Going to the gas stations in Iceland is often more than just fueling up your car. You will find most things you could want and need at these convenient hubs, and you will never have to look far to find one (except for the more remote regions, so do proper planning for those trips!).
Going on a road trip in Iceland is more or less a must if you are visiting the island. When you hit the road in this remote part of the world, it’s also great to know exactly what to expect from the gas stations in Iceland. In some ways, they are different from most gas stations you might be used to. Read on to find out more about what to expect from these gas stations and how to find them.
Gas Stations in Iceland
When you’re on a road trip around the Land of Fire and Ice, it’s important to know where to have a stop to refuel both person and car, so you can keep going. Iceland is a land that is dependent on the road system as the only in-land infrastructure. Gas stations in Iceland have then been of the utmost importance for decades.
You will find gas stations in Iceland scattered all over the major roads as well as along most of the minor roads. The further away from the main roads you go, the more likely you are to find a small Iceland gas station. These compact stations offer fewer amenities than the ones in the cities or along the major roads. This comes with having a remote island with very few inhabitants and long stretches of road in between towns and cities.
The Brands of Gas Stations in Iceland
There are a few major brands of gas stations in Iceland, both established and younger brands that are trying their luck. Apart from the ones listed below, you will find some gas stations in Iceland that are owned and run by locals rather than big corporations.
This low-cost brand of gas stations focuses on self-service gas stations in Iceland. The savings Orkan make on hiring fewer people than their competitors is directly reflected in the price. It has thus been one of the most popular gas station brands in Iceland.
The grandparent of all gas stations in Iceland is Olís, established in 1927. The company have been supplying Icelanders with petroleum products for longer than Iceland has been a nation. It is one of the 30 largest companies in Iceland, and has plenty of gas stations that are manned and ready to cater to your needs.
The winner of the easiest brand name to say goes to another self-service chain: Ób! Even though they have been around since 1996, their stations are completely operated by their competitor Olís. Just like with Orkan, Ób will reflect their slim company structure in their gas prices.
Atlantsolá is the runt of the litter of the gas stations in Iceland. They operate the smallest number of stations and have only been around since 2003. This company decided to only run unmanned stations as a way to reduce the running costs of their pumps. This way, they'd be able to offer lower gas prices for their customers. Unfortunately, this also means that you might find yourself without a bathroom if you fill up at any of these stations.
Like Olís, N1 is focused on providing its customers with a good all-around service rather than simply chasing the cheapest gas price. This company has numerous gas stations around Iceland with a wide range of services. Their stations often include good grocery sections, high-quality food, and service minded-personnel. Keeping an eye out for N1 on a road trip in Iceland is a good idea if you’re running low on more than just gas.
The new kid on the block is the American members-only retail store that started up some gas stations in Iceland not long ago. Initially, they reportedly had the lowest prices of all gas station brands in Iceland. However, when it became clear that you need to be a paying member of Costco to use the stations, their prices didn’t look as good anymore. Also, they only have one gas station in Iceland (in mid-Reykjavik)
How many Gas Stations are there in Iceland?
If you look at a gas station map of Iceland, you’ll see that you won’t be able to travel more than 100 kilometers along ring Road 1 before you reach another gas station. In the greater Reykjavík area alone, there are about 80 stations, and for the most part in the country, there will be no shortage of gas stations.
The only areas with fewer gas stations in Iceland than the rest are the really remote areas, like the Westfjords, East fjords, and North fjords. Here, you need to check the map for how far it is to the next town, since that will be your best shot of filling up.
The only part of Iceland that has absolutely no gas station is the Icelandic highlands. Here, you better plan out your route and bring an extra can of fuel for emergencies. If you want to drive these wonderful roads, you need to first check when the Iceland F-roads are opening and closing.
The Iceland Gas Station – the Concept and What to Expect
Gas stations in Iceland became a big part of everyday life and a necessary part of society. They are now considered a hub for some other important things. Going to the gas stations in Iceland is like in most other countries, though. You’ll go there to fill up a tank and check the car, and you’ll leave with assorted snacks, a hot dog, and that one soda you thought they stopped making a decade ago.
However, the difference is that in most countries, anything bought at a gas station is often thought of as sub-par. They tend to provide something more likely than not to give you an upset stomach. When it comes to the gas stations in Iceland, it’s an entirely different story.
Food and Groceries
Most gas stations in Iceland that have personnel will offer food in one way or the other. The most common way to do this is to have a small food court with some simple chairs and tables in odd colors and a single counter where you can choose which food item you want. A selected few gas stations in Iceland will have larger food courts with one or more brands of fast food on offer.
A “hot dog with everything on” is an unofficial national dish that is more holy than the cross for many Icelanders. Most gas stations in Iceland will offer this, and we really encourage everyone to try it at least once.
The larger gas stations in Iceland will offer some groceries, often heavily emphasizing snacks, sodas. Basically, all the things your personal trainer tells you to stay away from. There will also most often be basic household stuff like toilet paper, milk, bread, and some cleaning supplies. Some gas stations in Iceland will offer a larger variety of items than you usually find in grocery stores.
With all the rain, wind, and snow going on in Iceland, cars will become dirty quickly. Imagine what a car would look like after a week of driving through the Iceland mountain roads. It’s not pretty.
Car washes in Iceland are more often than not automatic, especially at the gas stations in Iceland. Many of the car washes will be free, whilst some of them require you to pay a small fee to use. In those cases, you will either pay inside the gas station or at a pay station outside the car wash entrance. After that, you simply park the car on the moving bands, shut off the engine, lean back in the car, and relax.
Depending on where you go in the country, you will find that gas prices in Iceland vary slightly depending on location and gas company. Regardless of which gas company you go with, you need to be prepared for a gas price that is higher than what you’re used to in your home country. Since the country is so remote, the gas price in Iceland will be slightly higher since it’s hard to transport it there in the first place.
When you pay for gas, remember that the standard practice in Iceland is that cards have pins. This means that the vast majority of pay stations in Iceland require that you have a pin card.
In Iceland, it’s extremely rare to ever get to a gas station and not do the pumping yourself. Many gas stations in Iceland will also be completely unmanned, meaning it’s basically only fuel pumps and pay stations! It doesn’t get more self-service than that.
The self-service extends to everything car in Iceland, as you won’t have staff waiting for you around the pumps to help out. Equipment for checking air, or water to wipe off the windshield will often be available on-site.
If you want or need help, you are welcome to go into the station building and ask the people working there. They will often be glad to help with basic things like checking oil, tire pressure, and wiper fluid.
Practically, any of the gas stations in Iceland will be equipped with toilets. As we said earlier, they can be quite far between the stations around the country, so most will try to accommodate their customers the best they can. Toilets are often a given when it comes to necessities on the road, so you’ll struggle to find a gas station without a customer toilet.
Planning Your Trip in Iceland knowing all about gas stations
Knowing where all the gas stations are and what to expect from them, your next move is to pick out which car to rent in Reykjavik to start your adventure. If you plan your trip carefully, you can get away with not having to fuel up the car that often. Choosing an economic model is advised if you want to make it an extra cheap trip!