All you need to know about self-driving tour in Iceland

Self Drive Tour With 4WD Car

Iceland, a breathtaking northern island, attracts many visitors from all over the world. The nature phenomena, that can be observed here, demonstrate us – humans, the enormous strength and power of nature. Even the most experienced travelers, who've seen it all, cannot remain indifferent to the unforgettable sights. This is why a trip to Iceland is a lifetime experience.

Travelers visiting Iceland can choose one of the several ways to explore this amazing island. They can be a part of an organized tour group or backpackers that prefer to travel long distances by foot. Another way to see the sights of Iceland is a self-driving tour, which will be described fully in this article.

But first ... What is a self-driving tour at all?

Definition of a self-driving tour

It is a way of traveling, which can be used in any destination, when the traveler rents a car and every day gets from point to point along the certain route in the chosen destination and visits various places and attractions independently. The accommodation each night will be along the route and can be ordered in advance or picked by spontaneous choice.

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Self-driving tour in Iceland:

If you like wild landscapes of cliffs, lava fields, hot springs, volcanoes, glaciers and whale watching, however prefer to travel independently in your own pace and style - then Iceland is the perfect destination for you. All nature reserves have free entrance, the inter-city roads are European high-level and have signs in English, the tourism infrastructure is very developed and, moreover, any average Icelander speaks English fluently.

Self-driving tour in Iceland is the easy and the most recommended way of traveling if you own a driver's license and desire to experience Iceland, an island of ice and fire, in the most convenient and efficient way. The tour allows travelers to make it "at their own pace".

The reasons why self-driving is the most effective way to travel in Iceland:

  • The public transport in Iceland is a bit problematic. There are not much of it, not fully interconnected, does not reach all the places and the regularity is low too. Therefore the mobility with the vehicle is essential to exploit fully the whole day trip and allows the possibility to visit all the best places Iceland has to offer.
     
  • Backpacking - hitchhiking and sleeping in a tent, is an experience not necessarily suitable for everyone and every age. In addition, the only thing you can be sure about in Iceland - is that you cannot be sure about the weather, so a car and a warm roof are recommended for a rainy day.
     
  • Organized tour - in terms of price, almost always is more expensive than self-driving trip. And this is a trip without flexible schedule, the travelers have no control over the agenda: what to see, what to do and for how long. Iceland's' landscapes are so unique that not everyone will be satisfied by 10 minutes the guide allocated to a particular site. In addition, Iceland abounds with many points of interest along the way, such as a volcanic craters and waterfalls. During the organized trip it will not be possible for travelers to deviate from the way to the side path and enjoy the beauty.

However, it is important to remember that Iceland is a destination that requires logistical preparation in advance, especially in terms of finding good accommodation. During the summer months, which are the peak season of tourism, hotels and guesthouses outside Reykjavik are fully booked, so spontaneous trip is not possible for those interested in accommodation which is not camping. Therefore it is advisable to plan your holiday a couple of months in advance.

Planning a trip to Iceland, you can use the local tourism companies to make your dream vacation come true in the most simple and convenient way. Company Another Iceland, which operates in Iceland since 2008 and is managed by the Israeli and Icelandic team, specializes in the organization of self-driving tour packages.

Self-driving tour package with Another Iceland

It is a custom package perfectly tailored for a traveler based on his desires and activities, saving him many hours of surfing through the Internet looking for accommodation, calculating distances and finding attractions and directions.

The style of the trip is completely independent, but logistically organized from A to Z and includes a rental car, detailed trip plan and pre-booked nights at the hotels according to the travel dates.

There are several tour programs, which you can find on the company's website, classified by the number of days of the trip, different regions of Iceland, seasons and routes for 4X4 vehicles. The traveler planning to attend Iceland can browse the website, choose a tour plan, which seems the most appropriate and, for the exception of flight reservation, does not have to deal with any arrangements at all.

The trip can be started each day according to the dates of flights and it is possible to add days to stay in Reykjavik at the beginning or the end of the trip with or without a rental car. You can also ask for the custom route matching precisely your interests - at no extra cost. For example, traveler interested in geology can request a route focusing on this topic. He will receive a road plan that includes the best of Iceland in terms of volcanoes, geothermal fields and lava fields. Another example: traveler interested in architecture will get the in the program of his tour sites related to this field, such as the Icelandic grass houses, historic building conservations and the unique modern architecture of Iceland.

How It Works?

Upon the arrival at the Iceland International Airport Keflavik, travelers get the rented car at the rental company office, which is located in the arrivals hall and is open 24 hours a day. From there drive to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, which is within driving distance of 45 minutes (if the flight arrives at night, the hotel accommodation will be near the airport). The arrival day will be devoted to the acquaintance with charming and lively Reykjavik, the next day the travelers will leave according to the optimized trip plan ordered for them for the duration of their holiday.

Self-driving tour package of Another Iceland includes:

  • Detailed trip plan – for each day of the journey there is a prepared route that includes stops in the best places along the way without any need for early preparations and speculations about what is expecting on the road.
     
  • Rental car with GPS - to get around independently driving with modern means of navigation.
     
  • Accommodation including breakfast in the best places in Iceland – there is no need to deliberate between one place to another for overnight stay and get exhausted of reading reviews on Booking.com and other similar sites. Accommodation in every tour plan is guaranteed to be of the highest quality for each area in Iceland and according to the plan of the trip.
     
  • Road map and travel guide book to Iceland- in the easiest and the most understandable way.
     
  • Emergency service 24 hours a day – we are hoping, of course, that the trip will be without any emergency, but, if necessary, there will always be a solution for every problem. When in trouble, travelers of our company will always have help and support and they will not be alone in a foreign country.
     
  • Trip file - includes all the documents referred to above, will be waiting for travelers at the rental car office and will accompany them along the way.

The great advantage of Another Iceland is the fact that the company operates out of Iceland in real time throughout the year. Unlike other companies that work remotely with the service suppliers, the team of Another Iceland, which itself is traveling along Iceland all the time out of love of nature and a will to constantly improve, is controlling and monitoring the dynamic changes of the route and the attractions opened / closed to visitors.

The service is provided directly and without intermediaries, with the obligation to the lowest price (compared to similar trip packages of other companies). So in overall calculation, an order of the vehicle and accommodation by yourself will be ultimately more expensive than the price of the tour package of Another Iceland. Not mentioning the time it would take to organize everything independently and without knowledge of exact distances, attractions and treasures of each region not listed on the map.

So where in Iceland it is recommended to travel?

Another Iceland's tour packages are proposed for the traveler in lots of variations and spread all over the Iceland and nearby islands. To cover the widest range of landscapes and Iceland's finest pearls, most packages include a circular tour which starts and ends in Reykjavik and the return of the rental car is at the airport (no extra cost).

Along the way the accommodation every night will be in the hotels and guest houses, considered among the best in Iceland, most of which are located in the surrounding wild natural landscape, where the stay at the hotel is an experience itself.

Iceland can be divided into seven parts:

North Iceland

North Iceland

North Iceland is an area of varied landscapes. This is a region, where nature is in a high gear, with volcanoes, volcanic fields of boiling mud and sulfur, the most powerful in Europe - Dettifoss waterfall, a huge natural horseshoe-shaped canyon and Lake Myvatn surrounded by black rocks formations standing out high and reminding a fairytale castle. There are many activities in this region, such as whale-watching cruises, horseback riding, hot springs and ski in the winter.

Central settlement: Akureyri.

Possible accommodation: Icelandair Hotel Akureyri – the hotel, which was opened in 2011, rises on a hill above the town center, designed in a modern Scandinavian style characterized by clean lines, but comfortable atmosphere with the bright and cozy spacy rooms. At the lobby guests can enjoy the bar with various drinks and the Icelandic-Mediterranean fusion gourmet restaurant. The hotel's location is great and is just a 10-minutes' walk from the center of Akureyri. In front of the hotel is located a local geothermal pool and spa, which also includes a water slide and facilities for children.

South Iceland

Vestmann islands

The beautiful South of Iceland is characterized by a long and flat coast with many river deltas strewn wide. On one side extends the Atlantic Ocean, to where the rivers flow. And on the other side the mountain chain hiding behind it ancient glaciers, from which are falling high waterfalls, creating with their water spray a colorful bow around them on sunny days. Beautiful Glacial Lagoon and Laki craters are also located in the south and are considered one of the highlights of Iceland.

A visit to the South of Iceland may also include a visit to the Vestmann islands, also called the "Pompeii of the North" and are a wonderful place for those interested in geology.

Central settlement: Sellfos.

Possible accommodation: Hotel Katla, named after the famous volcano Katla. The hotel is located near the southernmost point of Iceland, surrounded by green hills in the summer and during the winter this is a great place to watch the Northern Lights. Guests can take a dip in the hot pool and enjoy the surrounding peace and quiet. For those, interested in some adrenaline, they can have a snowmobile tour on a nearby glacier.

East Iceland

The eastern part of Iceland is like a country on its own, from its shores stretch the fjords, where are solitary resting picturesque fishing villages, each with its own unique character. East is the only region in Iceland where there are forests and herds of reindeer, open and inviting nature is a celebration for those who like to lose the trail and pick blueberries.

Central settlement: Egilsstaðir.

Possible accommodation: Egilsstaðir Guesthouse - charming hotel, which has been operating since 1904, is situated on a lake, around which you can walk or sit down with a good book in the hotel's cafe and look at it through the large windows. The rooms of the hotel designed since it's foundation in a way that each room has a different design that preserves the style of the early 20th century, with solid wood furniture and heavy velvet curtains and a sense of traveling back in time. In the hotel restaurant you can taste dishes of fresh fish fished in the nearby fjord.

West Iceland

In West Iceland the Icelandic culture was developed and the best sagas were written here inspired by the people who lived in the area and were among the first settlers of Iceland. Icelanders themselves also come to the west during their summer vacation, to enjoy their summer houses built between the volcanoes and hills and to fish in the clear rivers teeming with fish. West Iceland includes among the other places also the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is like a long promenade with a landscape changing every few kilometers. And the Reykjanes area, where the lava fields are covered with arctic soft moss, where the Blue Lagoon is located, which is one of the best world-known spa resorts.

Central settlement: Borgarnes.

Possible accommodation: Hotel Stykkishólmur – located in the picturesque fishing village Stykkishólmur, which continues the fishing tradition till today. Most rooms have a beautiful view of the bay, where the town is situated and a nice walk to the lighthouse built on the cliff in front of the harbor is a recommended activity. Breakfast is served in a buffet style with Scandinavian cuisine and the hot pools with geothermal water are just near the hotel.

Central Highlands

Highland

This vast area includes all the interior of Iceland. This is actually an uninhabited volcanic desert, with colorful rhyolite mountains, isolated hills from horizon to horizon, decorated with giant icebergs and dotted with oases of hot springs. The landscape looks like taken from another planet, and this is the recommended area for those who like 100% nature and adventures.

Access to the mountainous central region is possible only during the summer and with 4X4 vehicle.

Central settlement: no.

Possible accommodation: Cabins in Kerlingarfjöll Reserve - wooden huts built in the style of Swiss ski resorts. Besides the cabins and the visitors' center, there is no other sign of civilization in sight. Only the mountains, a river and a path that leads to a natural pond that drains water from a spring, where you can take a dip while enjoying the wilderness around. Important note: To prevent a waste of time, the recommendation is to cross the mountainous central region in one day and stay at the high-quality hotel located at the edge of the area.

West Fjords

West Iceland

The area with the sloping coastline of fjords, which extend to the deep blue water and their peaks adorned with a crown of snow. This is a paradise for those, who want a relaxation and time off from the daily bustle. The place, where peace and tranquility penetrate the body, and there is no need to rush, but just sit back in front of the fjord and daydream while the time stops.

Birding enthusiasts, we recommend you to visit the cliff Látrabjarg consisting of huge cliffs on the edge of the land and over them nest the sea colonies of colorful Budgerigar.

Central settlement: Ísafjörður.

Possible accommodation: Hotel Isafjördur's - hotel located in the heart of Ísafjörður, which allows simultaneously enjoy the best of both worlds - culture and landscape, as the hotel is located in the space between the sea and the small entertainment center of the town. After a day of driving, you can soak up some local culture watching the performances of the town's residents known for their love of music. Or you can go for coffee and pastries in a famous Ísafjörður bakery, operating continuously since the 19th century. The best thing about the hotel is the possibility to wake up and see through the window the unforgettable view of the fjord spreading along the sea and captivating eyes - a great way to start the day.

Reykjavik

Reykjavik

The capital city and the beating heart of Iceland when it comes to culture, spending time, higher education and politics. Reykjavik metropolitan includes 65% of whole Iceland's population and therefore, despite its location in southwest of Iceland, is considered the region itself. Vacation in Reykjavik is pure enjoyment of all the pleasures of modern life, while the city is surrounded by mountains and the nature of the bays around it from any direction. The city is a great vacation destination throughout the year, if you are looking for something a bit different. Reykjavik in winter is having a dip in the warm pool surrounded by snow, Icelandic music with good beer and candle lights, ice skating, hunting and the Northern Lights. However, in the summer Reykjavik is sun till midnight, multicolored flowers, geothermal beach bathing, cafes and entertainment in front of the small boat port.

Possible accommodation: Hotel Reykjavik Natura - the hotel is located in the southern part of Reykjavik, near the airport and the geothermal beach of the city. This is one of the largest hotels in Iceland and includes a restaurant, a café and a spa area. The hotel design is done in order to illustrate the beauty of Iceland to its guests, lobby walls are covered with Icelandic stone, art and works of Icelandic artists adorn the throughout. Those arriving by car, there is plenty of free parking at the hotel entrance.

Tips, advices and FAQ:

Ring Road - Route 1

This road paved over 1332 km, encompasses the entire island of Iceland, can be used by any type of vehicle and passes near the best points of interest. Therefore a full circle along the road is popular with many travelers, and usually it is a trip that lasts 7-11 days. Please note that the Ring Road is not passing the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the West Fjords and the Central Highlights, but these areas can be integrated into tour by making a detour.

For the tight budget

  • Accommodation level Budget: These places of accommodation do not include a shower and toilet in the room, so the price for the night is slightly lower than a room with shower and bathroom (Comfort level).
  • Food costs: In some places in Budget category there is a guest kitchen, where you can cook independently and thus save the costs of the restaurants.
  • Traveling not in the peak season: A trip during the middle of May and September can reduce about 15% of the total costs. Winter trip between the months of October-April will allow a reduction of about 35% of the costs.

Also, the rental of a small car, in low-price category, and manual gear will reduce the price too.

For single travelers

Thanks to the zero level of crime and modern infrastructures, Iceland is the ultimate destination for those who want to travel solo, both women and men. The navigation on the roads of Iceland is easy and most of the accommodation places have a discounted rate for a single room - Single bedroom.

Aurora Borealis / Northern Lights

Months recommended for watching the Northern Lights in Iceland are between October and March. It is important to remember that the phenomenon does not necessarily occur every day and cannot be predicted accurately.

To watch the Aurora should be met three conditions:

  1. Darkness – this is the reason why from April to September, when the light hours are long, the odds to see the Northern Lights are lower.
  2. The solar storm – the particles released from the sun reach the polar regions of the Earth, will clash into the atmosphere and create the Aurora.
  3. Sunny day and cloudless sky - so the clouds do not obscure the show of the Aurora.

Do I need to use an off-road vehicle (all-wheel-drive 4x4) for the trip in Iceland?

Not at all, depending on the roads you choose.

There are roads of two types in Iceland: paved asphalt roads and mountain roads, which are easily identified by the letter F that will always appear next to the number of road - for example F35 (comes from the word "Fjall" – mountain in Icelandic).

Therefore traveling on every road marked with F requires a 4x4 vehicle. Please note that on certain roads in the category F regular vehicles can also pass easily, but insurance companies will not cover the damage to regular vehicle caused on these roads.

The routes that do not pass the central highlights are perfectly suited to the regular vehicles, such as the Comprehensive Iceland Route or The colors of Iceland that can be ordered through Another Iceland and can be found on the company's website.

However, during the winter, the recommendation is to rent an off-road vehicle anyway because of the weather conditions that can be expected like ice, snow, mud, etc.

When should I place the order?

Tourism in Iceland is rising steadily and hotels and many guest houses are being built around Iceland.

But as of 2016, the demand still far outweighs the supply, and therefore the recommendation is to place your order within a time limit of at least six months, if you are planning your trip during the peak season. This way it will be possible to enjoy a stay in the best accommodation places and get a lower price.

Tours ordered with Another Iceland for the summer months will get a discount for the early booking - six months and more prior to the trip.

Winter tours in Iceland can be a bit more spontaneous because the accommodation occupancy is much lower.

Do I need to use an off-road vehicle (all-wheel-drive 4x4) for the trip in Iceland?

Not at all, depending on the roads you choose.

There are roads of two types in Iceland: paved asphalt roads and mountain roads, which are easily identified by the letter F that will always appear next to the number of road - for example F35 (comes from the word "Fjall" – mountain in Icelandic).

Therefore traveling on every road marked with F requires a 4x4 vehicle. Please note that on certain roads in the category F regular vehicles can also pass easily, but insurance companies will not cover the damage to regular vehicle caused on these roads.

The routes that do not pass the central highlights are perfectly suited to the regular vehicles, such as the Comprehensive Iceland Route or The colors of Iceland that can be ordered through Another Iceland and can be found on the company's website.

However, during the winter, the recommendation is to rent an off-road vehicle anyway because of the weather conditions that can be expected like ice, snow, mud, etc.

When should I place the order?

Tourism in Iceland is rising steadily and hotels and many guest houses are being built around Iceland.

But as of 2016, the demand still far outweighs the supply, and therefore the recommendation is to place your order within a time limit of at least six months, if you are planning your trip during the peak season. This way it will be possible to enjoy a stay in the best accommodation places and get a lower price.

Tours ordered with Another Iceland for the summer months will get a discount for the early booking - six months and more prior to the trip.

Winter tours in Iceland can be a bit more spontaneous because the accommodation occupancy is much lower.
 

Attractions

Besides the spectacular nature, Iceland offers the tourists a variety of dynamic activities. The following attractions can be booked directly through Another Iceland as part of the tour:

Snowmobiles tour on glacier
175 € per person (children over the age of 6 can join the driving adult).
 

Whale watching cruise
70 € per person, children up to the age of 15 pay half price, children under 7 years old – free.
 

Horseback riding
60 € per person for an hour ride.
 

Diving in Silfra 
148 Euro PP
 

Entrance to the Blue Lagoon 
50 Euro PP + 5 EUR for towel
 

River rafting 
84 EUR pp
 

Ice Tunnel Tour
140 € per person, children up to the age of 15 pay half price, children up to the age of 11 – free.
 

*Rates are updated to March 2016 and can be changed.
 

It is possible!

Start the day in front of a huge waterfall, have a picnic on a volcanic crater and end the day in a hot spring surrounded by snow-capped peaks. It is difficult to rate every region in Iceland in terms of beauty, as each region has its own special magic, taking any road will lead the travelers to discover natural wonders that will engrave in their memories for years to come.

Sounds like a dream, but the self-driving tour in Iceland can certainly allow it, and the travelers will have the conditions and ability to make their dream vacation come true in their own time and pace.

Visiting Iceland is a dream of many - and this is indeed an achievable dream.