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 Tips of self-drive tour in Iceland

A self-drive tour is a fantastic way to experience Iceland with freedom and flexibility.  Road trip ensures that you don’t miss out on the very best natural features and activities this land has to offer. Iceland ring road is ideal for a self-drive vacation with magnificent scenery. People may have many questions regarding self-drive tour in Iceland. Here are some tips.

Rental auto Insurance





Northern light


Other Road trip tips

Itinerary of 4 day trip in Iceland


Rental auto Insurance: Normally, US auto insurance covers only USA and Canada. When renting a car in Iceland, you may have these options.

1) Many car rental companies provide Personal Accident Insurance and 3rd party liability (Damage caused to people/property outside the car) included in the rate. Quoted from online: “All rentals are supposed to have their terms and rules clearly visible on their websites, that´s the laws!” For example, our rate already cover above mentioned insurance coverage.

2) Many credit Card companies provide worldwide auto insurance. I had American Express and Visa email me the full explanation of the benefits and both coverage is up to $50,000. This is AMEX coverage:

 What Excess Coverage Means

Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance is an excess insurance plan. This means that this excess coverage will reimburse the Card member only for losses/expenses not covered by plans, such as a partial collision damage waiver, any personal auto insurance, employer’s auto insurance or reimbursement plan or other sources of insurance. When these other plans apply, a Card member must first seek payment or reimbursement and receive a determination based on the stated terms of such other Plans, that any such Plans do not provide coverage before this excess coverage will reimburse the Card member.

3) You may find 3dr party like Travelguard offers a car rental CDW coverage with a limit of $35,000, $250 deductible, which costs $9 per day and they are also OK with partial coverage from the rental company. This could be good for the people who do not have AMEX card or other insurances.

However, no matter what kind insurance you have the car rental company may try to sell you more insurance. They may say all insurance you have is cover the rented car only but no other cars.

These are some tips quoted from online:

1) Most major credit cards come with a rental car loss and damage insurance plan. If you get in an accident while driving a rental, your auto insurance policy will likely pay most of the damage, but your credit card company provides secondary coverage. It covers whatever your primary auto insurance doesn't, paying whatever is left and going toward your deductible.

2) CDW is often included in the car rental price, with more optional insurances such as PAI, SCDW, GP, TP, SAAP/SADW and Premium Insurance. It's advised that you add gravel protection, especially if you are planning on driving the South Coast of Iceland or accessing the Central Highlands. Normally, CDW liability is around 350,000 ISK and SCDW is half of that. Some customers ask to waive the CDW since it is covered by their credit card. We do NOT recommend this because, in the case of an accident, the customer will be fully liable for all damages to people and/or property. Depending on the severity of the incident, it can be very expensive and must be paid up front. In the case of an accident, towing of the vehicle is not covered by car insurance and will have to be covered by the customer.

Damage done to the car on F roads, regardless of the car being a 4x4 or not, are not covered by the insurance policy. Customers proceed at their own risk. We advise all our visitors to avoid crossing rivers in any vehicle, which can be treacherous at any time of year.

GPS: You may rent a GPS from the rental company or bring one with European countries GPS. However, you may have a problem to enter Icelandic. The options you may have are

1) Search the addresses on Google map and enter them into the GPS before you go.

2) If you rent it from the rental company, you may be able to find most popular locations in the GPS.

3) What I recommend to do is using your phone. I have Google Project Fi which uses T-Mobile. I don’t have any problem to us my phone as GPS in Iceland. Or you can purchase a phone SIM when you arrive Iceland.

Gas: There are petrol stations all over Iceland, but if you go to remote areas such as the West Fjords and the East Fjords, they might be a bit far between. If you’re travelling in remote areas, it might be a good idea to tank up when you see a station, as a rule of thumb.

In more remote areas, there are famously some un-manned gas stations, where you can only use the automatic dispenser. Visa cards works perfectly well but you need a card with the chip and a 4 digit PIN number to be able to fill your camper at self-service stations or after hours. If you want to be on the safe side in case you forgot to get a PIN code for your credit card, you can always buy a pre-paid gas card you can use after hours. Some types of cards may not be accepted, such as Diner’s Club, and possibly American Express. Depending on the dispenser you may have the choice of using cash. In my case, I brought Chase debit card with me since my credit card doesn’t have PIN or I don’t know the PIN.

Currency: The currency in Iceland is called Icelandic króna. Most places and stores take credit card. We did not exchange US dollar to króna. We only spent a few dollars for tipping. Howevertipping is not required, but appreciated

Language: Icelandic is the official language of Iceland. It is an Indo-European language, belonging to the sub-group of North Germanic languages. However most speak English. Communication won’t be any problem.

Northern light: Icelanders are a privileged when it comes to the Northern Lights. They are visible for eight months a year, from early September to the end of April and in any of these months, you are likely to see some aurora activity—it just depends on your luck, the weather and solar activity.

To witness the aurora borealis in all their glory in Iceland requires patience, luck, and the following conditions to be met:

You must be looking between Septembers to April

The night must be as dark as possible (a fuller moon, for example, will dim the aurora)

There should be as little unnatural light (light pollution) as possible

There should be little to no cloud cover

There must be enough solar activity

These last two conditions can be researched prior to looking for the lights, by referencing this website: http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora

Auto: Car rental and insurance prices are high when compared to many countries. Except winter, renting an economy size 2WD vehicle is fine. If you drive long distend or drive on 3 digital number road, you may want to rent AWD SUV, especially in winter.

Other Road trip tips: 1) Most of Iceland's metro roads are amazing to drive on, it's when you get out of town that you really need to pay attention. Speeds limits throughout Iceland are lower than in many other countries. The fastest you'll probably be able to go is 50 to 56 mph on paved highways. The speed limit for cities is typically 31 mph in and 30 km/h in residential areas. Some other driving laws in Iceland include no right turns on a red light; yielding to the driver on the right at four-way intersections; and giving way to drivers in the inside lane in roundabouts.

2) Seatbelts for all passengers, even those in the back seat, are required. Cell phones cannot be used without a hands-free headset.

3) Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly forbidden.

4) Drive carefully. Before you head out on your drive, check for road closures and conditions on road don’t rely entirely on Google Maps. Chances are it will send you on the most direct route, which may include roads that are closed due to snow (even in the summer.)

5) Pack protein bars and snacks. When you are driving through the country you may not see a place to eat for an hour or more. Iceland is the kind of country where you really need to plan ahead a bit and know what you want to do.

6) Plan carefully. Everything is so spread out that you’ll need to organize your itinerary to minimize driving time. But you should also leave yourself enough time to hop out and explore a waterfall, take pictures, and enjoy nature along the way.

7) The emergency number in Iceland is 112.

8) The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration maintains a web site with thorough, up-to-the-minute weather and road reports.

9) Parking in Reykjavík: There are many parking options in Reykjavik with specialized parking zones, multi-storey car parks, parking lots and street parking available. Parking meters accept Icelandic coins only; however, ticket dispensers in pay-and-display zones accept both coins and credit cards. Parking rates in Reykjavík vary according to parking zones, the closer you park to Reykjavík city centre the more expensive is it. Keep in mind that the city is relatively small, so even if you park in the outskirts of Reykjavik centre you’re only 3-5 minute walk from downtown Reykjavík on foot.

10 ) Parking zones are divided into P1, P2, P3 and P4. P1 is the red zone and the most expensive parking zone in Reykjavík but the P1 parking meter ticket is also valid in zone P1, P2, P3 and P4. P2 is the blue zone but the P2 parking meter ticket is also valid in zone P3 and P4. P3 is the green zone but the P3 parking meter ticket is only valid in zone P3. P4 is the yellow zone and the P4 parking meter ticket is also only valid in zone P4.

11) OFF-ROAD DRIVING: Off-road driving in Iceland is prohibited by law. Due to our short summers, Icelandic soil and vegetation is extremely vulnerable. Tire tracks can leave marks for decades. Please respect Icelandic nature and tread carefully.

12) ICELANDIC ROADS: The Icelandic road system is extensive and easy to navigate. Highway no. 1, commonly known as the Ring Road, is the most travelled route around Iceland. It is open throughout the year, but weather conditions can cause temporary closures during winter. Most major highways are paved, but it may surprise travelers to learn that a large portion of the Icelandic road system is made up of gravel roads, particularly in the highlands.

13) Drive on the right side: People drive on the right side of the road in Iceland. During the winter, this can be difficult given the invading snow-stacks, forcing drivers further center into the road. If this is absolutely necessary, make sure to drive very slowly, keeping your eye out constantly for oncoming headlights and making sufficient room to allow them passage.

14) single-lane bridges: In the countryside, you may encounter some single-lane bridges or single lane tunnels. Before you enter, there will be a sign showing the right of way. Drive slowly so that you can stop the car on the slip roads provided.

15) Entrance fees:  Normally, there are no entrance fees to national parks or attractions except some commercial attractions such as Blue Lagoon.  Most attractions are very close to the parking lots.  


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