DrivingRental CarsTravel in Comfort: Selecting the Ideal Vehicles for Your Icelandic Journey
Person standing in front of a Dacia Duster in Iceland
Go Car Rental Iceland travel writer Leah BIlquist
By Leah BIlquistNov 29, 2023 • 13 min read

Travel in Comfort: Selecting the Ideal Vehicles for Your Icelandic Journey

Road trips in Iceland offer an incredible opportunity to witness the country's stunning natural beauty up close. To make the most of your journey, it's essential to select a vehicle that suits your needs and preferences. Whether you prioritize comfort, storage space, fuel efficiency, or off-road capabilities, there's a perfect road trip vehicle waiting for you.

Road Trip Vehicle Must-Haves

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the best car for a road trip. Let's talk about some common requests from travelers.

Space

It is so important to rent a vehicle that has enough space for you and your party. Not only do you want everyone to have enough legroom, but you also want to consider luggage space. Check the luggage space on each vehicle before reserving.

If you find your dream road trip vehicle but space is tight, rent a roof box. These boxes provide additional space for you and your travelers during your road trip.

It is a great way to store camping supplies, hiking gear and so much more. You can even put extra luggage in the roof box.

Car back trunk space of a SUV

Comfort

Comfort is key when taking a long road trip around Iceland. You will be spending a lot of time in your rental car, exploring some of the most beautiful landmarks in the world. Make sure your vehicle has everything you want when it comes to comfort.

That means good air conditioning for the summer months and heated seats in the winter. Make a list of your comfort goals before reserving your rental.

Hand making a peace sign from a car window

F-Roading Capabilities

If you are planning to drive in Iceland’s mountains you have to rent the right vehicle. A lot of these areas will have you driving on F-Roads or rough dirt roads.

An F-Road is a mountain road that has rugged terrain, this includes dirt or gravel tracks. The “F” in F-Road comes from the word FJall, which translates to the mountain in Icelandic.

F-roads are usually open during the summer months only. They close in the winter months, thanks to heavy snow and icy conditions.

F-Roads will bring you to some of Iceland’s must-see attractions. This includes the Icelandic Highlands and remote peninsulas. The serene area of Kjölur, which is home to the Hveravellir Hot Spring is accessible by driving F35, a great road for beginners.

You are allowed to drive Iceland’s F-Roads with a 4X4 vehicle, which is why many choose to rent SUVs.

Dacia Duster riding a gravel road in Iceland

Best Vehicles for Road Trips

There are so many amazing options when it comes to choosing the best road trip vehicle in Iceland. Here are some of our top picks.

Best Road Trip Vehicle For Traveling Long Distances

Dacia Duster

The Dacia Duster has become one of the most popular rental car choices for tourists visiting Iceland.

Its four-wheel-drive capabilities handle icy roads with ease. Its smaller size allows you to easily navigate tight mountain passes.

The Dacia Duster is affordable, making it a great choice for budget travelers.  This is also why it is rated one of the best cars for long road trips. You can save money while still enjoying a comfortable and reliable ride around Iceland.

You will not be disappointed by renting this vehicle to travel the entire distance of Ring Road! In fact, we have put together a complete Guide to Ring Road for you to follow!

Dacia Duster on a gravel road in Iceland

Best Road Trip Vehicle For Couples

Whether you are celebrating your honeymoon or traveling the world with your best friend, we got you covered. Our top pick for the best road trip vehicle for couples is the peppy Subaru Forester!

Subaru Forester

This vehicle is known for its comfort, style, and popularity. The Forester has a powerful 4-wheel drive system, which means it is allowed on F-roads. But it's important to remember that off-roading in Iceland is illegal.

With a spacious trunk capacity, you won't have to worry about packing light. The Forester can fit up to five suitcases.

This vehicle also has some amazing perks, such as rear parking sensors and a camera. If you are exploring the Northern Lights with your partner you can enjoy the headset seats in the winter months

Plus, with USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity, you can easily stay connected and listen to your favorite Road Trip playlist together.

And if you're planning on embarking on a trip around Ring Road, do it! The Forester's cruise control feature will help you save on fuel. So you can spend that money on a romantic dinner instead.

This vehicle can fit up to 5 people but it is even more amazing for 2 people. You can fit all of your luggage right in the trunk leaving the back seats open for snacks, coolers, and more.

A Subaru Forester on a road in Iceland with a roof box

Best Road Trip Vehicle for Driving F-Roads

F-roads can be intimidating at first. But, if you rent the proper vehicle they can be easy and fun to drive. Here is our top vehicle for driving Iceland’s F-roads.

Suzuki Jimny

The Suzuki Jimny is an iconic 4x4 vehicle that is commonly rated as the best road trip SUV. It is well-known for its unique style and excellent off-road performance. It has a top choice for those who want to explore the great outdoors in Iceland.

It is highly capable in both on- and off-road conditions. The vehicle’s lightweight body offers great maneuverability, making it ideal for tackling tough terrain.

The Suzuki Jimny is powered by a 1.5-liter engine and features a four-wheel drive system with low-range gearing for maximum off-road performance.

With its rugged looks, reliable performance, and affordable price, it is no surprise that the Suzuki Jimny remains one of the most sought-after 4x4s in the world.

The Suzuki Jimny is amazing for driving F-Roads! So have fun planning your road trip through Iceland’s mountainous regions.

Check out our guide to Every F-Road in Iceland!

Suzuki Jimny on a F-road in Iceland

Best Road Trip Vehicle for A Family Road Trip

Traveling with your family can be a lot. Not only do you want to make sure there is enough room for everyone and their luggage, but you also want the entire family to be comfortable.

Minivans are the best vehicle type for family road trips. They can fit anywhere from 7-9 people, with plenty of space for luggage too. Here is our top pick for the best minivan road trip vehicle

Mercedes Benz Vito

The Mercedes Benz Vito can fit up 9 people, thanks to its rows of seating.  This vehicle is not your typical Minivan either. It is actually a 4x4 road trip vehicle, which means you can drive some of Iceland's F-Roads with it!

The Vito has amazing fuel economy which will help you save gas money during your travels.  That means you can use that money for family fun instead.

It's the perfect choice for those traveling with their entire family. The world is your oyster in the Mercedes Benz Vito. You can visit all of Iceland’s family friendly attractions during your travels.

A Mercedes Vito minivan for 9 people on a road in Iceland

Best Road Trip Vehicle for Exploring the Highlands

While the highlands do have a lot of F-roads in Iceland, there are still sections that are just mountainous roads. The Icelandic Highlands is infamous for its wilderness areas. It covers about 15,000 square miles or 40,000 square kilometers and is located in the heart of Iceland

Due to their challenging terrain and limited accessibility, the Highlands is one of Europe's most untamed and least populated areas. You will find some hidden mountain huts that are accessible by long hikes.

The Highlands is a paradise for the adventurous. This is why you need the perfect road trip vehicle to accompany you on your journey. Meet the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon!

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is arguably the best rental car to drive around Iceland’s Highlands and all the possible F-roads you'd like to visit. The car comes with a great 4x4 high and low range and it has a 375 horsepower petrol engine supported by an electric motor.

In addition to its adventurous look, this road trip vehicle also has built-in GPS, heated seats, and more. The Rubicon is equipped with the Rock-Trac® 4x4 system, which means it has low-range torque and control.

Drive the Jeep Wrangler all over Iceland. Spend a few days exploring the Valley of Thor before star gazing at one of the isolated mountain huts.  Driving this road trip vehicle is an adventure in itself.

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon in a rugged terrain in highland of Iceland

Best Road Trip Vehicle for the Golden Circle

Driving the Golden Circle is a must-do for any traveler visiting Iceland. Since the journey is close to Reykjavik and the road is paved, you do not need a 4X4 to adventure along it. You can drive one of our comfortable 2WD vehicles instead.

These vehicles can fit anywhere from 2-4 people, making it a comfortable ride for the whole crew. That is why we picked the VW Golf as our best road trip vehicle for driving the Golden Circle.

VW Golf

The VW Golf Automatic is an excellent 2WD road trip vehicle. The Volkswagen Golf is a compact car and is popular, thanks to its usefulness, reliability, and satisfying driving experience.

The powerful Volkswagen DSG automatic transmission has heated front seats for extra comfort. An added perk when driving around Iceland in the winter. It's got a very fuel-efficient engine and it's really easy to handle too.

The VW Golf fits four people and their luggage. Enjoy driving the Golden Circle and getting around Reykjavík with this road trip vehicle. You can even take a trip to the famous Blue Lagoon afterward!

A Volkswagen polo Small car in a scenic landscape in Iceland

Best Iceland Road Trips

Now that you know what road trip vehicle is best for your trip, let’s talk about some of the places you can explore with it! Here are our top Iceland road trips for you to enjoy with your road trip vehicle.

Ring Road

Ring Road, also known as Route One, is the most famous self-drive tour in Iceland, spanning 821.5 miles and covering most of the country. Although the route may appear overwhelming at first, with a well-planned itinerary, it is easy to navigate.

Starting in Reykjavik, Ring Road takes you along a loop through North, East, and South Iceland, plus the Golden Circle. While it doesn't cover the Westfjords or some of the hidden gems in the northwest, you can easily add those on before or after your Ring Road trip.

Skogafoss waterfall on the Ring Road, South Iceland

The Golden Circle Route

The Golden Circle is a popular 190-mile tourist route in Iceland that showcases some of Iceland’s top tourist attractions. It is commonly rated one of the best self-drive tours in Iceland.

One of the perks of driving the Golden Circle is that you can do it one day. However, we do recommend making a weekend trip out of it and taking more time to explore each attraction.

There are three main stops that you have to check out along this route,  Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall.

For a full list, check out our Guide to Driving Iceland’s Golden Circle.

Gullfoss waterfall, Golden circle, Iceland

North Iceland’s Diamond Circle

Located in North Iceland is the Diamond Circle, a route that can sometimes be overlooked. This adventurous Iceland road trip brings you to scenic Northern Iceland.

The road is 155 miles or 250 kilometers long, making the drive from Reykjavik about five hours. You will take Ring Road until you reach the start of the Diamond Circle.

It takes four hours without stopping to drive the Diamond Circle. If you are ambitious and short on time, you can drive the circle in one day. But many like to take their time and spend a night or two here.

There are so many amazing things to do along this route, such as visiting the area of Lake Mývatn and the cascading Godafoss Waterfall.

Goðafoss waterfall, Diamond circle, North Iceland

Southern Iceland

Southern Iceland is filled with waterfall hikes, hidden hot springs, and black sand beaches. This is why this area of Iceland is one of the most visited places in the entire country.

Just drive the 2 and half hour south of Reykjavik with your road trip vehicle to visit some of these amazing locations. This includes the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. A waterfall that you can legally hike behind.

If you are a history lover, visit the plane wreckage site at Solheimasandur Beach. The hike will lead you to the isolated DC plane that sits on the back sand beach.

Plane wreckage site at Solheimasandur Beach South Iceland

You can also stop by the town of Vik to enjoy some local Iceland cuisine. Vik is just a few steps from the famous Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach too!

Rental Cars Types

We went over our top picks for our favorite road trip vehicles. But, we also have a full fleet of different-sized vehicles.

Go Car Rental Iceland has so many fantastic Iceland rental cars for you to choose from. Let’s talk about the different types we offer.

Small

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

We also offer a variety of fuel-efficient rental cars, which can help you save money on gas during your travels. That means you can take a road trip on a budget!

Clio Peugeot Small city car classe

Midsize

For a comfortable and spacious ride, we recommend our midsize vehicles. You'll have plenty of legroom and ample space for your gear, coolers, and snacks. This type of car is perfect for medium-sized groups.

Our top priority is your safety, so all our vehicles have the latest safety features to ensure a worry-free journey. Enjoy your trip driving around Iceland in the comfort of our Midsize vehicles.

Renault Captur mid-size car classe

4X4

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.

If you plan on driving F-Roads, a 4X4 vehicle is necessary as it is illegal to drive them without one.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 4x4 car classe

Minivan

Are you traveling with a large group or family? We got you covered. At Go Car Rental Iceland, we have spacious minivans with 9, 8, and 7-seater vehicles available.

Whether you're embarking on a day trip or a longer road trip, our minivans provide ample room for all your favorite people and their luggage.

Mercedes Vito minivan classe

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it hard to drive a car in Iceland?

No! Iceland is built for road trips and the roads are well taken care of. Even almost all of the Ring Road is paved. So pick up your Iceland rental car and hit the open road with ease.

Can Americans rent a car in Iceland?

Yes, Americans can rent a car in Iceland. All you need is a valid driver's license and a credit card to pick up your rental.

Can you sleep in a car in Iceland?

It is illegal to overnight or camp in cars in Iceland. Don’t worry, Iceland has plenty of campgrounds where you can safely do this instead.