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Renting cars in Akureyri and Reykjavik

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If you have rented cars and toured on your own in either or both of the above ports, could you please share your experiences?  While we sometimes take small group tours, I understand that the roads are good in Iceland and they drive on the right side of the road so I think we would feel comfortable driving. I know that guides can offer very interesting information but I often find that I don’t retain it or listen closely. 

Also, having grown up in Wyoming and visiting Yellowstone (and other geo-thermal/volcanic sights around the world) we would probably want to take less time at these sights than most tours. 

We do have overnights in both ports which adds to our comfort level as we would do longer distance touring the first day and closer in sights on the second. 

Thanks for any information or recommendations. 

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Lots of car rental options in Reykjavik.  Many fewer in Akureyri as it is a small town.


Most important thing about car rentals in Iceland is to thoroughly document the condition of your car before you drive away from the agency and when you return it.  SO many stories of belated damage reports and after-charges you need to protect yourself, and let them know you are doing so. Video the entire car, inside and out, and check the tire conditions, too.


Roads in Iceland are well marked.  Maps are easier to use than GPS as a map will tell you the quality of the road (lots of good gravel and bad gravel roads, along with paved roads) better than GPS, and GPS has a problem with town and destination names that are duplicates or that use Icelandic characters to spell.

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  • 1 month later...

We rented a car in Reykjavik, although I forget which company we used or where we picked it up. It was fine, but I agree with the poster above - document things!  The roads were good.  We managed to go a couple places maybe an hour from Reykjavik on the e first day.  Then on the second day we had (a full day) we drove the Golden Circle.  I made a wrong turn somewhere and managed to cut off a small portion of the route, but it was no huge catastrophe.  We would have loved to have gone south, but had no time to do that.  But having the car was great, and we had no problems with the driving, rental, or car.  I think I used maps, plus printouts from viamichelin, and no GPS.  However, that trip was several years or more ago, and I don't remember for sure.   


The street names can be a bit crazy to those not used to long names, but generally navigation wasn't a huge problem.  Golden Circle was worthwhile, although you may want to skip the geysers (fun, but you've got Yellowstone memories!)  The waterfall was pretty amazing, the historic park area quite interesting, and the scenery was always enchanting.  If you have more time, or prefer something lesser known, I'd research and head south, which is supposed to be wild and scenic.  Keep in mind that you'll have lots of daylight, so staying overnight in a port gives you more time to explore.


Can't help you on the other place in Iceland you're going.  I've been looking at a cruise that goes there, however, for next summer.  I would love to go back to Iceland.


I do vaguely remember that there were a lot of car rental places near the airport and I was unsure which one to choose.  However, if you're on a cruise, you won't need anything at the airport as we did.  Also, our cruise didn't leave from Reykjavik, so I can't tell you about the port there other than it's not quite downtown - same as most ports unless you're on a river cruise!


My pictures are here; just go and browse  (no need to give email address of jump though hoops).  Note there are multiple pages to the gallery.



Edited by roothy123
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I've rented a car in Reykjavík from Átak, which offers free pick-up service around the city. We got a better price than a lot of other places I looked at, and we had no issues with the company or the vehicle. We did take several "before" photos, but that's our usual practice everywhere. We drove to Akureyri, so I don't have any local recommendations there.


Driving in the area around Reykjavík is quite straightforward. Most roads are paved, especially around the most popular tourist attractions. We didn't need to drive on any 4WD roads within day-trip distance of the city. We had a 4WD vehicle, since we were traveling farther afield, but the only time it was useful within day-trip distance of the city was driving up to Sólheimajökull for a glacier trek. There were some 2WD cars on the road, but it was quite rough and probably a bad idea. As a small warning, I have had two good friends get 2WD cars stuck in the area around Reykjavík when they ventured onto small roads they shouldn't have, so definitely follow signs, and if you're out exploring, watch for 4WD signs and don't push it if a road looks questionable.


Around Akureyri, the main roads are pretty good, but you're much more likely to encounter unpaved 2WD roads and one-lane bridges (which are generally the norm, even on route 1, beyond the Reykjavík area). Accessing the main tourist areas should be relatively straightforward, and there's even a paved road to Dettifoss now (the stretch from route 1 on the west side).


Outside the city, even the biggest roads are two lanes and winding, so you need to stay alert. And with few settlements, if you're headed out of town for a long period, it's not a bad idea to do a bit of planning for food, fuel, and toilet stops. Lastly, remember to have your headlights on at all times.

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They paved the road to Sólheimajökull about 5 years ago.  Agree, it was one of the roughest roads within a day's visit of Reykjavik, and the path to the glacier used to be quite quiet due to that long and awful road.  Now it is paved and the glacier has receded at least a 1/2 mile in the 8 years since we've been visiting.  So many people and so much less ice.  Not nearly the experience it once was

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  • 5 months later...

We have been to Reykjavik twice and Akureyri once.  We overnighted in each place on each trip.  I highly recommend renting a vehicle and doing Iceland on your own.  We rented our vehicles from Thrifty/Dollar for all rentals. If you're keeping your vehicle overnight as we did, there was easy parking right at the ports in Reykjavik and Akureyri.  Definitely follow the advice in videotaping the condition of the vehicle on pickup as even with "full coverage" purchased from the rental agency, there is still a deductible that you are responsible for, so document the existing damage thoroughly.  I found Iceland amazingly easy to navigate on our own.  You can see so much more than your fellow cruises by doing a bit of research ahead of your trip and having a basic itinerary of what you want to see.  Plus being there overnight, you are not rushed in any way on your first day of touring.  So if you decide you want to stop and hike back a kilometer or two to see a waterfall that's a little of the beaten path, you have plenty of time to do it.  Iceland is beautiful with many different landscapes.  And as a personal note, I liked exploring out of Akureyri more than the Golden Circle.

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We rented from Europcar at the port.  On cruise days they have a building right outside the cruise terminal exit.  Other than the person arriving about 10 minutes late to open the office, it was a simple process.  It was our second trip to Iceland ( and we had an Overnight in Reykjavik) so we did something a bit crazy.  We drove about 5 hours each way to the glacier lagoon, with a short stop on the way at the black beach near Vik (we were there before).  The lagoon was amazing and we did a boat ride through the lagoon. The second day we did the golden circle.  The roads were great and easy to follow.  We used google maps (we had unlimited data) and never got lost.  Parking is free and easy at the terminal.  


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