Choosing the right way to travel around Iceland

Road in Iceland with mountain in background © trashthelens -


  1. Roads in Iceland
  2. Car rental in Iceland
  3. Public transport in Iceland

Traveling by car to Iceland is the best way to see all beauty of the country, get acquainted with people and feel the fabulous atmosphere of this breathtaking land.

Roads in Iceland

Before you start an independent trip to Iceland you should study the nuances of the traffic code and road conditions.

  1. Traffic in Iceland is right-hand, all roads are free, the only way you have to pay for is the tunnel Hualfjordur, about 6 Euros.
  2. The roads are divided into the following categories: main, secondary, mountain and local. When planning a route you should take into account that mountain roads are very difficult to drive at. In winter, a significant part of highland roads are closed, they can be closed in the warmer months, as well, because of the poor weather conditions.
  3. Iceland has adopted the following speed limits: in the populated area, 50 km / h, outside it, on gravel roads, 80 km / h, and 90 km / h on sealed roads.
  4. For car drivers, the maximum blood alcohol content is 0.5 per mil. In case the driver violates the rules the first time, he faces a fine of 150 – 300 Euros, and the next fine will increase up to 960 Euros.
  5. According to the rules, drivers must use dipped beams regardless of the time of day. In case of violation of this rule you have to pay 30 Euros.
  6. Children under 6 years ought to be transported in a vehicle only in a special child seat or with a restraint system.
  7. You are prohibited to talk on a cell phone while driving a car. The penalty for violation is 30 Euros.
  8. There are many bridges with one-way traffic, a feature of the federal highway R1. There are no priority traffic signs. Mutual courtesy on the roads is the main rule for drivers.
  9. At the petrol stations there is diesel oil and lead-free petrol (95 and 98). Many stations are self-service; the fuel can be paid via machine. They accept both cash and credit cards. In Reykjavik, petrol stations are open from 7.30 to 20.00. Some stations are open until 23.00. Outside the city working hours are different; most of them are open until 22.00.
  10. You ought to drive on the F-roads only by 4x4; driving any other vehicle is liable to punishment. The travelers are notified about them with special signs. In addition, these roads are almost impossible to drive at any other vehicle: the roads are dirty, sometimes of very poor quality, with fords and other surprises of the off-road.

After having read the last paragraph many tourists wonder what car should be rented to travel over Iceland.

Car rental in Iceland

“Do I need a 4x4 hire or a mini-car will be enough?” is one of the main questions that travelers should solve going to Iceland? The choice depends on your itinerary. If you are going to drive only the highway R1, do not moving out, a mini-car will suit you best. Travelers going to Iceland for the first time, as well as those whocan spend no more than a week for the whole journey, preffer the route by the R1. In addition, mini-car rental is a way of budget car hire in Iceland. On the one hand, it is an important reason as expenses in the country are mostly connected with a car. First, the rent itself, and second, the price of gasoline: about 1.5 Euros per liter depending on the petrol station’s distance from the main road. On the other hand, Iceland is a country that requires much expences, and when coming here you will probably to see as much as possible. So, it is better to rent a good SUV. If you travel with friends then expenses will not be so large.

Rental car prices

Car Price per week, in euro
Peugeot 206 540 in summer, 250 in winter
Suzuki Jimny 900 in summer, 500 in winter
Jeep Wrangler 1000 in summer, 600 in winter
Honda CRV 1100 in summer, 720 in winter
Nissan Pathfinder 1300 in summer, 900 in winter
Hummer 1100 in summer, 1000 in winter
Motorhome (for 6 persons) 2200 in summer, 1400 in winter

Still, there is an opportunity to save on a car hire:

  • Try to book a car in advance; there are lots of Iceland booking services on the Internet. It is especially convinient if you are going to Iceland at the peak tourist season.
  • You can hire a mini-car and do without expensive 4wd car rental, and if you want to visit the sights located far from the road R1, you can go by a tour bus, leaving your car at the road exit.
  • Choose a used car as they are cheaper than new ones, however, carefully inspect the car before you sign the documents and pay the fee.

Planning your travel budget, take into account insurance costs – you have to pay despite the car brand.

Highway leading out of Reykjavik, Iceland © ellenmck -

Iceland car rental tips

To avoid problems and extra costs it is necessary to adhere to certain rules while travelling over Iceland.

  1. It is very important to carefully examine the car before renting it. Inspect all kinds of defects and ensure that all defects found are scrupulously marked in your rental card. Do not forget to take photos of the car rented – they will help you to prove the original condition of the car.
  2. To rent a car a driver must be at least 18 years old (however, the requirements maybe 25 or even 30 years – age limits vary depending on the category of car,) and have driving experience at least one year.
  3. Some companies block deposit on a credit card (an average of € 300 to € 7,000), which usually includes the cost of rent, security bond and the amount necessary to have the car fully fuelled.
  4. Be cautious moving over fords in order not to repair any parts of the car or even broken crankcase.

And of course, follow the traffic rules.

Public transport in Iceland

Tourists without driver's license or those who, for some reason, will not rent a car in Iceland, can travel over the country by public transport or tour buses.

There is no rail transport in Iceland and, though the authorities make a lot of effort to build sealed roads, most of them are still unsurfaced, making it difficult to get to some remote areas. In addition to poor state of some roads, there are many lowlands, full of water in the spring and fall and snow in the winter.

Bus service

From Reykjavik, you can reach almost any part of Iceland. From BSI bus station three companies go all over the country: Reykjavik Excursions, Sterna and Stræto. The first two cover the entire road 1 around Iceland, many routes in the south and other regions: through the mountains from south to north. Furthermore, Sterna sends buses even to the Western Fjords up to Isafjordur. In addition to the usual long-distance routes, there are direct buses to major attractions like the Golden Ring or Thorsmörk Valley. In the north part of Iceland there is a bus company SBA Norðurleið. Stræto carries tourists not only across the country but also in Reykjavik.

Buy a passport for a certain number of tours and journeys for the first two companies (for example, the tour of the South Circle will cost about 130 Euros) and vouchers for the bus company Stræto (for example, moving from the capital to Akureyri with 22 stops an adult passenger will pay about 50 Euros).

Another means of transport

In the winter months, travelling by land and sea transport is difficult because of snowdrifts and frequent storms. Therefore, air transport has a huge advantage especially as you can get to almost any part of Iceland within an hour or even less.

Taxis are usually used for trips outside the city. You will have to pay about 6 Euros per km, at night and on holidays the rate is increased by 10 - 15%. Taxis can be ordered by phone, found on parking lots or stopped on the street.

Finally, another way to travel for adventure lovers is hitchhiking. It’s quite easy: the average waiting time until someone picks you up is 20 minutes. The only problem is that it's hard to catch a passing car after 7.00 pm.

If you are serious about the choice of transport and think over your itinerary the journey over Iceland may be very exciting and memorable.