South Iceland Transportation Tips by toonsarah Top 5 Page for this destination
South Iceland Transportation: 8 reviews and 13 photos
Our plane at Heathrow
We flew to Iceland with Icelandair, from London Heathrow to Keflavik. The plane was very new and like all of Icelandair’s fleet was named for one of the country’s volcanoes. In fact, ours was named for the now-notorious Eyjafjallajökull, which struck me as ironic given that it had been responsible for grounding most planes across Europe for a while back in 2010!
The flight passed pleasantly enough. We had seat-back screens with a good selection of entertainment, which seems unusual for a short-haul flight, until you discover that the plane is going on to the US. One downside was that only soft drinks and coffee/tea are provided free of charge; if you want a meal or an alcoholic drink you will have to pay. So we ate at the airport on our way out, although we did buy a snack on the return flight.
On arrival we found Keflavik Airport to be modern and not too big. It was easy to find our way around, and we were soon through baggage reclaim and customs and heading for the car hire desk. All of the latter are together so if you haven’t pre-booked you could easily do some shopping around – or just go to the desk with the shortest queue. But if you are pre-booking, don’t make the same mistake as one family we saw. They hadn’t realised that international flights to Iceland usually arrive at Keflavik and had pre-booked their rental car at Reykjavik instead! Luckily at that time of year it’s quiet enough that they could get a car on the spot, and the company cancelled their booking for them. But it all took time, and with the skies already growing dark we were glad to not to have that complication and to be soon headed out of the airport.
On the Golden Circle
Our mini-break package included car hire with Avis and the agent recommended 4WD as we would be driving in February when even the main Ring Road can be icy. In the event it was not, although a week or so before our visit conditions had been quite difficult. But we were still glad of the 4WD as it enabled us to go on some gravel tracks that a normal saloon would have found very challenging, especially the road to the Sólheimajökull glacier. There were also a few icy patches on the Golden Circle Route, and a lot of ice in the car parks at Gullfoss and Geysir, for which we were glad to have the extra traction.
We had requested an automatic transmission and were pleased to find our request honoured. The car we were allocated was a Nissan Qashqai, which was bigger than we are used to driving, but as our own car is a Nissan it was easy to get used to the dashboard layout and most of the controls. However there were a few things, mainly relating to the 4WD, that were strange to us, and we found it odd that Avis didn’t supply the car manual in the glove compartment. Whenever we have hired a car in the US (usually from Hertz, occasionally Alamo) we have always been given the manual, and I’m not sure whether it was an Avis oversight or if it’s not usual practice in Iceland. Still, once we realised that the warning beep related to low outside temperature rather than a malfunction of the car we were OK!
While many things in Iceland seemed a little dearer than at home (e.g. food and alcohol) we were pleased to find that petrol (gas to my US friends) was in fact a little cheaper. We took the car with a full tank and committed to returning it full. In our four night trip we filled up just twice – towards the end of our second full day, and at the airport when returning the car. The latter though was a challenge, as the pump was well hidden behind the car rental offices and was out in the open on a day when the rain was sweeping horizontally across the forecourt! In fact, the only other time on the trip when we had such bad weather was on the day of our arrival, when we had to battle the strong wet winds even to get the car door open.
Driving itself was a pleasure. The roads were quiet, even on the popular Golden Circle route, and we could sometimes drive for miles only seeing one or two other vehicles. The main challenge for Chris, who did all the driving (my job is to navigate on these occasions, which I love), was keeping to the rather low 90 kph speed limit. A speed camera did in fact flash on one occasion, but we are yet to receive any communications as a result ;-) When we go back to Iceland we won’t hesitate to rent a car again, although I might choose our usual Hertz rather than Avis.
Type: Car/Motor Home
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