The Do’s and Don’ts Before and While on a Road Trip Around Iceland
First time on a road trip in Iceland? With its stunning lava fields intermingling with snow-covered mountains, it's no secret that Iceland is a paradise full of thrilling road trip adventures.
Nevertheless, planning a road trip to Iceland is a bit more complicated than in many other countries–something most travelers underestimate. This guide will help you experience a wonderful and safe tour in this beautiful, rugged country.
Do: Choose the Right Car for Your Road Trip Around Iceland
The best way to maneuver and explore the interior of Iceland is by going on a self-drive road trip. However, when renting a car, you don't want to rent just any car for the sake of your road trip. Where are you going? Are you going on a road trip in summer or winter? Are you sure that the car you want is suitable for your trip? You want a vehicle that matches your road trip.
Ensure that you rent a car that is suitable for the route you're taking. For instance, if you plan on going for a short road trip or just the Ring Road, you'll most likely need a regular car. However, if you plan to go off the main roads and explore the F Roads in the highlands or want to have your road trip in winter, a 4 wheel drive will be appropriate.
Do: Avoid Booking Last Minute in Summer
You need to book things in advance, especially if you plan to travel in the summer. Summer in Iceland is the high season for visitors, and things get booked up months in advance. In addition, prices shoot up as it gets close to summer.
Things you should book in advance include accommodation and even popular attractions you intend to visit. For instance, if you want to explore the Blue Lagoon, you'll have to book early. That's because it's a popular attraction near the airport and gets booked up weeks in advance.
Do: Tell Your Travel Consultant About Your Interests to Get a Personalized Road Trip Around Iceland
Have you planned your itinerary? What do you intend to explore? Let your travel consultant know about your interests, and they will help you create a personalized road trip that is better suited for you.
For example, if you plan to partake in glacier hiking, horse riding, snorkeling, or scuba diving, your travel consultant can help you plan your tour. That way, you'll have a road trip that fits your interests. Travel consultants are knowledgeable, experienced, and passionate, and they will ensure you have a safe and fun road trip.
Taking in the panorama view from Haifoss waterfall
Do: Pack Weather Appropriate Clothing
Iceland's weather tends to be highly volatile and unpredictable, and knowing how to pack for the season will help you prepare the appropriate gear. Before going on a road trip, consider bringing along multiple layers of clothing since you'll have some spare space in your car.
Keep in mind that forecasts are often valid for only few hours, so it's important to prepare yourself for any possible change in weather. Include a few necessities like a scarf, woolen sweater, windbreaker, warm socks, and rain jacket.
Do: Look Out for Sheep Along the Side of the Roads
Don't forget to watch out for sheep along the side of the roads. If you take a road trip during summer, be prepared to encounter sheep all over the road. They freely roam the beautiful landscape without any enclosure and sometimes dart out in front of vehicles. Ensure you slow down your car when you see them to avoid an accident.
Do: Slow Down at One-Lane Bridges
Be careful on Icelandic one-lane bridges. Things can suddenly turn ugly on the road when you slightly take your eyes off the road. The main roadway for road trips is Route 1 or Ring Road, and some bridges along this road are one-lane. Don't freak out when you approach the one-lane bridges. Just slow down and keep calm, and everything will be fine. The unwritten rule is that the one who arrives first at the bridge has the right of passage but don’t assume the person in the other car will know of this rule.
Do: Bring Snacks and More Snacks for the Road Trip Around Iceland
What is a fun road trip without snacks? Iceland has many adventures to explore, so ensure you bring enough snacks on your road trip. There will be many options to get lunch along the way when driving the main roads but when you are at a beautiful place in good weather you perhaps don’t want to be rushed away just to get a bite to eat. When traveling in the remote highlands bringing food for the day is essential. When packing snacks, consider getting protein-packed snacks for an energy boost, especially if you plan to spend all your day outside and participate in activities like hiking.
Do: Refuel Often as Gas Stations Can Be Far Apart in Some Areas
When you come across a petrol or gas station, ensure that you refuel your car–that is a golden rule in Iceland. Gas stations or petrol pumps are far apart in some areas of Iceland, so it's always advisable to stock up on gas whenever you get a chance.
A road trip through the stunning Ţingvellir in Iceland.
Do: Regularly Check the Weather and Road Conditions, Even in Summer
Never underestimate the weather if you're going on a road trip around Iceland. Icelandic weather tends to change abruptly. A perfectly sunny day can suddenly change to snow flurries, and chances increase as you approach the true wilds.
Regularly check for weather forecasts to ensure your safety on the road. You can use Umferdin.is–a site that will keep you alert on the weather and travel information
Do: Keep on Marked Paths and Follow Local Guidelines
As you explore the attractions along the way on foot don't be tempted to walk off the marked path. It is marked to protect the fragile vegetation or for your safety, steering you away from dangerous locations or paths that lead to nowhere. In Iceland you don’t find too many signs pointing out potential hazards and visitors are expected to use their own good judgment but when you find those guidelines they are there for a good reason. So best to stick to the marked paths and follow local guidelines for your safety and comfort.
Do: Travel Responsibly, Leave No Trace of Your Road Trip in Iceland
If you're going for a road trip to explore Iceland's incredible sceneries, it's common sense that you travel responsibly, sustainably, and with no trace. Adhere to the basics of traveling responsibly, like avoiding litter, reducing your footprint, and leaving a place better than you found it. That way, you'll help protect the natural flora and wild animals.
Don't: Try to Do Too Much Each Day
Don't try to fit every activity in one day if you want to enjoy your road trip in Iceland. You'll be exhausted and won't have much fun. A good road trip in Iceland can take a minimum of a solid week, especially if you want to spend some time outside your car exploring the environment. In fact, most people tend to extend their trips to Iceland because there's so much to explore in this beautiful country.
Don't: Stop on the Side of the Highway to Take Photos During Your Road Trip Around Iceland
Are you thinking of pulling over to the side of the road for some photos? You might risk your life because of the nature of the road in Iceland.
Every inch of Iceland has an incredible scenic view, and it makes sense when visitors want to stop and take pictures everywhere. However, a large part of the Ring Road is very narrow and lacks enough space to pull off, which makes it dangerous.
To be safe, find a secure spot for you and others on the road. Of course, you'll have to wait for a little while, but it's worth waiting for a safe spot rather than risk causing an accident. You'll find many farm entrances, driveways, side roads, and lookout spots with picturesque backgrounds that are safe to pull off.
Don't: Feed Horses or Other Livestock
Some of the highlights of tourists in Iceland are farm visits and horse riding which is a great way to meet the friendly Icelandic horses. But when driving along Iceland you will very likely see the horses and other livestock in a fence by the road. Please don’t feed them feeding them might cause nutritional imbalance or even affect their health.
Don't: Buy Bottled Water; Instead, Bring a Bottle and Fill it Up
Icelanders will be shocked when they see you carrying bottled water. That's because tap water in Iceland is pure, so you don't need to buy bottled water. Just bring along your water bottle and fill it up with tap water. You'll even save some bucks!
Don't: Drive Off-Road
Never drive off the road. Driving off the road in Iceland is illegal and can cause incredible damage to the fragile landscape. Whether you have a standard car or a 4-wheel drive, stick to the marked roads. Some travelers leave tracks where they have defied the rule, and the tracks entice other travelers to do the same, which might land you hefty fines.
Enjoy a Seamless and Adventurous Road Trip Around Iceland
Get ready for the fun and most iconic road tour you'll ever have! Iceland is a unique region, meaning you'll have a lot to experience on your road trip. The above do's and don'ts will keep your road trip experience flawless and adventurous.
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