Taking a road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road is a must on any savvy traveler’s bucket list. Renting a car and driving around the island to ooh and ahh at all at smoldering volcanoes, careening waterfalls, spewing geysers, gurgling hot springs, and some of the most exquisite landscapes you’ve ever seen is something you will remember for your whole life. But it’s not the only way to see everything the country has to offer. You could also go into full Woodstock hippie mode and rent a campervan or even pull a Clark Griswold and rent a motorhome for your travels in Iceland.
These three modes of transport each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, they all provide a slightly different experience on your trip. Let’s get into the differences between the three ways of traveling and look at some top companies for renting a car, campervan, or motorhome in Iceland.
Car Rental in Iceland
Renting a car is probably most people’s preferred way of sightseeing in Iceland. Visiting the country is essentially one big road trip with a few hours’ drive between the major attractions. You plot your course, follow your itinerary, and stop at hotels along the way. The biggest advantage of these types of trips is probably the fact that you get to stay in hotels. You get the creature comforts of a hot shower, a warm bed, and the knowledge that even if there’s a storm raging outside, you’ll still wake up the next morning and head downstairs for a continental breakfast. You also travel to more places with a car as they are smaller and less cumbersome than campervans or motorhomes. Depending on the model that you rent, you can take your 4×4 vehicle onto Iceland’s F-Roads (mountain roads) when they’re open and explore the Highlands.
Another advantage of renting a car in Iceland is the price. Smaller vehicles take less of a hit out of your wallet. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the cheapest option. Unless you are staying with Icelandic friends or relatives during your road trip, you’ll also need to pay for accommodation. Hotels aren’t cheap, so you’ll need to take that into account when planning your budget for Iceland.
Top Car Rental Companies in Iceland
Cars Iceland, Reykjavik Cars, Blue Car Rental, and Geysir Car Rental are all listed as top Iceland car rental companies on Google Reviews. They have hundreds of reviews each with ratings of 4 stars or more. Our friends at Iceland 24 blog were kind enough to let us republish their top Iceland car rental companies infographic from their 2018 Car Rental Guide.
- Cars Iceland
- Reykjavik Cars
- Blue Car Rental
- Geysir Car Rental
Campervan Rental in Iceland
Just to clear up any confusion, campervans are the small, retrofitted vans that can be used for both transportation and sleeping accommodation. Think the classic Volkswagen camper with its signature colored body and white roof. This type of transportation provides you with even more autonomy than traveling by rental car. The vehicle’s small size and the fact that you are essentially driving your house around with you (like a snail or a turtle) means that you’re not obligated to stay at a specific hotel that you’ve booked for a pre-determined number of nights. Instead, you have a more flexible itinerary and can take things one day at a time. Another bonus for campervans is that even though they were made to be slept in, if the weather’s cooperating and you have camping gear you can also set up shop and sleep outside. This versatility makes traveling by campervan one of the most popular ways to see Iceland.
The only thing you really need to plan is to have an approximate idea of where you were thinking of sleeping for the night and being aware of nearby campsites. If you’re traveling during high season, going to a popular campsite or traveling on a festival weekend, be sure to have a backup place to stay. You can download the free Áning Guide here for a full list of accommodation in Iceland.
One of the things to keep in mind with campervans (that’s not necessarily a disadvantage) is the overnight heating. The vehicles come with Webasto heaters, which means you’ll have heat while you sleep. Just be sure to drive for at least 3 hours every day to charge the battery. Otherwise, you may wake up after a night of warm and toasty slumber only to find that your engine does not start. Womp womp.
Top Campervan Rental Companies in Iceland
Campervan Iceland, Happy Campers, and Kúkú Campervans are all consistently top-ranked companies on both Google Reviews and TripAdvisor. Additionally, Campervan Iceland is one of the few companies that offer the VW California 4×4. Make your hippie road trip dreams come true with this stylish, retro campervan
- Campervan Iceland
- Happy Campers
- Kúkú Campervans
Motorhome Rental in Iceland
Last but not least, we have traveling by motorhome. These jumbo RVs bring to mind summer vacations with Mom and Dad, cruising along Route 66 (or in Iceland’s case, Route 1). Motorhomes are the larger, more luxurious version of a campervan. You’ll find all the bells and whistles that you’ll need for traveling in style. Your hotel on wheels will have beds, a bathroom, all the outlets your heart can dream of, and possibly even a shower. This is the life, right? As with camper vans, you’ll need to stay at campsites or find somewhere to park your vehicle overnight.
This is the most expensive option out of the three, but what you lose up front in rental prices, you gain at the back end by not having to pay for hotels. And really, can we put a price on traveling in style? I think not. The disadvantage of traveling by motorhome is that they are a bit slower and more cumbersome than cars or campervans. And because they don’t have a four-wheel drive, you will only be able to drive them around Iceland’s Ring Road. That being said, you can always book an excursion and leave your RV in the parking lot.
Top Motorhome Rental Companies in Iceland
Motorhome Iceland, Campervan Iceland, and McRent Iceland all have a large number of positive ratings on Google Reviews. The Camping Iceland website also has a great article with the top motorhome and campervan rental companies in Iceland. Be sure to check it out.
- Motorhome Iceland
- Campervan Iceland
- McRent Iceland
Car Rental, Campervan or Motorhome: What’s the Best Way to Travel in Iceland?
Whichever way you decide to travel, remember to always have fun and keep a sense of adventure with you. Not many people are lucky enough to take the trip of a lifetime to Iceland, so be sure you enjoy it and soak up every moment. Happy driving and let us know your experiences with driving in Iceland. Do you have a preference?