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Best Car Rental in Iceland

Iceland can be described as Pandora's box. It’s a geographically small place, but it will take you on a whimsical journey nonetheless. Visiting landmarks in Iceland isn’t the same as visiting landmarks in London, Czech Republic or Berlin. The natural wonders were generally formed such a long time ago, and with a small population anyway, has resulted in a lack of urbanisation in between the sites. Getting to Landmannalaugar and Askja is going to require driving, and a bit of focus.

This is great news, though. This lays down the opportunity to be driving through incredible landscapes on rural roads with waterfalls in the background — all whilst you haven’t spotted another car in sight. There really is no other way to go about seeing Iceland. Getting on a bus is fine, but what if you want to stop half way to enjoy endless onslaught of picturesque landscapes? Having that freedom is important — but it doesn’t come without its challenges.

Before renting a car, it’s important to know which car to pick and what roads are safe, or even open, at the current time of year. This will be explored later on, just after we take a look at why renting a car is the best way to see Iceland.

Car hire Iceland

Hiring a car in Iceland is an easy process. You simply book online (which is much more preferable to booking upon landing, which may result in hire fees), and your car will be ready for you upon landing. You want to make sure you get car insurance in Iceland of course, ideally with the same provider that you book with to keep things quick, cheap and simple.

Picking the right provider is important, because you want to limit the chances of them changing your car without telling you, or accusing you of false claims regarding damage to the vehicle. The first point here is extremely important as we will explore at the end of the article (some roads exclude 2-wheel drives). So, how do you go about this? Car rental reviews is one good technique to find the consensus on which companies are good, and which you should stay clear from.

Car hires are great because they’re very flexible. They will charge you on a per-day basis, with some offering you the option whether you pay for the petrol or just leave the tank full at the end.

Why renting a car is the best way to see Iceland

Driving yourself around Iceland offers the flexibility that Iceland deserves. Being able to simply stop whenever you see an incredible landscape or if you tumble upon a site, hike or activity that you wasn’t expecting, it’s great to be able to get out of the car and wonder off.

Buses are good in Iceland, but they’re not ideal in the winter. Having to wait around for them in the freezing cold, whilst it will almost certainly be dark, may leave you wishing you had just hired your own vehicle. Parking isn’t difficult, because the population is relatively sparse and most places you visit will be rural.

Likewise, if you enjoy going “off-track” when driving, then Iceland is certainly the right place. Whilst off-tracking driving is illegal, you can pretty much get the same experience when driving on the f-roads and the gravel road sections of the Ring Road.

How to decide on which car to pick

Deciding on which car to take or hire in Iceland is actually very important. This isn’t like central Europe where everything is urbanised, flat and tarmaced. Surely, you can get around in a 2-wheel drive, but you’re going to have to stick to the main roads. Even the Ring Road, which famously laps the entirety of Iceland, has around 20% gravel roads. Surely, gravel roads aren’t terribly dangerous, but you’re going to have a much more enjoyable time in a 4x4 with a big suspension.

A 4x4 is also necessary if you’re planning on driving on the f-roads. F-roads are basically restricted roads that are not tarmacked, and lead to the highlands of Iceland. In fact, they’re so precarious and dangerous that you can only drive on them for a few months of the year during summer. Just when you thought summer may be the time to opt for a 2-wheel drive, gravel roads and f-roads beg to differ.

Campervans are also great options for Iceland because they allow you to camp anywhere. Iceland encourages camping, with only certain situations and areas being restricted. This is a really great way to indulge in the wildlife and nature of such an unusual and fascinating country.

There is still a place for 2-wheel drives, but it’s important to just understand your itinerary and the roads that lay ahead before deciding on which car to take. If you want to explore such highlands but you’re not a confident driver, then public transport may be a better choice (though they often tend to stick on more tarmacked, safe roads anyway).

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