagoon) -40km, 30 mins

Reykjavik to Snæfellsnes ,120km , 2 hours

This website is produced by the Icelandic Government’s road traffic division and provides some useful info on driving in Iceland .

Iceland Car Rental –
Sixt, Hertz, Europcar, National, Alamo,Avis, Budget, Thrifty,  Dollar, have outlets here. Also usually features on Car rental broker sites such as Argus Car Hire and Web discount sites such as orExpedia

These are some local companies

This site details some car rental companies in the North of Iceland.

This company can arrange a number of self drive itineraries throughout Iceland-

Iceland Self Driving Rules –
Vehicles can’t be taken off Iceland. One way rentals should be possible with the larger firms although as the only main airport is in Reykjavik its likely you’ll want to return there anyway.

1 comment

  1. Philippe

    Some quick words just to share with you my experience of car rental in Iceland: I used each time I went to this unbelievable country, and let me tell you, it has been perfect every time.
    Nice welcome at the airport, cars in perfect shape without any bad surprise, easy to bring them back when I left, best prices for value… I don’t have to think twice when I need to rent a car out there.
    Hope it can help your website

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