Over 18 days we drove ca. 2500 km, had a wonderful trip and saw gorgeous places. The points of interest are: the waterfalls, the coasts and the fjords, the mountains and the lava fields, the volcanos and the glaciers. And sometimes the cloud formations in the sky are spectacular. Iceland has virtually no trees and no wild animals on land (except birds). Lots of people come for one week to Iceland which is too short. In this case you won’t see wonderful places like the West fjords, Thorsmork, Landmannalaugur which are definitely worth to be visited. You can only drive along the ring road and make short stops.
Some practical tips
We started our trip on June 24 because it is not considered as peak season for the car rental company. This made our whole trip ca. 10% cheaper then starting 2-3 days later!
Check with your car insurance if you are allowed to drive on F roads.
In the mountains a lot of roads cross powerful mountain rivers and there are no bridges. The car insurance does not cover river crossings so you’re going to be taking a gamble when you do cross one. Even if you rent a 4×4 vehicle like we did, that does not mean you will be equipped for driving in Thorsmork or Aska or Landmannalaugar. The moment you drive into a river, your insurance automatically STOPS covering anything to do with the car you just put in the water.
When hiring a car please check the bottom. Like this we will avoid discussions when returning the car.
Do I need a 4×4 to visit the Westfjords? Basically no. However, there are a number of gravel roads of varying conditions, so I would recommend at least a mid-size car for comforts sake. We had a Dacia Duster 4 WD (whici is a very common car in Iceland) and felt very comfortable even on a strong rain on a very steep gravel road.
In the budget shops Netto and Bonus you can find everything you need during your trip. I was surprised to see how many fruits and vegetables they have. These shops are all over the island.
Food and alcoholic baverages are very expensive in restaurants: Some examples: fish, arctic charr (saibling) ca 3800 ikr (ca 25 euro), pizza 3500 ikr (23 euro), burger ca. 1800 ikr (12 euro) )One steak ca. 4500 ikr (30 euro).One glass of beer in the restaurant ca. 1200 ikr (8 euro)
Icelandic weather is mostly unpredictable and can change from winter to summer in just a day. Once the temperature was 10 degree Celsius and then after 20 km it was 20 degree C. Gulf Stream keeps Iceland cool in summer and mild in winter. You will need casual clothing in layers for excursions and some smart clothes if going out. A warm wind- and waterproof jacket is necessary all year round.
Iceland has right-hand traffic. Driving in Iceland is very relaxing as there is hardly any traffic outside of Reykjavik. In summer, it’s easy to explore Iceland along the main Ring Road by car.
There are no entrance fees to any of the most famous landmarks. Waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, national parks – you can visit them all for free.
You have very good mobile network coverage pretty much everywhere in Iceland.
You do not need cash in Iceland. Even the parking fee or the restrooms can be paid with a credit card.
Be aware that some roads in the mountains are only open between July 1st and Aug 30.