Car hire in Iceland
Hiring a car in Iceland
Iceland is a country of contradictions. Known as ‘the land of fire and ice’, it is home to some of the world’s most active volcanoes and some of Europe’s largest glaciers.
During the peak of summertime, there is almost 24-hour days of sunshine, while in winter there are just a few hours of daylight - with the latter being the perfect setting to get a clear view of the magical Northern Lights.
It truly is a unique destination that offers visitors unspoilt nature, a vibrant culture and magnificent landscapes - all of which can be explored easily with your hire car.
What you need to know
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to hiring a car in Iceland, as many well-known companies - such as Alamo, Budget, Thrifty and Enterprise - operate in the country. To narrow your search, you can use our booking tool to find the type of car you want, for your selected dates and budget.
Holiday Autos don’t charge hidden fees and there are no credit card charges, meaning the price you see is the price you pay. You can also cancel for free, should your plans change unexpectedly and we’re on hand 24/7 if you need us.
Where to pick up your car
There are are host of airports in Iceland, with the largest and most-used hub in Iceland being Reykjavík-Keflavík Airport (KEF). This is the one you’re likely to land in if you’re opting to fly to the island from elsewhere in the world. At the airport, some car rental companies operate out of the terminal, some have a shuttle bus service and some will send representatives to meet you. If you’ve arranged your hire car beforehand, then you’d just need to fill in some paperwork and away you go.
If you’re flying from somewhere else in Iceland, then it’s likely you’ll fly to Reykjavík Airport (RKV), which means you’ll arrive in the country’s capital. You can pick up your car from here as well, but it’s worth checking to see if the company you wish to use have representation here.
“The pick-up was easy, it took 5 minutes from arriving at the desk to driving out the car, and the return took even less time.”
Where to go
Where you go first once you’ve picked up your hire car depends on what you want your trip to Iceland to be. If you’re looking to really relax, head to the steaming Reykjadalur Valley and bathe in the hot springs, before climbing the trail back to your rental. If you’re after an adventure, go on a Superjeep excursion across the landscape in search of the Northern Lights. You could take an ice-climbing tour of the Solheimajokull glacier on the south coast of Iceland or embark on a driving tour on Ring Road, which circles the country.
If you’re a music lover, you could head to the dazzling Harpa concert hall, which was designed to look like a golden glacier. You could hear the harmonious Iceland Symphony Orchestra or Icelandic Opera. Why not go to the country’s capital - Reykjavík - and indulge in some retail therapy or grab a bite to eat?
Driving in Iceland
We recommend that you become familiar with Iceland’s driving rules and regulations before you pick up the keys for your hire car, as there is some important information you need to know. You drive on the right hand side of the road and overtake on the left. Try to keep this in mind when you make any stops, such as at services, as it can be easily to slip back into old habits.
The general speed limit is between 30 and 50 kilometres per hour in populated areas, 80 kilometres per hour on gravel roads in rural areas and 90 kilometres per hour on paved roads. Both passengers and drivers must wear their seatbelts at all times, as this is the law. Babies and young children must be in car-safety seats. You must have your headlights on at all times when driving, rain or shine, day or night.
Off-road driving is illegal in Iceland, so don’t be tempted, as the consequences can be heavy.
If you are traveling to Iceland for a proper driving holiday, then you don’t need to look any further than the Ring Road for the perfect road trip. Measuring 832 miles long, Route 1 is a circuit that runs around the entire country, running through some of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations, as well as some hidden treasures.
You can start this drive as soon as you leave Reykjavík-Keflavík Airport by heading to the nearby village of Hveragerdi, which is at the top of a geothermal area, meaning there are hot springs aplenty. The next point of interest on the road is Kirkjubaejarklauster, home to Thingvellir National Park, which has geysers, more springs and the breathtaking Gullfoss waterfall.
Once you’re back on the road, your next stop should be Hofn. Here you can take in the beautiful scenery on offer in the Skaftafell National Park, which sits below the Vatnajokull glacier and is surrounded by black desert sands. This is great terrain to hike and it’s definitely worth spending some time here.
Further along on Route 1, you’ll come to Egilsstadir. With its vast and wild scenery, towering mountains and charming villages, the Eastern Fjord is truly breathtaking. Next, make your way to Lake Myvatn into the beautiful northern highlands and to see the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Top attractions to visit in Iceland
Many tourists head to Iceland in search of the sometimes elusive Northern Lights, but this land has so much more to offer. It is a great place for relaxation, adventure and a place to discover new dishes that may become old favourites.
Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is the only place in the world where you can swim between two tectonic plates. Every year, the plates are moving around an inch apart, creating the best location for snorkelling in the world. You can see as far as 120 metres, and while there is no wildlife to be seen, the Eurasian and American tectonic plates are a sight to behold all by themselves.
Up high in the mountains you can speed across the Langjokull glacier on a high-speed skiddoo. You can get there with a specialist team who will show you how the skiddoo works. This is a real taste of adventure that can’t be experienced anywhere else.
Whale-watching in Reykjavik
You can catch a boat from the old harbour in Reykjavik to try and spot of the 23 different types of whale that live in the waters around Iceland. You can also see other marine wildlife, such as harbour porpoises, puffins and white-beaked dolphins.
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