DrivingDriving tipsMastering Iceland Car Rentals: Essential Tips
A woman standing next to her rental car watching the Iceland landscape

Mastering Iceland Car Rentals: Essential Tips

Iceland is a country full of natural beauty, filled with marvelous waterfalls, relaxing hot springs, and icy glaciers. Exploring the country by car is the most popular way to adventure through the vast land. But with so many options available, choosing the right rental car for your Iceland road trip can be overwhelming. In this guide, we will provide you with our top Iceland car rental tips. That way you can select the perfect rental car for your Iceland trip.

Choosing Your Vehicle

Your vehicle is going to depend on a few different factors. How many people are you traveling with, how much luggage do you have and are you going off-road?

Having the perfect vehicle for your Iceland road trip can make or break your vacation. First, we will go over our Iceland car rental options before providing some rental car tips to help you choose.

Small rental car

If you're traveling solo or simply prefer a compact ride, our small economy rental cars are a great option. Our fleet of well-maintained vehicles is equipped with the latest features to ensure your ride is both comfortable and safe.

We also offer a variety of fuel-efficient rental cars, which can help you save money on gas during your travels.

Midsize rental car

For a comfortable and spacious ride, we recommend our midsize vehicles. You'll have plenty of legroom and ample space for all your snacks and gear.

Our top priority is your safety, which is why all our vehicles have the latest safety features to ensure a worry-free journey.

4X4 rental car

If you're seeking an adventurous trip through Iceland, it's likely that a 4X4 vehicle will be necessary. Our 4x4 SUV rental cars in Iceland are a great fit for those who want to explore off the beaten path.

These rugged vehicles are built to help you navigate mountainous terrain in Iceland's mountainous region.

Manual vs. Automatic

It is important to always check if your rental car is manual or automatic. A lot of Europeans drive manual cars, while Americans mostly drive automatic.

A car with a manual transmission is also known as driving a stick shift. Manual cars can sometimes be a bit cheaper. However, if you do not know how to drive one do not rent one. They are challenging, especially for beginners.

Automatic cars can be driven by anyone who knows how to drive. They are the same as driving a manual car except they do not have a stick shift. Automatic cars are the most popular rental cars.

What rental Car Is Best For Your Adventure?

Now that you are familiar with the vehicles GO Car Rental Offers, we will explain which ones pair best with your road trip.

Here are some road trips ideas that travelers commonly take and what type of car is most suitable for them.

Exploring F-Roads & Mountains

If you plan on driving on F-roads or exploring Iceland's mountains, a 4X4 vehicle is a must-have. Many of Iceland's hidden treasures are located in the Highlands, which can only be accessed via F-roads.

This is a fantastic option for those wanting to road trip to hidden hot springs or access hiking trails that are hidden in the mountains.

To legally access these areas, a 4X4 vehicle is required. Fortunately, we have a variety of 4X4 vehicles to choose from, so you can pick the perfect adventure car for driving off-road.

Vehicle Choice: Suzuki Jimny

rental car Suzuki Jimny 4x4 parked in Iceland

The Suzuki Jimny is a 4x4 vehicle that is very popular, it is said to be one of the most sought-after 4x4 cars in the world. If you are traveling Iceland’s F-Roads, this is our top pick for you!

The handling and traction are equipped with a new and more powerful 1500cc engine that can produce 102hp, generating that extra bit of torque when you need it to tame Iceland’s testing terrain.

Suzuki Jimny is a great vehicle for exploring in the winter too, thanks to it being a high-snow-performance vehicle. It is also top-rated for going uphill in deep snow.

Family Friendly Adventures

When traveling with your family, comfort is key. That's why we offer several car options depending on the size of your group. Our midsize vehicles are particularly suitable for families, thanks to their spacious interiors.

Iceland offers countless activities for families to enjoy, whether you want to stroll along the black sand beaches in South Iceland or visit the Giantess in her cave.

Our midsize family cars will safely take you to all these magical locations. If you're looking for a safe and comfortable driving experience, our midsize vehicles are a perfect choice.

Vehicle Choice: Dacia Jogger

The Dacia Jogger has seven full-size seats ensuring that you and your friends or family have plenty of space to travel together. The Dacia Jogger is a 2-wheel drive vehicle that is ideal for up to 6-7 people with limited luggage or 4-5 people with a lot of luggage.

Summer Road Tripping

A summer road trip through Iceland is an experience like no other! The long summer days provide ample time for exploration and adventure.

You can hike to the top of a volcano, explore an ice cave, and drive through the Highlands while soaking up Iceland’s midnight sun.

Whether you choose to camp under the stars or spend an evening in a luxury hotel, you will not be disappointed. Some of Iceland's best summer destinations are located in the heart of nature.

If you are road-tripping out to the Highlands or off-roading at all, make sure to rent a 4X4 Vehicle. Most of these roads are F-roads and it is illegal to drive without a 4X4.

If you are taking a summer road trip along Ring Road or the Golden Circle your vehicle options are endless since the roads are mainly paved.

You can drive a small vehicle to accommodate one or two people, or a midsize if you are traveling with a group of friends. That way you and your whole crew can travel comfortably in a spacious rental car.

Vehicle Choice: Dacia Duster

A man sitting on his white dacia duster rental car with the sun in his face

The Dacia Duster is fast becoming the go-to rental car for tourists who want to take a summer road trip. Its popularity is largely due to its affordability, spaciousness, and reliability on the country's rugged terrain.

With four-wheel drive capabilities, it's perfect for navigating icy roads and mountain passes. Additionally, the Duster's affordability makes it an excellent choice for budget-conscious travelers who still want to enjoy a comfortable ride.

Visiting Iceland During Winter

Winter can be a magical time to visit Iceland. Not only can you admire the snow-capped mountains, but you can also partake in winter activities.

These activities can range from hiking a glacier, viewing frozen waterfalls, dogsledding and so much more.

It's crucial to have an AWD or 4x4 rental car in Iceland when driving on snowy roads. These vehicles have superior traction on ice and packed snow, making them safer to drive. With twice the traction of a 2WD car, a 4WD vehicle is the best choice for navigating winter terrain in Iceland.

Vehicle Choice: Hyundai Tucson

a man walking into his Hyundai Tucson 4x4 rental car during a snowy winter with a orange lighthouse in the background

Looking for the perfect rental car to embark on your winter Icelandic adventure? Your search ends with the Hyundai Tucson 4x4. Its powerful 4-wheel drive system allows you to explore Iceland's rugged terrain with ease and confidence.

Furthermore, the Forester has a spacious trunk capacity. This means all of your luggage will fit comfortably

Hunting for Hot Springs

After a long and exciting day exploring Iceland's sensational landscape, take a dip in one of the country's relaxing hot springs.

Thanks to Iceland's geothermal activity, there are hundreds of gorgeous hot springs to choose from. Some are built for tourism, while others are hidden away and only accessible with a 4X4 vehicle.

If you want to visit the infamous Blue Lagoon you do not need a 4X4 vehicle, since the resort is accessible to all types of cars.

If you're in search of a hot spring tucked away in Iceland's Highlands, then look no further than the Landmannalaugar Hot Spring, also known as the "Pool of the People". This scenic pool is nestled amidst Iceland's breathtaking landscapes and can only be accessed by a 4X4 vehicle.

You truly cannot go wrong with an Icelandic hot spring. It is a flawless way to shut off and relax after a day of road-tripping through the country.

Vehicle Choice: Renault Clio

A blue Renault Clio iceland rental car parked in Iceland

The new Renault Clio is probably your best choice for exploring Iceland’s hot springs. It's the perfect car for two people.

It has a very fuel-efficient engine, which means you can road trip around Ring Road for as many days as you want. It is also known to be really easy to handle, perfect for those wanting a more leisurely vehicle to drive.

If you are planning to visit one of the remote hot springs, rent a 4X4 vehicle instead.

Discovering Iceland's Stunning Waterfalls

With over 10,000 waterfalls to choose from in Iceland, there is no shortage of natural wonders to explore during your visit.

Some of Iceland’s waterfalls are hidden in the mountains and can be accessed by driving gravel roads. If you want to chase Iceland’s waterfalls, you totally can, by renting one of our 4X4 Vehicles.

You will need a 4X4 to reach hidden treasures such as Haifoss. A stunning waterfall in west Iceland that is easily accessible by car 4X4 vehicle with high clearance.

If you want to visit popular waterfalls located right off the road, such as Godafoss Waterfall, a 4X4 vehicle is not necessary.

Make sure you plan in advance by making a list of Iceland’s waterfalls and where they are located before choosing your vehicle.

Vehicle Choice: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

A parked dark gray Jeep Wrangler Rubicon rental car near a stunning waterfall in iceland

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4x4 is arguably the best rental car to drive to Iceland's waterfalls, whether they are on the side of the road or down an F-Road. The car comes with a great 4x4 high and low range and it has a 375 horsepower petrol engine supported by an electric motor.

This amazing 4x4 rental includes a Built-in GPS, heated seats, 4x4 Hi and Low ratio, and many more features! Rent the Jeep Wrangler as your Iceland car rental and don't let any tough roads or weather stop you.

Chasing the Aurora

Observing the Northern Lights is a dream come true for many. Fortunately, you have a great chance to view the Aurora when visiting Iceland. You will be able to attempt this by driving to areas where light pollution is minimal.

Roads in Iceland can be dark when visiting during the winter months, it's important to rent a 4X4 vehicle to safely navigate the snowy landscapes and access remote locations where the Northern Lights can be best seen.

Some top places where you can view the Northern Lights are the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, the Icelandic Countryside, and even the Grotta Lighthouse near Reykjavik.

These locations are in dim areas, which is why good headlights are recommended for driving down Iceland's darker roads. With a reliable 4X4 rental car from Go Car Rental Iceland, you can fully enjoy your Northern Lights experience without worrying about the weather or road conditions.

Vehicle Choice: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

A parked white Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross rental car with a house in the background

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 4x4 automatic is an excellent option for chasing the Aurora. This car is not only powerful but also comfortable, making long road trips more enjoyable for you and your travel companions.

Additionally, if safety is a priority for you, you can rest easy knowing that it is one of the safest cars in its class. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is also rated one of the best smaller vehicles to drive in the snow, perfect for winter driving to see the Northern Lights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I choose a manual or automatic rental car?

It largely depends on your driving comfort. If you're used to automatic, stick to it. Driving in Iceland can be challenging and you want to be at your most comfortable.

Can I rent a car in Iceland with a US driver's license?

Yes, you can. Iceland recognizes US driver's licenses. However, ensure it's valid for the entire duration of your trip.

How much does it cost to rent a car in Iceland?

Rental rates vary based on the car type, season, and rental duration. Typically, it ranges from $40-$200 per day.

Is it better to rent a car at the airport or in the city?

Renting at the airport can be convenient but it might be pricier. Compare prices to see which suits your budget and itinerary better.