3 More Tips For Iceland Car Rentals.

By Posted in - Iceland on April 25th, 2012
Story by Randy Kalp 
Photos by Bethany Salvon

D

riving the Ring Road (Route 1) in Iceland is like being in an 830-mile Choose Your Own Adventure book. In every direction, gravel roads splinter off from the blacktop, fading into some of the most physically diverse environments in the world.

Beth and I spent less than 35 hours on the storied road, driving as far as we could in one day before heading back to Reykjavik the next day. Though, that was more than enough time to learn some key information about car rentals in Iceland, which led us to write: 6 Tips for Renting a Car in Iceland.

Horses running in Iceland

With the possibility of a return trip to the country this fall, we’ve been doing some research about renting a 4×4 vehicle for our return. Beth and I both loved Reykjavik, but where Iceland really stole our hearts was out on the open road. This time around we are hoping to take a week or two road trip around the Ring Road, exploring the region on and off road. Inspired by our research and because Iceland’s high season begins in June, we decided to put together a few more tips to help out travelers looking to rent a car in Iceland.

A Van Down by the River

Icelandic sheepThe Thinking Swans

During the mid-80s my family did a lot of camping that involved sleeping in the back of our cab covered pickup truck at the then Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Campground in Ohio. This was my first introduction to budget travel, and it’s something that stuck with me into my adult years. In fact, our first road trip on the Ring Road involved a night in our rental car, which is nowhere as comfortable as a truck or SUV.

If you’re interested in traveling the Ring Road in a rental car, upgrading to a SUV is a great way to save money on lodging since the campgrounds surrounding Route 1 are a fraction of the cost that guest houses, hotels and hostels charge. Additionally, by utilizing the SUV as a sleeping space, then you eliminate having to setup and breakdown a campsite each night or even bring a tent with you for that matter.

Go Small and Save

Open Roads in Iceland

When searching for our first Iceland rental, we went with Hertz. Why? We got a good price online and felt secure because they are a popular brand in the states. All in all, our experience with Iceland Hertz was good; however, we later learned that we could have saved a substantial amount of money on our rental by going with one of the island’s smaller, but highly credible rental agencies, like Car4Rent who has some of Iceland’s cheapest rates on cars and 4×4 SUVs.

Drive by Day

Iceland at Dawn

Driving the Ring Road after dark is like wearing sun glasses at night, you just can’t see anything. While it’s completely safe to drive the highway during the evening (there are no bandits or anything like that and the road is in good condition), there is one hazard–roaming livestock–that you should be prepared to encounter on your drive whether it’s night or day. Because of our limited time with the rental car, we wanted to get as far as we could, so we drove for a few hours after sunset. During that drive, we encountered roaming sheep packs crossing the road on several occasions during the day and at night.

Furthermore, by driving at night you are missing out on what makes Iceland so great: the landscape. Iceland’s environment is as varied as Yellowstone National Park and can change dramatically between villages, so it’s best to get a good night’s sleep and get on the road at dawn.

Do you have any tips for a Ring Road Trip? If so we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website, Nariko’ s Nest Weddings & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!

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(20) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) -

    April 25, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Your photos are SO stunning! I’ve never been to Iceland, but your shots really make me want to put it on the list of places to go one day!

    Generally I try to stick to public transportation when I travel, just because of the cost issue, but I think your photos are all the proof one needs to loosen the purse strings a bit and rent a car. It really does give you the freedom to explore places that would be hard or impossible to reach via buses or trains!

    • Bethany -

      April 25, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Thanks for all your compliments Steph! Another reason it’s imperative to rent a car in Iceland is because outside the capital city there is NO public transportation at all. Hard to believe but Iceland is pretty isolated so I guess they just don’t have the need. We had planned to just take buses until we discovered that the only buses were tour buses with set destinations. Renting a car was probably the best decision that we made while we were there. @Steph (@ 20 Years Hence),

  • Chris -

    April 25, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I agree, these photos by Bethany Salvon are pretty awesome. I wish I had the patience and the skill to take photos as well as Bethany does. Nice write up here.

  • Whitney -

    April 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    We did an Icelandic road trip last year, and totally agree on the crazy wonderful adventure aspect! Just wanted to point out something for readers on the night driving – if you’re in Iceland during the summer, the sun is up 24 hours a day. So, the “dark” rule doesn’t really apply late May- mid September. In fact, some of the most spectacular light is in the middle of the night, photographically speaking! It’s such an amazing place.

    • Randy -

      April 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      @Whitney, Great point Whitney! I didn’t even think about that because we were there in late August. I would love to visit Iceland during those 24 hours days.

  • Chiropractors in San Diego -

    April 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Amazing photos. It urge me to have vacation in Iceland. For me I also pursue to rent a car to really enjoy the beautiful scenery of a place. How long can we rent the car?

  • Ayngelina -

    April 27, 2012 at 12:07 am

    I definitely agree with going small, I just rented a car and they gave me a SUV. I only used less than half a tank but it was 60 bucks!

    • Randy -

      April 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      @Ayngelina, In this case I was actually referring to the size of the company (global v. local); though, I couldn’t agree more to go as small as possible in car size to help keep costs down in rental fees and gas costs.

  • Leigh -

    April 28, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Love the photos – of course – and the info as we are planning 2 weeks in Iceland a year from now. We’ll bike for a week and rent a car and tootle around for a week so this is great info.

  • Brooke vs. the World -

    April 29, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Your photos are unreal! Seriously, they make me feel like I’m looking at a fairy tale story 🙂

  • Victoria -

    May 2, 2012 at 2:13 am

    I am so amazed to your pictures, you have come up with some classic & picturesque pictures that is attracting me closer to Iceland now. I am looking forward to visit their in coming month. How is the weather that time? & I am surely going to experience those services!

  • Jenny -

    May 5, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Nice photos, its actually very awesome, I am looking forward to visit their in coming month. I heard that the climate conditions is little different comparatively, Iceland I feel like its kind of isolated place as it is geographically not well connected but still I really want to visit this place.

  • Jenny -

    May 5, 2012 at 3:25 am

    Great photos, its actually very awesome, I am looking forward to visit their in coming month. I heard that the climate conditions is little different comparatively, Iceland I feel like its kind of isolated place as it is geographically not well connected but still I really want to visit this place.

  • s h e r r y -

    April 14, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Gorgeous images. I’m currently looking into visiting Iceland in mid-September, and my main goal is to drive all of Ring Road. I’m wondering if you did return in the fall, and if a 4×4 is necessary. Also how were the road conditions? Thanks so much. I’ve been researching non-stop for the past couple days ;D Haha.

  • Liz -

    May 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Is it possible to get to the main sites with a small/economy car, or is a 4×4 totally necessary to see the well known destinations?

  • Jose Xavier -

    August 11, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Hi,
    Do you have any feedback from the car4rent?
    Thanks

  • Verina -

    January 31, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Hi, I’m going to Iceland on the 20th Feb 2014 for 5 days with my sister-in-law and our 2 daughters (aged 18 &15). From your comments I will now be renting a car. Is it best to rent when I arrive or should I book in advance? Also with short daylight hours what would be the best to see in the short time we have? All recommendations gratefully received. 🙂

  • Jag -

    March 19, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Hey guys,
    I’d seen your blog while searching for info on traveling to Iceland and now, my wife and I are starting to plan our trip this June. Yes, 24 hour daylight (but no Aurora…)!
    We will be renting a car/SUV to drive all around on a 10 day trip. We would like to try camping a few nights at suitable locations. Any particular spots that you can suggest? Also, can you help us find the right hotels in small towns? Any other updated info you can give us?
    Thank you for your help!

    • Randy Kalp -

      March 31, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Sounds like you got a good trip planned! I wish I had more information to give you about camping spots and where to stay outside of Reykjavik, but we only got to spend 24 hours outside of the capital. From my understanding, wild camping is permitted in Iceland and proper camping sites can be found in towns outside of Reykjavik. Here’s a story I found in the Guardian about wild camping: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2012/sep/29/iceland-wild-camping-hitchhiking. Have an awesome trip!

  • Campervan Rentals Iceland -

    March 3, 2016 at 4:59 am

    I agree with you, Whitney, the summer light here is just so stunning. Randy, if you were here in the end of August, you just arrived when the nightlight just had said goodbye for the year. Public transportation outside towns and cities is not the easiest thing and you miss out a lot. We recommend (of course lol) a camper van or even a motor home for camping in Iceland. Like Randy said, you’ll exclude the the hassle of setting up and taking down camp, especially if you run into some bad weather. Here are some more facts about camping in Iceland: http://www.rent.is/blog/camping-in-iceland/
    Hope you find it useful! Happy camping!