Thursday, November 3, 2016

7 Tips To Know Before Renting A Car In Iceland

If you are a group of 2 or above, have a driving license and aren't direction idiots, opt for a car instead of frittering away hundreds of USD for private excursions.
From my latest trip to Iceland with 3 friends, it’s proven that it is much more worthy to drive your own car and besides economical consideration, it’s also the best way to explore the beautiful country at our own whim instead of sticking to rigid timetable (You should understand why without much explanation…)
Guess what, the cost of car rental (Volkswagen Polo) of my recent trip for 2 weeks was approximately USD800 with insurance and tax included; which is divided equally by the 4 of us. 
car rental iceland
Our car.


There are many car rental companies in Iceland and this is the time for you to do your online homework for the best deal which might vary according to different car companies. Sometimes, there might be special deals or promotion period that you must not miss! As for us, we used Green Motion car rental as it was the best deal during our search/homework time (but this might not apply to you) than other companies and it turned out to be much cheaper than booking on the spot too…

Car type might vary according to your own needs, financial consideration, the number of passengers and of course, the weather conditions. During summer, you could still camp outside but definitely not in winter, in which you could only rent bigger campervans to settle your accommodation, instead of exorbitantly priced hotels or inns which could be easily fully booked in the winter (due to the Aurora season).

camping in iceland
Camping with the backdrop of beautiful ocean view.

If you are planning for a more outrageous drive to outskirts which have no tar roads or mostly gravel roads (for example road to Hekla volcanoes area), then you should consider taking a four-wheel drive instead of compact cars. Why? Refer to point 6, please.
camper van iceland
Modified campervans.

Most of the car rental in Iceland is counted not based on days but by week. For example, if you are planning for a 10-day-trip, you have no choice but to pay for two weeks car rental instead of only for 10 days. So, plan your trip well ahead in order not to pay an excessive amount like in this case.

You don’t need an international driving license to self-drive in Iceland as your country’s driving license is sufficient (you don’t even need a translation of your driving license if it's not in English)!

Basically, you don’t have to worry as Iceland is definitely driver-friendly. But do take extra caution when you are crossing one-way bridges which are actually quite often in Iceland connecting different rivers and streams. 

It’s said that the number of goats and sheep in Iceland is more than the entire population in the country, so be careful that a goat might just cross the road and surprise you. According to local unwritten rules, once you have knocked out any goats or sheep, it’s obligatory for you to search for the owner and give compensation. This is not included in your car insurance…

iceland sheep
Untarred roads with pebbles and gravels which make your car prone to scratches and defects, and of course be extra careful with lurking sheep by the road.

Be careful also while driving during winter as the daytime is less and always be alert to make necessary adjustment as road conditions might be slippery too in winter. Driving in secluded areas in the east region of Iceland and Westfjords (other secluded areas too) could be treacherous as it’s sometimes very misty to drive, which also happened to us during our drive to Seydisfjordur, Iceland.

rent a car iceland
It’s always best to drive in such weather conditions : clear and sunny…

It’s much advisable to buy insurance especially for gravel road and scratch protection as any scratches will cost you a lot in Iceland! The road conditions in Iceland especially in East region (from my experience : from Vestrahorn to Seydisfjordur was not fully tarred), hence, making your car prone to defects. Theft insurance and accident could be omitted and again, it is all up to you whether you need extra protection for your car. Well, I would say, Iceland is a pretty safe country against theft in which people can camp anywhere without feeling danger at all.

Remember to double check for any scratches or cracks when you first receive your car and inform the car rental operators.

I would suggest not to. If you have bought a SIM Card with internet 3G/4G as you can make full use of your data plan for searching necessary destination routes, save money and what’s more to online during your free-time. An offline map would be a nice suggestion too in case internet coverage is bad in some secluded areas, but generally, based on my experience, the internet coverage in Iceland is kind of good!!!

Extra advice :
Don’t forget to always get your petrol tank fully filled in major cities. There are much less petrol stations in the outskirts and you really don't want to get stranded in deserted places...

Enjoy and good luck in finding the best rental car deal in Iceland!!!

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Thank You for Reading! 

This post is written by MHF Contributor, Wong Wai Hoe. 

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