15 Important Iceland Street Journey Ideas You Must Know


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Street tripping round Iceland is among the greatest methods to see this unbelievable nation. The Ring Street (Þjóðvegur 1, or just Route 1) circles all of Iceland in 821.5 miles (about 1322 kilometers), permitting you to stand up near all the things from waterfalls to volcanoes to glaciers in a single journey.

And whereas Iceland is not essentially a difficult place for a highway journey from a planning perspective, there ARE a number of issues it’s essential know forward of time in an effort to have an pleasant journey.

Should you’re searching for an in depth Iceland highway journey plan, then try my 10-day Iceland Ring Street itinerary. In any other case, hold studying for some Iceland highway journey ideas, and the important issues it’s essential know earlier than you go!

A paved road in Iceland, with mountains in the distance
Street tripping in Iceland

Street tripping in Iceland FAQ

First, a number of commonly-asked questions on doing a highway journey in Iceland normally:

Do I would like a automobile in Iceland?

You do not essentially NEED a automobile in Iceland. You possibly can actually plan a visit with out one if you’re glad to base your self in Reykjavik and take day journeys/in a single day journeys from there. (I’ve carried out this a pair instances earlier than, and really desire it throughout the winter months!)

However public transportation shouldn’t be nice exterior of the capital space, and clearly if you wish to do an Iceland highway journey you’ll positively have to lease a automobile!

Is driving in Iceland troublesome?

On the entire, no, driving in Iceland shouldn’t be troublesome. Iceland is a right-hand site visitors nation (just like the US and most of Europe), and the primary roads are effectively marked and fairly effectively maintained. And when you’ll run into roundabouts in larger cities, Iceland doesn’t have main highways with tons of site visitors to emphasize about.

The one instances when driving in Iceland can get difficult are:

1. Should you’re headed up into the Highlands on unpaved F-roads. These roads can get gnarly and typically require river crossings – you MUST have a 4×4 car and ideally some off-road driving expertise for these roads. (However you will not encounter any of them for those who’re simply sticking to the Ring Street and principal sights.)

2. Through the winter months. From October by way of March, Iceland ceaselessly will get hit with icy storms with gale-force winds. Driving in these situations is extremely discouraged (roads typically shut fully throughout excessive wind occasions), and doubly so for those who’re not used to driving in snowy/icy situations.

Snowy road in Iceland
A highway in Iceland after a snow storm
Can I exploit my US license to drive in Iceland?

Sure you should utilize your US license to drive in Iceland! You don’t want any particular license to drive in Iceland so long as your US driver’s license is legitimate. The identical goes for UK and EU driver’s licenses, too. (However you do must be at the least 20 years previous to lease a automobile in Iceland, or 23 to lease a 4×4.)

What kinds of driving legal guidelines does Iceland have?

1. Like in most nations, it’s essential obey velocity limits or threat a effective (extra on this later).
2. Seatbelts are required to be worn by everybody within the automobile.
3. You could drive together with your headlights on always.
4. Driving whereas speaking on/utilizing a mobile phone with out the help of a hands-free gadget is unlawful.

What number of days do you want for a Ring Street journey?

I personally assume you want AT LEAST 8-9 days to drive the Ring Street in Iceland, however 10-12 days (and even longer) can be perfect. I’ve a 10-day Iceland highway journey itinerary you should utilize.

And now on to all of the important Iceland highway journey ideas!

Iceland highway journey ideas: what it’s essential know

Listed here are all of the issues it’s essential know earlier than your Iceland highway journey, and may take note when you’re there!

1. Rental automobiles in Iceland usually are not low cost

First issues first, let’s get this matter out of the best way: Iceland will be an costly place to journey. Do not let a budget flights idiot you; when you’re there, you will be paying so much for all the things, from fundamental inns to restaurant meals. And this positively extends to rental automobiles, too.

In reality, a rental automobile would possibly find yourself being your greatest expense in Iceland for those who’re taking an extended highway journey. Due to excessive taxes, excessive demand, and simply total larger costs in Iceland, you will positively be paying extra to lease a automobile right here that you’d in, say, the US.

Rental car in Iceland
The Toyota I rented for my very own Iceland highway journey; 2 weeks for $2000

There are mainly three forms of autos you would possibly lease in Iceland. From most cost-effective to most costly they’re:

  • A daily 2WD automobile – You possibly can completely lease a small automobile in Iceland, and it will likely be the most affordable possibility with the widest number of selection (nearly each rental firm in Iceland will supply these). Guide automobiles will likely be much more reasonably priced than automatics, and you’ll anticipate to spend wherever from $40-$100 per day for simply the automobile rental with none extras.
  • A 4×4 (4WD) car – Lots of people need to lease bigger 4x4s for driving in Iceland, and in some circumstances they’re advisable (like for winter driving, or for touring up into the Highlands). These bigger autos clearly include a better price ticket; you possibly can anticipate to pay $100-$250 per day or extra.
  • A campervan – Campervans are fashionable in Iceland, as they will double as each transport and lodging (although you continue to want to remain in designated campsites!). These vans will be fairly dear although – particularly if you would like one which’s additionally 4WD. You possibly can anticipate to pay at the least $100-$350 per day or extra.

Word that each one of those costs are a variety as a result of costs can fluctuate so much relying on what time of yr you are visiting (i.e. how excessive demand is), how massive of a car you want, whether or not it’s essential e-book an computerized, and so forth.

I did a 15-day highway journey in Iceland in August in 2022 (excessive season in Iceland), and we spent slightly below $2000 on a 2WD automobile with two drivers – averaging out to about $130 USD per day.

Must seek for a rental automobile in Iceland? For all the things apart from campervans, I like to recommend utilizing Uncover Vehicles. And Iceland is one place the place it’s vastly simpler to select up/drop off your rental automobile on the main airport (KEF or Keflavík Worldwide).

2. You solely want a 4×4 for F-roads

Having possible shocked you with how costly it may be to lease a automobile in Iceland, I do have some excellent news: you might not have to lease a 4×4 in Iceland in any respect.

Land Rover in Iceland
Land Rover? Undoubtedly not at all times wanted in Iceland.

The vast majority of roads in Iceland (just like the Ring Street, all of the roads between main cities, and even the roads across the Westfjords and Eastfjords) are both totally paved or well-maintained sufficient that you would be able to drive them with a 2WD automobile from Might by way of September.

The one roads in Iceland that you’re legally required to have a 4WD car to drive are F-roads. These are principally roads that go into Iceland’s inside (AKA the Highlands), they usually’re all indicated with the letter “F” in entrance of the highway quantity. F-roads are clearly marked on maps, and in addition on highway indicators.

F-roads are nonetheless official roads, however driving them often seems like off-roading. These unpaved roads will be pitted, muddy, and troublesome to drive. Some F-roads additionally require river crossings, which will be tremendous harmful within the improper form of car (and typically even in the proper form of one!).

An F-road with a river crossing
An F-road with a river crossing

For these causes, you aren’t allowed to drive any 2WD automobiles on F-roads, and for those who do it will likely be a breach of contract together with your rental automobile firm.

Most individuals doing highway journeys in Iceland won’t ever have to enterprise onto F-roads, although, so renting a 4×4 is not essentially important. (And for those who actually need to get a glimpse into the Highlands, you possibly can at all times e-book a day tour with an organization that is aware of find out how to navigate F-roads safely like this one to Landmannalaugar.)

Van with huge tires on a dirt road in Iceland
Should you e-book a tour into the Highlands, you will most likely experience in a modified car like this!

Word: You may additionally want (or at the least be higher off with) a 4×4 within the winter months, when Iceland ceaselessly will get hit with icy storms that convey gale-force winds. Personally, I might not suggest planning a winter highway journey in Iceland until you might be VERY snug driving in snowy/icy situations.

3. Know what’s not insured

If you’re renting a automobile in Iceland, paying for Collision Injury Waiver (CDW) insurance coverage is necessary – and the worth is often baked in to the overall worth of your rental. This fundamental insurance coverage basically signifies that for those who’re concerned in an accident, there is a restrict to how a lot you will be chargeable for (the deductible/extra quantity is often round $2500 USD).

However fundamental CDW in Iceland would not cowl all the things you would possibly encounter on a highway journey, and so it is vital to know what’s NOT insured.

Frequent issues that you just may need to pay additional to have insured in a rental automobile embrace:

  • Tires (for those who’re renting a 4×4 and planning to drive F-roads, pay to insure the tires)
  • Gravel harm (to issues just like the windshield, undercarriage, and so forth.)
  • Wind harm (an actual threat in Iceland; unhealthy winter wind storms ceaselessly blow out automobile home windows and may rip automobile doorways clear off)
  • Sand harm (one other actual threat, particularly throughout these unhealthy wind storms)
  • Injury attributable to hitting animals (there are LOTS of sheep in Iceland)
  • Towing for those who break down or get in an accident
Sheep on the road in Iceland
All the time be careful for sheep in Iceland!

You possibly can improve the essential CDW insurance coverage to cowl extra issues together with your rental firm – simply ensure you know what’s NOT coated in no matter insurance coverage package deal you select.

4. Do not underestimate the climate

Why would possibly you need to add some insurance coverage protection to your rental automobile in Iceland? As a result of Iceland’s climate is INTENSE. Iceland will be hit with savage storms that include robust winds, rain, and snow mainly any time of yr (although the worst storms are extra frequent within the winter).

And do not assume that simply since you stay someplace the place it rains or snows so much that you’re going to be routinely ready for driving in Iceland. Iceland’s climate – and particularly its winds – are possible in contrast to something you have skilled earlier than! Suppose sideways rain and blowing black sand and wind robust sufficient to blow out automobile home windows or actually knock you off your toes.

Black sand lava field in Iceland
Think about a black-out from all this volcanic sand blowing round; it occurs!

Street closures in Iceland within the winter months are frequent. The F-roads within the Highlands shut as a consequence of snow, which is fairly commonplace. However different roads within the nation (together with even the Ring Street) shut typically, too – often due to that wind.

Do not underestimate the unhealthy climate in Iceland. If Safetravel.is is saying it is not a protected journey day, then it is not a protected journey day and you must keep put the place you might be as a substitute of venturing out on the roads. (Extra on websites like Safetravel later.)

5. Be careful for velocity cameras

You possible will not see many police automobiles in Iceland, however there are many site visitors/velocity cameras everywhere in the nation.

Except in any other case posted (like when going by way of cities), the velocity restrict in Iceland is 90 kph on paved roads and 80 kph on gravel roads (although I can not picture driving that quick on most of them!). Take note of your velocity, and for any indicators warning of an upcoming digital camera.

If a digital camera catches you dashing, you possibly can anticipate a ticket within the mail out of your rental firm – and dashing fines are often at the least a pair hundred {dollars}.

Road in Iceland's Eastfjords
Even in distant locations like this, you might discover velocity cameras.

6. You could face one-lane roads

Iceland’s principal roads are, for essentially the most half, paved and well-maintained two-lane roads. However many non-main roads in Iceland are narrower – typically simply huge sufficient for one lane of site visitors. You may also anticipate finding one-lane bridges, and even the occasional one-lane tunnel!

If you end up approaching a single-lane bridge in Iceland, simply be alert. At bridges, it is common courtesy for whoever arrives on the bridge first to cross first. If there is a line of site visitors coming from one route, often you let the entire line cross. You possibly can flash your headlights to point that you just’re ready and that it is protected for oncoming site visitors to cross.

On some longer bridges and in single-lane tunnels, although, you typically can not see the opposite finish. In these circumstances (and when driving on one-lane roads), hold your eyes peeled for pull-out areas/lay-bys; one automobile pulls in to the lay-by in an effort to let the opposite automobile cross.

Some bridges and tunnels have indicators at every finish denoting which route of site visitors has the “proper of method” (i.e. which route is meant to yield and use the lay-bys). A white or black arrow within the route you are touring means you’ve gotten proper of method; a pink arrow stepping into your route means you are supposed to offer method.

Iceland road sign - you have right of way
White arrow on the proper = you’ve gotten proper of method
Iceland road sign - give way
Pink arrow on the proper = it’s essential give method

In follow, although, not everybody pays consideration to those and you might simply have to make use of your personal judgement for when you must use a lay-by.

7. Solely pull over when it is protected

Talking of pulling over… most of Iceland’s roads (together with the Ring Street) are simply two lanes with barely any shoulder space. I KNOW the Icelandic surroundings is extremely epic and that you’re going to most likely need to cease so much for images.

However please DO NOT cease on the facet of the highway to take images, and positively don’t open your automobile doorways into the highway to go away your car. This may be very harmful each to you some other drivers on the highway.

Should you completely should cease, discover a lay-by, relaxation space, car parking zone, or different spot to soundly cease that will not impede site visitors. (Or you are able to do what my good friend Kate and I did, and designate the passenger as through-the-windshield-photo-taker once you’re driving.)

Road in Iceland
A median highway in Iceland; notice the dearth of shoulder.
Trollaskagi Peninsula fjord view
We pulled over in a gravel lay-by for this photograph

8. Make a plan for getting fuel

Should you’re driving the Ring Street (or in any other case driving 4-5 hours per day as you discover Iceland), then you definately’ll most likely have to replenish your fuel tank each 1-2 days. And for those who’re touring in a few of Iceland’s extra distant areas (together with just about all of East Iceland), fuel stations will be few and much between. So it ought to go with out saying that you must fuel up each time you possibly can, simply to be protected.

There are two two principal forms of fuel station setups in Iceland: manned and unmanned. The primary is what you are possible used to, with a number of pumps exterior a small comfort retailer with cashiers inside. At these, you possibly can both pay on the pump or pay inside.

Unmanned stations, then again, often simply include 1-2 pumps (typically simply on the facet of the highway or in a random car parking zone) and no cashiers. At these, you often want a credit score or debit card with a PIN quantity – which isn’t at all times one thing that American vacationers have readily available.

Rental car in a parking lot in Iceland
Take note of whether or not your automobile takes fuel or diesel, too!

Should you do not often journey with a debit card and haven’t got a PIN quantity in your bank card (most US bank cards do not include them), another choice is to buy a pre-paid fuel card from a manned station in the beginning of your journey. Then you should utilize that card like a debit card at any pumps from that very same fuel firm throughout the nation.

(Some fuel stations/pumps settle for Apple Pay or Google Pay now, too, however I might not depend on that out in the midst of nowhere!)

Fuel in Iceland is pricey, too. You replenish by the liter, and costs after I was there have been 320-330 ISK per liter (equal to about $2.25 USD per liter, or $8.55 USD per gallon).

Professional tip: It is also price noting that many self-service/unmanned pumps in Iceland do not provide the choice to “replenish” your tank. You will have to pick out the (financial) quantity of fuel you need to put in earlier than you begin pumping. So concentrate the primary time you fill as much as see how a lot it prices.

9. Fuel station meals is sweet!

And since we’re on the subject of fuel stations, manned fuel stations in Iceland often double as comfort shops AND cafes. In reality, a few of the larger fuel stations in Iceland have full on sit-down eating places inside, the place you possibly can order all the things from scorching canines to fish and chips to rooster sandwiches from the counter.

Fuel station meals in Iceland is definitely fairly good (Icelandic scorching canines simply hit totally different!), and is a few of the most cost-effective meals you will discover in Iceland exterior of purchasing in a finances grocery retailer. If you’d like a fast and low cost meal that can style good, do not forget about fuel stations.

Icelandic hot dog
Scorching canines in Iceland are superior to all different scorching canines.

10. You do not journey to Iceland for the meals

Certain, Iceland does have some good eating places (particularly in Reykjavik) that serve up good seafood, however on the entire Iceland shouldn’t be recognized for its culinary choices. And once you’re highway tripping, you might go lengthy stretches – particularly within the North and East – with out seeing any eating places in any respect.

My tip? Do not be too valuable about the place you eat, and make the most of no matter you do discover.

Like I stated above, fuel station meals in Iceland is definitely good. And any tiny roadside cafes you stumble throughout are more likely to be uber cozy AND serve up easy however first rate meals.

Iceland cozy cafe
Cafe in the midst of nowhere alongside the Ring Street in East Iceland
Lamb soup in Iceland
Anticipate to eat plenty of lamb soup

One other tip? Cease in to a grocery retailer early on in your journey (the Bonus chain is essentially the most reasonably priced) and top off on issues that do not must be refrigerated that you would be able to hold within the automobile for these instances when there simply is not the rest accessible.

11. Obtain apps and maps

There are a number of smartphone apps/web sites that will likely be helpful for any Iceland highway journey. Just a few I like to recommend embrace:

  • Safetravel.is (web site, app or comply with them on Instagram) for information on climate alerts, journey disruptions, closures, and so forth.
  • Street.is for up-to-date information on highway situations
  • Veður (web site or app) for detailed climate forecasts
  • Parka to pay for parking in sure cities/at sure sights
  • AllTrails for mountaineering assist
  • Flush for locating public restrooms

I additionally extremely suggest downloading maps to make use of offline for Iceland! Even when you have cell service throughout your journey, there are a number of components of the nation the place you will not have nice cellphone sign. To make certain you possibly can nonetheless get instructions and use GPS, obtain maps for offline use.

You possibly can obtain segments of Google Maps maps after which use them offline (instructions right here), or you may use an app like Maps.me that additionally permits you to obtain maps for offline use.

Road to Landmannalaugar in the Iceland Highlands
Offline maps positively advisable within the Highlands

12. Hitchhiking is pretty frequent

Iceland is among the most secure nations on the planet, but additionally some of the costly to journey in. It additionally has a fairly horrible public transit system exterior of Reykjavik. These items added collectively imply that many backpackers and finances vacationers to Iceland should get inventive about touring across the nation, and infrequently resort to hitchhiking.

Clearly you do not HAVE to select up hitchhikers, however simply bear in mind that it is a pretty frequent and accepted method for backpackers to journey in Iceland. Use your personal judgement in fact, however do not essentially ignore everybody you cross with a thumb out searching for a experience.

Picking up hitchhikers in Iceland (three women in bright rain coats sitting in a car)
Kate and I gave a hitchhiker a quick experience in Myvatn!

13. You want extra time than you assume

This goes for any highway journey, actually, but it surely’s particularly vital to recollect in Iceland: issues will take longer than you assume.

Driving from Level A to Level B can typically take longer than Google Maps says it’s going to, both since you discover you possibly can’t truly drive the velocity restrict on a few of Iceland’s unpaved roads, or possibly since you need to cease a number of instances for images, or maybe since you get slowed down by a herd of sheep!

Equally, stopping for hikes and to see unbelievable pure sights like waterfalls and black sand seashores would possibly take you longer than anticipated, too.

Waterfalls in Múlagljúfur Canyon in Iceland
You (understandably) would possibly need to spend extra time in locations like Múlagljúfur Canyon

You completely can plan a jam-packed highway journey itinerary for Iceland (my good friend Kate and I positive did!), however simply needless to say you’ll have to chop some issues, or transfer your itinerary round for those who run out of time – or daylight.

Professional tip: Earlier than your journey to Iceland, make sure you examine on how a lot daylight you possibly can anticipate to have all through your journey! A summer time Iceland highway journey in June, July, or August, would possibly internet you wherever from 16-24 hours of daylight, whereas a winter journey in November, December, or January would possibly solely provide you with 4-6 hours of daylight. You will need to plan accordingly!

14. Ebook what you possibly can upfront

Iceland is a tourism scorching spot, particularly throughout the summer time months. However the nation would not have a ton of tourism infrastructure in the best way of inns and different lodging choices exterior of Reykjavik. Equally, there are a finite variety of rental automobiles accessible on the island, and solely so many tour operators providing issues like horseback rides, whale watching excursions, glacier hikes, and so forth.

Iceland is a spot the place you actually do have to plan your go to upfront, particularly for a summer time journey.

Get your flights and rental automobile booked as quickly as potential, and do not go away resort reservations till the final minute*. (When planning a highway journey for August 2022, for instance, a lot of the resort choices alongside the South Coast had been already booked up by early June!)

You will additionally need to pre-book any must-do actions, like snorkeling between tectonic plates in Silfra, occurring a whale watching tour, visiting an ice cave, and so forth. If an exercise will get canceled due to unhealthy climate, it is a lot simpler for the corporate to attempt to accommodate a date swap than you making an attempt to scramble last-minute.

And when you needn’t e-book each scorching spring in Iceland upfront, you DO have to e-book Blue Lagoon tickets earlier than you arrive. The tickets are inclined to promote out year-round, typically days and even weeks upfront.

Blue Lagoon at sunrise
Gotta e-book the Blue Lagoon upfront any time of yr

Whereas planning to this point upfront would not make for essentially the most versatile type of journey, take it from me that it actually is critical nowadays in Iceland.

(Should you’re touring in winter, you possibly can typically be extra versatile – and also you would possibly need to be, in case a kind of tremendous unhealthy storms forces you to alter your plans – however I would nonetheless suggest superior bookings. Search for choices on Reserving.com that provide free cancelation/modifications as much as the day earlier than you keep.)

*Should you’re tenting in Iceland, that is the one exception; some campsites do not take reservations, and even on the ones that do, you might not want them. It IS nonetheless greatest to examine for availability earlier than exhibiting up, although, and you’ll pre-book some websites by way of the Parka app I discussed earlier.

15. Have Plans B and C, too

Iceland is a rustic you journey to to witness the superior energy of Mom Nature. However once you’re relying so much on nature in your leisure, needless to say it may be very unpredictable.

Possibly unhealthy climate will make part of your itinerary inconceivable; possibly a highway closure will reroute you for hours; possibly a volcano will begin erupting proper earlier than your journey that you just resolve you NEED to go see (occurred to us!); or possibly you will simply actually fall in love with one space and need to keep longer than you deliberate.

Fagradalsfjall volcano erupting with people watching from a hillside
We modified our plans on the final minute to hike to the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano

In Iceland particularly, it is good to at the least focus on these kinds of conditions together with your journey associate(s) earlier than your journey. Should you run into unhealthy climate, will you don rain gear and push by way of for those who can, or will you scrap sure stops? Are you keen/capable of make last-minute modifications to your plans if a tour will get canceled, a hike takes longer than anticipated, or one thing completely superb pops up?

I do not essentially imply you must e-book a number of inns or excursions for day by day of your journey, anticipating for one thing to go improper. But it surely would not harm to have some additional issues in thoughts to fall again on if it’s important to.

READ NEXT: An Epic 10-Day Iceland Ring Street Itinerary for the Finest Iceland Street Journey

There are such a lot of different issues I may let you know about highway tripping in Iceland (like, how the backs of your seats will most likely flip right into a drying rack in your swimsuits after visiting scorching springs, or the way you completely positively need to ensure you have good windshield wipers), however these are all of the vital ideas that I feel are important!

Have you ever ever taken a highway journey in Iceland? If not, would you prefer to?


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