From Keflavik to Reykjavik: A Guide for Car Renters

October, 2018.

With no trains, underground systems or trams, Keflavik car rental is one of the easiest ways to get around the country.
The road from Keflavik airport to the country’s capital, Reykjavik is well travelled.

At Holiday Autos, we understand that driving in a new place can seem intimidating. That’s why we’ve put together a handy guide for car renters travelling from Keflavik airport to the capital.

Keep reading to discover the best sights to see along the way and all our top tips for staying safe on the road.


Safety first

Although seeing the top sites is usually travellers’ top priority, keeping safe whilst you do so is even more important. While the roads in Iceland are generally easy to navigate, the driving experience is much different than what most people are used to.

2.Cable-chains-on-car-tire Image by Steve Morgan, Cable chains on car tire, CC BY-SA 3.0

A need for speed (limits)

As with any other destination, it’s important to be aware of the speed limits and be sure to stick to them when hiring a car in Keflavik.

The speed limit differs depending on the type of road and area you are in. In urban areas, stay under 50kmph. Gravel roads have a limit of 80kmph and on asphalt roads you can get up to 90kmph.
Remember that the speed is measured in kilometres per hour, not miles like we’re used to in the UK.


Look out for gravel

Iceland still has many gravel roads, mainly in the more rural areas. Even some parts of the main roads are still gravel, and it’s useful to be prepared. You can drive your rental car on most gravel roads but avoid those marked with F as these are for 4x4 vehicles only.


Look out for ‘Malbik Endar’ signs, meaning that the road is switching from asphalt to gravel and that you should slow down. You’re also at more risk of getting a flat tyre if you’re speeding on a gravel road. So, it’s best to simply slow down and avoid any accidents.

Learn the lingo

When driving, it makes sense that we rely on road signs for directions and information about the roads. Driving in a foreign country can make this difficult, especially when you can’t read the language.

Most of the signs around Keflavik and Reykjavik are in Icelandic. So, unless you speak the native tongue, you’ll need our handy cheat sheet.
• Left – vinstri
• Right – rétt
• Slow – hægur
• Stop – stöðva


Driving with the wildlife

When driving across Iceland, you’ll likely come across triangular signs with images of different animals. These are not for your own enjoyment, this is a warning to watch out for animals, especially sheep and reindeer.

The animals aren’t clued up on road safety and may run out into the road at any time. If you hit one, you may be liable for the loss of the animal and the damages to the car, so be sure to drive slowly and stay on the lookout.


Top tips for safe driving

• All cars need to have their lights on at all times, no matter how bright it is outside.

• Many neighbourhoods in Reykjavik have no stop or wait signs, so you need to give way to the cars on your right.

• Off-road driving is against the law – unless the road has a number, you should not drive on it.

• Be sure to keep warm clothes in your car in case you break down or the weather changes.

• Parking is generally free in most places in Iceland.

• Pick up a free big map from every petrol station or get one in the airport when you land.

Seeing the sights

The main reason you’re travelling to Iceland is to take in the breath-taking nature of the country. So, why wait until you’ve arrived in Reykjavik to start your holiday?

The drive from Keflavik airport is full of beautiful views and places to stop-off. Many people have described the route as ‘like driving on the moon’. The straight, flat road through fields of ancient lava creates a mystical, unearthly feeling. Here are some of our favourite places to stop along the way from Keflavik to Reykjavik.



Before even setting off on your drive, check out the closest town to the airport, Reykjanesbær. With a name meaning ‘smoky ness’, the town is a hub for active geothermal activity. The many plumes of steam coming from the landscape will transport you into a different world.

9.Gunnuhver-4 Image by Christian Bickel, Gunnuhver 4, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE

While you’re here, schedule in a visit to Viking World – a museum with a fully seaworthy replica of a Viking ship.

Mount Þorbjörn (Thorbjorn)

Around 10 minutes along route 41 from Reykjanesbær, you’ll come across a road to the left. Following this road for around 10-15 minutes will lead you to the impressive Mount Thorbjorn.

If you’re travelling on a clear day, it’s worth a hike up the mountain where you’ll be rewarded with amazing panoramic views of the Icelandic landscape.


Blue Lagoon

If you’re stopping off at Mount Thorbjorn, you’ll be only a short drive to the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. With a year-round average temperature of 39°C, you can warm up in the mineral-rich seawater.

If you’re visiting late at night, you can enjoy the midnight sun in the summer months, or even catch a glimpse of the northern lights in winter. Only 15-minutes from the airport and half an hour from Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is the ideal first stop when landing or last stop on your way home.

11.The-Blue-Lagoon-Iceland-Travel-Photography-(132547081) Image by Giuseppe Milo, The Blue Lagoon Iceland Travel Photography (132547081), CC BY 3.0


Just behind Mount Thorbjor as you travel from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik is the picturesque Islandic town of Grindavik. If you’re looking for a taste of traditional Iceland, this is the ideal stop off on your way to the capital.

As the biggest fish processing town in Iceland, the town is perfect for tasting traditional Icelandic food. Experience true rural Iceland with a walk around the charming harbour cafes, lighthouse and easy hiking trails.

Iceland-Grindavik Image by Vincent van Zeijst, Iceland (1), Grindavík, CC BY-SA 3.0

Car hire in Keflavik

There’s no doubt about it – the best way to visit the hidden gems of Reykjavik is by car. Holiday Autos car hire comparison site helps you find the best deals for your next trip to Reykjavik.

We do the hard work of comparing car hire for you. Our car hire experts negotiate exclusive rates with top car hire brands to bring you the best deals. You can even filter by customer rating price and car type. Search and compare car hire brands at to get the best car hire deal today!

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