Iceland is a beautiful little island located on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
It‘s bizarre tree-less nature dominated by mountains, glaciers and geysers is absolutely phenomenal, and the best way to experience the stunning sights is by car!
And to ensure you have the best possible experience of Iceland it‘s important to have a good vehicle and trouble free service, and of course it doesn‘t hurt if the rental goes easy on your wallet.
So here are a couple of tips to keep in mind before renting a car in Iceland:
The price is season-bound!
Car rentals in Iceland are expensive (and even more so during the tourist season than the winter period) but worth it. A good way to save a couple of bucks is to book the vehicle early on. The closer you get to the tourist season (May-mid August) the more expensive the rental is going get. Also don‘t be afraid to explore for better prices. There are several car rental companies in Iceland and all completing to be the best.
Have your credit card ready!
Most car rental companies only accept valid credit cards as a payment for the rental, and may insist that you pay a safety deposit if you intent to pay for the rental by any other method. Also make sure that your credit card is open for online transaction if you intend to book your rental via the internet, to avoid any problems.
Have the vehicle delivered to Keflavik Airport if possible
Travelers may not realize that the international airport is located about 50km away from Reykjavik, so have the vehicle delivered to airport itself if at all possible. Yes, you will probably be charged an airport fee of some sort, but it’s a lot cheaper than taking the bus and a hella of a lot cheaper than taking a cap!
Pay attention to the paperwork
Especially when it comes to the insurances. The Icelandic road system isn’t the greatest in the world and there are a lot of factors travelers will have to take into consideration that they may not be used to. Like how the road conditions are heavily dependent on the weather, or how sheep roam free in the countryside during the summer.
Accidents do happen and they are a bummer. So ask your car rental about their insurances and what they cover. I would highly recommend any sort of ‘gravel protection’ as you will encounter gravel roads in Iceland or at least loose pebbles along the road that could easily crack the windshield or chip the paintjob if they catch air.
A good tip is to check with your insurance provider at home or your credit card company to see what kind of insurances they cover and the terms and conditions that applies to them before paying for extra insurances for your car rental.
Always check for damages before you leave the car rental.
Go over the vehicle with an employee from the car rental and fill out a damage report and get a copy of the report. Yes, this cuts your vacations time down by 5-10 minutes but it is well worth it. There is nothing worse than receiving an email regarding some damage you could have sworn was there when you received the vehicle and no proof that says otherwise.
On a similar note, always report any damages that may occur during your rental to the car rental company as soon they happen. This will make the process of dealing with the damage much easier both for you and the car rental.
There’s no official road service in Iceland
So ask your car rental what kind of services they provide in the unfortunate event that something should happen. I would always recommend renting a new car even if it costs a little extra, as they are less likely to break down than older models.
Plan your trip ahead of time, but don’t set anything in stone.
Like mentioned before the road conditions are very dependent on the weather, and it’s not uncommon that a road may be closed due to the weather. For your own safety and to avoid frustration you should always check the road and weather conditions before heading out on your adventure.
You don’t need a 4x4 during the summer
Not unless you plan to travel across the highland. A Yaris will get you to all the main tourist attractions along route 1, and is cheaper and more fuel efficient than a big 4x4. During the winter it might be better to go with a 4x4 as the weather is ever changing and you’d rather be safe than sorry.
I rent a vehicle whenever I return to Iceland for a vacation, whether I’m just there to visit family or to show of my beautiful home country to friends I’ve made aboard, as I prefer the freedom of being able to travel on my own and not being dependent on family or friends for a ride.