Iceland is a land of contrasts and famous for its hot springs, waterfalls, volcanos and glaciers. Rarely does anyone go to Iceland for a city break - instead, the most popular attractions are the natural wonders that are easily reached by using a rental car.
Regardless of the length of your trip - days, weeks or months - Iceland has plenty in store for all seasons.
Iceland is not famous for particular destinations. Instead, it is the nature that stands out. The nature is best explored by going from one place to the next at your own speed. The Golden Circle, southern areas of Iceland and the Snaefellsnes peninsula are among the most popular areas - partially due to the vicinity of the airport and the capital. Every part of the island has its own strengths, however.
To get an understanding of the whole island, driving through the Ring Road, i.e. the road number 1 circling the whole island, is recommended. Along the road, you’ll be able to see the aforementioned attractions, the western and eastern fjords and the attractions of the north.
The uninhabited central areas are accessible only in summer, and even then, an off-road vehicle is required.
Regardless of where you’re planning to go, you should check whether there are F-roads along the way, as they are not to be accessed by a normal car. All of the attractions described in this site have been explored by using a small car in summer.
|Population||Approx. 360 000|
|Plug type||C (European model)|
|Currency||Icelandic Krona (ISK)|
The climate of Iceland is mild, and even during the summertime, it is often rainy and windy. For a sunny holiday, Iceland is not the place to go, as the temperatures rarely exceed 20 °C - even in summer. In winter, it is rarely very cold; instead, the temperatures are around 0 °C. There are snowstorms once in a while. In the safety section of this page, there’s a link to a site issuing corresponding warnings.
The unique climate is due to the cold sea combined with heavy winds. You should have warm clothing with you even in summer. The weather fluctuates a lot; it may change from sunny to rainy several times over during the same day.
When to travel?
- May is the month with the least amount of rain. The rain picks up slowly towards October, which is the month with the biggest amount of rain.
- July and August are the warmest months.
- The costs of rental cars are still rather low in May. The prices start to increase in June and will double by July-August. The prices drop quickly in September.
- The prices of hotel rooms follow pretty much the same pattern; there may be more exceptions and individual fluctuations, though.
- The amount of tourist is at its highest in July-August
According to most standards, Iceland is the most expensive country in Europe. Traveling outside the high season of July and August can save you a lot of money in terms of the costs of accommodation and car rental.
With regard to crime, Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. However, bear in mind the following natural conditions:
- When driving in heavy winds, beware of possible sand storms (with regard to sand storms, separate rental car insurances are available)
- There are very few gas stations in most parts of the country
- In geothermic areas (such as geysirs and the Reykjadalur Valley) you should not go outside paths and roads, since invisible hot springs can be right underneath the surface of the ground.
- On the shore, bear in mind that the waves may surge surprisingly. Leave a safe distance to the waterline (link to a Youtube video).
- Don’t head to glaciers without a guide due to invisible cracks under the surface.
Weather warnings and road conditions: Safetravel.is
Gate98 destinations in Iceland
South Iceland is famous for its waterfalls and black beaches. The road number 1 passing through the southern tip of the island is an attraction on its own: there’s an endless view over rugged mountains, fields and lava fields.
Read more: South Iceland
The Golden Circle is the best-known day trip in Iceland and an easy way to learn about the versatile nature of the island. You could start conveniently from, for example, Reykjavik.
There are bus trips to the three key attractions (geysirs, Gullfoss and Thingvellir National Park), but the best way to visit the sites is with a rental car at your own speed.
Read more: Golden Circle
The best assets of the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, are its natural baths and the small, sympathetic center with picturesque pedestrian streets. On offer, there are boat trips out to the sea in front of Reykjavik, and day trips to the southern and western parts of the island – back and forth in one day.
Read more: Reykjavik
Snaefellsnes peninsula is an excellent target for a whole-day road trip by using a rental car. There are attractions all around the peninsula and enough activities to spend several days, if you have a lot of time on your hands.
Read more: Snaefellsnes peninsula