10 practical reasons to take a self-drive road trip and a vacation tour in Iceland
Updated: Apr 4
If you are trying to figure out how to plan an exciting road trip or a self-drive vacation, Iceland should be on top of your list because it has many interesting places to visit, explore, experience, and enjoy. Although there are many reasons you should visit Iceland, a country that many think of as exotic, you should plan your road trip before taking a decision about your next tour or vacation. One of the things to consider in your plan is one of the many road trips you can drive to enjoy the various natural wonders of Iceland. You should include its charming towns and villages as well as interesting places in the countryside. The best ways to travel in Iceland is by car, either a rent a car or a guided private tour, where you have control of your time and schedule. The country has an excellent infrastructure for those who choose to travel around the country in a vehicle, as well as for people that like to organize a road trip and visit its natural wonders like waterfalls, hot springs, canyons, iceberg lagoons, basalt columns, sea stacks, black beaches, mountains, rivers, and more.
There are also practical reasons why a road trip in Iceland is exciting, reasons you can add to all the obvious ones referring to all the beautiful places and interesting attractions. Here are ten things that many visitors ask about when they are seriously considering a road trip in Iceland with a friend, not to mention if they are traveling with their family.
Most roads are easy to drive
Short distance between towns and villages
Good camping sites and accommodations in every corner
Cellular connection and coverage are almost everywhere
You will find swimming pools almost everywhere
Good restaurants offering quality food in most towns and villages
A short distance to the next gas or electronic charging station
Most Icelanders are friendly, helpful and English speaking
Good convenient stores in most of our 60 to 70 towns
No dangerous animals or insects in Iceland
1. Most roads are easy to drive, although caution is required, and slow driving is recommended.
Most of the roads in Iceland are good asphalt roads. The main road around the island, the Ring Road, is an asphalt road like many other roads around the capital area and the southwestern part of Iceland. Other roads are either gravel roads, dirt roads or mountain roads. So, anyone eager to drive at a high speed in Iceland should reconsider. Traveling around Iceland is more of a slow drive rather than a high-speed adventure, and that is exactly what makes it interesting and different. On most asphalt roads, the speed limit is 90 km/h, 56 mph. But on all the gravel roads, it is difficult for anyone who is not used to them to drive faster than 60 to 70 km/h, 40 mph. Sometimes remote roads are narrow and badly maintained, and the average speed will take you up to 40 to 50 km/h, around 30 mph. All dirt roads and Highland roads require very slow driving and a good 4X4 vehicle. So the driving is different to many other places.
2. Short distance between towns and villages around the island
There are about 70 small towns, villages and tiny hamlets scattered around Iceland, mostly by the shoreline. Wherever you drive around the Westfjords, the Ring Road or the remote Melrakkaslétta in the North Eastern Region, you are always close to a small town. The only place in Iceland where you have nothing, and no inhabitants, is a small portion of the North-Western part of the Westfjords Peninsula and the Highland in the center. So you are always in a relatively short distance from most of the basic services provided in modern society.
3. Good camping sites and accommodations in every corner of the country
Iceland is full of camping sites that I highly recommend. There is a good camping site in almost every town and village around the country. Camping sites that offer electricity, excellent sanitary facilities and often a place to cook and have your meal inside. Around the countryside, Iceland also has many great camping sites although most of those outside the towns and villages do not offer a full service. Camping in Iceland in summer is a fantastic option for those who seek to maximize their travel economically. It is also the most exciting experience for kids and families.
4. Cellular connection and coverage are almost everywhere on the road.
When it comes to technology and technological development, Icelanders are often among the first to utilize new technology. This is one reason why cellular phone coverage is excellent in Iceland. Although a small country with a small population, in recent years Iceland has managed to spread cellular connection almost everywhere, even to some remote corners. This is, of course, one of the most important security issues any visitor should have in mind when traveling to unknown places, especially if you are traveling with your family. But then again, Iceland is a very peaceful and secure country.
5. You will find swimming pools almost everywhere in Iceland.
For Icelanders, it is mandatory to learn how to swim. It is part of the primary and secondary school curriculum and has been so for decades. For this reason, and the fact that many towns and villages have geothermal heating, there are swimming pools almost everywhere. This is actually one of the most amazing things about Iceland but it is greatly undervalued when people are planning a visit to it. Wherever you are traveling, even in the most remote places, you are most likely going to find a nice warm swimming pool with a warm Jacuzzi and good showers in a quiet place for both cleaning and relaxation.
6. Good restaurants offering quality food in most towns and villages
Not so long ago the only food you could get on the road in Iceland was the Icelandic hotdog called "pulsa" or a bad hamburger with greasy fries. Today, at least during the summer months, you can find a decent restaurant in almost all the small towns and villages in Iceland. Most offer a menu with seafood soup, a fish or a lamb with good vegetables. It is a big change which is much appreciated by our visitors. Rye bread with smoked salmon or smoked trout is also often on the menu with quality coffee. You can even get a cup of espresso in most corners of Iceland. Even if you want to do your own cooking, we recommend that you try some of those Icelandic dishes usually with fresh ingredients.
7. A short distance to the next gas or electronic charging station in most areas
One thing you don't have to worry about is filling the tank. There are many gas stations in Iceland and surely one in every town and village. Stations to recharge electronic cars are spreading fast throughout Iceland. Many hotels and guest houses have also installed charging stations to charge overnight. A great fit for a country that utilizes sustainable means to heat homes and drive cars. There are also quite a few gas and charging stations in tiny hamlets or farms along the road everywhere. It is almost difficult to find yourself in a situation where you are out of gas or power, and not able to find a gas or a charging station nearby.
8. Most Icelanders are friendly, helpful and English speaking.
Today Iceland is almost bilingual as most of the population, especially the younger generation, speak English and Icelandic. Most children in Iceland learn English early, and you will discover people that speak English everywhere. Most of our visitors find it easy to travel in Iceland because most of the Icelanders are very polite and helpful. Icelanders are extremely proud of their country and have the greatest respect for people who are prepared to take on a long and expensive journey to visit the country and enjoy its natural wonders.
9. Good convenient stores in most of our 60 to 70 towns around the island
When traveling around Iceland or even to some of its more remote areas, you don't have to stock up for days. There is a small convenient store in most small towns and villages along the coastline. You may not see the selection you might find in your neighboring grocery store back home, but you will find most of the necessary items you need.
10. No dangerous animals or insects in Iceland
One thing a lot of visitors like about Iceland is the fact that we have no hostile, dangerous or aggressive animals that you need to fear when traveling on the road or camping. There are no animals living in Iceland that attack humans, and most of the small foxes and similar small animals living there are quite scared of humans. On the other hand, there are many animals that you will enjoy viewing. This makes camping so much more convenient. We have insects but none that are dangerous. If you are in a tent, you might encounter a spider, usually a small, frightened spider.