Iceland Road Trip Tips and Tricks

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When planning your trip to Iceland keep in mind three important factors: weather, costs and distances. Even though you could drive the whole circumference of the island in less than 2 days it will take you longer based on the  endless activities.

For our summer trip to Iceland we decided to explore Iceland on our own schedule. Therefore we decided to go camping. The best thing about camping in Iceland is that there are plenty of campgrounds across the country and the ability to wild camp for free.

To explore the entire country you need rent a car, van or hire a tour. We rented a car through Lagoon Car Rental and get our camping gear with Iceland Camping Equipment. It was by far the best way to explore the country for our first time.

You can also consider renting a campervan as it is easier. However it will cost more than renting a small car and camping gear.

How long should you stay in Iceland for?

We recommend to stay at least stay 8 days in Iceland to appreciate what this beautiful country has to offer. Even though it you could drive the whole ring road in less than 36 hours, you would have no time to photograph the landscape or even get off the main road for a hike. There are many activities that you can do in Iceland from ice caving to helicopter rides or even scuba dive along the Silfra fissure.

For those with less time to visit Iceland, you can also complete the Golden Circle in just one day. It is a great introduction to all the amazing diversity the country has to offer.

When is the best time to explore Iceland?

To be honest it depends a lot of what you are trying to get out of your trip. We visited from the last week of May through the first week of June and it was amazing. It is considered off-peak season, making prices more affordable, but days are longer and the majority of roads are already open.

Please keep in mind that weather changes drastically in Iceland and that 20 days out of the month it will rain at some point during day, no matter when you visit. Before heading out on any adventure we recommend you to check the weather and the road status. It will save you a lot of time and stress.

The best months for “warmer” weather will be July and August, but the downside is that it is the more expensive season and you will definitely not see the northern lights. Iceland is known for being “The Land of the Midnight Sun” during summer time as the sun barely sets.

From October to the end of March you have a higher chance to see the northern lights and prices of things are lower. At the same time, the sun only comes above the horizon for a few hours per day, so you trip will consist of nighttime and dusk.

Ultimately there is not really a bad time to visit Iceland. It is just up to you on what you want to get out of your visit.

How is the weather in Iceland?

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The weather in Iceland . It can be pretty rainy during the morning and then you will have the best sunny day during the afternoon. Please before making any plans on visiting a particular area check the weather it will save you time and you will be happy with the outcome. The website to check the weather is: Vegagerdin.is

Do I need visa to visit Iceland?

It depends. If you need visa for the European Schengen visa region then yes you do! Even though Iceland is not part of the European Union it is part of the Schengen region. If you do need a visa, make sure the dates on your printed visa match those of your trip and do not extend your stay on a whim. Overstaying your visa can ultimately lead to fines and temporary bans from the Schengen region.

How much money will I spend in Iceland?

Gas: $250

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Gas is rather expensive in Iceland if you compare the price to the US (1,95 a liter). We stuck with OB gas station because our rental car included a discount card on gas and food at these locations. Plus you can get a free cup of coffee and wifi at any of the full service stops.

You will find many gas stations along the ring road, so gas should not be a concern. Although we recommend to keep your gas tank above half full just so you do not face an issues with unexpected weather or detours.

For our our eight day and mile trip along the Ring Road and Golden Circle, we spent $250 in gas, actually diesel in our rental.

Groceries: $80 for two people

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Food in Iceland is not cheap but there is one supermarket chain, Bonus, which has the lowest prices in the country. There are 32 locations around the country, so the next supermarket will never be more than a day away on your trip. Our recommendation is to get enough food for your whole journey at the beginning and then only buy whatever is needed along the way.

Food in gas stations are also an option but keep in mind the high prices. If you looking to buy a prepared meal then you should try the hot dogs for about $3 at the gas stations. Anything else like a sandwich or burger, can range from $10 to $20.

Internet: $70

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Even though we were camping we still need internet access. We had to work and share our adventures with you. For the regular traveler it is also super important for maps, reservations and research on the go. Both Lagoon Car Rental and Iceland Camping Equipment have the option to rent a 4G portable wifi hotspot. 

Accommodation:

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Hotels in Iceland are really expensive, easily starting from $100 per night. We recommend you to either rent a car and go camping or rent a campervan. If you go to camp grounds they cost around $15 USD per person per night with hot showers and community kitchens.

In many places around the country you will also find free camping spots along the way. What we did is that when we knew we were ready to go to bed we drove toward our next destination and whenever we found a place to sleep, we did. We saved a lot of money that way! The only downhill is that you will have to use gas stations bathrooms.

Tourist attractions:

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They are free! You can visit almost any national park, natural and historical sites free of charge. If you want to take part in any tour or activity the prices are a bit steep, but offer a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Car Insurance:

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Car insurance in Iceland it is a little bit pricy for what it includes. Normally all cars and vans include a minimum insurance but the deductible is high. We recommend to get the windshield insurance and a lower deductible option. Remember Iceland is windy and you never know when a loose rock can hit your car.

Travel Insurance:

Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is designed for adventurous travellers. You do not need to worry about any potential emergency expenses from medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. It is convenient that you can buy and claim online, even after you have left for your trip. Having been robbed before, we can say that the assurance of insurance is a fantastic feeling.

3 thoughts on “Iceland Road Trip Tips and Tricks

  1. Wow! Awesome photos and information. I love the hot spot tip and heads up on gas costs! I’ve been there but only 2 days on a hop over to Norway and this makes me want to go back for 8!

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