DrivingRental CarsChoosing the Perfect Car Rental for Your Iceland Trip
view on a black Iceland jeep rental parked in the snow in Iceland.

Choosing the Perfect Car Rental for Your Iceland Trip

Renting a car should be an enjoyable part of planning your trip to Iceland! But there are a few things you do need to know beforehand to help make your decision. The more prepared you are prior to your Iceland road trip, the more seamlessly it will be when you arrive. Here are our top ten things to know before renting a car in Iceland. This could help you choose the right vehicle and plan the correct route.

Purchase The Right Insurance Plans

First, you should know that there are three tiers of rental car insurance that you can purchase, and you can review those in detail to see which one is best for you! These plans include a variety of additional insurance options that you will need for your car rental in Iceland. Here are some of the most important ones you should consider.

Woman sitting on her iceland rental car watching the mountain from a far away

The CDW - Super Collision Damage Waiver

The CDW - Super Collision Damage Waiver is included in all insurance plans with Go Car Rental. It will cover collision damages to the vehicle's body and injuries to the driver and passengers. It covers a majority of emergencies, hospital stays, and even medical checkups.

Gravel Protection

Gravel Protection is also included in all of Go Car Rental’s insurance plans. It includes damage due to gravel, including the body of the car, the headlights, and even the front windshield. Gravel Protection can be a vital add-on when driving in Iceland.

Sand & Ash Protection

SAAP is included in our Premium Plus+ plan! SAAP stands for Sand and Ash Protection, and it covers just that. Sand or ash can cause a significant mess to the rental car, sometimes requiring a whole new paint job. It is recommended any time of the year, but especially when the snow begins to melt, which causes the sand underneath to go from muddy to dry and loose.

Learn all about Go Car Rental Iceland different insurance options!

Learn Where You Can Drive Your Rental Car

Are you driving along a paved road during your road trip? Or are you planning on visiting Iceland’s Highlands, the country's mountains region? Maybe you just want to leave your plans free and up to the open road. Whatever it may be, you need to make sure you have the right vehicle for your trip.

Jeep Iceland rental car from above

If you plan on visiting Iceland’s remote Highlands, you will need a 4X4 Vehicle. A lot of these roads are a part of Iceland’s infamous F-Roads, which are mountainous gravel roads.

These roads can only be accessed by the proper 4X4 vehicle, and it is illegal to drive them otherwise. If you are planning on doing any off-roading or going off of Ring Road, you should get a 4X4 rental car. Iceland has rougher rough on the eastern side of the country as well.

Fuel Up When You Can

It is crucial always to fill up your gas tank if you are at half or below when passing a gas station. This will help you stay ahead of the game in case you are driving into the remote areas of Iceland.

A woman filling up her rental car in iceland

Is it hard to find a gas station in Iceland?

No! It is easy to find gas stations in Iceland, and some popular ones you can look for are N1, Orkan, Costco, and Olis. It is best to plan the locations along your route!

It is no secret that gas is expensive in Iceland, which means getting a fuel-efficient rental car in Iceland can save you a lot of money.

Watch for Animals

Be mindful of wildlife and animals when driving your rental car in Iceland. This includes sheep and horses, as most of them roam the country.

Iceland even has a Sheep Round-Up, which takes place once a year in September. During the summer, the sheep roam free until they are rounded up again in the fall. This means one could have strayed, so slowing down through these areas is essential.

White sheep on a road in iceland

You should also keep a lookout for these road signs. They are a warning to watch for animals. Sheep are known to roam more in the countryside or small residential areas. Slow down and be aware of your surroundings.

Follow The Speed Limit & Traffic Laws

Make sure to follow the speed limits and traffic laws when driving your rental car through Iceland. Not only will you be able to avoid the ticket, but you will also be keeping Icelanders, fellow tourists, and wildlife safe.

sign on Icelandic roads showing speed limits, picture taken in winter with view on snowy mountains in background


If you are planning on driving through a city, it is expected that 50 kph or 30 mph is the typical speed limit. You will even find specific areas that lowered their speed to 30 kph or 20 mph.

Paved Highways

When driving paved highways, you can expect a speed limit of 90 kph, which is around 55 mph. Ring Road falls into this category since all 1322 kilometers or 821 miles of the road are paved.

Rural Roads

Speed limits are slower on rural roads than on paved roads. This is primarily due to the gravel being more challenging to drive on or when a paved road suddenly changes into gravel. Pay attention to speed limit signs on rural roads; if you do not see a speed limit sign, plan on going 80 kph, which is about 45-50 mph. This does include F-Roads.

Residential Areas

You will pass through residential areas when stopping off along Ring Road. The speed limit through them is 30 kph or 20 mph. Watch for people and livestock in these areas.

Check The Weather

Iceland’s weather is unpredictable at times and can change at any moment. Particularly when traveling in Iceland’s HIghlands or in the mountains.

Snow is not the only type of storm you need to worry about; if high winds are expected, you could also run into a Sand Storm, which is another reason we recommend Sand & Ash Protection.

Do not drive if a big winter storm or summer rain storm is set to hit the area you are traveling through. The last thing you want to do is put both your and the emergency responders' lives in danger.

The best way you can avoid this is to check road conditions with Road.is. You can also set up weather alerts on a Weather app so that way you can be alerted of any incoming storms.

Bring The Proper Documents With You

Ensure you have the documents you need when picking up your Iceland rental car. While a passport is not required for verification, you will need your driver’s license and a credit card.

woman standing near her iceland rental car thinking about her trip

Drivers License

A valid driver's license that is issued in your country of residence is needed for your Iceland car rental. That means no expired licenses or old ones that have holes punched in them.

You must also have your driver’s license for at least one year. If you have an international driver’s license, that is great. But your international driving license will only be valid if it is accompanied by your regular driver's license. So make a note to bring both with you.

Credit Card

A credit card is necessary when renting a car. Checks, cash, and debit cards will not be accepted. This is mainly because of the hold that will be placed on your credit card for security purposes, in addition to having e a credit card on file if something were to happen.

Make Sure You Don’t Have Mileage Limits

Most rental car companies will charge you if you go over a certain amount of Mileage. This means that you might have to cut your road trip short or avoid that add-on you were interested in.

At Go Car Rental, we encourage you to explore more and worry less!

That is why our insurance plans have unlimited mileage so that you can cross all of Iceland’s out-of-this-world locations off your list.

Save Iceland’s Emergency Number

It is also good to be prepared when driving through the land of fire and ice with your iceland rental car, and you can do that by saving the emergency number. While Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world, anything could happen. 112 is the single emergency number in Iceland, similar to 911 in America. If you get stranded, caught in a storm, or become injured, call this number so you can get the proper assistance.

Safetravel.is will also update all relevant alerts and warnings and should be checked regularly when driving in Iceland.

Rental car in iceland driving a paved snowy road

Know Iceland’s Toll Roads

99% of Iceland’s roads are toll-free! However, there is one place you need to be mindful of, Vaðlaheiðargöng Tunnel. The tunnel opened in 2020 in Northern Iceland and was created to shorten Ring Road by 9 miles. You will pass through this tunnel if you are heading from the east of the Eyjafjörður fjord to Akureyri, the capital of the North.

elevated view of a tollbooth at night

The toll differs depending on the weight of your vehicle. A regular passenger car under 3.5 tons will cost you 1,500 ISK or $10 each way. For vehicles that weigh between .5 to 7.5 tons, there is a 2.500 ISK or $15 one-way fee.

You need to pay the fee within 24 hours of driving through, and you will need to have a valid credit card to do so. You can pay for the payment via the website veggjald.is.

After passing through the tunnel, you can use their convenient app to pay. The easiest option would be to pre-register your rental car’s license plate number on the website 24 hours before you pass through the tunnel. That way, you can prepay and not have to worry about it afterward.

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