Sunday, 23 November 2014

Rent a car in Iceland: Car Comparison by price in Iceland + Tips for Renting a Car in Iceland

If you’re planning to tour Iceland by car, then Iceland car rentals provide the cheapest and best way to explore the vast island. With public transportation being scarce outside major cities like Reykjavík, renting a car becomes the cheaper and most viable option for tourists to explore the island fully. Though it may seem expensive initially, it is much cheaper and less strenuous than having to purchase a car or travel by bus. With plenty of car rental companies in Iceland at your disposal, you will never fail to get a deal that suits your budget. 

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

The wide array of vehicles available for hire also makes it possible for you to get a car that can take you almost anywhere on the island from SUVs, four wheel cars, luxury cars, 4×4 rental cars and jeeps just to mention a few. In this article, we give you some tips on picking an Iceland car rental provider as well as taking a look at some of the best car rental companies on the island. 

CAR COMPARISON BY PRICE
July 7th to July 14th - 2015 (7 days)

Option A - New cars:

HERTZ
Toyota Aygo                              790,96€
Toyota Rav4                              1.573,9€

EUROPCAR
Hyundai i10:                               786,4€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:           1.573,1€

REYKJAVÍK CARS *                  BEST COMPANY JULY 2015 (1st place)
Hyundai i10:                                  498,3€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:               863€ 

AVIS
Hyundai i10:                               718€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:           1.484€

CARS ICELAND                      BEST COMPANY JULY 2015 (2nd place)
Kia Rio Diesel:                            602€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                       922€
*prices with all insurances included


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Option B - Old cars:

REYKJAVÍK CARS (they also rent old models)
Hyundai i10:                              487,8€
Suzuki Jimny 4x4:                     708€

SS CAR-RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                                546,8€
Toyota Rav4 4x4:                        1.030€

SADCARS
Toyota Yaris                               616,34€
Toyota Rav4 4x4                        1.240,2€

ICELAND CAR RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                              585,8€
Toyota Rav4                             1064,2€

GEYSIR
Hyundai i20:                              619,8€
Hyundai Tucson:                       900,2€

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Renting a car is really the best and only way to see the country so be sure to factor it into your budget. We went there thinking we would just take a bus to other areas -wrong. The only buses that exists outside the capital city of Reykjavik are tour buses. So technically you can take a bus but you will pay for it because it will be part of an organized tours and it will add up fast. If you are traveling with another person a car is the cheapest way to see the country. Plus, driving in Iceland is very easy and there isn’t much traffic.

7 TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR IN ICELAND

Renting a car in Iceland may not be the cheapest way to explore Iceland (it’s tough to beat hitch hiking) but it doesn’t have to blow your budget. With public transportation being non-existent outside of the larger cities, like Reykjavik, renting a car gives you the freedom at a fraction of the cost when compared to the sightseeing tours sold at tourist information centers.

Below are seven ways to save money on your Iceland car rental:

Don’t buy it: You don’t need theft insurance for the vehicle. According to our agent, car thefts in Iceland are rare and he actually told us not to bother with any of the additional insurance (yes, they have insurance for ash from the volcano) either, so we didn’t. 

Go online: The best deals can be found online for Iceland car rentals. By booking online, you will find a better deal than renting directly from a tourist center in Iceland. Some online companies even offer discounts if you book online therefore you will be able to save a lot by booking online. There are a variety of car rental companies on the island so take your time and visit their websites, compare prices, and look at their packages and whether or not they offer discounts for booking online. By doing this, you will be able to get a good deal at a pocket friendly price. 

Pick up at Keflavik International Airport: Because the airport is located about an hour from Reykjavik, you will have to spend €15 – €20 each way to get to and from the airport. So, you might as well just rent your car from the airport and roll your shuttle bus fees into the car rental. 


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Get to know your vehicle: The longer you keep the rental car the cheaper it becomes.

Petrol Blues: When considering renting a car be sure to factor in the cost of gas. In Europe, petrol is sold by the liter not the gallon; therefore, expect to pay about $5 per gallon. 

Choose Your Rental Dates Wisely: Sept. 1 in Iceland signals the beginning of the low season, which runs until May 31. Renting a car in Iceland becomes even cheaper during that time. And by cheaper I mean €35/day vs. €85/day – it’s a HUGE price difference. 

Consider your budget: Look for a car rental company that falls within your budget. Remember you do not have to spend a fortune on car rental therefore try to get a car rental service that will leave you with some cash to spend on the road.


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

DRIVING IN ICELAND

Driving Conditions in Iceland are in many ways unusual and often quite unlike what foreign drivers are accustomed to. It is therefore very important to find out how to drive in this country. We know that the landscapes are beautiful, which naturally draws the driver’s attention away from the road. But in order to reach your destination safely, you must keep your full attention on driving.

-The speed limit in populated areas is usually 50 km/hr.
-The speed limit is often 60 km/hr on thruways, but in residential areas it is usually only 30 km/hr.
-The main rule in rural areas is that gravel roads have a speed limit of 80 km/hr, and paved roads 90 km/hr.
-Signs indicate if other speed limits apply.

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HIGHLAND DRIVING

Driving in the Icelandic highland is quite different from driving in the lowland. The conditions can change fast due to weather, rain and even sometimes snow. Therefore roads can be closed and rivers can be too big to cross. Before you start your travel you should get information about the area as well as leave your travel plan with someone who can check up on you if needed.

You can make your travel plan here:

-Start by checking if the area you are going to visit is open
-Get as much information about the area as you can
-Information centers, rangers and hut wardens can help you get the information needed
-Are you sure that you have the experience and knowledge needed to go the highland?
-If you are driving be on a 4x4 jeep, other cars will only get you into trouble
-If you are no sure how to cross a river skip it or wait for the next car to assist you over

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

ILLEGAL OFF-ROAD DRIVING

When the fact that the country lies right below the Arctic Circle is taken into consideration, along with the fact that the growing season is short, it is apparent that the environment can take many years, decades or even centuries to recover. For example, many people don't realise that by uprooting or driving on moss, damage is caused that can take at least a decade or, more likely, some hundreds of years to mend – and we're not even talking about the highlands where the summer is much shorter.

Whilst travelling around the country, the highest respect for the Icelandic environment must be shown. It's good to remember to take nothing besides photographs and leave nothing behind except footprints.

-Check out the road map and see where the roads and trails are.
-Get information about the appropriate routes at visitor centres, and from rangers or staff.
-Find out in advance when mountain roads are likely to be open, along with other related information, at visitor centres or here.

While on your trip around the country you’ll quickly see that in many places, road ruts and paths have formed from other people. Often they are closed off with nothing more than a row of small rocks. Don’t be caught in the pitfall of following those paths; only stay on roads and marked trails. Instead, think about the damage off-road driving has caused, take photos and educate friends and acquaintances. See how long such damage takes to heal. Notice that ruts don’t just look ugly; they draw in water and thereby cause even further damage, leading to erosion of soil and vegetation. Walk around a short distance or turn around if you can’t go any farther by driving. That’s the only right thing do. Besides, you can easily expect a sky-high fine or prison term for offences.

We should all set a good example. Together we share the responsibility of ensuring that everyone gets the chance of enjoying a pristine natural environment for years to come.

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

CROSSING A RIVER

One thing is for sure when you go hiking in Iceland and that’s that you’ll not get far without coming to the first stream. Usually they’re little brooks, which are good to get a fresh drink from. On the other hand, they can be large rivers and you will need to wade them, in which case you should bear some things in mind:

-Rivers often have less volume earlier in the day, so organising hiking trips accordingly is not a bad idea.
-Look around for suitable locations to ford. Be aware that places that are good for crossing with jeeps are seldom good for crossing on foot.
-Look for meanders in the river which are places where there is loose gravel and sand and the current dies down as the river expands.
-Meanders are usually the best location you’ll find for fording a river though the river may be wider there.
-Preferably wade the river with two or three other people at a time by clasping arms together at the elbows.
-Loosen any straps on backpacks and be sure not to have anything tied tight that could complicate things if you or someone else might fall.
-It’s best to have special wading shoes as it is not wise to cross barefoot - this can increase the likelihood of a fall.
-Before fording, it’s smart to decide on a spot farther down the river where everyone will go to if someone might unfortunately fall.
-If you fall, roll onto your back, keep your feet in front of you and trudge to the place - or near to it - that was previously decided upon.

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When planning your hiking trip get information about rivers, if they are possible to cross on foot and then what time is best and etc. Never cross a river unless you are 100% sure of how to do it and feel safe doing it.

Helpful Tips on 4x4 Driving in Iceland

If you have plans to visit Iceland's country side then you should also pick a 4x4 vehicle since you will most likely be driving on some gravel roads. And should you go off the beaten path to visit the Iceland highland then you are sure to encounter some F-roads that are only driveble by larger 4x4.

Iceland gravel roadsAll major roads in Iceland are paved. But keep in mind that of 13.000 km total roads in Iceland only about 5.000 is paved with asfalt.

Most gravel roads are not difficult to drive on or dangerous, you just need to keep special attention while driving and make sure you are not going to fast. These roads are often narrow and many bridges only have one lane. You are also likely to meet some sheeps and Icelandic horses so make sure you are paying attention.

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List of the most popular F-roads

Here is a list of the most popular F-roads in Iceland and average opening times:
F-RoadNameAvg. opening date
F206 Lakagígar June 12th
F208 Fjallabaksleið nyrðri
(Landmannalaugar and Eldgjá)
June 12th
F225 Landmannaleið, Landmannalaugar June 15th
F35 Kjölur (Hveravellir) June 11th
F26 Sprengisandur June 27th
F88 Askja June 20th
F902 Kverkfjöll June 19th
F52 Uxahryggir June 5th
F550 Kaldidalur June 13th

Driving in snow and difficult weather conditions

Make sure you are always driving according to road and weather conditions. If there is snow and the roads are slippery make sure to take it slow and drive safe. If you are driving outsite of populated areas make sure to find out the conditions of the roads on your route. You should also check out the weather forecast.

Check road conditions in Iceland here:
http://www.vegagerdin.is/english/road-conditions-and-weather/the-entire-country/island1e.html

Check weather forecast here:
http://en.vedur.is

Carpooling in Iceland:
http://samferda.is

Map of Iceland:
http://atlas.lmi.is/kortasja_en/

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Kolla, Iceland24
© 2014 Iceland24, November 2014

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Hornstrandir peninsula - Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

The very north of Iceland is considered one of the most remote places in Europe. In this remote location, the Westfjords peninsula is home to Hornstrandir nature reserve: an isolated and unspoiled example of the undisturbed arctic.

Hornstrandir seems to be moving backwards. The current trend around the globe seems to be for people to take up more and more land, but strangely Hornstrandir, a place that used to be widely inhabited, is now completely empty.

The Hornstrandir peninsula - Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

In the mid-20th Century, the people of Hornstrandir, who had been hardy people living from the land, left their lives of sheep farming along with hundreds of year of tradition and even their houses, and took off for the ‘big city’. The houses are still there as a strange remnant from a way of life before modern conveniences.

The Hornstrandir peninsula - Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

The houses are maintained by their respective families as summerhouses. There are still no access roads and the houses can only be reached by boat and/or a long hike.

Hornstrandir is not a deserted city, rather it is a vast place that was once dotted here and there with sheep farms that have since vanished. It has always been an expansive, lonely, windswept place of great solitude. It's just that the spread-out farmers, fisher-folk and their sheep have gone now too.

The Hornstrandir peninsula - Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

If what you are looking for is solitude and a place to be surrounded by nature, Hornstrandir is a place for you. As the ultimate backcountry experience Hornstrandir is a place to be explored, where you can pretty much go as long as you want without encountering another person. Though it is very isolated and almost inhabited, the peninsula is rather easily accessible via the ferry service from Ísafjörður. There are also several tour companies operating in the area. If something should go wrong, there is some cell coverage in the area.

The Hornstrandir peninsula - Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Like in the rest of Iceland, in Hornstrandir the Arctic fox is protected and they are not allowed to be hunted. As a result, the foxes are not as wary of people and give visitors a great chance to see them up close.

The Hornstrandir peninsula - Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Hornstrandir is also a place for any armature ornithologists and bird watchers. The lack of permanent residence means that the birds congregate on the Westfjords in the thousands. The peninsula's extreme cliffs provide seabirds of all kinds with a home, as well as providing some of the most impressive landscapes in Iceland. As the ‘ice’ing on the top, the peninsula is directly north of the Drangajökull glacier.

The Hornstrandir peninsula - Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

For reasons of safety, Hornstrandir is strictly off-limits in the winter. However in the summertime, Hornstrandir is a special place that is off the beaten path and can be a trek to remember. In the fall and spring, organized sailing/skiing adventure trips can be the highlight of any epic adventure vacation!

How to get to Hornstrandir

Organized tours. Take some of the stress out of and letting someone else make all the arrangements for getting to Hornstrandir. West Tours offers several options for day tours, which range from 6200 to 21,500 ISK per person and from 4 hours to 12 hours.

The Hornstrandir peninsula - Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

By car. If you have access to a car, you can drive from Reykjavik to Isafjordur and take the ferry across to Hornstrandir. However, there are no roads in the nature reserve, so it’s on foot for the rest of the trip.

By boat. Two boat companies offer scheduled boats to Hornstrandir – Sjóferðir operates three boats departing from Ísafjörður. Freydís offers mainly tours from Norðurfjörður to the east side of the peninsula. Ferry schedules only post the departure time and travel time may vary depending on a number of factors.

The Hornstrandir peninsula - Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Once the boat arrives at Hornstrandir, it goes back to Isafjordur. Most people choose to get off the ferry at one point and hike to another ferry stop to re-board for the return trip. Be aware of the scheduled stops. It may be a good idea to book your times and tickets in advance, as most points are only serviced twice a week. West Tours sells tickets for each of the ferries.

The Hornstrandir peninsula - Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

If you don’t want to have to worry about the ferry schedule and you have some extra money to spend, you can charter a boat. This is the easier and more convenient option but can be much more expensive. When traveling with a larger group, chartering a boat is the advisable option to avoid overbooked ferries. The extra cost is easily off-set by the number of passengers.

Kolla, Iceland24
© 2014 Iceland24, November 2014

Monday, 17 November 2014

Enjoy Reykjavík’s Kolaportið Weekend Market

Lopapeysa is a souvenir that perfectly represents Iceland. It is a traditional sweater made out of intricate and distinct pattern. These handmade sweaters were created using sheep’s wool, which explains why they are amazingly warm. However, these sweaters may be quite expensive, reaching even more than 30,000 ISK in local stores along Laugavegur Street, the main shopping destination in Reykjavík.

Enjoy Reykjavík’s Kolaportið Weekend Market

In order to get a cheaper, yet same high-quality option, try visiting the Kolaportið weekend market. What is very interesting about this place is that it gives off the traditional feel of Iceland. The people that gather here come from all sorts of backgrounds, buying and selling things. Everybody who visits this market is in for a good deal. It is very charming, with a twist of a little weirdness as well.

Enjoy Reykjavík’s Kolaportið Weekend Market

Even though there are a lot of things that are worth buying in this market, such as used books, knick knacks, vintage shoes and clothes, local delicacies and even DVDs, the best offers are the ones on Iopapeysas. In this market, you can find a good deal for half the price, at 15,000 ISK. You may also decide to purchase other items such as mittens, woollen hats, and scarves.

Visit all the stalls and try on different options until you eventually find your fit. You may also attempt to negotiate, but most of the prices are fixed and are already hugely discounted, compared to the bigger stores.

Enjoy Reykjavík’s Kolaportið Weekend Market

The Kolaportið weekend market is an indoor location which is usually open during the weekend. The store hours are between 11:00 – 17:00, and they are occasionally open during public holidays. Most of the vendors do not receive cash. However, there is an ATM inside the market. You may not get a tax on your purchase, but because of the savings that you got, the tax does not really matter. Plus, you can also go and get yourself a good lunch at the fish stalls in the area.

Enjoy Reykjavík’s Kolaportið Weekend Market

Therefore, if you are searching for an activity to do on a boring weekend afternoon, head to Kolaportið weekend market and enjoy a shopping spree.

Kolla, Iceland24
© 2014 Iceland24, November 2014