I travelled to Iceland last August for a solo photography trip, and this is the first of a series of blog posts about what you should know when planning a trip to Iceland.
The second blog post will concentrate more on what to take and what you can safely leave at home. The other posts will be about the must-see and must-dos while in Iceland.
Summer (July – September) is the main tourist season in Iceland, and last year a lot of tourists were there at the same time as me. Luckily most of the tourist stay on or close to the “Ring Road” but be prepared to get up very early or have a lot of people in your pictures.
You should know that there are two big categories for roads in Iceland: “F roads” (not named F because that’s what you say when you drive on them) and all the other roads. F roads are the unpaved/gravel/mountain “roads” with river crossings that are allowed for 4×4 wheel cars only, and you shouldn’t try them with a non-four-wheel car as you might get stuck somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
F roads are closed during winter and usually open in June. The Icelandic Road and Coastal website is an excellent resource on road conditions as some roads can be closed due to the weather even in the summer.
Most rental companies will let you know which of their cars are F road compatible, and those models are usually more expensive.
Car rental in Iceland – Planning your trip
First, I knew that I was going to rent a car because I wanted to go off the beaten path and travel at my rhythm. There are organized tours and touristic bus services that will bring you to the main highlights of the Ring Road, but if you want to go a bit further afield, you should consider renting a car.
There is an ongoing question about car insurance in Iceland as they have some additional coverages from what you see in other countries (or at least from what I saw). Aka “Gravel Protection” (for damage to the car when driving on gravel roads which are quite common) and “Ash and Sand” (from damage done by sand blown around by the wind). I can’t tell you if you should take those or not, that will depend on where you go and on how much hassle you want to have. I used Geysir Rental and had an excellent experience with them.
Camping – Planning your trip
I will touch on this more in the second blog post about my packing list but you might want to include this in your planning, so consider taking or renting camping gear. (A very good and quite cheap rental company is Iceland Camping Equipment Rental: website). In some part of Iceland there aren’t that many hotels, AirBnB, guesthouses and if you travel during the high season, you might not find a bed. Additionally, some parts are quite remote, and camping sometimes is the only option available. There are a lot of campgrounds, and most have an indoors cooking space, and some have hot springs
Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions and let me know what you would like to know about for your next trip to Iceland. Don’t forget to share this post if you liked it or if you know somebody going to Iceland soon.