How To Find a Cheap Rental in Iceland
Updated: Aug 31
Iceland has become one of the most demanded touristic destinations in Europe in the last decade. There is no fake hype on this; the country does have a lot to offer, from fiery volcanoes to impressive and massive glaciers that would take anyone’s breath away. To be honest, that would only be a teaser; there is far more to discover in the land of fire and ice. However, everything is life has a price, so they say, and in Iceland, it is not a low one. For that reason, we want to share some tips to get the best deals and definitely a cheap rental in Iceland. This article is indeed good for the pocketbook!
As an Icelander myself, I barely see any downside to visiting Iceland, but there is one disadvantage I simply cannot deny. The only drawback of Iceland is the fact that it is a considerably expensive country. That means you will have to create a well-detailed budget and find ways to save up some money on your trip. It may sound complicated and somewhat impossible but fear not! We are here to help; here you have our step by step guide to significant savings:
Budget for Iceland
Step 1: The right trip for your budget
My intentions here are far from being a party pooper, but sometimes you cannot avoid reality. If your budget is limited, planning the ultimate luxury trip is not the wisest option. Does that mean that you cannot have your dream vacation? Absolutely not. It just takes more planning and preparation. Do not get overwhelmed; if you are already reading this article; you are on the right track.
Choosing a road trip to Iceland is not only a smart and reasonable option for your budget; it is actually the perfect way to discover the island. In the Nordic island, we do not have trains, public transportation is quite expensive, and schedules are minimal. Forget about domestic flights too; they cost an arm and a leg as well.
If you do a quick research on Iceland and its transport network, it won’t take long until you realize this country was made for road trips. There is a main road, the Ring Road, that circles the island. I dare to say that 90% of the most important touristic attractions are by this road or close by. If you plan to visit places like the Golden Circle, Jokursarlon glacier lake, Vatnajökull glacier, and other main attractions, all you need is to drive on the ring road. In case you wish to go off the beaten path, several roads in Iceland can help you on that task. Now that we discovered the most affordable option for travels in Iceland let’s go on to the next step.
Renting a Car in Iceland
Step 2: The right car for the right trip
If avoiding unnecessary expenses is your primary goal, your decisions and choices must adequate for your purpose. What is the point of having a large, 7-seater, sturdy 4x4 if you are just two passengers who intend to drive around Reykjavik? It is pointless and dispensable. Most people don’t select these vehicles to behave boastfully; they are somewhat scared of the Icelandic road conditions. So the first thing we will clarify is which types of cars are needed for what kind of road and itinerary.
Will you be driving solely on the ring road and other secondary roads?
Then those 2WD small cars in our fleet selection will do. There is only a small print to this statement. If you happen to travel to Iceland during the wintertime and plan to visit the North region as well, then a 4x4 is recommended. Northern Iceland has a rougher climate; storms are more common as well as harsh driving conditions. These type of vehicles provide extra power and traction, and that always comes handy when on muddy or slippery roads. 4x4 cars are highly recommended for difficult driving conditions such as icy and snowy surfaces, but you still need to know how to use it. Otherwise, it would be useless.
Does your itinerary include F-Roads?
Then you must go for a 4x4 car hire come what may. It is forbidden to drive on these roads with 2WD vehicles as they are quite harsh and tough. So for your vehicle’s sake and safety reasons, keep this in mind when renting a car in Iceland. 4WD vehicles are more powerful, and that means they are less efficient when it comes to gas consumption compared to their 2WD counterparts.
Do not worry about them as they do not affect the type of vehicle you need to choose. While driving of gravel roads, you should lower your speed, but you can drive a 4x4 or a 2WD vehicle indifferently.
Automatic or manual?
If you know how to drive with both transmission, it is your lucky day. You will save even more money when you rent a car at most Icelandic car rentals if you select a manual car. Why is that so? Well, manual cars are widespread across Europe, and automatics are not that common. Consequently, automatic vehicles tend to be more expensive.
Best Rental Company in Iceland
Step 3. The Right car from the right company
Transportation and hospitality are the most significant travel expenses in Iceland, yet prices do vary from one car rental company to the other. Do not underestimate the power of comparing prices and services; they can drastically reduce your trip’s cost.
Fortunately for you, this Nordic island offers plenty of options to choose from, but it is still essential to choose the one that is worth every penny. Generally speaking, there are two main groups:
· International Franchises
They usually have a large fleet and different models you can choose from. However, having a top brand as a provider does impact the price. These franchises tend to have a standard rate across their offices, and it is usually a higher one compared to other smaller businesses. Differentiation should not be a brand but just the quality of the services provided.
· Local business:
Even though the fleet is not as vast and varied as the one offered by international franchises, prices will be for sure lower. It also benefits the local economy, help creating new jobs within the community and provide a different rental experience as most staff members are Icelanders who love both their country and are very knowledgeable about how it is to drive in Iceland.
The Best Season to Visit Iceland
Step 4. The Right season
If you are looking for a highly discount rental, then you should avoid the high season. The highest season in Iceland is in June, July, and August. Thousands of tourists flock to the country when the summer sets in. And it does not take a degree in economics to know that the higher the demand, the higher the prices.
If your budget is very limited, give the low season an opportunity. Prices can be even 50% lower compared to the high season, and you can still have as much fun.
What kind of services should I look for in a Car Rental in Iceland?
Once you decide the type of company you will be renting from, several services can help you save even more money and time. Make sure you take the following tips into account:
Look for a company with:
Rental stations both in Reykjavik and Keflavik
For those who do not know this yet, Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland, but its international airport is located in Keflavik. This village is approximately 50km (31 miles) away from the capital city, and the shuttle bus from and to both cities are not complimentary. The cheapest bus transfer costs around 5.500 ISK (40€ or 44 USD approximately) and that could easily be used on a delicious lunch, souvenirs shopping or even on an extra day for your car rental.
To avoid this, make sure to rent with a company that offers a pick-up and drop off both at Keflavik international airport and Reykjavik city. Keflavik pick-up point should open 24 hours so even if you come quite late at night, you can still pick up the car once you set foot in Iceland. This option is also great for the drop-off, as you can directly head to the terminal to catch your flight back home once you returned the car. If you are already in Reykjavik, you can then head to their city office and avoid the costs of getting back to the airport.
Online booking services
Most companies offer several discounts when you book a car on their website. Some promotions only apply to their online site, so why not taking advantage of that? The Internet is a great tool to compare prices, rates, and vehicle types, this way you can decide which option would suit you best. Remember, the earlier you book, the cheaper the prices. You can also contact their customer service and see if they have any one-time promotion or discount they can apply to your booking. It is worth the attempt!
Insurance and other extras
Not every company offers the CDW insurance in their rental price. And that would mean a new expense. If it already comes included, one less thing to worry about!
You should also look for unlimited kilometer rentals and if they offer a fuel discount card, then go for it! Discounts on fuel are not huge, but any dime counts.
How To Find a Cheap Rental in Iceland
Traveling around this mesmerizing island is a once in a lifetime experience. Even with a limited budget, your dream can still come true. Do not give up on it, you can still have a great adventure; just follow our tips and get the time needed to prepare your vacation properly. Iceland is expensive, we cannot deny that, but if we do things the right way, our expenses can surely fit our budget.