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Top tips for hiring a car in Iceland
Visitors who wish to explore the island’s famous wildlife and scenery would do well to rent a car in Iceland: public transportation is generally limited to larger towns and cities. The majority of agencies are represented in the capital city of Reykjavik and at Reykjavik International Airport, meaning it’s easy to pick up a vehicle and enjoy travel flexibility as soon as you arrive. Popular road trip routes include the Golden Circle and Snæfellsnes Peninsula (plan around 2 days for each), or a 10-day journey around the ring road.
Mountain roads in Iceland are known as "F roads" and are open only seasonally; the first drivable day is usually between the end of June and the middle of July. While these roads are a great way to access some of the country’s areas of natural beauty, it is important to note that it is only legal to travel them in a four-wheel drive or jeep.
Drivers using the main ring road in Iceland may pass through the Vadlaheidargong Tunnel, which is located in the north of the island and extends for 7.5 km (4.7 mi). The tunnel is a convenient way of shortening your journey and avoiding difficult driving conditions in the winter months. Payment is required online through the tunnel website, costing 1,500 ISK (12 USD) if paid within 3h of your trip, or 2,500 ISK (20 USD) if paid later.
There are several additional regulations that are important to know when renting a car in Iceland, particularly the use of headlights. Even during daylight hours (including during the summer), headlights are to be switched on at all times. Seatbelts must be worn by all passengers, and it is forbidden to use a cell phone while driving, unless it’s a hands-free kit over the front controls. Finally, please be mindful that off-road driving is illegal and is punishable with a high fine or even jail time.
FAQs about hiring a car in Iceland
On average a car hire in Iceland costs $153 per day.
Economy (Hyundai i10 or similar) is the most frequently booked car hire type in Iceland.
In the past 72 hours, the cheapest car hires were found at Firefly ($104/day), Hertz ($127/day) and Budget ($133/day).
Based on ratings and reviews from real users on KAYAK, the best car hire companies in Iceland are Hertz (8.6, 79 reviews), Dollar (8.2, 162 reviews), and Thrifty (8.2, 100 reviews).
Based on car searches on KAYAK. The most popular cities to hire a car in Iceland are Reykjavik (80% of total searches of users looking to rent a car in Iceland). Keflavik (19%) and Egilsstaðir (1%).
On average hiring a car in Iceland costs $1,092 per week ($156 per day).
On average a car hire in Iceland costs $4,679 per month ($156 per day).
Driving in Iceland can be an adventurous experience: aside from the main ring road, which goes around the island, you will find plenty of gravel roads and roads with other loose surfaces. During the winter months or in rainy conditions, many of these become impassable due to snow or mud, so it is always important to drive carefully and leave plenty of time to make even a simple trip.
To rent a car in Iceland, the driver needs to be at least 18 years old and have held his or her license for a minimum of 12 months. Those who wish to rent a minibus or four-wheel drive, however, must be at least 23 years old. Drivers between 18 and 20 years old may have to pay an additional surcharge of approximately 620-1240 ISK (5-10 USD) per day with an agency like Avis. An International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is not necessary for renting a car in Iceland, but the driver’s domestic license must be in English.
Petrol prices in Iceland are generally quite high, and four-wheel drives can cost a lot to fill up (expect to pay around 10,000 ISK (80 USD) for a full jeep tank). Petrol stations require drivers to use a credit card with a pin number and commonly offer extra things like fresh groceries or a free car wash. As stations can be few and far between, it is important to refuel regularly and never let your petrol levels drop below half a tank.
Speed limits in Iceland are generally quite low thanks to unpredictable weather and road conditions. In towns and cities, drivers are limited to 50 km/h (31 mph), while paved highways in rural areas have a maximum speed limit of 90 km/h (56 mph). Gravel roads, as found in many parts of the country, have a maximum speed limit of 80 km/h (50 mph). Speeding fines are high and speed cameras common even on rural roads.
The rates displayed include all taxes and fees for hire cars for the class listed and were found by KAYAK users in the last 24 hours. Offers are subject to change and may not be available on all car hires listed or dates of travel. Some hire car providers charge additional fees for other services (GPS, infant car seats, etc.). Please check the website of the respective hire car provider.