Home TRAVEL 13 Iceland Highway Journey Suggestions: What You Must Know Earlier than You Go

13 Iceland Highway Journey Suggestions: What You Must Know Earlier than You Go

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A 4x4 car parked on the side of the road in beautiful, sunny Iceland with mountains in the background
Posted: 4/2/2024 | April 2nd, 2024

Iceland is a magical nation. It simply feels out of this world, such as you’re on one other planet. The rugged volcanoes and black-sand seashores give the island a desolate however putting look. In the event you ask me, it’s proper up there with New Zealand and Norway when it comes to probably the most lovely international locations on the earth.

And, identical to each of these locations, it’s an incredible place to take a highway journey.

Because of its gorgeous pure magnificence, security, and ease of transportation, Iceland has change into a well-liked vacation spot for solo vacationers and first-time highway trippers. Sure, it may be costly, nevertheless it has a lot to see and do, together with tons of fantastic hikes and waterfalls which might be free to take pleasure in. You don’t want to interrupt the financial institution right here.


Having been to Iceland a handful of instances through the years, I believe taking a highway journey is the easiest way to discover the nation. So, to make sure you save money and time and keep protected throughout your journey, listed below are my high 13 Iceland road-trip suggestions:


1. Be sure you have automotive insurance coverage

I by no means go away residence with out journey insurance coverage. And I by no means lease a automotive with out complete auto insurance coverage both.

In most locations, this would possibly seem to be overkill. I imply, how typically do you truly use your automotive insurance coverage?

In Iceland, nonetheless, the climate modifications typically — and drastically.

Rain and snow are frequent, and gravel and sand typically harm home windows. However the actual risk most drivers aren’t ready for is the wind. The gusts listed below are so robust that automotive doorways are frequently ripped off their hinges (each time I’ve rented a automotive right here, the corporate has jogged my memory of this).

Mix that with winding, slim roads and an abundance of lively volcanoes, and also you’ve bought your self a recipe for automotive hassle.

That’s why I all the time advocate vacationers have complete automotive rental protection after they go to Iceland. As a result of it’s a lot better to be protected than sorry right here!

With regards to renting a automotive, I like to recommend Uncover Automobiles. While you e book, it’s tremendous straightforward so as to add automotive insurance coverage onto your buy with the press of a button. They make it clear what is roofed and the way a lot it prices.

You need to use the widget under to get a quote. It’s quick and free:


2. Hire the appropriate automobile

It’s straightforward to lease a automotive in Iceland. You don’t want an Worldwide Driving Allow when you have a sound license utilizing Latin letters with a license quantity, {photograph}, and expiration date. Meaning Individuals, Canadians, Australians, Brits, and New Zealanders can all lease a automotive right here with their common license.

When renting a automobile in Iceland, you might have three principal selections:

  • A automotive
  • A 4×4 (4WD)
  • A van/RV

In the event you’re simply planning to see the principle sights whereas sleeping in hostels, accommodations, and/or Airbnbs, an everyday automotive will do the trick. It’s the most affordable possibility too.

If you wish to discover the rugged inside (often called the Highlands), a 4×4 is required, because the roads there are sometimes unpaved, gravel ones known as “F-roads,” which may solely be traversed by 4×4 automobiles (when you drive an everyday automotive on them, your insurance coverage protection might be void).

Your remaining selection is a campervan/RV. These are for vacationers who need to sleep of their automobile as they journey. They’re the costliest possibility, however you’ll lower your expenses on lodging, so it sort of balances out.

Simply remember that normal transmissions are the norm right here, so reserve an automatic-transmission automobile if that’s a requirement for you.

(Notice: It doesn’t matter what kind of auto you might have, by no means drive off-road. It’s extremely unlawful because of the fragility of Iceland’s ecosystem. Not solely does off-roading harm this lovely surroundings, however you might face stiff fines if caught.)

3. Obtain the appropriate apps

Everybody road-tripping round Iceland ought to have the next apps downloaded to or web sites bookmarked on their telephone:

  • Google Translate – Whereas English is extensively spoken, the app may be useful for studying indicators and instructions. Simply be sure to obtain Icelandic for offline use as a way to nonetheless translate issues even with out cellular information.
  • Google Maps – The perfect app for trying up instructions. Be sure to obtain your maps so you might have them for offline use.
  • Safetravel.is – This app shares climate alerts, highway closure data, and extra. It’s good to have so that you may be stored updated ought to inclement climate or emergencies come up.
  • Vedur.is – That is one of the best climate app for Iceland.
  • Samferda – This web site is nice for locating passengers if you wish to share a journey with somebody. (In the event you’re a passenger and want a journey, you may put up right here too.) One other useful web site for locating passengers is Couchsurfing.

Test the worldwide insurance policies and fees in your telephone plan earlier than leaving, in order to keep away from sudden fees when utilizing these apps and/or web sites. If you wish to keep linked with limitless information in your journey, get an eSIM.

4. Deliver a paper map

Every time I’m going on a highway journey, I all the time carry a paper map. I do know, Google Maps is straightforward and free, and cellular information protection in Iceland is dependable. However it’s higher to be protected than sorry. You by no means know when your telephone goes to interrupt, in case your sign might be misplaced, or there might be an emergency.

Give your self peace of thoughts: carry a paper highway map with you, and simply go away it within the glove field. You seemingly gained’t want it, however when you do, you’ll be glad you might have it!

5. Select your path correctly

The overwhelming majority of vacationers road-tripping by Iceland drive the Ring Highway (aka Route 1, the nation’s principal freeway) counterclockwise. This lets you begin with the well-known Golden Circle after which head towards in style sights just like the Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, the Sólheimasandur crash web site, the glacier lagoon, and extra. In the event you solely have a number of days to discover, that is one of the best path to decide on. If it’s your first-time visiting Iceland, that is the path I recommend.

Nonetheless, if you wish to be contrarian otherwise you need to get off the overwhelmed path, head clockwise. There are nonetheless some sights you may go to to kick issues off, such because the postcard-perfect Mount Kirkjufell and the rugged Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

In the event you actually need to get off the overwhelmed path and beat the crowds, head to the Westfjords. Solely a fraction of vacationers come right here, so it’s residence to among the most unspoiled landscapes within the nation. It was additionally the spotlight of all my time in Iceland.

6. Keep away from the F-roads (when you have a automotive)

As talked about above, F-roads are rugged, unpaved routes that typically lead off the principle Ring Highway into the inside. Driving on these roads requires a 4×4 (4WD). If in case you have an everyday automotive, you gained’t be permitted to drive on them. You’ll void your insurance coverage protection whereas additionally risking blowing a tire or damaging the automotive. It’s not value it!

7. Test the climate typically

I’ve mentioned it earlier than and I’ll say it once more: the climate in Iceland modifications quickly. For that purpose, you’ll need to regulate the forecast. Whereas driving in wind or rain won’t be a difficulty, when you’re planning to get out and hike or go to among the waterfalls, you’ll need to be sure to’re ready for the climate. The Vedur.is app (talked about above) is a should.

It doesn’t matter what time of yr you go to, carry rain gear (together with a hat), waterproof footwear, and a sweater. Even in the summertime, Iceland is never scorching, and rain isn’t unusual both. Put together accordingly so your journey isn’t ruined (particularly when you plan on mountain climbing).

8. Solely pull over the place there’s area

You will be tempted to cease your automotive typically to take pictures. And I imply actually typically. Not solely are the principle sights in Iceland awe-inspiring, however the common sights are gorgeous too. You’ll come throughout random vistas and waterfalls, craggy moss-covered hills, black-sand seashores, and a lot extra.

It will likely be tempting to tug over to get out and take pictures, however achieve this with warning. Attempt to pull off the highway solely at designated stops or the place there’s room to take action with out impeding visitors. Whereas the Ring Highway isn’t a superhighway, it’s a busy route with common visitors in each instructions. Don’t endanger your self or others for a photograph. Persist with designated stopping areas.

9. Keep watch over your fuel tank

As soon as you permit the busier a part of the island round Reykjavik, fuel stations change into few and much between. For that purpose, you’ll need to replenish when you may. Don’t simply wait till you might have 1 / 4 tank, as you would possibly run out of fuel earlier than you get to the subsequent station.

Whilst you can typically lookup the place fuel stations are by way of Google Maps, I all the time be sure to high up after I can. The peace of thoughts is value it. You’ll even be lined in case you get delayed or change your journey plans on the final minute.

10. Don’t rush

Lots of people assume that, as a result of Iceland is small, you may see the sights in only a matter of days.

You possibly can’t.

In the event you’re trying to drive the whole Ring Highway, plan for a minimum of 10-14 days. Whereas you are able to do it in much less, you may be rushed and can spend extra time driving than I’d advocate. (In the event you simply need to see the principle highlights within the south and east, 5-7 days is ample.)

I desire high quality over amount, so I all the time recommend vacationers decelerate and actually soak within the sights. You gained’t remorse it.

In the event you’re searching for advisable itineraries, this put up breaks down all my solutions for various time frames, all the way in which as much as a complete month.

11. Keep away from the summer season (and likewise the winter)

Iceland suffers from success. The nation is swamped by vacationers through the summer season, between late June and early August, as that’s when the climate is the warmest and the times are the longest. Whereas “busy” in Iceland is a far cry from “busy” in cities like Barcelona or Venice, it will possibly nonetheless be crowded round Reykjavik and the sights closest to town.

For that purpose, I recommend visiting within the shoulder season. The climate continues to be heat and there might be far fewer individuals. All the pieces might be somewhat cheaper too.

If you’re set on going in the summertime, I’d recommend heading off to the Westfjords. It’s the least-visited space of the nation and provides among the most untamed and delightful landscapes in Iceland.

Moreover, I recommend avoiding winter visits too when you plan on driving. Highway situations are lower than very best, and snowstorms are frequent. Until you might have plenty of expertise with winter driving, skip that season. (You possibly can positively do a winter go to to see the northern lights, I simply wouldn’t lease a automotive for that.)

Personally, I believe late Could to early June and late August to early September are one of the best instances to go to. Costs are cheaper, the climate is respectable, and the crowds are thinner.

12. Choose up passengers

In the event you’re touring on a finances, contemplate taking passengers. Having individuals chip in for fuel for a leg or two of your journey is an effective way to economize whereas additionally connecting with like-minded vacationers. As talked about above, you need to use web sites like Samferda or Couchsurfing to search out them.

Another choice is to choose up hitchhikers. Within the hotter months, hitchhiking is tremendous frequent alongside the Ring Highway (I hitchhiked right here and had an excellent expertise). Whereas they typically don’t have cash to contribute, they seemingly have cool tales and nice suggestions. It’s a simple approach to assist different vacationers and enliven your personal journey.

13. Comply with the foundations of the highway

Being a accountable traveler means following native norms and legal guidelines. Remember that Iceland has stricter driving legal guidelines and penalties than you might be used to. Be sure to do the next:

  • By no means drive off-road. Respect the delicate Icelandic ecosystem and by no means drive off-road.
  • By no means drink and drive. Iceland has very strict legal guidelines about driving underneath the affect (0.02% is the restrict). Not solely are you endangering your self and others, however the fines are extraordinarily excessive (100,000 ISK).
  • By no means use your telephone whereas driving. Use a hands-free setup if you’ll want to discuss and drive, or else pull over. Not solely is it harmful, however you might face excessive fines as properly.
  • Be careful for others on the highway. This contains sheep (there are extra sheep than individuals right here) and cyclists. Move slowly and provides them a large berth.
  • Know who to name. In the event you expertise an emergency, dial 112 for help. It’s the equal of 911 within the US/Canada.


Iceland Highway Journey FAQ

The famous Kirkjufell mountain in Iceland at sunset standing tall amongst the rugged scenery
How troublesome is a highway journey in Iceland?
Iceland is among the best international locations on the earth for a highway journey. The reason being that there’s basically only one lengthy highway that circles the nation (often called Route 1, or the Ring Highway). That makes it fairly straightforward to get round and troublesome to get misplaced.

How lengthy do you’ll want to road-trip round Iceland?
In the event you plan to drive the whole Ring Highway, you’ll need a minimum of 10 days (14 days could be higher). In the event you simply need to see the principle sights within the south and east, 5-7 days must be lots.

Is Iceland very costly?
Iceland may be very costly. Meals, lodging, rental vehicles, and fuel are all dear. Nonetheless, there are many methods to avoid wasting too. By sharing a automobile (and splitting prices), cooking all of your meals, and tenting or sticking to hostels, you may simply do it for underneath $100 USD per day.

Is it value renting a 4×4?
I’d solely lease a 4×4 when you have prior highway journey expertise and are planning to go off highway. For the common customer trying to see the principle sights, a 4×4 just isn’t mandatory.

What’s an F-road?
An F-road is a route on which solely 4×4 automobiles can journey. They’re very rugged, unpaved roads, typically main you into the inside.

If in case you have an everyday rental automobile, you’re forbidden to drive on them.

Is it protected to drive solo in Iceland?
Iceland is constantly ranked as one of many most secure international locations on the earth. In the event you’re new to solo journey, it’s the proper place to begin.


Iceland is among the most lovely international locations on the earth. It’s additionally among the finest (and best) locations to do a highway journey. Whereas it might be costly, it’s very protected and simple to get round, and there are many free issues to see and do to maintain prices down. Simply comply with the information above, and also you’ll have a enjoyable and protected go to to this rugged island nation!



Get the In-Depth Finances Information to Iceland!

Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Iceland!

Wish to plan the proper journey to Iceland? Take a look at my complete information to Iceland written for finances vacationers such as you! It cuts out the fluff present in different guides and will get straight to the sensible data you want. You’ll discover prompt itineraries, suggestions, budgets, methods to economize, on and off the overwhelmed path issues to see and do, and my favourite non-touristy eating places, markets, bars, transportation suggestions, and way more! Click on right here to study extra and get your copy as we speak.

E-book Your Journey to Iceland: Logistical Suggestions and Methods

E-book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to discover a low cost flight. They’re my favourite search engine as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you all the time know no stone is left unturned.

E-book Your Lodging
You possibly can e book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the most important stock and finest offers. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use Reserving.com as they constantly return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low cost accommodations.

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you towards sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes fallacious. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances prior to now. My favourite firms that provide one of the best service and worth are:

Searching for the Greatest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for one of the best firms to make use of while you journey. I listing all those I take advantage of to economize after I’m on the highway. They may prevent cash while you journey too.

Need Extra Info on Iceland?
You’ll want to go to our sturdy vacation spot information to Iceland for much more planning suggestions!

The put up 13 Iceland Highway Journey Suggestions: What You Must Know Earlier than You Go appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Journey Web site.

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