10 Tips for Renting a Car in Iceland

Iceland is awesome!! But, driving there can be a bit tricky. Especially if you’re not from a winter climate.

mountaineers of iceland adventure tour bus with giant winter wheels

1. Driving is done on the Right Side

If you’re American, you’re in luck! If you’re from a country that drives on the left, you may want a little practice before hopping behind the wheel. Add in the unpredictable and extreme weather conditions; driving a rental might be a bit more difficult than expected.

2. Be extra super-de-duper careful

It can be insanely windy! Hold the doors at all times. The winds can actually blow the doors so hard they bend the door back and damage the fender. This can be an awfully expensive fix! No one wants to be stuck with that bill!

weather over iceland on rainy day

3. Bring a Major Credit Card

Debit cards aren’t always accepted at car rentals. If they are, they typically require your to purchase their insurance. This was the case in Iceland at Route 1 Car Rental.

4. Route 1 Car Rental from Guide to Iceland is cheapest

I did a lot of research and Route 1 had the best rates for what we needed. Although there were extra charges in the end, for not having a major credit card. The office had complimentary warm drinks and seating, as well.

cabin in iceland with toddler

5. Take Pictures of the car

It is important to note any dents or dings on the car when you rent it. You can and will be charged for any damages. Thoroughly inspect your vehicle and take photos of anything you see, just to be on the safe side.

6. Drive a stick, if you can!

The terrain changes often which is better for manual shift vehicles, where the driver engages the clutch and slowly releases it after shifting gears. At many of the rental companies, the manual costs less to rent than automatic, so save some money and rent a stick shift.

national park in iceland mountain views

7. Always leave your headlights on

The weather changes rapidly and I mean RAPIDLY! Best practice is to just leave the lights on, everyone should be able to see you! You will notice most of the other cars on the road also have their lights on, it’s actually the law in Iceland!

8. There are lots of road signs

Don’t worry that you will have trouble finding a particular place or destination. Other than complimentary maps from the car rental, there are also signs posted with maps at the entrance of many of the roads. Also, take the free map offer because once you’re out on the road, map prices are like $20 USD.

road sign map in iceland vatnsdalsvegur

9. Consider getting Wifi

Some rental companies will offer a Wifi Add-On for the vehicle. This would be very helpful for navigation purposes, among other things. Bonus – when you return home your phone bill won’t be double from all the International Data charges.

10. Know your vehicle

Before you leave the rental company, make sure you know which type of fuel the vehicle takes. Vehicles can use either gasoline or diesel. Putting the wrong fuel in the vehicle can be a very pricey mistake.

open road in iceland with mountain view

11. Try a Tour

If the whole renting a car thing totally freaks you out, maybe renting a car just isn’t a good fit. The next best option for getting around would be joining an organized tour. That way, you aren’t driving in unknown areas on deserted roads for hours at a time. It can be safer and more relaxing to let the driver do the work for you.

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