Car rental in Iceland
I have traveled a lot in Iceland and I have to say that the easiest way is of course having a car to go around with. The price of a rental car is not cheap but I can get 10 % discount at this car rental.Related to:
- Road Trip
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The GPS unit we had only recognized the Icelandic spelling of the locations, which proved a bit challenging as we don't know how to enter the Icelandic characters. (e.g. Thingvellir needs to be entered as Þingvellir.) Another problem is that we entered the name and two or three choices popped up, often 30-50 km away from each other. We ended up using GPS coordinates instead.
Many of the tourism sites and hotels actually give you the GPS coordinates up front. If you can't find it, one way to do so is to go to Google Maps, right click and choose "What's Here". You'll see the GPS coordinates on the search box. Alternatively, try to look up the place on OpenStreetMap.org and people might have entered the GPS coordinates there. Finally, you can try websites like waymarking.com.
Most places are pretty easy to find, so it's not a huge deal, but it's still nice to have the coords handy.Related to:
- Road Trip
Blue car rental
We rented our car through Blue Car Rental, which offers an extra day for free if you rent a car for 7 days. They also include unlimited mileage, CDW, TP, GP, SCDW insurance and taxes. We were going to rent a Kia Sportage but decided to pay a little more for the Toyota RAV4 class because they throw in a GPS. While you don't really need a GPS on the Ring Road, we were glad to have it for a couple other spots we visited. Anyway, our cost was about 100,000 to 110,000 ISK.
You can pick up and drop off the car at their office to avoid the extra charges. Their office is in one of the buildings just outside the terminal and is about a 10-15 minute walk, that is if you actually remembered the instructions on how to get there. For all my obsessive planning, I forgot to print a copy of the map, thinking I could see the place. The process was pretty smooth but make sure you check your car carefully.
They picked up the car in the city but not necessarily at the predetermined time. Basically, you just give them a call on the day you are supposed to return the car and arrange with them on how to pick up. The guy actually told us to leave the keys in the car and he would get it when he closed the airport office. (They were down 1 guy that day.) We didn't want to chance anything and waited for him to get to the city and turn over the keys.
We found some reviews on the Tripadvisor forum for the company and checked out other renters' experiences. All I can say is that we had no problems with them. We did buy the "Car Hire Excess Insurance" with worldwide coverage just in case as the CDW and SCDW doesn't cover certain damages.Related to:
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Like most people flying to Iceland, we booked with Icelandair.
I have to say that is is one of the best airlines we've used so far ...
OK, you don't get a meal included on board, but that wasn't really necessary for a flight of 3 hours from Amsterdam.
But the kids both got a hot meal - on the inbound flight it was pasta, on the return flight it was a toasted ham-cheese sandwich. Both meals were quite tasteful. They also got a fruitjuice with it and a small dessert.
For the kids there also were postcards to color-in. After the flight you could give these to the flight attendant, they would put it in the mail free of charge to any destination you wanted.
We booked the regular economy class, without added leg-space ... but to our surprise there was plenty of leg-space available. We're not the tallest but definately also not the smallest people and we could sit very comfortably.
What we particularly enjoyed was the in-flight entertainment system. The kids enjoyed watching cartoons and movies, each on their own screen.
The kids each got a headphone for free. I used my iPhone-headphone and it worked out just fine.
Yes, although living in Belgium, we decided to leave from Amsterdam. The price from Brussels was about 50% higher than from Amsterdam. That combined with the better departure times and the less (much less) expensive parking at Schiphol/Amsterdam made us decide to book from Amsterdam. OK, from where we live it's about an hour to Brussels/Zaventem and 2h30 to Amsterdam/Schiphol, but that was well worth the trip for us ...
We were in the volcano Katla on the inbound flight and returned with the volcano Eyafjallajökull ... :-)
In 2013, on the day before returning home, we got a text message. Icelandair apologized for the fact that the plane we would be returning home in not having in-flight-entertainment. When getting on the plane every passenger got a set of headphones for free and also a complimentary sandwich.
I was very pleasantly surprised when returning home from our 2013 visit. About a week before we left home, I called Icelandair to inform about any specific papers I needed to take our son's medication on board. I told them he has a nut-allergy, so we have to take it in the handluggage. When taxiing to take-off leaving Keflavik, as usual there were the safety instructions. Immediately after that, the flight attendant called out through the speakers that there was a passenger with nut-allergy on board and asked everyone to refrain from using products that contained nuts. My husband and I looked at eachother saying that could hardly imply to someone else, since I had called them a few weeks earlier. After a couple of minutes, a stewardess came up to us asking if it could possibly harm him if someone else ate nuts, since some people also react to it being in the air. If we wanted to, she would ask the other crewmembers to go from row to row and tell the other passengers again to not eat something containing nuts. Even when we told her that wouldn't be necessary, she pointed out it wouldn't be a problem to do so ...
Talk about personalised customer service ... Thanks a lot Icelandair!!!Related to:
- Family Travel
Icelandair vs. Iceland Express.
Now Iceland Express has been taken over by WOW airline.
In Iceland we have two airlines, Icelandair and Iceland Express. I have been asked if there is a difference between these two airlines, and yes, there is.
Icelandair has much better airplanes with a private TV-screen in every seat, where you can choose from the latest films and TV-series. There is also a good detailed flight navigation so that you can see where the plane is located at all times. Thus the flight goes by in a jiffy. Icelandair has only got 2 planes in use which don't have these screens. Icelandair has been chosen the most punctual airline in Europe.
Iceland Express was founded as a low-fare airline with no frills. It started out well and the plane tickets were much cheaper than by Icelandair. We were very happy here to be able to fly from this island of ours without having to pay a small fortune. Now there is almost no difference in prices. The last time I travelled with Iceland Express it was a charter flight for one of our travel agencies and the plane was dreadful. There was no legroom and my seat could not lean back. The seat of the guy sitting next to me could not be put in an upright position. This was a 5,5 hours flight so this was very uncomfortable. And there was not a single TV-screen in the plane. And the ticket cost a small fortune. There and then I decided on never to fly with Iceland Express again. There have been many complaints now as they are known for being late and people are getting fed up with flying with them.
So if you have to choose between Icelandair and Iceland Express I would strongly advice you to fly with Icelandair. I know that in the future I will only buy plane tickets from them if Iceland Express doesn't clean up their act.
The third Icelandic airline launched its business in June 2012 Wowair and from April 2012 Easyjet will start to fly to Iceland as well. And we all know that they are cheap, so I am looking forward to seeing what they have to offer.
In October 2012 WOW airline took over Iceland Express.
Driving: Asphalt Ends Here!
When driving in Iceland, pay attention to the road sign in the photo, saying (in Icelandic only!) "Malbik Endar", meaning "Asphalt Ends".
When you see this road sign you should expect the good asphalt road to turn abruptly into a gravel road. Prepare to slow down accordingly.Related to:
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Links for private tours in Iceland.
There are several private companies in Iceland from which you can order private tours f.ex. Mountaineers of Iceland and Activity.is and Iceland on track which will take you on day tours, Golden Circle tours, Lava tube caving, snowmobile, northern lights and midsummer night tours to name some of their tours - on super jeeps.
There are also:
Daytrips - they offer day trips by super 4x4 Jeep and by busses.
Bustravel in Iceland.
There are several companies which offer organized group tours in Iceland. I have mentioned Reykjavík Excursions and Iceland Excursions, and then there is Netbus, which offers a combined tour of the Blue lagoon and The Golden Circle, which can of course be taken on two different days. Just compare the prices of these companies.
I have often travelled with Reykjavík Excursions and have been on 3 Northern light tours with Iceland Excursions and I recommend both of them. Have yet to try out Bustravel, just came across their leaflet. I see that they are cheaper than the other two companies, f.ex. The Golden Circle tour costs with them ISK 6.000, but with Reykjavík Excursions ISK 9.800 (entrance to Geysir museum is included in that though).
A VT-member offers a discount on car-rental.
An Icelandic VT-member Dassi can offer VT-members a discount on various car-rentals. Contact him if you are planning on renting a car in Iceland or going on organised trips. I will for sure contact him when travelling with Iceland Excursions, which I do from time to time. Dassi is not working for any of these companies, he just has some contacts so that he can offer us discounts.
Cheap jeep 10% discount.
Braut 10% discount
Netbus 15% discount.
Grayline - Iceland Excursions 15% discount. Iceland Excursions bought some new busses in 2012 and in them there is TV, DVD and WiFi.
Mountain Taxi 15% discount.
Amazing tours 15% discount.
Book your car rental early for a good deal!
I've been organising a 2 week holiday to Iceland this summer and I was dismayed to find the cost or renting a car to be astronomical, however, after a bit of searching around price comparison websites I got an earlybird deal for a 5 door compact car (VW Golf or equivalent)
It should have cost £1200 for 2 weeks, I got it for £100! Thats a saving of £1100! To say I'm happy would be an understatement.
The site was netflights.com and the rental company is AlamoRelated to:
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- Budget Travel
This is another item very important, at least for me. You can find some free maps surfing the net, and the Tourist Offices have some, but I considered (I consider it after the trip too), that it is a good investment to buy a good road map. I did it before I went to prepare the trip, and it helped me to perfectly find where the falls, lakes and rivers are.
The one I used is a 1:425 000 scale for the whole country. It was more than enough. The Tourism Offices can give some, but mostly for local areas. They are not too expensive, at least if you consider it as a part of the budget, not to mention if you go with more people; you can share the expenses. It will pay you, believe me!
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Cheap Jeeps Car-rental.
There is a new car-rental here in Iceland which is growing fast. It is called Cheap Jeep and only rents out cars which are ca 10 years old or older. They only started out with 5 jeeps and they planned on not expanding for the first year. But the demand was such that the first year (2009) they rented out 25 jeeps and this summer (2010) they rented out 130 jeeps and smaller cars :)
What makes them different is that they never get loans for the cars, they only add more cars if they have got the money for it. And they have kept advertisement to a minimum to keep the cost down.
They are located in Skúlagata 30 in Reykjavík.
The jeeps ar rented out during the summer time and then put up for sale during the winter time. Close to my home is a car-sale full of jeeps with the sign Cheap-jeeps - I am looking into buying one ;) Many of them are Suzuki Grand Vitara. In 2011-2012 we had a winter with heavy snow, so in January 2012 we bought a Suzuki Grand Vitara from Cheap jeep, it is the first time I own a 4x4 and what a difference it makes!
See my tip on discounts offered by one of our VT-members. He can offer a 10% discount on Cheap jeeps.
Layover in Reykjavik
If you ever have a long layover in Reykjavik, it is definitely worth taking the shuttle to the Blue Lagoon hot springs. Yes, it is a bit touristy, slightly over priced, but very nice and organized. It is great to wile away the hours of a layover soaking in therapeutic silicone mud with a cocktail in the steamy water. They have showers and lockers and a great bracelet system to lock the locker and to charge food and drinks. If you want to splurge a little, the in-water massage is quite nice.Related to:
- Spa and Resort
This recommendation is for those (like me) who rent a car and visit Iceland on their own.
* Road N1, also called Ring Road, is the most important and it’s a good paved one. Roads with two digits are normally good enough for cars. The ones with three digits, can be gravel ones, and normally are good for, let’s say, “normal” cars, but many times it all depends on the weather conditions or the time of the year. And roads starting with F, only can be driven with 4x4 vehicles. If you doubt, check the website (below) or just ask the local Tourism Office. In any case, DO always drive carefully.
* Some signs you may find:
- "Einbreid brú" means one-lane bridge, and there are a lot of those around Iceland.
- "Lausamöl" means gravel (grava) road, so take care of that as well (thanks again, Regina1965).
* Note: Bear in mind that my trip was during the first days of August, so, when I write that I didn't have problems with the roads, it means those days, so, always check the road conditions, ask locals or go to nearest Tourism Office.
For a better description of the roads: www.vegagerdin.is/vefur2.nsf/Files/Vegakerfid_english/$file/ATTRJY5V.pdf
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Car Rental in Iceland
I would like to preface this by saying that it seems essential to obtain a rental car if you really want to see what Iceland has to offer. The one exception may be if you have a lot of time on your hands, as it is still possible to see most of Iceland without one, albeit very time consuming and requiring much advance planning. There were two areas in particular that I wanted to see - The Westfjords and Northern Iceland (and also Grimsey Island, but not enough time). I knew I had to rent a car to fulfill my dream of seeing these areas given that I only had 6 total days in the country, and I found the best deals with Blue Car Rental. They are a smaller independent company, and as such they do not have offices directly outside the airport in Keflavik (as is the case with the big names like Budget and Hertz). Thankfully, they do deliver and drop off the cars throughout the Reykjavik area for a small fee. I paid about $65 USD/day for a Hyundai I 30, which was really a phenomenal little car and perfect for cruising about the country. Definitely check out this company, most others were at least $10 USD/day more, which certainly adds up over multiple days.
The roads in Iceland, when paved are excellent. Ring Road (Rt. 1), which circumnavigates the island, is generally in great shape, and gives you access to a majority of the country.
There are certain stretches of it on the Eastern side of the country that are a bit less maintained, narrow, and sometimes include stretches of unsealed gravel/dirt combinations.
Many roads that I found in more remote regions are unsealed, and in the Northern Westfjords can be a bit difficult to navigate, as there were recent small landslides in parts that left large rocks in the road.Related to:
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