Touring Iceland

Car rental - Bílaleigubíll

Next petrol station
It may take some time
until you reach the next petrol station.

The hired car is a really comfortable, but also costly opportunity to get about in Iceland. A hired car costs about 50€ EUR per day in the off-season and up to 400€ EUR in the main season in summer. For a vehicle which is suitable for the highland you have to pay 200€ (inc. no kilometre limit, fully comprehensive insurance and Icelandic VAT). If you think about driving around Iceland with a hired car you should note the attractive fly&drive offers before you book your trip.

The Icelandic street system is about 10,000 km long and relatively good upgraded. The ring road which is running around the whole island is asphalted nearly everywhere. Please mind that the majority of the side roads outside of the Reykjavík district are just gravel roads. Most of the tracks are mainly good passable as long as you drive carefully enough and given the circumstances. Top speed in towns and villages is 50 km/h, outside of villages on asphalted streets 90 km/h and on gravel roads only 80 km/h. You should really follow these top speeds instructions as these gravel roads can cause bad damages on your vehicle. There is a higher risk of damaging the car if you shift from asphalted roads to gravel roads and the other way round as there are often huge road holes. Besides on such road interfaces road holes occur often under and after bridges. Moreover you should be careful with approaching and overtaking cars, because they often throw stones on the vehicle. To avoid damages to the paintwork you should reduce your speed then.

Fords
In the highlands there are
fords to cross.

Driving in the highlands is, of course, more difficult than travelling on the ring road or the coastal regions as sometimes you have to pass rivers. But forntunately on much frequented highland routes like the F35 across the Kjölur, bigger rivers are now bridged. The Kjölur route and Kaldidalur route for example can be passed even by a common car, if the conditions are fine. But the feeder road #52 from þingvellir to Kaldidalur, i.e. is in a much worse condition then the highland track itself. But most of the highland roads require a four wheel drive vehicle. If you choose a dangerous route, you should drive in convoy to help each other if there is an emergency. You always have to prepare your trip carefully before you start such a highland trip. necessary to inform about the weather forecast and the current conditions of the tracks chosen by you. A river, easy to cross in the morning, could be a unsurmountable hump due to starting thaw of snow in the daylight or heavy rainfall. Basically, attention in Icelandic road traffic is an utterly must as livestock is free-ranging. In summertime you should mind ewes with their lambs. It is possible that they flee just before the vehicle to their mother. Therefore keep in mind: if there is a accident with a sheep, horse or any other livestock, it is always the driver who is liable for it! The accident has to be reported next door.

Gravel road
Sheep on a road in East Iceland

Further to mind:

  • in Iceland right hand traffic is valid
  • drive with dipped headlights during the day
  • applying seatbelts is obliged
  • driving away from the main road is strictly forbidden and culpable
  • animals have right of way
  • driving under the influence of alcohol is entirely prohibited (alcohol level 0)
  • most bridges are constructed for one vehicle crossing

Hitchhiking

Hitchhike is due to the low traffic density no reliable manner to get about in Iceland. In the Reykjavík district it isn’t common to hitchhike.

By bus - Með strætisvagn

In spite of the low population density of Iceland, the bus net is relatively good upgraded. Besides single tickets long-term tickets are available. Purchasable are tickets for one, two, three and four weeks. The passenger reaches access to each frequented line (except highland). Round trip tickets allows the traveller to journey without time limit. Simple round trip ticket (approx. 260€) are valid for every chosen direction. Only disadvantage here: the pursued direction can’t be changed anymore. Advanced tickets are also valid for the Westfjords.

Futher information at www.bsi.is.

By aeroplane

The national airline ‘Air Iceland’ offers additionally to day trips, scheduled flights to the most important cities of Iceland. The offer ranges from booking a basic flight (e.g.: Reykjavík-Heimaey) to special flight tickets which enables the owner to travel unlimitedly within 12 days.

By ferry

In Iceland there exist a lot of different ferry connections between the mainland and offshore islands or fjords being opposited. In some cases it is possible to take the car along. Often you have to book the crossing in advance. There are some examples following:

Stykkishólmur - Flatey - Brjánslækur (MS Baldur)

This ferry connects the peninsula Snæfellsnes with the Westfjordsover the Breiðafjorður all-seanson. The ferry can carry about 200 passangers and 20 cars. For the transport of a car it is necessary to reserve a stand. Price per person: ca. 20€. In summer the ferry’s outgo is 9 o’clock (a.m.) and 4 o’clock p.m. in Stykkishólmur. It is crossing every day of the week.

Reykjavík - Viðey: The crossing to the island in the Reykjavík bay takes approx. 10 minutes. According to the plan the ferry is outgoing daily from 20th May till 20th September.

Landeyjarhöfn - Vestmannaeyjar (MS Herjólfur): This ferry is able to carry 480 persons as well as 70 cars.

By Bicylce

Using the bicylce in Iceland is representing one of the cheapest ways to get about, but also the most challenging one. No matter from which point of compass the wind is actually blowing: the bicycling person always has the impression the wind is blowing against him. In addition to this the locomtion is in the often hilly landscape more aggravated. So there are always to opponents for the bicycling person. Especially in the Eastern region of the Askja and the Sprengisandur you have to be aware of the sandstorms occuring suddenly.

Sandstorm
Sandstorm in the eastern highlands

Warm and weatherproof clothes are a must. We also recommend to wear protective glasses as driving by cars are pulling near dust clouds and as mentioned before, throw stones which then could be blown into the eyes. Travelbags for bicylces are advised for take away enough fare. Furthermore you should pack sufficient spare parts and tools as the next workshop in the highland area is often afar. Single persons travelling trough Iceland should implicitly read special literature and progress reports for preparing well the chosen tracks. But there are also travel organizer who offer guided bicycle tours.

Bicylce and mountainbike renting agency Reykjavík:

The City Bicycle (Borgarhjól)
Hverfisgata 50
101 Reykjavík
phone: 551 56 53

On horseback

Icelandic horses
Discover Iceland on horseback!

In former times the horse was the only opportunity for the Icelandic population to get about. Until the 20th century the Icelandic Horse as pack animal sourted out every transportation. Icelandic people remembered this effort of their pack animal with the raise of a monument in the Reykjavík inner city.

Today the world famous Icelandic Horse belongs to Iceland like the volcanoes and hot springs. For everyone who never have sat on a horse the little and patient horse is perfect for. But also exercised equestrian love this horse race. Especially appreciated is the gait called toelt. Thanks to this special gait which is just contained by the Icelandic Horse the equestrian is sitting really comfortable and calm in the saddle.

The offering of ride holidays is wide-ranging. Interested people can choose from rides lasting one hour and ride tours lasting several weeks. Tours of this kind are offered by nearly every travel organizer. The brining down of sheep in autum is a popular event where also tourists can be involved. If you are on the way with horses you have to pay attention on weatherproof and warm clothing.

Trekking and hiking

Marked trails are rare in Iceland. Nevertheless it is a popular activity with tourists and as well with Icelanders. Detailed trail describtions and hiking information are available at the Icelandic Tourist Board or Icelandic Hiking Clubs. Please find some ideas for hiking and walking in Iceland.


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