Renting a car is a great way to see Iceland

Traveling at your own pace allows you to soak up all the sights and grants you the freedom and flexibility for spontaneous detours. The famous Ring Road is the most direct way to road trip around Iceland (~832 miles), but we'd argue there's much to see along local roads and winding fjords.

Relish the endless Olís gas station coffees (get the discount card) and make the time for the numerous hot springs you'll pass along the way.

Below, are (1) general FAQs answered (2) places of Interest we mapped out for our trip (3) and a quick language gloss for the nature lover.

The most cost-efficient car-rental options we found were Cars Iceland and Blue Car Rental. 2WDs are a fine option if you plan to stick to the ring road, however; if you plan to take some more unruly roads a 4WD is the way to go. You also have more cost-efficient options if you know how to drive stick shift!
July - August is a popular time to visit Iceland thanks to the sun and warm weather. The downside is steeper prices and more tourists. Shoulder season, September - October has the benefit of off-season rates, fewer people, but comes with greater colder and windier. Many of the campsites are closed during this time (though still accessible).

For us, visiting mid-September offered a great balance between daylight hours, aurora sighting, hiking & camping accessibility, and staying within our budget. However, we were definitely cutting it close with a lot of the longer hiking trails that tend to close past early October.

Winter road tripping comes with its own hazards. We've heard harrowing stories from locals about how snow and lack of visibility led to close calls. More preparation and planning is definitely required. Vegagerdin is a useful site to consult, as it keeps road conditions updated. While, Vegasjá provides a more in-depth view with live webcams and colored indicators that show how many cars have accessed the road.
Our host generously lent us his Kortabók Iceland Road Atlas, which turned out to be a great travel companion that encouraged us to venture beyond ring road. The maps (scaled at 1:300,000) are detailed with topography and intriguing points including abandoned farms, waterfalls, hot pots, and camping grounds. The latter half of the book has camp-site, swimming pool, and museum-specific maps for the entire country – something extraordinarily helpful for finding last-minute camping spots without wifi.
The most dismaying part of our journey was seeing the amount of disrespect towards nature. Iceland's locals and primordial landscape already have it tough with the massive influx of tourists, but what's insane for me to comprehend is the sheer number of people we saw trapezing off-trails through mossy fields and disobeying clear signs not to go beyond fenced off areas. We even recognized a few cordoned off, yet heavily-trodden and now "bald" vistas from popular nature Instagrammers – which was disappointing. It takes AGES for moss to grow back, so think before you consider stepping off the path – believe us, there are countless pictures to be taken without disturbing the nature and allowing others after you to enjoy it as much as you did 🙂
Places of Interest.

Pin symbols correspond to: hikes, camping sites, natural sights, hot springs, churches, restaurants, & points of interest. Clicking the top left icon allows you to filter the categories & see the POIs in list view. Luckily, Iceland is one of the countries you can download an offline map from Google Maps.

*Note access to some of the destinations are season-dependent.

Details of our adventures by region:
South Iceland (Suðurland)

Hiking Fimmvörðuháls

North Iceland (Norðurland)

Horse roundup in Skagafjörður


Language Tips.

Northern lights Norðurljós
Glacier Jökull
Mountain peak Tindur
Volcano Eldfjall
Earth Jörð
Lake Stöðuvatn
Waterfall foss
Cliff bjarg
Beach Strönd
Coast Fjara
Fjord Fjörður
Desert Eyðimörk
Highlands Hálendi
Cave Hellir
Swimming pool Sundlaug
Hotspring Hver