Thursday, 30 May 2019

Tap Water in Iceland

When traveling to any foreign country, there are always certain questions you have to ask. From thinking about lodging and accommodation to exchanging money, you always inevitably end up asking the same things. Drinking water is one of these fundamental inquiries. So can you drink tap water in Iceland or do you need to buy bottled water during your entire trip? Let’s find out.

Iceland tap water glass: Sulphur taste or safe to drink?

I’ve got great news for you: Icelandic water is some of the freshest and tastiest in the world. While you may have heard rumors about Iceland tap water and sulphur, rest assured. You won’t be drinking sulphur-infused water (bleck!) during your Iceland vacation. Let’s talk about where these rumors come from and why the water in Iceland is so delicious.

Iceland Tap Water: Sulphur Smell or Taste? 

So the first thing I want to point out is that tap water in Iceland can sometimes smell like sulfur. There’s no getting around this fact, I won’t try to deny it, and it’s important to clear up. We are a volcanic island heated by geothermal energy, so this is a completely normal thing. You’ll probably also experience this phenomenon when you visit a hot spring or go to a geothermal area like Hverir.

But the important thing to note is that the taste of tap water is not related to the smell. Our water runs our precious glaciers, and it tastes like it is fresh from a natural spring. It’s the purest, cleanest type of water you can drink; even fresher than the H2O from water bottles. And if you’re looking to quench your thirst, there are also some things you can do to cut down on the sulfur smell.

Tips For Iceland Tap Water 

So just to prepare you, here are some important things to know. Hot water smells like sulphur, and if for some reason you choose to fill your glass with hot water, it might taste like it a little but usually, it won’t. Cold water neither smells nor tastes like sulphur. If you’ve been using hot water, close the tap, then want cold water, the mixture may have a slight taste of sulphur.

To remedy this, the solution is quite simple. You can either start the water running on cold or just let it run for a little bit in order to not have a mixture before pouring your drinking water into the glass. And it will be extremely tasty, I promise!

Iceland tap water faucet: Sulphur taste or can you drink it?

Other Factors 

The sulphur smell also varies by region. When taking a shower in the North, for example, you might notice a stronger odor than down south in Reykjavik or along the South Coast. Again, it’s all completely normal, even if it’s not what you’re used to. Just think of it as a way of getting back to nature.

Can You Drink Tap Water in Iceland? 

So if you’re wondering is the tap water safe to drink in Iceland, the answer is a resounding yes. You just have to remember that if you want to avoid an unusual odor, it’s better to have cold water that has been running for a little bit. That is the freshest, best-tasting, option. If you’re looking for good tap water, Iceland is the place to go.

Why Icelandic Water is Great For Tourists 

As we all know, Iceland is an expensive place. In a country where a sandwich will set you back $15, anyone traveling here will look to cut corners any way they can. Well, luckily, the drinking water here is one way to do that. Our bodies need around 2 liters a day of water (those 6-8 glasses that doctors always recommend). Otherwise, we can easily become dehydrated.

It’s especially important to stay hydrated during all of the glacier hikes and scaling of waterfalls that you’ll be doing. As a visitor, Iceland is all about outdoor activities and being physical. You’re going to lose a lot of fluids just through sweating alone.

You’ll save a ton of money because you won’t be spending it on plastic water bottles, which are also bad for the planet. Just come armed with a reusable aluminum, stainless steel or Nalgene BPA-free water bottle, and you’ll be ready to go. You can also use it to grab water on your hikes from natural springs in the area.

Iceland tap water: Bring a reusable water bottle

Tap Water in Iceland 

So I hope I’ve answered all of your questions about Iceland tap water. Yes, it can smell like sulphur. No, it doesn’t taste like sulphur, especially when it comes out of the tap cold. Yes, you can absolutely drink tap water in Iceland. It’s 100% safe (despite the sometimes funny smell) and its some the best water you will ever drink. And who knows; maybe after a 7-day itinerary around Iceland’s Ring Road, you won’t even notice it anymore! Bottoms up.

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Thursday, 23 May 2019

Rent a car in Iceland: Car Comparison by price in Iceland + Tips for Renting a Car in Iceland 2019

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. 

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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. 

July 11th to July 19th - 2019 (8 days)

Option A - New cars:

CARS ICELAND                      BEST COMPANY 2019 (1st place)
Toyota Aygo / Kia Picanto:          429€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                       778€
*prices with all insurance included

REYKJAVÍK CARS                    BEST COMPANY 2019 (2nd place)
Hyundai i10:                                344€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                       652€

Toyota Aygo:                                860€
Toyota Rav4:                               1.503€

REYKJAVÍK AUTO                     BEST COMPANY 2019 (3rd place)
Renault Clio:                                349€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                        662€

Hyundai i10:                                 720€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:             1.190€

Hyundai i10:                                  719€
Suzuki Jimny 4x4:                      1.083€

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

Option B - Older cars:

CARS REYKJAVÍK                     
Toyota Yaris                                 379€
Toyota Rav4 4x4                          710€

Toyota Yaris:                                  547€
Toyota Rav4 4x4:                           858€

REYKJAVÍK CARS (they also rent older models)
Hyundai i10:                                357€
Suzuki Jimny 4x4:                       634€

Toyota Yaris                                 402€
Toyota Rav4 4x4                          784€

Hyundai i10:                                503€
Toyota Rav4                                 848€

Hyundai i20:                                480€
Hyundai Tucson:                          790€

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. We were wrong. The only buses that exist 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 tour and it will add up fast. If you are travelling 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.


Renting a car in Iceland may not be the cheapest way to explore Iceland (it’s tough to beat hitchhiking) 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 centres.

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 volcanoes), 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 the tourist centre 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 price of your car rental. 

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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 litre, 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 at 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 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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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 centres, 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 not sure how to cross a river skip it or wait for the next car to assist you over

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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, the 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 roadmap 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.

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One thing is for sure when you go hiking in Iceland and that’s what 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 are 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 through 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 countryside 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 drivable by larger 4x4.

Iceland gravel roads. All 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 asphalt.

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 sheep 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 outside of populated areas make sure to find out the conditions of the roads on your route. You should also check out the weather forecast.

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Kolla, Iceland24
© 2019 Iceland24

6 days itinerary trip in Iceland by Brooke (October 5th-10th)

In thanks for all of the tips I picked up from other travellers, here is a brief trip report. Six of us were in Iceland on October 5-10, six days on the ground. We rented a van from Mike at Reykjavík Cars and it worked out great.

He met us at the airport, everything was incredibly convenient, even as I changed our car requirements as our group grew shortly before the trip.

Day one 

We landed in the morning, dumped the luggage at the Reykjavik Centrum Hotel, and set off on a self-led walking tour of sites in Reykjavik, including Hallgrimskirkja, the National Museum and the harbour area.

We had a tasty lunch of local fish at Icelandic Fish and Chips and took a rest. We had a truly outstanding dinner celebrating the 60th birthday at Grill Market. Service, led by waiter Yoel, was great.

The presentation of the food was lovely, the food was delicious (fish, lamb, duck, veggie) and the special setting. When our staying/celebrating at the table was holding up other guests who needed to be seated, Yoel moved us into the bar area for complimentary coffee.

We then moved on for drinks at Loft Bar, properly recommended by Yoel as a good place for “older” folks.

Day two

We took on the Golden Circle, focusing on the traditional stops: Pingveller, Geysir and Gullfoss. I would say the waterfall was the most impressed spot for us.

That night we had dinner at a restaurant called Slippbarinn at the Marina Hotel that was recommended by a local contact; very nice, good food (we ate mostly fish) and a nice atmosphere.

Since according to the websites and the hotel the solar activity forecast was promising, we took a Northern Lights to drive back to Pingveller, but it was too overcast to see anything.

Day three

We set off on the Ringroad heading East - stopped at the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall, walked behind the waterfall which was nice, had lunch in Vik at a lovely café, Halldorskkaffi.

We stopped at the little museum/shop dedicated to the Eyafjallajokull earthquake and then onto the breathtaking Jokulsarlon and a boat trip on the iceberg lagoon.

We arrived at Hofn in time for sunset and had good fish and lobster dinners where we were staying at the Hotel Hofn.

Day four

We walked along the coast, harbour and through town and then back on the Ringroad headed West. We stopped at Jokulsarlon to see the changes that take place from hour to hour and day to day, quite amazing and then down to the beach to see the smaller (and not so small) pieces of ice that washed up on the black sand shore.

It began to snow and rain, and we headed to Skaftafell National Park and took a walk for around 2 KM to a glacier while it snowed. After lunch at truckstop, we headed back towards Vik. It was raining in Vik so we took a quick look at the black sand beach and the Rrenisdranger “Troll Rocks” and then onto the lovely Volcano Hotel where we were staying for the night.

We were having dinner in the hotel dining room and had finished eating before dessert when another guest ran in at 8:30 told us that the Northern Lights were visible in the sky. We stood outside and watched the natural light show.

We felt really lucky to catch this phenomenon during our short visit to Iceland. When we returned inside for dessert, we had a really informative and lovely conversation (includes pictures) with the hotel owner Johan, about his experiences living in the region.

Day five 

In the morning we did a wonderful two-hour glacier walk on Myrdalsjokull with Tomas from Arcanum. Continuing West, we stopped at the impressive Skogarfoss waterfall, climbed up the steep metal stairs to the top and then walked along the muddy path which produced additional views of beautiful waterfalls, communing with sheep and vistas.

We ate a fish and chips lunch at the restaurant near the waterfall and then headed to the lodge-like Hotel Ranga, outside of Hella. An upscale place, we took advantage of happy hour, the hot tub and a nice dinner in their dining room.

Day six

This was our departure day so we headed directly to the obligatory Blue Lagoon for a couple of hours and then lunch in their dining room.

From there it was to the airport and an end to a too short Icelandic holiday.

Thanks again to all for the ideas you shared that helped us construct our trip.


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Reykjadalur Hot Springs: Bathe in Iceland’s Hot River

Iceland travel is filled with many new and exciting activities. What else would you expect from a place known as The Land of Fire and Ice? Our massive glaciers, brewing volcanoes, and careening waterfalls are just some of the wonders that await you. But have you heard about the Reykjadalur hot springs? They’re not as well known as other places to go and things to do but are a cool suggestion if you’re looking for day trips from Reykjavik. Hot springs in Iceland give you the chance to relax, unwind, and even heat up a little on those chilly Icelandic days.

Reykjadalur hot river in Iceland hiking trail

Iceland Hot Springs 

You may have already heard of these types of zones thanks to places like Landmannalaugar and the Laugavegur trail. This is the most popular area of Iceland for hikers thanks to the stunning, colorful rhyolite mountains. You’ll find little hot springs scattered all over this territory and taking a soak at the end of a hike is something many hiking enthusiasts enjoy. In fact, the name of the area (Landmannalaugar) means “the people’s pools,” thanks to all of the hot pools in the area.

Iceland hot springs are known for their warm to extremely hot water. You’ll find tens of thousands of them all over the country. We call them hot pots, with some being only holes in the ground just big enough for two people and others being more of a man-made swimming pool type of structure. The “hidden” Landbrotalaug hot pot is a famous one, as is the Hofsós swimming pool. The Mývatn Nature Baths are another alternative if you’re looking to explore geothermally heated pools and springs in other parts of the country.

Reykjadalur Valley 

The Reykjadalur valley is filled with Icelandic hot springs, the most famous of which is the hot river. You’ll find this geothermal area in South Iceland, and its most famous attraction is the “hot river” where people go to go swimming, bathe, and pass the day. It’s quite pleasant, and you’re surrounded by lovely scenery that is so typical of Iceland’s world famous landscapes.

The Hot River Iceland 

The river at Reykjadalur is an Iceland hot spring that flows through this beautiful valley. It’s often referred to as the hot river in Iceland (perhaps because people are scared to pronounce its name). The Icelandic language isn’t that difficult, is it? Well, you can call it whatever you like, just make sure to include it on your itinerary!

Reykjadalur hot river in Iceland during the winter

Is Reykjadalur Hot or Just Warm? 

Because Icelandic hot springs are heated geothermally, their level of warmth varies and fluctuates. After all, you can’t really control the temperature setting of a volcano. Make no mistake; Reykjadalur is hot. With an average temperature of 40 ºC (104 ºF), most people can’t stay in the water for more than about five minutes. Be sure to bring your towel (or several) because it can be quite cold outside of the river. There might even be snow on the ground.

How to Get to Reykjadalur 

Reykjadalur is very close to the Ring Road, so it’s really more of a detour off of the main highway. When you get close to the town of Hverasvæði, you’ll come to a roundabout and take the Breiðamörk exit (the last one) which takes you onto the road that leads you to the parking lot. You’ll continue on this road for less than ten minutes before arriving.

The Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike 

After you’ve found somewhere to park, it’s pretty obvious where the beginning of the hiking trail is. The Reykjadalur hot springs hike is 3 km (1.9 miles) and unfortunately, is slightly uphill. But the good news is that on the way back it’s downhill.

Once you’ve started the hike, it takes about 45 minutes to arrive. It’s a moderate physical activity, so if you’re not used to strenuous activities, it might take you an hour. Just go slowly at a comfortable pace, and you’ll arrive in your own time.

When you decide to make the hike to the hot river, be sure to bring a plastic bag along with your bathing suits and hiking boots. There’s nothing worse than getting your belongings damp thanks to a wet swimsuit or trunks. And if you’re traveling through Iceland using a backpack, this can be very inconvenient.

Reykjadalur hot springs hiking trail path

Reykjadalur Hot Springs: Bathe in Iceland’s Hot River 

Located just 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik, it’s the perfect distance for those looking to do something slightly off the beaten path. I highly recommend this day trip as a way to escape the crowds of the Blue Lagoon but at the same time enjoy Iceland’s famous hot springs. If you’re staying in the nation’s capital and have already done the Golden Circle, this is another fun way to spend the day during your Iceland road trip.

Come visit Reykjadalur. You definitely won’t regret it!

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Monday, 13 May 2019

Iceland Car Rental Insurance: Do I Need It?

When picking up your rental at the airport, one of the first things the person behind the counter asks is if you’d like the optional insurance. As a savvy traveler you think to yourself “Nah, it’s just an upsell and a waste of money”. I agree in most cases, but there’s something you should know. Iceland car rental insurance is different because driving here is unlike anything you can imagine. And believe it or not, car rental insurance in Iceland exists to protect you and will actually save you money. Let me explain.

Car rental insurance form in Iceland

The Five Type of Car Rental Insurance in Iceland 

There are five basic types of car rental insurance in Iceland. One comes standard (by law) on all rentals and the other four are optional. You might not be familiar with all of them, as some are very specific to Iceland. We’re a small, stormy, volcanic island filled with capricious weather, harsh elements, and challenging road conditions.

This little cocktail means that there are lots of dangers lurking and waiting to do damage to your rental. And that’s why these special types of insurance were created; they tailor to Iceland’s unique elements and will save you money in the long run. Let’s look at all five, what they cover, and which ones are right for you.

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW Insurance) 

This is also known as car rental excess insurance in Iceland. It protects you in the event of an accident. This type of coverage is required by law, so it’s the only Iceland car rental insurance included in the price. The rest are considered “extras”. This insurance is required because quite frankly, road conditions can be tricky. All of that snow and ice means more dangerous driving conditions than what most tourists are used to back home.

Iceland car rental insurance is necessary in the Highlands

Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW Insurance) 

Think of SCDW coverage as supercharged CDW insurance. It serves the same purpose (protects you in the case of accidents), but with SCDW your deductible is lowered. If you have an accident, you pay less. I know more experienced drivers might be thinking to themselves “I’m a safe driver. I don’t need insurance”. But remember; it takes to two have an accident. The other motorist could lose control of their vehicle, skid or slide into yours, and cause dents or damage to your rental. And you’ll have to pay for it.

Sand and Ash Protection (SAAP) 

Something that surprises a lot of first-time visitors to Iceland is that we have sandstorms. As in, middle of the desert, can’t see anything, take cover until it’s over sandstorms. This is due to our volcanoes. All of that volcanic activity means that the sand and ash which is spewed into the air eventually settles on the ground. Iceland is a very windy place, so it’s not uncommon to have your car get scratched by these erosion-causing elements. If you’re traveling along the South Coast, SAAP is highly advisable, as that’s where our most recent volcanic eruptions have been.

Gravel Protection (GP) 

With your Iceland car rental, gravel insurance is a must if you plan on traveling to the Highlands. This interior zone of Iceland is made up entirely of gravel roads. They’re known as F-roads (mountain roads) and are filled with gravel and little pebbles that will cause damage to your car. Even going slowly, you’ll still get hit. Plus there are rocks flying from oncoming traffic as well as any vehicles you are driving behind. Parts of the Ring Road are unpaved gravel as well.

Gravel roads need Iceland car rental insurance

Theft Protection (TP) 

Theft protection is really not that necessary. It protects you in the event of your car being stolen, but to be honest that doesn’t really happen here. Many companies include it automatically because they’re not that worried about it.

What Insurance Won’t Cover 

Even if you do get the full suite of auto insurance in Iceland, that doesn’t mean that you’ve got carte blanche to do whatever you want. You still have to be a smart driver and not do anything dumb.

Trying to cross a river in a 4x4 without knowing its depth falls under this category. There are parts of Iceland’s interior where at a certain part of an F-road, you’ll reach an unbridged river. If it’s shallow, then of course, you can cross. But if you try to ford a river and get in too deep, your motor will end up underwater. It will flood, your car will stall, and you’ll have to pay for a waterlogged engine.

Iceland Car Rental Insurance: Do I Need It? 

In a word, yes. If I can offer any Iceland car rental insurance tips or advice, it would be to get full coverage, especially if you plan on traveling in winter or heading for the Highlands. There’s also something very important to keep in mind. Sometimes the cost of one, some or all of these types of insurance will already be included in the price of your rental. Look at what type of insurance is included when comparison shopping and looking at quotes from different car rental companies.

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Monday, 6 May 2019

Icelandic Road Signs and What They Mean

Driving in Iceland will be a new experience for you in many ways. From the unpaved F-roads of the Highlands to the sometimes snowy road conditions, you’ll definitely encounter something unexpected. While driving safety is a primary concern, there is another important one. Recognizing Icelandic road signs and knowing what they mean can help you stay away from tricky situations or even avoid an accident. If you’re not familiar with them, here are some common road signs in Iceland and their meanings.

Road sign in Iceland showing the speed limits and road rules

The Speed Limit in Iceland 

During your trip, the maximum speed is 90 km/h (55 mph) on paved roads in rural areas. It lowers to 80 km/h (50 mph) on unpaved ones in the same kind of zones. Once you get close towns, villages, cities, or any other type of inhabited area, you have to slow down to 50 km/h (30 mph).

When looking at the road sign in the picture above, you’ll see a kind of table for the speed limit. Across the top, there’s a yellow and black column for urban areas and then two with a red stripe representing rural areas. Below those are the symbols for gravel roads (with the little rocks flying) and paved roads. And notice that on the left, passengers must always wear their seatbelts. The car’s headlights must also be on at all times.

Single lane bridge (Einbreið Brú)  sign in Iceland

Single Lane Bridge (Einbreið Brú) 

If you’re circumnavigating Iceland on the island’s Ring Road, most of what you’ll find is a single, two-lane highway. There’s one lane for cars moving in each direction, and you’ll have to be careful when passing or overtaking. Oncoming vehicles on blind hills or blind curves can be quite dangerous.

There are some single-lane bridges (Einbreið Brú) in the country, and you’ll see this sign when coming upon on them. The protocol is that whichever vehicle is closet to the bridge has the right of way and gets to pass first. The car, camper, motorhome, or truck coming from the opposite direction should pull over to let the other vehicle cross the bridge first.

Single lane tunnel (Einbreid Göng) sign in Iceland

Single Lane Tunnel (Einbreid Göng) 

Single lane tunnels in Iceland (Einbreid Göng) are very similar to single lane bridges. It can become quite a sticky situation if both vehicles enter the bridge or the tunnel at the same time. As you can imagine, it’s best to avoid this scenario. The safety protocol for this situation is exactly the same as for bridges. Slow down, pull to the right, and let the other vehicle go through the tunnel before you.

Malbik Endar road sign in Iceland where paved road changes to gravel

Málbik Endar (Paved Road Changing to Gravel) 

While 97% of the Ring Road is paved, there are parts where it changes to gravel for a bit. You need to be warned about this in advance so you have the necessary time needed to brake and slow down. Not only is the speed limit slower than on paved roads, but the sudden surface change could easily cause you to lose control of your vehicle if you don’t approach at a slower speed.

Iceland road sign warning about sheep

Watch Out For Sheep 

We love our sheep here in Iceland. So much so that we let them roam freely. This becomes a problem for foreign drivers who may not be used to sheep blocking the road or darting out into traffic. When you see this sign, it means to be on high alert for sheep. Slow down and be vigilant, as sometimes the sound of an approaching motor will cause the sheep to suddenly run out into the road.

It won’t just be a tragic accident either. You’ll have to pay the cost of our now deceased wooly little friend to the farmer who owned it.

Road Signs in the Highlands 

Iceland’s Highlands have an unusual terrain that requires a special type of vehicle for precarious conditions. Even after you’ve rented a 4x4, there are still some obstacles on your path while driving. Buckle up; there are difficult roads ahead.

Obruadar ar Icelandic road sign warning about unbridged rivers in the Highlands

River Crossings with No Bridge (Óbrúadar Ár) 

This is something unique to Iceland’s Highlands. The country’s F-roads feature endless kilometers of unpaved, gravel roads that take you in and around the mountains. There are also parts of our wild backcountry that are wide, open spaces with nothing but you and dramatic backdrop of jaw-dropping Icelandic scenery.

You’ll see the Óbrúadar Ár sign as you’re approaching a river with no bridge. Be very careful with these types of crossings. We all have our Jumanji dreams of fording a river Oregon Trail style. But the reality is that if we get too far underwater, the engine gets flooded and the car stops, possibly permanently. It’s an expensive repair not covered under any type of rental insurance.

Difficult Terrain (Seinfarinn Vegur) 

The roads in Iceland’s Highlands are already tricky. So when you see the sign for difficult terrain (Seinfarinn vegur or Torleidi), you know you got something coming. The road surface will be extremely difficult, even if your car rental is a 4x4 SUV, and it's going to be a bit complicated to drive. As always, exercise caution, drive safely and use good sense. Icelandic roads definitely provide a challenge, and these ones especially so.

Whenever you encounter difficult road conditions, avoid jerking your steering wheel around and try to keep your movements smooth.

Icelandic Road Signs and What They Mean

Now that you’re armed with a little more information about road signs Iceland, you’ll be able to have a safer, more enjoyable trip. Road conditions are probably unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. Now you’ve got the knowledge to help you drive safely in Iceland. And as they say, knowledge is power.

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