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Overview: Discover everything you need to know about renting a car in Iceland, including where you can pick up your vehicle, what the rental rates are, the type of car to choose, and more.


Iceland is an incredibly popular location for car rental vacations. The open road, the natural landscapes, and the abundance of things to do call for the freedom of a rental vehicle. But is the self-drive option for you?

Woman standing on road parting sea, infront of mountain with camera, white cloudy skies

Pros and Cons of Car Rental in Iceland

Like any option for visiting a country, there are benefits and drawbacks to hiring a vehicle during your time in Iceland. These might help you to decide on your type of trip. Some of the benefits of your own rental car include:

  • The freedom to go wherever you like.
  • You can start and finish your day whenever you want, at your own pace.
  • Iceland’s public transport is often slow.
  • Can reach more remote places than public transport will allow.
  • Potential to save on accommodation.
  • Excellent road conditions in most cases in Iceland.

On the other hand, some potential drawbacks to car rental in Iceland are:

  • It can be expensive depending on your car selection.
  • You must be over the age of 20 in most cases and have held your license for at least 12 months.
  • Driving in a new place can sometimes be stressful.
  • Expensive speeding and parking tickets.
  • Unpredictable weather can create challenging driving conditions.

Guide to Renting a Car

When renting a car in a new country, the toughest thing is sometimes not the new rules of the road but the actual choosing of a rental company and a car. Nevertheless, the freedom of having a car at your disposal to openly roam the countryside and Iceland’s deserted roads is something well worth the effort. When it comes to choosing the right car rental for you in Iceland your options are, it seems, endless. To help you choose and prepare for driving in Iceland we have put together this guide

Popular Self-Drive Tours


Many people choose to rent a car from the capital, or even the main airport of Reykjavík called Keflavík International Airport. Picking up your vehicle as soon as possible will allow you to make the most of your rental period. Car rentals are found in all the bigger settlements in Iceland, even in the Westman Islands, which are only accessible by ferry or by flying. The only negative aspect when renting a car at one of the car rentals in the countryside is that the variety of automobiles isn’t as extensive. See a list below of some of the most popular locations to rent a car from in Iceland:

  • Keflavík Airport
  • Reykjavík
  • Kópavogur
  • Hafnarfjörður
  • Þorlákshöfn
  • Selfoss
  • Vestmannaeyjar
  • Höfn í Hornafirði
  • Egilsstaðir
  • Húsavík
  • Akureyri
  • Sauðarkrokur
  • Skagaströnd
  • Ísafjörður
  • Bíldudalur

We recommend doing the planning beforehand, as it can help to give you a better overview of the market and often provide you with better prices. 

What kind of car will I need?

Once you have put together your intended itinerary, you will have a better idea of the type of car you will need. Most car rental companies will offer a wide range of types of cars and models to suit every requirement. 

If you’re planning a short trip, exploring the capital city and the Golden Circle, then you won’t need to splurge on a 4x4 vehicle. The popular Golden Circle route is well-traveled and well-maintained, so it won’t require more than a small hatchback. You should also consider the equipment you’ll need to fit in the back of your rental car, as well as the group you’re traveling with, of course. Companies offering car rental may be able to advise on the best vehicle for you in their ranks. The general rule is that if you travel far out of town, particularly into Iceland’s rugged Highlands, you will need a 4×4.

Is renting a car in iceland expensive?

Iceland is a comparatively expensive destination, so you’ll need to consider the costs of food and accommodation alongside these figures. 

Here are approximate costs of renting a car in Iceland (per day):

  • Small cars: 80+ USD a day
  • Medium cars: 120+ USD a day
  • Large cars: 190+ USD a day
  • Luxury and Vans: 400+ USD a day
  • SUV: 160+ USD a day
  • Motorhome: 200+ USD a day

Depending on a car rental company, these rates vary.

Two women in back of camper van, in red tartan blanket, smiling with books and flask, view of snowy Iceland mountains in background


  • You will need to present a valid driver's license upon receiving your car.
  • To be able to rent a minibus or a four-wheel drive, you must be at least 23 years old.
  • Your driver's license must be written in characters of the modern Latin alphabet, or you will need to bring with you an official translation to present.
  • Rentals in Iceland usually come with unlimited mileage.
  • You will receive and need to return the car with a full tank of gas.
  • Most car rental services in Iceland offer the possibility of different pickup and drop off locations might you desire to do so.
  • Most agencies offer 24-hour customer service.
  • You can rent a car seat for children at an additional cost
  • The speed limits are, in general, quite low, and speeding tickets are expensive
  • You can only drive on F-roads in automobiles that are licensed to do so. You can usually find a mark in the car, but you should ask at the sales desk if you aren’t sure.
  • It is illegal to drive off-road in Iceland, and the fine for doing so starts at about 2,500 USD.
  • If you have an accident or need urgent help, the number to call is 112.
  • Most of the roads in Iceland are paved, including the whole Ring Road, so you should not have to enter F-roads to visit any of the major sights.
Cars driving on road through green, mossy hills with white and black sheep walking in groups, cloudy mountains in the backgronud


This is a common question for people visiting Iceland, especially in the summertime. Unfortunately, there is no way to answer this question on behalf of everyone so we will simply list the pros and cons. You can then choose which option fits you the best depending on them.


  • The cost is higher.
  • You will need to keep to your itinerary more or less.


  • A camper van is your accommodation and rental car in one.
  • It can give you more freedom and open up the possibility of changing your nightly plans with short notice.
  • The cost is lower.


  • The area at your disposal is very limited.
  • Taking a shower and using the bathroom is, most of the time, more limited.


In Iceland, we drive on the right side of the road with the steering wheel on the left. Icelanders are (most of the time) quite polite in their driving, willing to let you pass and help you get into the right lane. They do, in return, expect you to be polite and thank them for their troubles. This is best done with a wave once you are safely in front of them or with a slight tap on the hazard button.

Everyone in Iceland wears a seatbelt. It doesn’t matter if you are in the front or back of the car, it is simply the law, and you will get fined if you don’t. Stay safe and wear your seatbelts. 

To sum up, remember these rules:

  • Icelanders drive on the right side of the road.
  • The steering wheel is on the left side of the car.
  • It’s important to return politeness when driving.
  • Thank other drivers for being passed or helped to change lanes.
  • Wear your seatbelt.

It is important when renting a car in Iceland to have an idea of the road conditions beforehand and to make sure that you have proper winter tires if you are traveling during the colder months. The car hiring service should take care of this for you, but it is always best to double-check!

The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration hosts this amazing website, which is updated multiple times a day. The website should be your bible on road trips in Iceland you should follow their instructions literally. Don’t misbehave – they do not send out warnings unless there is a reason to.

Yet another important factor is the weather. We will go further into this later in the article, but you will need to keep updated with the weather on We advise you not to take risks when the forecast shows heavy winds, especially if you aren’t used to driving in those circumstances.

Keep in mind that Iceland is not Disneyland, and the weather can act up both rapidly and harshly.

If you spot something you want to inspect further, possibly snap a few photos, or enjoy the scenery, it is very important to stop your car out of traffic. Turn off the road and safely park it a least a few meters away. You will also need to be careful when opening the doors of the parked car so that it will not affect traffic. Be mindful of others and they will too!

  • Double-check the tires when receiving a rental
  • Check road conditions before heading out
  • should be your go-to!
  • Follow instructions
  • Check weather forecast
  • Don’t risk driving in heavy winds
  • Don’t stop in the middle of the road
  • Be careful when opening doors
Aurora Borealis,  green northern lights in starry, night sky with polar lights. Jeep parked lights on, mountains in background


Winters in Iceland can vary a lot. Some years, we have heavy snow and slippery roads for months, but others only seem to affect the areas outside of Reykjavík. 

Iceland has been greatly affected by climate change, which has changed our road conditions along with it. Still, it goes without saying that the further you travel North, the colder it gets, and therefore, you are more likely to experience more snow and ice. This is something you need to know and keep in mind when traveling to Iceland.

If you are looking to drive the Ring Road in winter, you might be met with the road being closed down and weather stranding you for some time, and you will need to be open to changing plans. 

Here are a few important tips for driving in winter in Iceland: 

  • The winter harshness varies annually. Check the forecasts (road and weather)
  • Keep checking the forecasts multiple times a day
  • The areas outside Reykjavík tend to have more snow and ice
  • The rule of thumb is the farther North, the colder it gets
  • Follow instructions and road closings
  • Keep sunglasses close

Note: If you aren’t used to driving in icy situations and want to explore the country in wintertime, there are different ways to go about it. One of the more popular options has been to join the 6 Days Around Iceland Ring Road Adventure, catching the best of the Ring Road without having to worry about driving in new conditions.

Ariel shot of bridge of road driving over the sea next to mountain and low clouds in Iceland


When tourism first boomed in Iceland, people would usually visit to join guided excursions or hitchhike around the country. Today, you will see a rise in people looking to drive on their own, getting a rental car to use at their disposal. This can offer more flexibility and bring you to unexpected places. 

The downside to adventuring on your own, without any guidance, is that it can result in you missing out on stops to make or attractions. This has resulted in a boom in self-drive tours where people enjoy the privileges that follow having their own car but still know where to go and what to see.

With these tours, the itinerary doesn’t require weeks or months of planning and is a bit like following a treasure map. The set self-drive itinerary has advised stops for each day, sometimes even booked adventure tours along the way. You can get them with or without accommodation.

To sum up, these are the advantages of a self-drive tour:

  • Perks of a rental car without having to plan it all
  • Advice from travel experts
  • Detailed itinerary & information package included
  • Available with accommodation planned out for you


There are a myriad of car rental companies all over Iceland. Here are some of the options you can choose from.