Quick Q&A: Do I need a 4×4 car when driving around Iceland?

Car rental

Giving advice about traveling in Iceland is sometimes difficult because the advice you give depends completely on who you are giving it to. For example, if someone from LA or Southern Spain asks me about the weather in Iceland their perspective is very different from someone that is born and raised in North Norway or somewhere in Canada where it can go down to -40°C in winter. To the person from LA our summer whether is probably cold whereas the person from Canada can’t believe that it doesn’t often go below -10°C in winter in Reykjavík and only packs their light winter clothes.

The question about what kind of car you need for your visit to Iceland is similar. The answer depends on what you are used to, where you are going and when. It’s usually more expensive to hire a 4WD and then not all 4×4 are created equal. It doesn’t matter how powerful the four wheel drive is, you can’t cross Krossá river in a Skoda Oktavia Station for example.

Question: Do I need a 4×4 car to travel around Iceland?

The boyfriend and I own an old Citroen C5 and since we bought it a few years ago we have driven all over Iceland in it in all kinds of conditions. We have good winter tires but it’s not 4×4 so I guess the short answer is: no, you don’t need a four wheel drive to travel around Iceland.

However, there are some exceptions and a few things to consider.

First of all, a lot of the Icelandic highlands are only accessible in 4×4 jeeps (4WD on its own is not necessarily enough) and you can get huge fines if you drive a normal rental car into these areas. The highland roads are usually marked as F roads but Kjölur, which is not an F road, is also included. So if you plan to visit any of those areas or drive on F-marked roads you definitely need a four wheel drive. If you want to visit places like Þórsmörk then a normal jeep might not even be enough because you have to cross a few unbridged rivers to get there.

In the summer you can drive the whole ring road without a 4×4. Most of it is paved and most of the places the normal visitor goes to does not require a 4WD.

In the winter, if you are traveling to areas where there can be a lot of snow, a 4×4 can be helpful. This mostly applies to the North, the Westfjords and the East. Most of the roads close to Reykjavík however are well maintained (like the Golden Circle, South Shore and Snæfellsnes Peninsula) and they only close when the weather is extra bad. When it is bad like that you shouldn’t be driving there no matter what kind of car you have. If you don’t have any experience with driving in snow then maybe you will feel more comfortable knowing that you are driving a 4WD, just in case.

Then the unpredictable Icelandic weather always plays a role as well. You might visit us in the height of winter and you won’t see as much as a single snowflake the whole time you are here. Or it might start snowing in July like it did in the highlands this year. So there’s no way to tell whether there will be snow when you visit or not.

Having said all that, the prices for four wheel drives are considerably lower in the winter than in summer and often the difference in price is not that huge. The 4WD are also a little bit bigger, and therefore more comfortable, so if you want a little bit more comfort they are also a good choice.

Whatever you do, just remember that the conditions here can be completely different from what you are used to. It’s important to rent cars in good condition that have good tires and such.

Then when in doubt about driving in Iceland, just ask Elfis.

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89 thoughts on “Quick Q&A: Do I need a 4×4 car when driving around Iceland?”

  1. Mark says:

    As someone who has driven a hundred thousand km in Canadian winter, by far the most important thing to have is good winter tires. All seasons don’t cut it (they’ll do in a pinch in light snow). The tread should be at least 7 mm deep. With good tires, you can drive in snow as deep as the clearance from bottom of the car (unless there is ice underneath). Having four-wheel drive is nearly useless without good tires that can grip in the conditions. Four-wheel drive can also give you a false sense of confidence because acceleration is better but braking isn’t. Four-wheel drive is handy when going up slippery hills including getting out of ruts. But good tires are ten times more important. In winter, insist the vehicle has winter tires above all else. I’d much rather rent a Ford Ka with winter tires than any 4×4 with all seasons for driving on paved roads, and the Ka has uncomfortable seats.

    Most accidents in winter come from people driving too fast. Others are caused from people slamming the brakes instead of easing into braking. If snow on the side of the road suddenly pulls the steering, it’s better to counter steer than to brake. Both turning and braking use up the available friction the tires have against the road surface, so you have to manage how you use that friction. Four wheel drive does no better in these situations. Best advice? Just slow down, and let faster vehicles pass.

    That being said, I’ve seen some of the hills, and I would take a four-wheel drive vehicle with winter tires in winter if it were not much more expensive. The additional cost would be a lot less than that of a tow truck to pull you up the hill.

  2. Tom says:

    I’ve just came back from a week in Iceland (first visit) and for three days I drove around the south coast in a small camper — Vik, Skaftafell, Jökulsárlón, then on the return journey, the Golden Circle. On the outbound trip the weather was absolutely atrocious, with driving rain and high winds which blew the van around, disappointing really because the spectacular scenery was obscured. Obviously I didn’t need a 4WD for that trip although the camper was an AWD which was useful in the conditions, even on sealed roads. What struck me was the care that needs to exercised all the time because of the narrowness of the roads, the general absence of guard rails and the fact that the roads themselves are frequently elevated and it would not be that hard to run off the edge of them. As someone from another country with a vast, empty interior and a small population that mostly clings to the coast (Australia), I’m used to driving long distances on two-lane highways and sharing them with buses and articulated trucks, but the issue is even more acute in Iceland, especially with the weather. FWIW about driving in general, I would say the biggest challenge for the visitor is dealing with that aspect, especially if you come from Europe or the US with a spacious road infrastructure. There’s a reason for the 90 kph speed limit, and as I found out, that’s sometimes way too fast on Icelandic roads anyway.

    1. Sassenach (Belgium) says:

      Tom,I come from a country with spacious road structure (3 or 4 lanes each direction) ;-), but a lot more traffic than in Iceland. Wel, driving in Iceland (the whole Ringroad) was for me: chilling. 🙂 (in summer, even when I had bad weather conditions in the Westfjords Highland passes)
      Of course I payed attention to the road, but I could admire the landschape too, while driving, of course one must be careful everywere, but everything is well marked in Iceland (one lane bridge, malbik endar, gravel, …) and if people respect the speed limits, there are no difficulties…
      In my country there are too many marks and plates, (one behind another…) you even don’t have the time to see them all, haha!
      I was surprised while driving that everyone was respecting trafic rules so well in Iceland, even in towns, tourists too. Maybe some trucks were driving way too fast on gravel roads, but they are used too, though it scared me a little bit concerning ‘space left and all that dust, you don’t see anything anymore).

      1. Tom says:

        Yes, if you respect the speed limits and don’t drive too fast you’ll be fine!

  3. Sassenach (Belgium) says:

    It’s difficult to recommend people a car, in general.
    I even drove from Hella to Landmannalaugar with my VW-bus. :-b Only on the F-roads I drove very carefully. It took about 2 hours to do some 30 kms on that F-road. But no problems with the car. It was in summer in good weather conditions. On other F-roads (in Asbyrgi) I couldn’t drive at all!
    The 2 rivers just in front of Landmannalaugar, I could cross them, but I didn’t. You never know what the next day will bring you (some rain, some heavy rain…) and I saw uncarefully people been rescued by the emergency team. The whole Ringroad is perfect for normal cars.
    You are right: you can’t tell anyone which car they will need.
    Never go on F-roads with rental cars if you’re not allowed is the only rule 🙂

  4. Fredy says:

    I have rented a 4×4 truck first week of July 2015 (with lagoon rentals… Excellent rental company)… It did not help to much because most of the F-roads were closed and the truck was also very low (Toyota RAV4) to cross some of the small creeks and rivers. My suggestion is spending more and rented a better 4×4 truck if you are interested to explore the highlands… For the rest of time of my trip in Iceland, I rented a small-compact car (with Go Iceland… I do not recommend it to anybody; the worst front desk and customer services) which I did not take the GP assurance (Big mistake!!!) because I planned to drive in the main highway. From my complete experience I will recommend to rent a small car for driving in the highway 1, and if you want to explore some of the most excited trails in highlands, you should take the bus.. Bus schedules are very flexible and excellent service

    1. sassenach says:

      It’s a pity you had not the right car for your trips.
      Almost all F-roads were closed in the first week of july? Were the weather conditions and road conditions that bad in spring untill june, this year?
      When I was there in july and august 2014, no (main) F-roads were closed, except in the end of august when Bardarbunga volcano caused some trouble, I had to leave the area around Asbyrgi.
      Friends who want to visit Iceland too, (because of all my great stories I tell them and my photos), ask me ‘what car should I rent?’ I can tell them about the Ringroad1 with a 2WD-car (no problems), but I can’t recommend them these big 4WD people can rent at a price of 250 to 300 euros a day! (even with a good job and a good life, this is a LOT of money for most Western Europeans!) WHY should you rent such a car if in 10 days there are lots and lots of OTHER very interesting things to see and do in Iceland, on and along the Ringroad.
      (and even with my 2WD I went to Landmannalaugar etc…. depends on the road conditions of course)

      1. mm Auður says:

        The F-roads opened unusually late this year. It was actually a bit of a problem because some companies had to cancel trips they had planned and such.

        1. sassenach says:

          That’s a pity, indeed.

          So I was a “lucky bastard” 😉 in 2014.

          Happily ever after for these groups, there are many many other things to visit around the Ringroad, so I think tourists were not this summer. 😉

          1. sassenach says:

            …so I think tourists were not BORED this summer.

      2. Kelsey says:

        I will be there on June 24th and I really would like to see LANDMANNALAUGAR. I have a little car rented right now but I could upgrade to a 4 wheel drive. Will a smaller 4 wheel drive work or do I need something raised and large? I will be staying near to vik and I was hoping to get to LANDMANNALAUGAR from around there, instead of from Reykjavik. Is there any route that would be open? Any advice you have for me would be great. I’ve been looking into this all week and I’m struggling trying to figure it all out.

        1. mm Auður says:

          I know the road to Landmannalaugar is closed at the moment due to road conditions so I don’t think anyone is going there. But it may change next week.

        2. sassenach says:

          Maybe you can reach Landmannalaugar via Hella, if the other road is closed. I took that road in summer, with my 2 WD.
          If you rent a car, you should be sure if you are ALLOWED to take F-roads with your rented 2 WD..
          And in Landmannalaugar you take a risk with a rented 2 WD car, if you cross the last rivers over there. That’s what security agents over there told me. In case of unallowed crossings and incidents, they notice your number plate and tell your rental car office… I didn’t stay on the camping ground (across the rivers) but parked on the big parking in front of the river. When you arrive, the river level can be okay to cross, but the next day… you never know. (I ve seen uncarefull people stuck in there)
          The F-road to Landmannalaugar with a 2WD took me 2 hours (for 30-40 kms). A lot of holes, mud, small creeks across the roads. Maybe you are more comfortable with a 4WD and its insurance if you need to rent a car.
          As someone said before already: a lot of your decision depends on wheater conditions and nature. Meanwhile you are in Iceland already!?

    2. Amber says:

      Can you supply the website for the bus to the highlands?

  5. Diana says:

    That Elfis video is everything.

  6. Istvan says:

    Hi, I am doing the ring road trip late August and the first week of September. I want to rent a small car, e.g. a Toyota Yaris – can this be OK you think? The price seems to be a big difference, adding all up. Thanks.

    1. mm Auður says:

      You should be able to the ring road in a Yaris in September. I don’t promise it will be the most comfortable trip if you have a lot of luggage but the car should get you from A to B 🙂

    2. Mark says:

      If you’re a tall person, avoid the Ford Ka. I got it because I needed nothing more for one day, but it turns out the seats are very uncomfortable and unadjustable if you have a longer back. It took about two weeks for my sore back from that seat to go away. It was awful, but Iceland was marvellous!

  7. Jeff says:

    My wife and I will be visiting in May/June. Will we need 4 wheel drive to tour the Golden Circle?

    Thanks! Your blog has a lot of very helpful information!

    1. mm Auður says:

      No, you will not 🙂

  8. Stuart says:

    Is a 4×4 necessary to drive the Western Fjords? In particular, I’d like to get to Látrabjarg. Or would a 2 wheel drive be enough for the drive?

    1. mm Auður says:

      It’s not necessary. The road to Látrabjarg was pretty bad the last time I drove it but we still drove it in our Cirtroen C5 which is all but a jeep 🙂 Maybe it would be more comfortable though.

  9. sassenach says:

    I did the whole Western Fjords in my (2WD) VW and I had no problems. (july/august).
    The Western Fjords are really amazing!

    (don’t you ALL visit WF now! 😉

  10. Ana says:

    Hi Audur, thank you for your posts, they are very helpful! My husband, I and two of our friends are planning on going to Iceland in March or April next year. We would like to travel around Iceland, but not necessarily take the F roads. What do you think, do we really need 4×4? Thank you for your answer!

    1. mm Auður says:

      I think I would rent a 4×4 for a trip around the ring road in March, maybe not as necessary in April. The snow sticks around for much longer in the north and the east fjords and some places you simply can’t visit without a 4×4, even if you are just sticking to the main roads.

      1. Amber says:

        Hi Audur,

        We are headed out for the 3rd-13th of October and I am really leaning towards 2WD simply because most 4WD or 4X4’s are over $2000 for the 10 days :(. Will we need it for that time of year? I am also concerned about the high winds in a tin can, should I be? We are going to travelling with our 3yo son, so we want to find some fun stuff for all of us.


        1. mm Auður says:

          Hi Amber,

          Like I mentioned in another comment – it depends on where you are headed. You probably won’t need it but will be glad if it starts snowing heavily.

          BTW, I can book you a 4WD for that time with one of my partners for just over 1000 USD for the whole 10 days so be in touch via e-mail if you want me to help you with that.

  11. Elaine says:

    I’m still debating whether to rent a 4×4 for early October this year? Are most sites accessible off the ring road without going through F roads, or does the weather condition warrant a 4×4? Thanks!!

    1. mm Auður says:

      That depends on where you are going and what this winter will be like (something no one can predict at this point). It will often start snowing in October although November til March are more considered the “hard core” winter months.

  12. Rahul says:

    Hello Audur,

    I’ll be visiting Iceland in later November, early December this year for seven days. Any chance you could help me find a 4WD camper for two for this period for under 1000 USD? If not, what are your thoughts about KUKU Campers? I currently see their Category D SUV (Dodge Durango) as the cheapest 4WD fully equipped camper.


    1. mm Auður says:

      Hi Rahul,

      I cannot with good conscience recommend you rent a camper in December. First of all, most of the campsites are closed in December and although the internet may have you believe that you can camp anywhere that’s not really the case. Also, you can have all kinds of weather in December making a camper a very inconvenient way to travel. If the wind is strong and there’s ice on the roads these campers get swept off the road and it can be flat out dangerous.

      As for your question about Kúkú campers, I have no personal experience with them. I don’t approve of some of the ways they have used to market themselves but whether the things I don’t like about that have anything to do with the service they actually provide I simply don’t know. If you do decide to do this, make sure you pack a lot of warm clothes and that the camper you get is on the appropriate tires and in good condition and such.

  13. Heidi says:

    I will be driving ring road late July- early August next year. Is a 2WD adequate at this time of year. I plan on driving ring road and would like to be able to venture off if there is something I want to see. I don’t want to miss out on seeing something because I got a 2WD but I would also like to save money if possible. Also, what are your must sees along ring road. I have 8 days/7 nights so it is a little rushed. Any recommendations are appreciated!

    1. mm Auður says:

      Unless you are planning on going into the highlands and 2WD should be enough.

  14. Shafira says:

    Hi Auður,

    We’ll be visiting Iceland next year in late February for 7 days and planning to drive to the Golden Circle, South Iceland for ice caving and Snæfellsnes for whale watching. Do you think an 4WD car will be necessary for those places during that time of the year? Also, do you think it would make sense to add North Iceland such as Myvatn, Akureyri to our trip as well (7 days)?

    Really appreciate your recommendations and thanks in advance!
    Warm regards

    1. mm Auður says:

      If you add north Iceland to the trip you are essentially doing the whole circle in seven days which I wouldn’t recommend in February. You might get away with not having 4×4 in the south and around Snæfellsnes but when we were in Akureyri and the north in February last year, there were many places we wouldn’t have been able to get to if we didn’t have a jeep.

      1. Shafira says:

        Hello Auður,

        Thank you so much for your recommendations!
        And thank you for sharing tips etc for Iceland on your blog as well.


      2. Jeremy says:

        I intend to visit Iceland in February ’16 too. I too intend to the loop around the island. So correct me if I’m wrong.

        If I were to include north island into my plan,= rent a jeep

        If focusing just the south ,= 2wd would suffice.

        I’m for getting a 4wd/jeep, but also , I’m sure petrol consumption would be higher too.


        1. mm Auður says:

          It all depends on the conditions at any given time. But it’s likelier that you won’t need a jeep on the south part of the country than the north.

  15. Jacki says:

    HI Auður,

    I will be coming to Iceland in November 17 – 22. We plan to drive along the south coast from Rekyavik – Vik – Jokulsarlon and back to Rekyavik. We do not plan to do any off-roading and will stay on main roads. In this case, do you think it is necessary to rent a 4X4 or is a Toyota Yaris okay (this is coming up a lot in my searches). We are coming from Boston and have extensive experience driving in snow without a 4X4 so feel confident in the other car, but want to be realistic about roads in Iceland on the South – Southeast Coast. Please let me know what you think Thank you!

    1. mm Auður says:

      You don’t necessarily need a 4×4 but I would spend a little more on a bigger car than the Yaris.

  16. Vpy says:

    Hi Auður,

    A very useful read. We are visiting Iceland in November for few days and we will only drive to Jökulsárlón. Could you recommend any car? The date is 6th of November for 5 days.

    1. mm Auður says:

      So far we haven’t had any real snow so 4×4 is not a must at the moment. Good winter tires are, however!

      Personally I always just try to aim for no the smallest car when I am renting a car myself. So I rather pay a little more for a bigger car.

  17. Emma says:

    Hi, thank you for a very informative website!

    I am spending five days driving part of the Ring Road with a friend from the 31st of March to the 5th of April. We are driving Reykjavik – Vik – Hofn – Myvatn – Akureyri, and then due to not having much time we are flying back to Reykjavik. We are planning to visit the ‘must see’ sights which I assume aren’t too difficult to reach, but I have seen some pictures of signposts to sights like Dettifoss and Godafoss which seem to be along F roads. Would we need a 4WD at that time of year and for what we plan to see?

    Thank you!

    1. mm Auður says:

      It’s impossible to say at this point – depends completely on what kind of winter they will get up there.

  18. Jade says:

    We’re visiting Iceland between the 17th and 20th December… We are reluctant to pay for a 4×4 and we don’t plan on going further than the golden circle as we aren’t here for long. Do you think we will be fine in a 2WD in the dead of December? What car would you recommend? We are from Scotland.

    We also saw your blog on the snorkelling in Silfra and hope to book it soon- although we are quite worried about being chilly! 😀

    1. mm Auður says:

      Judging by the weather right now, and how this winter has been so far, it should be fine.

  19. gee says:

    Hi Auður.

    Thanks SO much for your information direct from Iceland! 🙂

    I am arriving this weekend. So far, I have crossed Myvatn and the North-West firmly off my list, not the least because of the 4.5 hours of available daylight for best-condition driving.

    The roads to all the places I want to visit [e.g. Reyj Vik Hofn maybe Kirkju] are showing as ‘green’ on the Vegagerden website – just want to confirm that it does mean EASILY passable, without needing to moderately reduce speed, and that perhaps an automatic such as a Yarus w/ winter tires would do a fine job?

    Thanks 🙂

    1. mm Auður says:

      There’s no snow to speak of on the south part of the country right now and it’s not likely to change in the next few days. The long term forecast says maybe on Monday we’ll see some snow but it’s been showing that for a while now and the snow never comes.

  20. Julien says:

    Hi Auður,

    I just discovered your website, and it’s highly useful and well done. I will be travelling to Iceland from the 1st of January until the 13th. I already travelled to Iceland once (in the summer mind you) and drove the Golden Circle and went to Vik. This time, I was planning on driving from Reykjavik to Akureyri and Myvatn. I was wondering if you thought a 4WD was necessary for this. Just as context, I live in Canada (I have lived in Ottawa, Montreal, and Québec City) and I am used to winter driving in often terrible conditions. Here, I often drive for long hours in a 2WD Hyundai in winter storms without issues. I know Iceland is different and was wondering if you could perhaps make a recommendation.

    Thanks again for everything and I’m looking forward to booking one of your walking tours while in Reykjavik.



    1. mm Auður says:

      Hi Julien,

      If it starts snowing up north, for real, then yes I think 4WD would be better. There are areas around Mývatn for example that you simply can’t access in a normal car if there’s a lot of snow.

  21. Jeffrey says:

    Hi Auður,

    I’m planning to use the Icelandair “stopover” to visit April 28-May 1, 2017. I know I need to do further research regarding what all I should do/see in the 2 full days, but am thinking either the Golden Circle or the Ring of Fire. My current thinking is the Ring of Fire would take WAY to long and I should stick to the Golden Circle for one day and the other day in Reyjavik. Would you agree or disagree? Any advice would be most appreciated.


    1. mm Auður says:

      I have no idea what the ring of fire is other than a song by Johnny Cash 🙂 If you are thinking about the ring road, then no, you definitely don’t have time for that 🙂

      1. Jeffrey says:

        Yes, Auður, the Ring Road. When using Google to research, I saw Iceland Ring of Fire tour and mistakenly thought it was referencing the Ring Road. Thanks for your quick response.

  22. Smoky and Connie says:

    Thank you for the great information! I stumbled onto your website last night and have already learned a lot. We are visiting Iceland Oct. 15 – 22, 2017. There will be six of us. We plan to drive the Ring Road. Do you feel we have enough time to do this? We will be renting a vehicle large enough for 6 adults. Do you feel a mini van would be okay or should be get the large SUV? I’m assuming a Transet Van would be out of the question due to road conditions and weather/wind.

      1. Connie says:

        thanks for the links – we watched them. Still not certain if a front-wheel drive mini-van would be safe. Seems like it should be but would love to know your thoughts?


  23. Shane Frisby says:

    Thanks for so much useful information. In early July 2017, we will be travelling the following route over 14 days:
    Reykjavík, Hvolsvöllur, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Hofn, Egilsstaðir, Lake Myvatn, Husavik, Akureyri, Sauoarkrokur, Holmavik, Grundarfjordur, Reykjavík.
    Are any of these locations on the F roads as I do not want to break any rules re 2WD hire vehicles and F roads?

    1. mm Auður says:

      No, if you take the most straightforward route there are no F roads on this route.

      1. Shane Frisby says:

        Thanks for that Auður. That will save some money 🙂

  24. Angie says:

    Hi Auður,
    your blog looks amazing, thanks so much for sharing your valuable thoughts.
    My partner and I are visiting Iceland from the 25th February til the 4th March. So, a whole week. We are mainly driving the Ring Road to the East, probably as far as Hof, visiting Jokulsarlon and glacier surroundings and then back to visit Snaefellsnes for two days. Do you think that we would need a 4WD? It’s hard to decide for us since we have read many different comments about driving in winter.
    Thanks again!

    1. mm Auður says:

      You probably won’t need it as these areas have little snow at the moment.

  25. Carlos says:


    Ive read your blogs and its amazing with the wealth of information you have provided. We will be visiting from March 15 to 19th for our first time. The only question we have is, besides Blue Car rental, are there any other car rental companies you would recommend. I thought I saw it in one of your blogs but could not find it again.

  26. Hi – you’ve got a great post! I am visiting Iceland in the second week of June this year and driving from Reykjavik to Hofn, and back. We will primarily stick to things on the Ring Road. Do you think we need a 4WD? Thanks!

    1. mm Auður says:

      No, I don’t think you’ll need a 4WD for that.

  27. Lulu says:

    Hello! Your website has been tremendously helpful for planning my upcoming trip to Iceland March 19 to March 26. I am planning to drive from Reykjavik to Vik then back to Reykjavik to Akureyri. I would like your thoughts regarding whether I should get a 4WD for this week. Thank you!

    1. mm Auður says:

      Judging by the weather right now, I would probably recommend a 4×4.

  28. Mary says:

    Hi! A fruend and I will be there in the first week of April. we are planning to use Reyk as a hub and go to Snaefellsness one day, Golden Circle the next day and Jokursalon the next day. Do you think this is doable? Also, would a 4×4 be necessary? Im still not sure if any of these places are hard to reach.

    1. mm Auður says:

      This is possible but it’s a very hectic plan. The day trip to Jökulsárlón is 14-18 hours if you plan to make any stops along the way.

  29. Kit says:

    Hi, your website is found very useful. Thanks! I will drive for my trip and I have some questions.
    First, I am wondering whether I need a 4×4 from 2Jun 17 to 12Jun 17 for the following roads:
    – from Road 1 to Dyrholaey Arc by Road 218;
    – from Dyrholaey Arc to Kirkjufjara beach (by Road 218);
    – from Vik to Skaftareldahraun Lava Field;
    – from Vik to Fjadrargljufur Canyon;
    – from Seyoisfjorour to Skalanes
    Second, Dyrholaey Arc will be closed in June nesting season?
    Third, can I use google map instead of GPS?
    Many thanks!

    1. mm Auður says:

      If any of those roads are F roads you will need a 4×4.

      I haven’t seen any announcements regarding Dyrhólaey for this year but usually parts of it is closed until June 25th or so and the parts that are open are closed in the evening or at night.

      You can use google maps instead of GPS but in certain areas, like under the glaciers on the south coast, there’s no reception so you won’t have access to google maps there.

  30. Tricia says:

    Morning. Have just come across your excellent site.
    We land in Iceland on May 6 then go on to Toronto on May 9. Our first visit and a short one unfortunately.
    We are staying in the capital. I’m debating whether to hire a car and if so do we need a 4 x4 or shall we do the main touristy things with a tour bus? Many thanks.

    1. mm Auður says:

      It really just depends on how you like to travel whether I would recommend you rent a car or not. You can see more if you rent a car but you might learn more if you join (the right) tours.

  31. Kelsi Brooks says:

    Hi Audur,
    Thanks for helping us all out! We will be driving from Reykjavic to Vatnajokull National Park. We are are planning to stay at Skaftafell campground and driving no further than the Vestrahorn Mountains. We will be doing this May 11-May19th. Should we consider a 4WD rental care for this region? Especially if we go off Highway 1 to campgrounds, hikes, etc… Thank you in advance!

    1. mm Auður says:

      You shouldn’t need a 4×4 if you plan staying mostly on route 1

  32. Phillip Warner says:

    Hi Auður,
    You have a great website here. Very interesting reading as I am in the process of renting a 4 X 4 for a trip in August. Can you tell me what type of 4 X 4 or 4 wheel drive vehicle is acceptable if I want to take a day to drive road 35 from Gullfoss north to Ring Road 1?
    I understand road 35 does not have any river crossings.
    Kind regards,

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      You need a jeep for F-35 and all other F roads. So it’s not enough that it’s a 4×4 hatchback, it has to be a jeep.

  33. Vince says:

    Hello from NYC.. I’m going to Iceland the first week of August for a week. Just me, the wife and our 9 year old child. We plan on driving the golden circle and maybe a few other rural places. I have never been to Iceland therefore I do not know much about it. Do we need a SUV? I’m not planning on driving to the tip of a mountain or anything lol but maybe here and there I would like to maybe drive off the main road a little bit to capture a nice picture or scenery nothing crazy of course. What do you think? Where should I pick up my rental car? At KEF? Any suggestions for other places to drive to besides golden circle. Ring road is too long. Thanks again!

    1. mm Hrannar - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Vince

      If you are going to go a bit off the main roads, you have to have a car that is suitable for that. The cars undercarriage is never a part of the insurance policy.
      You can expect that you will take it easy for the first day, due to the jetlag.
      Golden Circle, South coast and Snæfellsnes peninsula are the most popular self drive routes from Reykjavik.
      Here we have our home made self drive guides 🙂 – https://www.iheartreykjavik.net/?s=drive+it+yourself

      Enjoy Iceland 🙂

  34. Susan V. says:

    My friend and I are planning a trip from Nov 18 to 28. We plan to drive from Reykjavik to Hofn and then back with a swing to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. We would be seeing the main sites, sticking with main roads. Someone who has visited Iceland has told her that a 4×4 is necessary for this, but they’re so much more expensive. Is a 4×4 really needed for this route or would a regular car be okay? Do they automatically come with good winter tires?

    1. mm Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Susan,

      there really is no way of knowing if a regular car on winter tires is enough, since the driving conditions could be very variable. You might be OK in a regular, but if it snows a bit, a 4×4 would be needed. I’m sorry that I’m not more helpful, but this will depend on if you are ready to risk delays and changed plans if you go for the smaller car and the conditions are not great. A good idea is to plan to not be driving back to Reykjavík just before your flight, it’s good to have a buffer day in town at the end of your tour so that you won’t miss your flight because of weather and roads being difficult.

    2. Vicky says:

      I was in Iceland last November for a week, the weather wasn’t so good and one afternoon the wind so strong our mini bus with 8 ppl inside was shaking badly. I would say an AWD is much better than a 4×4 which may even be more dangerous with strong wind/gale due to it being a taller car. However, the most important thing is leave plenty of time for your car journey and be sure to have flexibility to plant your accommodation location (i.e., if the weather is bad, don’t drive!).

  35. Kim griffin says:


    I am going to Iceland on 27th December 2017 for a week and plan on visiting the blue lagoon, Reykjavík, the golden circle, and perhaps Jökulsárlón and Vik. Do you think a 4×4 will be needed – currently looking at a duster? More specifically, will it need to be a Jeep or something similar?

    Thank you

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      I would recommend a 4×4 and a jeep but it’s impossible to know whether you need it or not in the end. But I’d recommend it.

  36. Larisa says:

    Hello!! Similar question, we r visiting Iceland 16-21.1…will do the golden circle, lagoon and go down to Vik and glacier lagoon. Booked a golf. Do you think its ok for the South at this time?

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      It’s impossible to say, completely depends on the weather.

      1. Larisa Percinlic says:

        Thanks for the reply:)

  37. Shaw Barbara says:

    This is a question not a reply or comment.
    My husband and I will visit Iceland May 1 to May 15, 2018. We are signing up for a 14 day drive tour. The tour includes 3 days in the West Fjords: Holmavik area to Isafjordor to Patreksfjordour or Breidavik . The following sites are on our itinerary: Dynjandi Waterfall, the Latrabjarg Cliffs and Raudisandur Beach. Are any of the roads in the above area rated as “F roads?”

    Our company is encouraging us to rent a 4×4. Do you think that the 4×4 is necessary because of those 3 days? Our tour coordinator thinks that we will be more comfortable.

    Also would you recommend staying in Patreksfjord or Breidavik?

    Thank you for you help!

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      I think your tour coordinator is correct – you will be more comfortable in a 4×4. The roads in the Westfjords are pretty bad and you might still see some snow at that time of year. Even if you don’t drive any F marked roads.

      I’ve stayed in both Patreksfjörður and Breiðavík and both are nice. The pool in Patreksfjörður is nice, the surroundings in Breiðavík are beautiful – just depends on whether you want to stay in a town or not.

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