Car Hire & Divorce or Organised Tours & Bankruptcy?
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Feb 25, 2013 4:11 AM Last Post By: tempelton
Feb 12, 2013 4:27 AM
Car Hire & Divorce or Organised Tours & Bankruptcy?Hello!
My husband and I have just booked to go to Reykjavik for 4 days at the very begining of May.
We are looking at seeing many of the various amazing sights - Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, Whale Watching, etc
But looking at the tours available the cost is quickly mounting up and I am wondering if it is better to hire a car and find our own way considering that we want to do quite a lot whilst we are there?!
With airport transers adding up to £80 return for two people, £50 each for Golden Circle Tour, £20 odd each for Blue Lagoon, etc, etc it is quickly adding up to way more than what car hire would.
My husband is a confident driver, but having never been anywhere like Iceland before we feel a little aprehensive about finding our way around - so my question is, how easy is it to navigate your way around? Are the road signs clear? Is it easy to get hold of the route for the Golden Circle Tour? Are maps easily read? Etc
I happen to quite like my husband and would rather do the tours is self drive means his spirit is broken by dead ends, road rage, confusion and loss of direction!
Thanks for your help guys - advice is much appreciated!
Feb 12, 2013 9:28 AM
1Hi there driving in Iceland is a lot easier than people think...All you need is a good sense of direction and a good map...although some of the road signs to things to see places are fairly small compared with other countries.
If you only have 4 days I would hire a small car but maybe not the smallest from somebody like http://www.arguscarhire.com/. In just 4 days you are unlikely to be driving on a lot gravel roads etc nearly all the tourist things near Reykjavik are either on or just of the tarmac roads which incidently are in much better condition than here in the UK! Even the gravel roads are better maintained than you would think.
Rent from Keflavik and make sure you buy a decent guidebook and road map before you go and make a general plan of where and what you want to do!
Petrol cost are slightoly less than the UK say 5-10% but make sure you take a credit card which has a PIN number as you need to pay at the pump although during regular hours you will have the option on paying with cash in the kiosk.
Of course if you have a real sense of adventure you will need a 4x4 but in May most if not all of the Highland roads will still be closed.
Feb 12, 2013 9:32 AM
2Forgot to add that a big bonus of having your own car is that you can leave Reykjavik or wherever you are staying early morning and beat the tours and virtually have the whole place to yourself plus you can spend as long as you like once you are at whatever you want to see and not just the 20-30 min you will get on a tour.
Feb 13, 2013 1:13 AM
3Thank you!! I guess we just didnt fancy doing it if it was like a maze with no end - with such little time we didnt want to ruin it by getting lost, and wasting time!
I have managed to find another post elsewhere that states how easy it is to find your way around! I guess I just wanted to make sure before going for it!
We aren't really 'tour' people anyway and like you said, the ease of being able to get up early and shoot off before anyone else is there is a massive incentive for us!
What is the parking like in Reykjavik, we're staying just off the main stretch in town, and although our accommodation has 'limited' parking, I was concerned of how much/where to park if we can't get in there?! Are there overnight parking places? EverywhereI have looked says it is pay by hour and a maximum time stay which wont help us at night!
Thanks for your response - it has put my mind at rest and I think we will almost certainly go ahead with hiring a car!
Is it as gorgeous as it looks? I am beyond excited! Any extra tips of must see things you might not know of would be great (apart from the obvious)! Restaurant recommendations/Unpublicised sights etc etc
Guide books are great, but on previous trips away, the best places we went to were on the advice of other travellers/taxi drivers/locals
Thanks so much
Feb 14, 2013 6:09 AM
4In case you need the confirmation, self-drive is quite easy both in and out of Reykjavik, and there aren't that many places to get lost along the major sightseeing areas from what I recall. What's more, the drives can be very beautiful as well, and it sounds as though you'd enjoy those more if unaccompanied by a busload of strangers.
In early May you will run into road closures, especially at altitude.
Feb 15, 2013 5:23 AM
I think we've pretty much decided to go for a car hire now, and like you said it will be so much nicer not having to share with a group of randoms, as well as being stuck on a time frame.
With regards to road closures, I am assuming this would apply more if we were going away from the main sights? Although we'd love to do more exploring I doubt we'll have time to go off the beaten track in the few days we are there!
Don't suppose you guys can recommend a decent road map? The ones I have been looking at haven't been rated by any one so wasn't sure which one to go for?!
We can't wait!!!!!!
Feb 15, 2013 8:15 AM
6From what I remember of Reykjavik you can find free street parking from 6pm onwards until 9am the following day?
We used a map by Ferdakort...think thats spelt correctly...couple this with a good guid book and you'll have no problems.
Don't let the hire company talk you into a Sat Nav as it not worth it other than maybe in Reykjavik itself but once you have found your hotel the first time you'll have no problems...and Reykjavik is small enough to do the main bits on foot...
We didnt do it but there is also ard bus tour around most sights of town if you get fed up of walking between things...
We went to Iceland last year and took 16 days to do the ring road tour...which was great as we managed to see a lot of things off the beaten track.
We are going back in July on a riidng tour with Ishestar.
Let us know how you get on.
All for now...Bazzer
Feb 15, 2013 8:38 PM
7For maps, I found Ferðakort's Southwest Iceland (Suðvesturland) map to be quite satisfactory. It will take you north as far as the Snæfellsnes peninsula and east out to Skaftafell--in other words, farther than all but the most dedicated driver would ever want to go for a day trip. You're covered for the airport at Keflavik, the Golden Circle, the Blue Lagoon (Bláa lónið on the road signs), the waterfalls along the south coast, the geothermal areas of the Reykjanes peninsula, and really far more than you will be able to see in just four days.
Maps of central Reykjavik are readily available for free at the airport and with your rental car. You might want to print out a Google Maps page with the location of your hotel in relation to the nearby streets, just to make life easy for yourself on your first day.
A good guidebook is strongly recommended for planning. The Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books for Iceland are very similar in their coverage, organization, and level of detail. You'll mostly be sticking to the first two or three chapters (Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Golden Circle, and maybe some of the Southwest Coast). It's worth giving those sections a quick skim, preferably with a map open beside you, to get an idea of what you might like to see and how those destinations might fit into a few day trips.
Feb 16, 2013 9:10 AM
8Thanks guys - you have been so helpful! I will definitely be purchasing the map you suggested, and I always get a guide book for where ever we go, so looks like we should be ok whilst we are there!
With regards to guidebooks, I was thinking of getting one specific to Reykjavik, do you think that would be better or would a general Iceland one suffice?
Our hotel is just off the main stretch in town - so I can't see it being too hard to track down.....dare I speak too soon!!
Your advice and comments have really been amazing!! Thanks so much!
Feb 19, 2013 3:48 AM
I had a very similar question...we are 2 people from UK...not used to driving in Iceland...coming for 4/5 days...want to see Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, get to and from airport...and also possible drive out in evenings to try and see Northern Lights. (Also have a Northern Lights tour booked, but this a car might give us more opportunities...)
BUT...would you all give the same answers to go for it when it's for mid-March?
Or are the road conditions much worse at this point in the winter and would make it much harder to get around?
We want to save money and have independence to go wherever we want at our own pace, but don't want to end up regretting it if roads are closed, access is limited and the whole experience ends up being terrifying or impossible due to icy, snowy winter conditions when also not used to the roads in Iceland. I know the coach tours run, so I wonder how we wouldn't manage to go anywhere they go, but on the other hand they are experienced drivers and used to the conditions etc...
Another option might be to just hire a car for a couple of days for the more local stuff if this at least might be do-able with the roads/conditions (?) and do the coach tour for the full day trip to Golden Circle? (Although this would be less preferable, especially as I've done this tour before a few years ago when I was there alone!)
Any thoughts or experience of driving at this time of year around Iceland would be much appreciated, as I really want to hire a car now before the prices hike up, but don't want to book something I can't use if conditions are likely to be too bad.
Also, if the concensus is still 'yes it's ok', then should we hire a 4x4 (which we've never driven before...but guess easy to work out...??!) as a definite, to ensure we are safe and can get around, as I see places like Holiday Auto still hire out tiny cars at this time, but not sure if that's wise...?
Thanks in advance for your help everyone :-)
Feb 19, 2013 3:59 AM
Feb 19, 2013 4:05 AM
11http://www.vegagerdin.is/english/road-conditions-and-weather/the-entire-country/island1e.html here you can see which roads are closed and how the condition is, snow, ice, etc. even if the country is called Iceland it's not that cold.
Don't worry about all those red roads, these go into the interior and will open in June/July, for those you need a 4x4, but the things you want to do can be done with a 2x4.
http://www.vegagerdin.is/english/road-conditions-and-weather/ starting page and if you check the places you want to see hardly any road closures.
Feb 19, 2013 11:32 AM
Thanks for this website - that's really useful. :-)
However... obviously it isn't going to predict the weather conditions in Mid-March, and I need to make a decision about car hire now - in terms of booking a car for the whole 5-day stay, just 2/3 days or not at all, as well as whether to book 4x4 or not.
So would you say weather in March is generally at least same as in Feb, if not better (I'm assuming it's unlikely to be worse?!) and we could therefore hire a 2 x 4 for the whole time for mid-March and should be able to use it without any problems? (The map for today seems to be ok for most places we are intererested in, but that's 3 weeks earlier than we'll be there!)
Thank you. :-)
Feb 20, 2013 3:48 AM
13You don't need a 4x4, that page is updated several times a day so you can check it again, my guess is that weather will be better in March since it's the very beginning of spring, sure you can have some new snow too.
You do have snow in the UK so you should know how to drive on it, I would rent the car for the 5 days since public transport is cut down during winter, the other option would be to book tours while you're there, but I don't think that will be cheaper than a small rental car.
Feb 24, 2013 5:18 PM
14I'm sorry if I'm thread-jacking but I thought my question is pretty similar to this & hopefully someone can provide some insight.
I will be traveling in mid-March and we plan to drive the whole ring with stops at the major attractions (falls, geysers, glaciers, etc) with major overnight stops being Vik, Hofn, Egilssadir, Myvatn, Husavik, Akureyri, Snaefellsnes. We also want to look for Northern Lights on our own while traveling. We have a day trip planned to do some glacier trekking that my tour operator stated as starting just west of Vik.
Can all of this be done on a smaller car or will we need a 4x4?
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