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 the event you ask me, it’s proper up there with New Zealand and Norway by way of probably the most lovely international locations on the earth.

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

Due to its beautiful pure magnificence, security, and ease of transportation, Iceland has grow to be a well-liked vacation spot for solo vacationers and first-time street trippers. Sure, it may be costly, but it surely has a lot to see and do, together with tons of fantastic hikes and waterfalls which can be free to get pleasure from. 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 the easiest way to discover the nation. So, to make sure you save money and time and keep protected throughout your journey, listed here are my high 13 Iceland road-trip ideas:


1. Be sure you have automobile insurance coverage

I by no means depart dwelling with out journey insurance coverage. And I by no means lease a automobile with out complete auto insurance coverage both.

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

In Iceland, nevertheless, the climate adjustments typically — and drastically.

Rain and snow are widespread, and gravel and sand typically harm home windows. However the true menace most drivers aren’t ready for is the wind. The gusts listed here are so sturdy that automobile doorways are recurrently ripped off their hinges (each time I’ve rented a automobile right here, the corporate has jogged my memory of this).

Mix that with winding, slender roads and an abundance of lively volcanoes, and also you’ve received your self a recipe for automobile hassle.

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

In the case of renting a automobile, I like to recommend Uncover Vehicles. Whenever you ebook, it’s tremendous simple so as to add automobile 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 should use the widget under to get a quote. It’s quick and free:


2. Lease the correct automobile

It’s simple to lease a automobile in Iceland. You don’t want an Worldwide Driving Allow in case 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 automobile right here with their common license.

When renting a automobile in Iceland, you’ve three fundamental selections:

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

In the event you’re simply planning to see the primary sights whereas sleeping in hostels, motels, and/or Airbnbs, an everyday automobile will do the trick. It’s the most cost effective choice too.

If you wish to discover the rugged inside (referred to as 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 (should you drive an everyday automobile on them, your insurance coverage protection might be void).

Your ultimate alternative is a campervan/RV. These are for vacationers who wish to sleep of their automobile as they journey. They’re the costliest choice, however you’ll get monetary savings on lodging, so it type of balances out.

Simply remember that commonplace 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 sort of car you’ve, 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 atmosphere, however you would face stiff fines if caught.)

3. Obtain the correct 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 might be useful for studying indicators and instructions. Simply be certain to obtain Icelandic for offline use so to nonetheless translate issues even with out cellular knowledge.
  • Google Maps – The most effective app for wanting up instructions. Be sure to obtain your maps so you’ve them for offline use.
  • Safetravel.is – This app shares climate alerts, street closure data, and extra. It’s good to have so that you might be stored updated ought to inclement climate or emergencies come up.
  • Vedur.is – That is the very 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 wish a journey, you’ll be able to submit right here too.) One other useful website for locating passengers is Couchsurfing.

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

4. Deliver a paper map

Every time I am going on a street journey, I all the time carry a paper map. I do know, Google Maps is simple and free, and cellular knowledge protection in Iceland is dependable. However it’s higher to be protected than sorry. You by no means know when your cellphone 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 street map with you, and simply depart it within the glove field. You possible gained’t want it, however should you do, you’ll be glad you’ve it!

5. Select your course properly

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

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

In the event you actually wish 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 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 (in case you have a automobile)

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 an everyday automobile, 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 automobile. It’s not price it!

7. Test the climate typically

I’ve stated it earlier than and I’ll say it once more: the climate in Iceland adjustments quickly. For that cause, you’ll wish to control 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 wish 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, carry 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 climbing).

8. Solely pull over the place there’s house

You will be tempted to cease your automobile typically to take pictures. And I imply actually typically. Not solely are the primary sights in Iceland awe-inspiring, however the common sights are beautiful 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 drag 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’s room to take action with out impeding site visitors. Whereas the Ring Highway isn’t a superhighway, it’s a busy route with common site 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 permit the busier a part of the island round Reykjavik, gasoline stations grow to be few and much between. For that cause, you’ll wish to refill when you’ll be able to. Don’t simply wait till you’ve 1 / 4 tank, as you may run out of gasoline earlier than you get to the subsequent station.

Whilst you can typically lookup the place gasoline stations are by way of Google Maps, I all the time be certain to high up after I can. The peace of thoughts is price 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’ll be able to see the sights in only a matter of days.

You possibly can’t.

In the event you’re seeking to drive the complete Ring Highway, plan for a minimum of 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 advocate. (In the event you simply wish to see the primary highlights within the south and east, 5-7 days is ample.)

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 the event you’re on the lookout for really useful itineraries, this submit breaks down all my solutions for various time frames, all the best way as much as a whole 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 may possibly nonetheless be crowded round Reykjavik and the sights closest to town.

For that cause, I counsel visiting within the shoulder season. The climate continues to be heat and there might be far fewer individuals. Every part might be a bit 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 superb, and snowstorms are frequent. Except you’ve numerous 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 automobile for that.)

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

12. Decide up passengers

In the event you’re touring on a price range, think about taking passengers. Having individuals chip in for gasoline for a leg or two of your journey is an effective way to save cash whereas additionally connecting with like-minded vacationers. As talked about above, you should utilize 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 a fantastic expertise). Whereas they typically don’t have cash to contribute, they possible have cool tales and nice ideas. It’s a straightforward manner to assist different vacationers and enliven your individual journey.

13. Observe the foundations 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 it’s possible you’ll 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 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’s essential to speak and drive, or else pull over. Not solely is it harmful, however you would 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. Cross 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 sceneryThe famous Kirkjufell mountain in Iceland at sunset standing tall amongst the rugged scenery
How troublesome is a street journey in Iceland?
Iceland is without doubt one of the best international locations on the earth for a street journey. The reason being that there’s basically only one lengthy street that circles the nation (referred to as Route 1, or the Ring Highway). That makes it fairly simple to get round and troublesome to get misplaced.

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

Is Iceland very costly?
Iceland might be very costly. Meals, lodging, rental vehicles, and gasoline are all dear. Nevertheless, there are many methods to save lots of too. By sharing a automobile (and splitting prices), cooking all of your meals, and tenting or sticking to hostels, you’ll be able to simply do it for beneath $100 USD per day.

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

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.

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 persistently 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 without doubt one of the most lovely international locations on the earth. It’s additionally among the finest (and best) locations to do a street journey. Whereas it could 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 ideas above, and also you’ll have a enjoyable and protected go to to this rugged island nation!



Get the In-Depth Funds Information to Iceland!

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

Need to plan the proper journey to Iceland? Take a look at my complete information to Iceland written for price range 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 recommended itineraries, ideas, budgets, methods to save cash, on and off the overwhelmed 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.

Guide Your Journey to Iceland: Logistical Ideas and Methods

Guide 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.

Guide Your Lodging
You possibly can ebook your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the largest stock and finest offers. If you wish to keep someplace apart from a hostel, use Reserving.com as they persistently return the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and low cost motels.

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you in opposition to sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes improper. 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 the very best service and worth are:

In search of the Finest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the very best firms to make use of while you journey. I checklist all those I take advantage of to save cash after I’m on the street. They’ll prevent cash while you journey too.

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

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