Road Trip Around Iceland

A seemingly magical land which has been gaining popularity is the country of Iceland, which is home to greater than 350,000 people — more than two thirds of whom live in the greater Reykjavik metropolitan area…

Road Trip Around Iceland

Rental car Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…and the best way to see the country is by car. I recently took advantage of the opportunity to do just that, spending 11 days straddling continental plates, watching whales, and visiting waterfalls, craters, geysers, canyons, lava fields, hot springs, and other wonders which Iceland has to offer while driving clockwise around virtually the entire country.

Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

If you are used to staying in hotels operated by multinational lodging chains, lower your expectations in terms of choice when visiting Iceland: Hilton and Radisson each have three hotel properties — and they are all located within Reykjavik with the exception of one hotel property, which is located near Keflavik International Airport. Forget about Marriott, Hyatt, Starwood, InterContinental Hotels Group, AccorHotels, Choices Hotels, Best Western and most other chains, as none of them have any hotel properties there.

Guesthouse Langaholt Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Instead, you have a choice of guesthouses, hostels, pensions, bed and breakfasts, and independent hotels — all of which seem to blur with little distinction — and the rates can wildly vary. I primarily stayed at guesthouses and intend to impart more information about them in a future article.

hamburger Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Food is expensive. That is the unquestionable truth. Although there are a few fast food chains in Iceland such as Domino’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway, you will not find a McDonald’s or Burger King. Unless you want to get used to paying almost $20.00 for a hamburger with fries and a soda or $40.00 for a trout dinner, you will most certainly be better off shopping in a supermarket for your provisions. The good news is that many guesthouses have kitchens; so you can prepare your food accordingly. Other tricks do exist on how to keep your food bill in a lower budget; but although they are few and far between, I intend to list them in a future article as well.

Hafragilsfoss waterfall Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

You can also save money by camping around Iceland via a number of ways; but I did not try any of them. Keep in mind that the financial savings may come with other costs; but that depends on your preferences.

Gravel road warning sign Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The main roads of Iceland are well paved; but unless you confine yourself to Reykjavik, you will most certainly encounter gravel roads — even in what is known as the Golden Circle area of Iceland — and some gravel roads are in substantially worse condition than others.

Summary

Humpback whale Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Despite the significant hit Iceland will have on your travel budget — even if you factor in a low airfare to get you there — the country has plenty to offer its visitors free of charge; and I had a whale of a time.

There is so much which I have to tell about my experiences in Iceland; but you are welcome to ask me any questions in the Comments section below at any time.

All photographs ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

7 thoughts on “Road Trip Around Iceland”

  1. Dan says:

    Just got back from Iceland myself a few weeks ago. I agree, food was EXPENSIVE!!!! We stayed @ AirBnB’s using discounted gift cards instead of the hotel chains and stocked up on food at the supermarkets outside of Reykjavik. Loaf of bread in the city was almost $9, the same loaf of bread in Hvolsvollur was $3. Great photos, looking forward to seeing more!

  2. Matthew says:

    Beautiful pictures!

  3. Sue Piaseczny says:

    What an amazing trip. We did the ring road counter clockwise, staying in hotels. We stayed in several Foss Hotels and IcelandAir hotels along the way, booked with Thank you points and US bank Altitude points. We did the trip in early April and were also lucky enough to see the Northern Lights in Myvtan. In Reykjavik we stayed at the Radisson Blue 1919, great location to see the city, in walking distance.

  4. derek says:

    There’s a Costco in Iceland. US members can shop worldwide at Costco (UK, Taiwan-Republic of China {not People’s Republic}, Canada, Korea, etc.)

  5. lenin1991 says:

    Just got back myself. I agree food is expensive, but I imagine someone from Iceland going to a US restaurant and seeing a burger + fries is $13, thinking “how cheap!” … and then learning that tax & tip are big hidden expenses, making it approach the printed, all-in price at home!

  6. Josh says:

    Any rental car advice? Is an SUV needed?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Unless you intend on traveling on what is called an F-road in Iceland, Josh, a regular car will suit most purposes.

      I rented a Kia Rio for $299.00 for eleven days during my trip.

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