Having recently returned from Iceland, we are already planning our return trip – we loved it that much. The scenery in Iceland is like something I have never seen before and considering how expensive most things are in Iceland, food and drink etc the scenery is 100% free. For the first time visitor or those who like others to make their plans for them, then the simplest option would be to base yourself in the capital, Reykjavik and take bus trips to all the major sites. Perfect if that’s all you want to do but what if you want more? There is a simple solution of course – hire a car! We hired our car from Lagoon Car Rental and had the freedom to do what we want and when we wanted. We hired the car for the first three days of our trip but then gave it back and based ourselves in Reykjavik for the last three. It genuinely felt like our freedom had been taken away and we were stuck there. It made us realise why you must hire a car in Iceland (if you can drive obviously!)
Stay/go where you want
The freedom that hiring a car gave us was fantastic, it meant that we could stay outside of Reykjavik, which I think would have been quite difficult to do if we didn’t have the car. This was due to been based off a public transport route. It also gave us the opportunity to draw up our own itineraries of what to see and miss out the things that we did not want to. Every organised trip that I have ever taken always factors in a trip to a local craft shop/workshop etc which is always done due to the deal that the tour operator and the owner has. We would rather stop somewhere where we wanted to, not where we are made to.
Go when you want
Tours, especially ones that start early in the morning, can rarely be booked on the day. Therefore, you must book you tour in advance, but what if you wake feeling poorly or just uninterested in your tour on the day you have booked it for? More often than not, you would simply lose your money if you didn’t take it or you sit on the bus regretting every second. Whereas if you hire a car and you don’t fancy going anywhere – you don’t have to. If you wanted to set off early or later in the day then you are able to do that too. Likewise if you are taken ill whilst out and about you can head home straight away.
Make the most of your day
As we visited in November we only had around 5/6 hours of daylight per day, therefore we needed to make the most of it as there is so much to see in Iceland. So, we always ensured we were at our first destination of the day for sunrise, long before the organised tour buses turned up. In fact, most days we passed the convoy of buses from Reykjavik as we left our first destination on our way to the second. Also, We didn’t leave our final destination of the day until the last ray of light in the sky had gone, by which point all the buses where back in the capital. Ensuring that we saw as much as possible each day.
No hanging around
Being masters of our own destiny was a great feeling. We did not have to wait for anyone before we could move on to the next stop. We could literally just jump in, drive off, stop where we wanted, wander around, take some photographs and repeat. We did not have to sit on the bus whilst someone got a coffee, went to the toilet or forgot the rendezvous time altogether. We have been on tours before where other people’s selfishness and inability to tell the time have ruined our day as we have had less time at some destinations and had to miss some out altogether on other tours – how very annoying and rude!
See more than others
Organised tours have set stops, they do not deviate from them. Which is great in some ways as you get to see the main tourist attractions. But what if you simply spot something you think looks amazing? Or want to go somewhere you have seen in your guide-book? Unfortunately, that’s a big fat tough! That is unless you have hired a car. We found that everything in Iceland was making us gasp out loud with its beauty. We were only getting a few hundred yards and pulling in to take a photo or get up close to something – usually a beautiful waterfall or landscape or even a horse (of which there are plenty of in Iceland).
Having been to a lot of places in a number of countries, this was one of the few places where I would consider car hire essential to see what the place has to offer. As over two-thirds of Iceland’s population lives in central Reykjavik or its suburbs, public transport is not really available outside of the capital, making exploring on your own terms almost impossible without a car. Meaning organised tours are the only way to go. Having seen what this amazing country has to offer I cannot recommend car hire enough and if you can’t drive yourself, I suggest inviting a travel companion who can.