Europe > Iceland > Reykjavík

See: Why hire a car in Reykjavík ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

Any sort of commentary on driving in Iceland needs to start with a note about the sheer size of the island. Looking at how Iceland sit so far out on its own on a world map, with no other land nearby as a reference point, this might lead visitors into the false impression that this is actually quite a small place, when the opposite is actually true.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Reykjavík car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Reykjavík is in car rental price band: 5/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Reykjavík? 

Sometimes. Economy rental prices are average by global standards.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Reykjavík between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 10/10

Non car score:6/10

Balance: 8

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Why? Visiting Reykjavík using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Reykjavík ?

  • A hire car is your best option to see the island properly, and at your own pace!

Although there are relatively few roads in Iceland outside the capital, there are still just about enough options to suggest various different popular tours, varying from the express one-way Golden Circle which picks out some of the most impressive places to visit within a day’s travel from Reykjavík, up to a full circuit of the whole island.

If you were to drive around Iceland non-stop without taking any additional inland detours, it might take you about 24 hours, hence a typical self-drive itinerary might take anything from 4 days to a fortnight.

Why not? Visiting Reykjavík without a car

Why don't you need a car in Reykjavík ?

  • If you were to take an organised tour around the island, then this might be compacted into 4 nights, with some long driving days. Bear in mind that daylight hours in Iceland range from one extreme to the other, although with the main tourist season spanning just the months of July and August, the chances are that your touring days will be long.
  • Even though there are no train services on Iceland, there’s an excellent bus service in the city.
  • Reykjavík has the world’s most northerly network of quality bike lanes!
  • You can still travel around the island by using local scheduled bus services and organising your own accommodation at stops in between. Just bear in mind that some of these schedules are based around a single daily service. Also remember that with the recent boom in low cost flights to Iceland, combined with the shortness of the main tourist season, pressure to find beds can be particularly tight.

Ratings: How does Reykjavík compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Reykjavík? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Reykjavík, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Reykjavík? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Reykjavík (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Reykjavík? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Reykjavík airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Reykjavík car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 8

2019 - 6

2021 - 8

Average score - 8



Iceland might be the sort of destination where the non-driver or the visitor who otherwise doesn’t want to rent a car can still get around, but options are always going to be heavily limited when compared to getting your own hire car.

  • We should also add a note of caution about long driving days in Iceland. Although the country has some of the safest roads in Europe, long summer daylight hours, combined with arriving from what may be a relatively long flight and shifting across to a different time zone can make drivers prone to tiredness. We suggest adding an additional named driver where possible, and allowing time for plenty of rest between driving periods.

Should you rent a car in Reykjavík? Yes!


Do you or don't you need a car in Reykjavík ?