Has our DOCCO #1 ‘The Mythic Guide to Iceland’ been stoking your inner flame of wanderlust? Then read on, as we count down the essential tips to driving like a pro in Iceland.
1. Save up
First off, ensure you have a nice little nest egg of spending money squirreled away before you venture here. Iceland is already notoriously one of the world’s most expensive destinations, with Reykjavik the most expensive capital to visit in Europe, a fact we can attest to from our time there.
Moral of the story? Plan and budget ahead and be willing to spend big even on the most humble of budgets.
2. Do your driving education prep
We knew in advance that we wanted to self-drive across the country. For our designated driver in this instance, it was her first time driving abroad and as a Brit (her first experience of driving on the right hand side). But fear not, the experience of driving cross country was brilliant. With a tiny amount of traffic (we didn’t encounter one traffic jam until we headed into Reykjavik) the roads were a joy.
That said, our driver did do her homework and took advantage of watching the Iceland Academy video series before the trip:
3. Rent a 4x4
For the ultimate freedom and road adventures, we toured the island in our hired and trusty 4x4 Dacia Duster (diesel manual). This extra spend of hiring a 4X4 proved invaluable as it allowed us to cruise narrow weaving highland roads and confidently face other challenging roads terrains.
We also recommend going for the additional insurance Gravel Protection and Sand & Ash cover. When your bumping along uneven ground it's a blessing to know you're fully covered!
4. Always drive with your headlights on
In a country where during winter the days are short and darkness falls quickly, it is required by law in Iceland to keep your headlights on constantly. Don’t forget!
5. Don’t be a dangerous tourist
Resist the temptation to stop and pull over haphazardly at will. As you drive across the island you’ll constantly be presented with an ever-changing beautiful landscape, but remember be smart and only pull off where it's safe (designated areas and driveways).
6. Keep an eye out for wandering sheep and wildlife
Fun fact, Iceland is a country in which its sheep more than double the human population. So don’t be surprised to see the fearless livestock casually ambling across the roads at any given time.
We lost count of how many we encountered, but one memorable experience does stick out. A seemingly suicidal critter on our sixth day jumped headlong from the side of the road directly into our path.
*No sheep or wildlife were harmed in the making of ‘The Mythic Guide to Iceland’.
7. Pack your Credit Card
Most petrol stations are automated with the majority of self service stations not accepting cash. Also worth noting, if you plan on using your debit card instead, a required minimum of £185/€204 must be in your account in order to fill up. We’d advise using credit cards instead for purchasing fuel to avoid any hassle.
8. Fill up on fuel wherever you see a gas station
There are sometimes vast distances between service stations, so don’t risk getting caught short -- fuel up whenever the opportunity presents itself.
9. Buy and meal prep your own food
The surest way to save money in Iceland? Stay away from restaurants! Instead make your own meals and snacks for your long drives. There are quite a few supermarket chains in Iceland, the cheapest being Netto, Bonus and Kronan, which we frequented during our time there.
10. Invest in a weatherproof and dress in layers
There is an Icelandic saying ‘If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes’ . A Icelandic friend in lead up to the trip advised us to dress in layers, which you can take on and off according to the weather. This proved useful, imagine dashing back to the warmth of your car and being able to whip off unnecessary layers -- it was the best feeling ever!