We spent the summer of 2016 touring Iceland. Now we're writing a guidebook to tell you exactly what you want to know:

How to take the whole family abroad and survive the process unscathed.


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car

Things to Do

Using a GPS in Iceland

Icelanders have been having fun recently laughing at tourists who are misled by their GPS devices. One guy drove 5 hours up to Siglufjörður instead of 45 minutes to Reykjavik. (We are happy to hear that while he was there, he visited the excellent Herring Era MuseumWe really liked it too!)

Last month, a tourist was invited to a family BBQ when their GPS led them astray. And then there was the time … well, let’s just let I Heart Reykjavik tell it.

We relied on Google Maps almost exclusively for our journeys around Iceland. We have gotten slightly lost, but nowhere near enough to become famous. Here are some of our experiences and recommendations. Read more

Preparation, Things to Do

Reykjavik? Ring Road? Planning your Iceland trip

So you’re going to Iceland, and trying to figure out how to plan your trip. The internet is full of millions of pictures of thousands of things you can see and do. How do you plan your itinerary? What should do you do, and what will you need to skip?

Here are my brief recommendations for how you should structure your trip, based on the number of days you have. Note that the categories overlap:

1-5 days: Stay in Reykjavik, and do day tours
3-8 days: Cover one or two areas, but not the whole country
7+ days: Cover the whole country. Well, more of it at least.

I think that some people will find these surprisingly conservative. Why just stay in Reykjavik for 4 days? Why not try the whole country in 6 days? Read more

Preparation

Planning your Iceland trip – Iceland With Kids

Reykjavik” by Marco Bellucci is licensed under CC BY 2.0

We’ve written many posts about planning for your trip to Iceland. Here is a summary of our best advice, at least so far.

When to go to Iceland?

There will be several obvious differences in your vacation experience based on what time of year you go:

  • Temperature. This isn’t as big as you think: Highs in the summer are in the mid 50s, while winter highs are in the mid 30s. See details in this post. Yes, there is snow in the winter, and so you’ll need to make your travel plans less aggressive.
  • Daylight. This is a bigger deal than you may think. Summer has 24 hours of usable daylight. The middle of winter may only give you 7. More details in the same post. This picture was taken at about 11:30 PM in June:

Midnight sun

Midnight Sun” by Hafsteinn Robertsson is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Read more

Preparation

Do I need a 4WD / AWD / 4X4 car in Iceland?

“Colors of Water” by Ulrich Latzenhofer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A surprising number of tourists get themselves into trouble while driving in Iceland. They blindly follow their GPS to destinations 6 hours the wrong direction. Or they follow their outdated GPS onto closed and dangerous roads. Or they cause accidents by stopping in the middle of the road to take pictures. (Remember that in Iceland, hazard lights are for hazards!)

Hundreds of tourists are rescued every year by ICE-SAR, a group of volunteer responders.

I’m not telling you all of this to dissuade you from driving in Iceland. You just need to use some common sense. No matter what kind of car you rent, you shouldn’t think you can drive to any location any time of year.

Suppose you are in Vik, in south Iceland. And you read about a really cool hike up to the top of Sveinstindur. (The picture at the top of this post is along the route to Sveinstindur.) So you look on Google Maps and find out that it’s only about a 2 hour drive: Read more

Preparation

Rental Car Insurance in Iceland

Camuflaje by Andrés Nieto Porras is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Update December 2017: Worldwide Insure, my favorite excess rental car insurance company, no longer offers excess car rental insurance in Iceland. I recommend them for coverage in other countries, but you’ll have to go with Roamright or someone else for Iceland. See all of the details below.

Car rental insurance is baffling, and it seems to be even more baffling in Iceland. CDW. Super CDW. Grand CDW? Premium CDW? Sand and Ash? Gravel?

Note that, while the information below is customized for Iceland, much of the information can apply to other countries as well. Especially the credit card insurance options.

Almost all rental car companies in Iceland include CDW

CDW stands for “Collision Damage Waiver.” So it’s not really insurance at all- it’s a liability waiver. The rental car company agrees to not charge you more than a certain amount of money for any damage to the car when you return it. How much can they still charge you? A lot. I took some of the more promising companies from our post about rental car companies, and compared their CDW limits:

cdw

Read more

Preparation

Choosing a car rental company in Iceland

Photo by http://www.cgpgrey.com/ is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Update: We chose Blue Car rental for our Iceland trip, and we were very happy with them. We also recently partnered with them (in June 2017) to offer a 5% discount on your Blue Car  rental!

Choosing a car rental company in Iceland is confounding. There are dozens of companies, each claiming to be the cheapest, or the best, or both.

I found 27 different companies; I’m sure I missed many. At each company’s web site, I ran the same search for the same types of cars for the same rental period. The results are in the graphs below.

Now, before you peek down at the results, it’s important to realize that price isn’t the only consideration here. When I rent a car, I’m looking for the best experience. So: Read more