Getting ready to plan your Iceland road trip but in desperate need of some car rental tips? If so, you’ve come to the right place! When planning road trips for our customers the most common questions we get is: Which car should I pick for my Iceland road trip? And is there any wonder – There are so many things to consider: For instance you need to figure out if your rental car is ready for the Icelandic weather, or does it fit all the luggage you’re bringing to Iceland. And then there is of course the most important question for myself when traveling: Is there enough leg room for my tall (and handsome) husband?

Why so many different car types?

As you might know Iceland Travel offers several different categories of rental cars. This way we can make sure all of our road trips can be adjusted to different number of travelers and different seasons/weather. It also allows us to adjust your itinerary if you would like to add interesting detours which might require a different type of car. But how should you choose a car for your Iceland self-drive? Well, we decided to answer all of your Iceland rental car questions in one place and try to explain which types of cars go best with certain types of self-drives. That way you can be sure to be safe and comfortable on the Icelandic roads and enjoy a worry-free Iceland vacation.

Summer Short TripsCategory 1 – 2

If you are coming for a short visit to Iceland in the summer time and want to have the freedom to explore at your hearts content then a road trip is definitely the perfect choice. Assuming that there are no more than four eh…  let’s say regular size people in your group, this category is suitable for you. The cars in category 1-2 are small, usually a Toyota Yaris, Hyundai i10 or similar, and therefor great for driving in Reykjavik or going on shorter road trips like our South shore Express Road Trip. Now if you are visiting in the wintertime you might wonder if you can’t just get a small car with winter tires for your winter road trip? To tell you the truth we always recommend heavier cars for winter as the roads might get icy and the winds stronger. As for trunk size you will have to pack light for the lowest category cars as they can only hold 1-2 suitcases.

Summer Longer Trips – Category 3 

Now, if you are thinking of a summer road trip chances are you are interested in staying longer and traveling further (those amazing Midnight Sun moments up North just make you want explore further away from the capital). There is also a great chance that you are looking into doing the complete ring road like our Ring Road Express road trip, which is one of the most popular road trips in Iceland. For such itineraries we recommend considering a bigger and more powerful car for your comfort. These are usually station cars such as  Hyundai i30 or Toyota Auris but as you can see these types might not be perfect for the taller lot but they can however hold 4 suitcases.

The All-Round Choice – Category 4

Have you heard they saying “If you don’t like the Icelandic weather, just wait a minute”? Although it’s usually told when it’s raining out to give us all hope that the sun might break through in a moment, it’s also good to have in mind when the weather is nice and you believe there is nothing but blue skies ahead on your trip. The weather in Iceland is very unpredictable and this is why the 4wd drive station wagons in category 4 are our most popular car rental choice for our travelers. In winter time the category 4 cars should stay steady on the highway whether it’s icy or not making your drive safe. You should of course refer to your suggested route and only make detours which are open in the winter months. During summer time you can take advantage of the 4WD and go a bit of the beaten track on routes that might be a bit bumpier than the Ring Road, such as the road leading to Latrabjarg in the Westfjords, or perhaps the one taking you from Asbyrgi to Dettifoss waterfall – All sites we recommend you put on your bucket list in Iceland. Four F-road driving and highland exploration this is NOT the choice. There’s good legroom in the back and the truck can hold up to 4 suitcases.

The Viking Warrior – Category 5 

If you’re planning on a more adventurous trip up into the highlands or somewhere that’s a bit more off the beaten path like Landmannalaugar, like in our Higlands and Lowlands road trip a category 5 vehicle is a must. Usually a small jeep like a Suzuki Vitara, these guys will take you on  the rougher gravel roads without a problem. When planning a road trip to the highlands please keep in mind that you may have to cross small rivers but no type of insurance will cover water damage to the vehicle. This type of car is strongly recommended for winter road trips. Category 5 cars can hold 3 suitcases.

The Highlander – Category 7 

A category 7 car is by far the safest choice for trips to the Highlands (note that the Highlands are only accessible during summer). This car is higher than the cat. 5 and so will make it easier to drive steep mountain roads. There’s plenty of space for all your hiking gear and supplies and you’ll be well prepared to face the elements in this sturdy car. When planning a road trip to the highlands please keep in mind that you may have to cross small rivers but no type of insurance will cover water damage to the vehicle. This type of car is strongly recommended for winter road trips. Category 7 cars can hold 4 suitcases.

Insurance and other important features

So I need to talk a bit about the boring stuff to make sure you have all the knowledge your need. Our road trip packages include CDW, unlimited mileage, VAT, a GPS system and two authorized drivers. Always be sure to buy insurance for your car so you’re at least covered for gravel damage and will get roadside assistance if needed. Please note that insurance bought online, via a third party will most probably not cover you in Iceland. So, think ahead and book your car well in advance, especially if you’re travelling in peak season as the most suitable cars will be the first to go. It’s also good to think about how and when you’re going to need to fuel up. Gas stations can be few and far between outside of the towns and you do not want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with an empty tank. Check out our blog on driving in Iceland for more information

So hopefully you now know a little bit more about which type of car to choose before coming over to explore all the remarkable bucketlist sites in Iceland! Whether you are looking for fuel-efficiency, space, or comfort and style you are sure to find the perfect rental car no matter whether you are going on a quick family visit or an adventurous road trip.