13 Iceland Highway Journey Ideas (Know Earlier than You Go)

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 hanging look. In case you ask me, it’s proper up there with New Zealand and Norway when it comes to essentially the most stunning international locations on the planet.

And, similar to each of these locations, it’s a tremendous place to take a street journey.

Because of its gorgeous pure magnificence, security, and ease of transportation, Iceland has turn out to be a preferred vacation spot for solo vacationers and first-time street trippers. Sure, it may be costly, nevertheless it has a lot to see and do, together with tons of wonderful hikes and waterfalls which can 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 over time, I believe taking a street journey is one of the best ways to discover the nation. So, to make sure you save money and time and keep secure throughout your journey, listed below are my prime 13 Iceland road-trip ideas:


1. Be sure you have automotive insurance coverage

I by no means depart dwelling 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 look like overkill. I imply, how usually do you truly use your automotive insurance coverage?

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

Rain and snow are widespread, and gravel and sand usually 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 energetic volcanoes, and also you’ve obtained your self a recipe for automotive hassle.

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

In terms of renting a automotive, I like to recommend Uncover Vehicles. If you e book, it’s tremendous simple so as to add automotive insurance coverage onto your buy with the clicking of a button. They make it clear what is roofed and the way a lot it prices.

You should utilize the widget beneath to get a quote. It’s quick and free:


2. Lease the appropriate car

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

When renting a car in Iceland, you’ve got three primary selections:

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

In case you’re simply planning to see the primary sights whereas sleeping in hostels, motels, and/or Airbnbs, a daily automotive will do the trick. It’s the most affordable choice too.

If you wish to discover the rugged inside (generally known as the Highlands), a 4×4 is required, for the reason that roads there are sometimes unpaved, gravel ones known as “F-roads,” which might solely be traversed by 4×4 autos (should you drive a daily automotive on them, your insurance coverage protection will likely be void).

Your last alternative is a campervan/RV. These are for vacationers who need to sleep of their car as they journey. They’re the most costly choice, however you’ll lower your expenses on lodging, so it type of balances out.

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

(Word: It doesn’t matter what sort of auto you’ve got, by no means drive off-road. It’s extremely unlawful as a result of fragility of Iceland’s ecosystem. Not solely does off-roading harm this stunning 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 cellphone:

  • Google Translate – Whereas English is broadly spoken, the app may be useful for studying indicators and instructions. Simply be sure that to obtain Icelandic for offline use so as to nonetheless translate issues even with out cellular knowledge.
  • Google Maps – One of the best app for wanting up instructions. Be certain to obtain your maps so you’ve got them for offline use.
  • Safetravel.is – This app shares climate alerts, street closure info, 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 trip with somebody. (In case you’re a passenger and want a trip, you possibly can submit right here too.) One other useful web site for locating passengers is Couchsurfing.

Examine the worldwide insurance policies and expenses in your cellphone plan earlier than leaving, in order to keep away from surprising expenses when utilizing these apps and/or web sites. If you wish to keep linked with limitless knowledge in your journey, get an eSIM.

4. Convey a paper map

Each time I am going on a street journey, I all the time deliver a paper map. I do know, Google Maps is straightforward and free, and cellular knowledge protection in Iceland is dependable. However it’s higher to be secure than sorry. You by no means know when your cellphone goes to interrupt, in case your sign will likely be misplaced, or there will likely be an emergency.

Give your self peace of thoughts: deliver a paper street map with you, and simply depart it within the glove field. You doubtless gained’t want it, however should you do, you’ll be glad you’ve got it!

5. Select your route correctly

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

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

In case you actually need to get off the crushed path and beat the crowds, head to the Westfjords. Solely a fraction of vacationers come right here, so it’s dwelling to a few of 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 (you probably have a automotive)

As talked about above, F-roads are rugged, unpaved routes that typically lead off the primary Ring Highway into the inside. Driving on these roads requires a 4×4 (4WD). In case you have a daily 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 price it!

7. Examine the climate usually

I’ve mentioned it earlier than and I’ll say it once more: the climate in Iceland modifications quickly. For that cause, you’ll need to keep watch over the forecast. Whereas driving in wind or rain may not be a problem, should you’re planning to get out and hike or go to a few of the waterfalls, you’ll need to ensure you’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, deliver rain gear (together with a hat), waterproof footwear, and a sweater. Even in the summertime, Iceland isn’t scorching, and rain isn’t unusual both. Put together accordingly so your journey isn’t ruined (particularly should you plan on mountain climbing).

8. Solely pull over the place there may be house

You’ll be tempted to cease your automotive usually to take pictures. And I imply actually usually. Not solely are the primary 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.

Will probably be tempting to tug over to get out and take pictures, however accomplish that with warning. Attempt to pull off the street solely at designated stops or the place there may be 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. Keep on with designated stopping areas.

9. Regulate your gasoline tank

As soon as you allow the busier a part of the island round Reykjavik, gasoline stations turn out to be few and much between. For that cause, you’ll need to replenish when you possibly can. Don’t simply wait till you’ve got 1 / 4 tank, as you would possibly run out of gasoline earlier than you get to the subsequent station.

When you can typically lookup the place gasoline stations are through Google Maps, I all the time be sure that to prime up after I can. The peace of thoughts is price it. You’ll even be coated 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 possibly can see the sights in only a matter of days.

You possibly can’t.

In case you’re seeking to drive your entire Ring Highway, plan for at the very least 10-14 days. Whereas you are able to do it in much less, you’ll be rushed and can spend extra time driving than I’d suggest. (In case you simply need to see the primary highlights within the south and east, 5-7 days is adequate.)

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

In case you’re in search of advisable itineraries, this submit 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 time (and likewise the winter)

Iceland suffers from success. The nation is swamped by vacationers in the course of the summer time, 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 could actually nonetheless be crowded round Reykjavik and the sights closest to the town.

For that cause, I counsel visiting within the shoulder season. The climate remains to be heat and there will likely be far fewer individuals. The whole lot will likely be just a little cheaper too.

In case you are set on going in the summertime, I’d counsel heading off to the Westfjords. It’s the least-visited space of the nation and presents a few of the most untamed and delightful landscapes in Iceland.

Moreover, I counsel avoiding winter visits too should you plan on driving. Highway circumstances are lower than ultimate, and snowstorms are frequent. Until you’ve got a number of expertise with winter driving, skip that season. (You possibly can undoubtedly 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. Decide up passengers

In case you’re touring on a funds, contemplate taking passengers. Having individuals chip in for gasoline 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 should use web sites like Samferda or Couchsurfing to seek out them.

An alternative choice is to choose up hitchhikers. Within the hotter months, hitchhiking is tremendous widespread alongside the Ring Highway (I hitchhiked right here and had an excellent expertise). Whereas they often don’t have cash to contribute, they doubtless have cool tales and nice ideas. It’s a simple method to assist different vacationers and brighten up your individual journey.

13. Observe the principles of the street

Being a accountable traveler means following native norms and legal guidelines. Bear in mind that Iceland has stricter driving legal guidelines and penalties than you might be used to. Be certain 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 beneath 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 cellphone whereas driving. Use a hands-free setup if it is advisable to speak 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 street. This consists of sheep (there are extra sheep than individuals right here) and cyclists. Go slowly and provides them a large berth.
  • Know who to name. In case 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 sceneryThe famous Kirkjufell mountain in Iceland at sunset standing tall amongst the rugged scenery
How tough is a street journey in Iceland?
Iceland is likely one of the best international locations on the planet for a street journey. The reason being that there’s primarily only one lengthy street that circles the nation (generally known as Route 1, or the Ring Highway). That makes it fairly simple to get round and tough to get misplaced.

How lengthy do it is advisable to road-trip round Iceland?
In case you plan to drive your entire Ring Highway, you’ll need at the very least 10 days (14 days can be higher). In case you simply need to see the primary sights within the south and east, 5-7 days must be lots.

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

Is it price renting a 4×4?
I’d solely lease a 4×4 you probably have prior street journey expertise and are planning to go off street. For the common customer seeking to see the primary sights, a 4×4 is just not needed.

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

In case you have a daily rental car, you’re forbidden to drive on them.

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


Iceland is likely one of the most stunning international locations on the planet. It’s additionally the most effective (and best) locations to do a street journey. Whereas it might be costly, it’s very secure and simple to get round, and there are many free issues to see and do to maintain prices down. Simply comply with the ideas above, and also you’ll have a enjoyable and secure go to to this rugged island nation!



Get the In-Depth Finances Information to Iceland!

Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Iceland!Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Iceland!

Wish to plan the right journey to Iceland? Try my complete information to Iceland written for funds vacationers such as you! It cuts out the fluff present in different guides and will get straight to the sensible info you want. You’ll discover urged itineraries, ideas, budgets, methods to economize, on and off the crushed path issues to see and do, and my favourite non-touristy eating places, markets, bars, transportation ideas, and far more! Click on right here to study extra and get your copy at this time.

Ebook Your Journey to Iceland: Logistical Ideas and Tips

Ebook 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.

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

Don’t Neglect 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 up to now. My favourite corporations that provide one of the best service and worth are:

Searching for the Finest Firms to Save Cash With?
Try my useful resource web page for one of the best corporations to make use of while you journey. I record all those I take advantage of to economize after I’m on the street. They are going to prevent cash while you journey too.

Need Extra Data on Iceland?
Be sure you go to our strong vacation spot information to Iceland for much more planning ideas!

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