Many of my friends coming to Iceland for the first time decide to rent a car and ask me this question: “Do I need a 4×4 in Iceland? (Car Hire Iceland). It really depends, as we will see later, on different factors. First of all, let me tell you that explore the island by car, motorcycle, campervan or motorhome is the most recommendable way to do it– we don’t have rail network and you won’t find excellent bus communications as in other countries.
To rent a motorhome, campervan or just a normal car for Iceland travel is becoming easier and easier as we have a wide range of rental companies. This option will give you freedom, you don’t depend on buses timetables or stops and it’s also a lot cheaper and definitely worthy to make the most of your time in Iceland.
Do I need a 4×4?
When you rent a car in Iceland, first think to bear in mind is that there are different types of roads on the country, depending if they are highway, paved or gravel roads.
One of them are F-roads, they are mountain roads on the Highlands and you are only allowed to drive them with a 4×4 car as the surface is loose gravel. F-roads are only open a few months during summer. The rest of the year are impassable because of ice, snow and mud. You can check estimated F-road opening times here.
Car Hire in Iceland or Campervan Rental?
The choice of the car depends on the season you will be traveling. In summer is not necessary a 4×4 car unless you are planning to visit the Highlands or Askja for example, as it was explained before. However, during the winter season and mostly in the North area, a 4×4 car is needed.
In case you are planning to travel the whole island by going around the Ring Road, then you will get to know the country very well, and a 4×4 is highly recommended. Don’t forget if your route includes gravel roads, a 4×4 is not mandatory but advisable.
Drive safe in Iceland
In Iceland the general speed limit is 90km/h on asphalt roads, while the limit if the surface is gravel is 80km/h. You should drive at 50km/h as maximum in urban areas and even 30 km/h in residential areas. Remember that off-road is completely forbidden in the country, to preserve our beautiful nature. Another basic road rule in Iceland is that everyone has to have the headlights on at all times.
You will find signs with a special warning about sharp bends, unbridged rivers, newly-laid road surface, end of tarred road, single-width bridge… But you will not see a separate signal to reduce speed. You have to choose a safe speed according to the conditions at all times. It’s also very important to reduce speed when approaching another car. Icelandic roads are not made for speeding! Also, always try to go with some other cars when driving on mountain or F-roads. Collect as much information as possible before starting your trip. A good way to be safe is to inform about your travel plans; you can do so on this website as well as find plenty of safe driving information on the island.
You should put special attention has to be paid when driving on the Highlands or gravel roads. You should keep low speed. Bear in mind that those roads are narrow and only have one lane in many cases. It will be also likely to find sheep or horses on the road. You should carry some food and water with you just in case you encounter road closure or severe weather. Car Hire Iceland easy!