Do I Need a rental Car in Reykjavik?

Do I Need a rental Car in Reykjavik?

So, you've made the wise choice of visiting Reykjavik. Excellent! I can assure you that the splendor of Iceland’s capital will leave you amazed. Travelers to Reykjavik must make plans for both getting there and getting around the city once they get there, which is probably why you’re reading this article in the first place. Well, the kind of transportation you need in Reykjavik depends on several variables, but the short answer is: Yes, you need a rental car in Reykjavik

It’s difficult to hitchhike in Reykjavik as there aren't many unoccupied cars on the road. And there aren't any trains or many buses and taxis either. Therefore, a rental car is the best way to explore the island's capital. Finding the ideal car rental in Reykjavik for your trip will improve your entire experience. Continue reading if you want the pros and cons of renting a car in Reykjavik, advice on which car rental company in Reykjavik to go with, and what kind of car to rent based on your itinerary, and planned activities in the city.


Benefits of a Car Rental in Reykjavik

Freedom and Flexibility

The most obvious benefit of a car rental is the immense freedom and flexibility, which is necessary if you want to make your visit to Reykjavik memorable. Additionally, it allows you to choose your own path, go at your own pace, plan the ideal schedule based on your interests, and go to as many sights as you like that you might not have seen on a guided tour. 

With a car, you can make frequent photo stops without reservations or time limits. You can spend more time at the attractions you resonate with and skip the rest – no one is judging. Briefly stated, bus tours follow a set schedule and are not under your control. You can even miss the bus and get left behind, which I'm sure would be distressing for you!

Comfort

You’ve probably experienced the pleasure of driving with the windows down, a creamy cup of coffee in hand, and your favorite music playing in the background. At this point, you’ll only be concerned about your next stop because you know it will dazzle you. That’s the convenience of renting a car in Reykjavik.

Buses can be packed to capacity. Due to several problems, they occasionally leave a bit later than expected, so you might not be as on time as you'd want. It can occasionally be good to sit next to a stranger, but it's still a gamble, and once again, you don't want anything or anyone to ruin your "once in a lifetime" experience. Additionally, the bus doesn't always stop when you want it to. If you're looking out the window and see something lovely, you might want to walk over to it, sit down, and have lunch while taking in the scene.

a woman exploring Reykjavik Iceland in a rental car from go car rental Iceland


There are Many Affordable Rental Cars in Reykjavik

Although renting a car in Iceland can be pricey, it’s also feasible on a tight budget. The secret to success is doing your research. To ensure you choose the best car rental in Reykjavik, I always advise reading reviews on car rental companies. With an impressive modern fleet, world-class customer service, and high-quality vehicles, we at Go Car Rental would be a fantastic option for you. Our fleet of cars undergoes routine maintenance to guarantee maximum fuel efficiency in addition to peak performance and dependability.

Additionally, we have a reputation for providing dependable car rentals in Reykjavik at incredibly low prices, frequently at discounted or special rates. You can make the most of your trip to the capital by expanding your sightseeing options by renting a car. It's cost-effective and rewarding.

Time

As previously stated, you won't have to bother about waiting in queues or for planned departures when you rent a car and, you can go at your own pace. You could need an hour of legal driving to complete a trip that would require a 2-hour bus ride. Spending time in Reykjavik’s traffic on a large bus may be hard and, to put it simply, unpleasant.

Choices

In Reykjavik, renting a car is like baking and eating a cake. You can choose from a wide range of options, including everything the city offers. It's great to have the freedom to explore the capital, as there are numerous festivals and amazing places you can drive to in your car.

a man exploring Reykjavik Iceland in Tucson from Go car rental Iceland


Drawbacks of Car Rentals in Reykjavik

Penalties

Like anywhere else, you will be penalized if you don't obey the traffic laws. You can incur additional fees and penalties while returning your rental car. Everything depends on you, the client. No claims will be made against you if you return the car in excellent condition. You cannot avoid fines if you damage the car. But don’t worry, most companies won't fine you for returning the car soiled.

Some car hire companies in Reykjavik may impose daily mileage restrictions on your rental. Additionally, you will be charged for extra kilometers that you travel. Make sure to inquire about anything that can incur a fee after your rental period has ended. Don't forget to return it on the same day you reserved it. If not, get in touch with the rental agency and inform them of any modifications to your reservation.

Age

The minimum age may change depending on the rental car company you select. The legal minimum age is 20, and it may be higher for larger cars. However, some companies offer A Young Extra Lessee option where you’ll be given a driver to accompany you. Typically, you'll have to pay a little bit more, but it's important to know that you have that option.

a man driving a woman in Reykjavik iceland


Traveling in and Around Reykjavik

Although Reykjavík is small compared to other metropolitan cities worldwide, it serves as Iceland's capital and the country's center of culture, politics, and economy. As a guest, getting about is fairly simple, and you have choices.

Getting to Reykjavik

Most foreign visitors land in Iceland at the Keflavik International Airport, 48 km (30 miles) southwest of Reykjavik. Just outside the terminal building, you can find your rental car from Go Car Rental waiting for you. We have a fantastic selection of vehicles in every category, from affordable to luxurious options. It's always recommended that you reserve your rental car beforehand to avoid the hassle of public transport. 

Driving to the capital city of Reykjavik from the airport is simple and takes about 45 minutes when using Route 41. If you rent a car from the airport, you'll get a road map of Iceland, so don't worry about getting to the capital independently as it’s not too difficult. 

The capital of Iceland is Reykjavik

Getting Around the Reykjavik

One of the best ways to get around Reykjavik is by car because the city's public transportation is scarce, and there are many attractions outside the city that are far apart. Although Icelanders drive on the right side of the road just like Americans, some significant differences exist between driving in Iceland and the United States. Distances are measured in kilometers, and gas is sold by the liter. Few (if any) gas stations can be found on most streets with only one lane in each direction or just one shared lane. Additionally, although markers for well-known locations frequently have English translations, road signs are typically posted in Icelandic. It is best to follow the posted speed limits when driving in Iceland. Winter is notorious for making streets slick, and tourists frequently block off large stretches of road to take pictures of Icelandic horses and sheep (which we strongly advise against). Additionally, speeding is strictly prohibited here. Most major roads have cameras to record the license plates of speeding cars.

Reykjavik Parking and Traffic Information

Reykjavik's traffic flow is remarkably well-organized and unfailingly calm compared to other capital cities. You can easily find all the interesting locations you want to visit in and around the city if you have a good city map or a navigation app. It won't be difficult to get around, especially if you avoid the morning and evening rush hours. Parking spots are abundantly available all over the city. You can pay for your parking using Apple/Google Pay or simply your card. Keep an eye out for free parking, frequently offered in many locations.

cars parked in Reykjavik Iceland


9 Amazing Places to Visit in Reykjavik

The most popular day trip in Reykjavik is a tour of the Golden Circle and seeing geysers, tectonic plates, and waterfalls. Despite being close to Reykjavik, the tours take 6 to 8 hours because there are so many interesting stops to make. While in the city, you can visit:

The Culture House

Foreign visitors may want to avoid attempting to pronounce the Culture House's full Icelandic name, “Þjóðmenningarhúsið," but they shouldn't disregard visiting the building itself because it is an important location for understanding Iceland's history. The Culture House, housed in the former national library building, has everything from original copies of ancient sagas to exhibits on volcanic islands and studies on Reykjavik's visual history.

The Hallgrimskirkja Church

The basalt columns of Iceland's southern coast inspired the 1937 design of this Lutheran church. This church is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland as it soars 244 ft. (74.5 m) into the air. In light of this, paying the 1,000kr entrance fee and ascending to the viewing platform is worthwhile. In the winter, the viewing platform is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; in the summer, it is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik

The Einar Jónsson Museum

The church and this sculpture park are adjacent. It includes sculptures by the most well-known sculptor in Iceland. The garden is serene, and the statues are very soulful. You can enjoy a picnic lunch there while taking in the magnificence. The entrance is free and located on Freyuigata Street.

Laugardalslaug

The Blue Lagoon, which is about 50 minutes away from Reykjavik, is one of the best hot springs in Iceland. If you’re looking for a thermal pool in Reykjavik, then Laugardalslaug is your best option. This pool is the largest in Iceland and a favorite among locals. Along with an ice plunge pool, saltwater tub, steam room, and water slide, they have various pools with varying temperatures that you can immerse yourself in.

swimming pool reykjavik

Iceland's National Museum

The National Museum is primarily focused on the settlement and history of Iceland and spans everything from the arrival of Viking settlers to the art they produced, becoming independent from Denmark, and up to the present day. Despite being a part of Europe, Iceland has developed its own distinct culture. The museum does a good job of providing insights into remote Iceland's unique culture and history. The National Museum is more than 150 years old (and thus significantly older than the Republic of Iceland). It regularly hosts several temporary exhibitions in addition to its permanent collection and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Street Art

Reykjavik is a fascinating fusion of ancient history and cutting-edge modernity. Their exceptional street art undoubtedly reflects their contemporary edge. It transitioned from a bike used as a street barrier to a graffiti/tagging phase to a full-fledged movement with creative and artistic murals, just like many other street art cities.

Blue bike as street barrier in Reykjavik

The Settlement Exhibition

The archaeological excavation of a Viking longhouse is the foundation for this amazing place. The longhouse, discovered in 2001, was built around 871 AD. The exhibition helps provide an understanding of life in Iceland at the time of its founding. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and costs 1650 KR.

The Penis Museum

There are a few seriously bizarre (and entertaining) museums in Reykjavik, possibly due to the city's isolation or the long, chilly winters. If you dare, visit the Penis Museum. The collection and cataloging of the penises of every mammal that lives in Iceland is one man's passion project, not a typo. If you find that too much, check out one of my favorite museums.

Icelandic Punk Museum

Iceland, particularly its capital, has always been a hotbed of counterculture and creativity, including punk music; even the city's former mayor, comedian Jón Gnarr, used to be in a punk band when he was a teenager. That may not be obvious from the country's majestic, bleak landscapes. The small, creative Punk Museum explores this unexpected connection and lets visitors try on a leather jacket and play the guitar. Its location in a former underground restroom may be inappropriate for some. But at least Punk is still alive in Reykjavik.

reykjavik Iceland punk museum


6 Tips for Driving in Reykjavík

Seatbelt Laws of Iceland

Another crucial safety regulation is the requirement to use a seatbelt while driving in Iceland. You'll be fined for not wearing a seatbelt while driving. Additionally, front-seat riding is prohibited for children under the age of 12.

a man wearing a seatbelt in Reykjavik Iceland while driving a renal car from go car rental Iceland

Using a Phone While Driving in Iceland

Unless you are using a hands-free device, it is illegal to use a cellphone while driving in Iceland. You'll be fined $300 (40.000 ISK) if you use your phone while driving in Iceland.

Be Prepared for Bad Weather

Reykjavík occasionally experiences severe weather, particularly during the winter. It can be so bad that wind gusts of 70 mph/113kph have been known to tear the hinges off of cars or bend them backward when opening the doors! Try to park your car with the wind at your back to minimize potential wind damage. Before opening the door carefully with two hands, crack your window and stick your hand out to feel the wind. A bright morning in Reykjavík might easily turn into a snowstorm later that day because of how quickly the weather can shift. Road.is is an excellent website for checking current road conditions in the capital. There are even smartphone apps available to help you.

car in reykjavik iceland driving in the snow

Avoid Stopping in the middle of the Road!

There are few or no breakdown lanes on many of Reykjavík’s roadways. However, due to the city’s breathtaking scenery, travelers frequently pause to take pictures on the side of the road. Avoid doing this! It's risky and could cause an accident. If you have to take that incredible picture, keep going until you reach the right turnoff, park, and then walk to an ideal location. The risk of stopping in the middle of the road while traffic moves by is simply not worth it for that photo opportunity. Please drive courteously while in Reykjavík.

Maintain Your Headlights!

In Reykjavik, it's likely that if you see someone flashing their headlights at you, it's because you have turned off yours. According to a special law in Iceland, headlights must always be on, even during the day.

car by night on gravel road of iceland

What to do in a Crisis

Call 112 to report any serious accidents, search and rescue operations, fires, natural disasters, and crimes (which are highly unlikely to happen, as I've stipulated in this article about fun facts about Iceland). A useful tool is the 112 Iceland App, which allows you to "check-in" before going on a walk or doing anything unsafe in the city. That can help if something goes wrong later and you need to provide location information. If it's not an urgent situation, such as when your car breaks down, or you get a flat tire, call the rental car company for assistance.


Final Words

Driving in a rental car is the most practical way to explore Reykjavík, a breathtakingly gorgeous city. There are other possibilities, like hitchhiking, but having a car will allow you the freedom to explore the capital at your own leisure and on your own schedule! I hope my advice about renting a car in Reykjavik and driving in Iceland was helpful (it should be if you read it properly!) Thank you for reading, and please don't hesitate to contact us if you’re looking to hire a car.

Driving a rental car in Reykjavik Iceland


FAQ About Renting a Car in Reykjavik

Here are frequently asked questions that most people have about car rentals in Iceland’s capital:

How much does a car rental in Reykjavik cost?

The average cost of a rental car in Reykjavik is around $140 a day in the high season (June-August). However, costs vary among seasons and some cars can go as low as $50 or less in the low season.

Which is the best car to use in Reykjavik?

When selecting a car for your vacation in Reykjavik, you should consider the weather and the season. Small cars, for instance, will be able to navigate the roads without any problems in the summer. Winter weather can be difficult for small cars; therefore, it would be preferable to choose a mid-range vehicle. We recommend the Renault Clio for the small car, it's budget-friendly and can get you around Reykjavik. In the winter we recommend the Dacia Duster, it's 4x4, and it's by far the most popular rental car in Iceland.

Which is the best car rental company in Reykjavik?

We at Go Car Rental believe that we are the best car rental in Reykjavik, as we have the highest ratings and reviews in the car rental industry in Iceland.

What can I do while driving in Iceland?

Although looking out of your car window to see Iceland's beautiful nature should be enough to keep you busy the whole car ride, you could play an Icelandic car game. We put together 5 car games that you can play with your friends or family.

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