The ring road in Iceland is one of the most epic road trips to do in Europe. These are the best tips for making the most of it
I went to Iceland and drove their famous ring road in 10 days. It was one of the most beautiful road trips I’ve done. However, with expensive prices all over the country, dozens of sightseeing locations to explore and sometimes a driving terrain most travelers are not used to, I made a list of tips on how to perfectly plan a road trip around Iceland’s ring road.
Preparing for a road trip in Iceland:
- While being in Reykjavik find a good spot for parking your vehicle. Several areas have no parking fees. The capital of Iceland is better to be explored by foot and leaving your car for a couple of days is extremely safe.
- Parking in Reykjavik from 6pm to 10am is free almost everywhere.
- Visit the supermarkets of Reykjavik before heading out to the wilderness. They tend to be cheaper than in any other Icelandic cities and you will also have the largest variety of products.
- If you are coming from any country outside the European Union, get an Icelandic SIM card with internet for 10 EUR. Most guesthouses and camping spots don´t have internet.
- If you are planning to camp or stay in hostels, bring a sleeping bag or a small blanket. Most hostels charge extra for the bed linen (5-7 EUR)
- Drink tap water. It might smell of sulfur, but it is the cleanest in Europe. Bring your own bottle for the trip – it will be also very useful for longer treks next to the ring road.
- Car accidents and damages are very common in Iceland – especially among inexperienced drivers along the ring road of Iceland.
Don’t save at the wrong end. If there is one place where you want to have a good car insurance, it’s Iceland for sure.
We decided to spend more on insurances when renting a car in Iceland and it was definitely something not to regret. We bought a ZERO Collision Damage Waiver (ZCDW) insurance, which covers pretty much everything.
- Are you still looking for travel mates that will join your road trip and help you safe costs? Check out Facebook groups for car sharing in Iceland.
Prices while traveling the ring road in Iceland
|Single bed on a hostel dorm in Reykjavik:||30 – 50 EUR / Night|
|Double room in a guest house outside Reykjavik:||80 – 100 EUR / Night|
|Sleeping bag rental||7 – 12 EUR / Week|
|Fast food meal||12 – 15 EUR|
|One course in a restaurant (incl. soft drink)||25 – 50 EUR|
|Beer can at the supermarket (500 ml)||2 EUR|
|Beer pint in a bar||9 – 11 EUR|
Read more: A 5-day itinerary in Iceland
Making the most of a road trip along Iceland ring road
- Travel in a different time zone. With almost 24 hours of sun in the summer, you can easily go to the hotspots at unusual times and have the waterfalls and beaches just to yourself.
- Bringing your own cooking equipment for a road trip in Iceland is a must. Restaurants are very limited and ridicuously expensive. You can simply cook on the road or prepare bites for along the way.
Camping stoves are available on Amazon for 10 EUR.
- Check if your camping site offers cooking facilities and free showers. Some camping sites, like the one in Skaftafell, charge 5 EUR for 5 minutes of hot water.
- Free camping is allowed, but make sure you find the right spot distant from the main road of the ring road. You can also get a camping card for 159 EUR and get access to 41 camping sites during 28 nights.
- No Icelander uses cash anymore. Get a credit card without foreign fee and pay everything with a credit card. – I spent 10 days in Iceland and didn’t exchange money at all.
- The blue lagoon is considered by many an overpriced location and a complete tourist trap. Visit other hot springs all around the country. For example, Reykjadalur hot spring next to Reykjavik is completely free!
- You can visit every location in Iceland without booking a tour, except for the glaciers. This was probably one of the coolest experiences I had and I would totally repeat it again. Prices might be a little bit high, but it will be an unforgettable experience you won’t forget.
- Before you start driving check the weather conditions at road.is.
NOTE: Private companies like Icelandic Mountain Guides offers glacier tours starting 100 EUR. This is the only way to access Iceland’s glaciers located next to the ring road.
Tips for a road trip on a budget
- N1 gas stations offer refill coffee cups for only 3 USD.
- Car companies offer mini campers for travelers looking to travel around Iceland sleeping in the car.
- Rental prices for GPS start at 10 EUR/day. Better safe that money and use the offline version of Google Maps.
- Don´t risk your life: When Icelanders put “impassable” or “difficult driving conditions” on the road condition website, they really mean it. Take also into consideration that some insurance companies won’t cover the damages if you are driving in an area you were not allowed to.
- Travel in low season. Prices in summer can rise by up to 40% compared to April or May.
- Before booking an accommodation, check if breakfast is included. Many guesthouses charge an extra 11 EUR for breakfast.
- Some companies in Reykjavik rent out sleeping bags, tents, electricity converters (from 12V to 220V) and cooking equipment starting 10 EUR per day.
Car rental prices/services in Iceland:
|SIM Card with 5GB Internet||18 EUR|
|2-wheel drive compact car||Starting 200 EUR per week and up plus add-ons|
|2-wheel drive mid-size car||Starting 400 EUR per week and up plus add-ons|
|4-wheel drive van or SUV||Starting 600 EUR per week and up plus add-ons|
|Additional insurances||Starting 10 EUR per day|
|Gasoline||Check prices on real time at Globalpetrolprices|
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