Directions to key cities in Iceland are simple: drive the ring road. If you have two or more people, buses and planes price themselves out of the market, so you’re best is with a rental.
Grapevine went on word of mouth and chose the local rental agency, RAS. (www.rascar.com) We did everything online. There were ups and downs to this strategy; the lack of personal communication made it much easier to book a car at, say, 1 am the night before. But it didn’t allow for the knowledge and know-how that are necessary.
We rented a Toyota Camry for a trip to Mývatn, for example—not wise. A small jeep is essential for Mývatn in the spring. Beyond this, RAS, with a fantastically laid back staff, worked out well.
Our car: Toyota Camry, 5000 ISK per day.
(If going to Mývatn, pay 500 ISK extra for light jeep.)
Gas money for 1100 kilometre journey: 8000 ISK.
(Gas is CHEAPER in major towns, Reykjavík and Akureyri. It can be up to 10 ISK per litre more expensive in the countryside.)
Time spent driving: 7 hours each way, with stops for coffee, food and hikes.
Groceries and foodstuffs for three days: 4000 ISK.
(Purchases at 10/11 in Akureyri and Strax in Mývatn were easy on the budget.)
The maximum speed limit in Iceland is 90 km/hour. As it turns out, this is the highest reasonable speed in a country full of sheep, high winds and lost tourists. Our advice: if you are reading this magazine, you are either foreign or young—in both cases you a) have something to live for and shouldn’t put this in jeopardy and b) are very easy targets for the plentiful speed traps.
Fines for speeding hit 20,000 ISK (400 USD) very very quickly. If you do get pulled over, you can pay on the spot for a reduced fine. We highly recommend this method.
We used complimentary maps from the rental agency and a large guide map. For the drive to Mývatn, no map was necessary, as road signs were clear. In locating local treasures—hotsprings and hiking trails—advice from hotels was better than maps.
A cell phone is essential, preferably with the numbers of the place you’re staying programmed in. Because they share coverage towers, Síminn and Og Vodafone cell phones work equally well throughout Iceland.
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