Iceland is a wildly unique country, bursting with culture and volcanic activity along the borders of the Arctic Circle. Though populated with only about 330,000 inhabitants, the people of Iceland host hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and they offer a never-ending list of sights and cultural experiences to take advantage of, from iceberg kayaking trips to treks across new lava fields to celebrations of an ancient Nordic culture. Particularly as flights are becoming less and less expensive, now is an excellent time to get intimate with this country via car hire in Iceland.
The best hiking season in Iceland is July to August, though if you’re headed to the country to see the northern lights, February, March, September and October are your best bet. Do note, however, that many mountain roads are impassable before June.
Icelandic is the official language of Iceland and a real source of pride for the islanders, as it has undergone remarkably little change over the past 600 years. Both English and Danish are compulsory in public schools, however, so many Icelanders will speak at least basic forms of these languages – though any attempt to speak Icelandic by visitors is always much appreciated!
The currency is the Icelandic króna and credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country.
Visitors arriving via air from anywhere other than Greenland or the Faroe Islands will arrive at the Keflavik International Airport in Keflavík, 40 km west of Reykjavik. The airport is an excellent place to pick up a rental car, though cheap car hire in Iceland is also available in Reykjavik, Akureyri, or Egilsstaðir.
There is a great deal to see throughout Iceland, though many outdoor experiences will require some travel on gravel roads. Paved travel to Kirkjufell Mountain just outside of Grundarfjörður from Reykjavik will take about two and a half hours. You can reach Skaftafell, the gate to Vatnajökull National Park, in about four hours from Reykjavik.
Exploring Iceland by car is truly an excellent way to explore the country. A 1,330-km-long road circumnavigates the entire island. Called the Ring Road, this highway is mostly one-lane and is in great shape, providing a comfortable ride to some of the most unique and diverse landscapes in the world. Don’t make the mistake that so many visitors do while in this incredibly unique country and stick to Reykjavik. Some of the most jaw-dropping sights await you via rental car.