Cheapest Transportation in Iceland:
If you’re willing to break your budget on anything when exploring Iceland, then let it be transportation. Hear me when I say;
“This island is bigger than it looks, kids!”
And if you plan to see more than two of the epic sights on your Iceland bucket-list, make sure to plan ahead and consider your options for scoring a ride. Of course, the ideal way to experience the beauty of this jaw-dropping country is by renting a 4×4 or extreme off-road vehicle. However, if your budget is anywhere near that of what ours was in our first trip here, then prepare for the nut-tapping gut-feeling you’ll get upon seeing the prices… But with plenty of ads for ‘cheap’ transportation littering the internet and travel forums, here’s a quick little list of what we found to be the most suitable, yet actually budget-friendly options;
Public Transport – Unless you’re willing to cut your hand off and use it as collateral payment, don’t go wavin’ it at a cab in Iceland! Instead, (and this is difficult for me to say) but if you’re heart-set on utilizing public transport, consider looking into busses. Sure – you may feel like you’re driving through an Asian Disneyland, with more camera-flashes and fanny-packs than the line for Magic Mountain, but you’ll be happy to save the extra cash in the end. During the summer months, busses typically run to most of the top sightseeing hotspots, and boast a pretty easy-to-follow schedule for exercising flexibility. However, do keep in mind that the majority of these lines shut down over the winter, due to the inconsistency of the weather and not so friendly road conditions. We happened to get stuck in a pretty epic snowstorm ourselves when driving the Golden Circle, and caught an unfortunate glimpse of a full tour bus that flipped off the side of the road… Definitely not a place where you’d want to test mother nature.
All in all, it still costs over $300 for a country-wide bus pass. So unless you’re a die-hard fan of these overcrowded little tour-hoppers, you may wanna keep reading for cheaper alternatives…
Rental Car – Renting a car is definitely one your best options for transportation in Iceland. Although its not exactly the most budget-friendly option, its still possible to find some good deals – that is, as long as you’re willing to do a little research first. SADcars seems to be the popular choice for majority of budget travelers, however we found some solid deals with a company called Faircar, and couldn’t have been happier we did! If traveling in a small group, this is by far your best option for really seeing the country. We managed to find ourselves a perfect little 5-passenger Volkswagen van for 20 days at a total cost of about $400 USD. And that’s including full insurance! – (a definite MUST for renting in Iceland). Another good rule of thumb is to always take pictures of the car upon picking it up, and make sure to request an ‘in-person’ inspection of the vehicle upon return. Many rental car companies in Iceland like to play games with tourists – charging them months down the road for a minor scratch that they insist is from illegally driving off-road…
Also, make sure to read the fine print of your contract before leaving the rental agency. Most 2-wheel-drive rentals don’t allow you to drive down certain roads, and doing so will result in a hefty fee!
One final way to save money with your rental car is to pick up hitchhikers! This could save you heaps on gas, and always serves as a great way for meeting other travelers. Not to mention the fact that Iceland is probably one of the safest places in the world for picking up lone-travelers.
Hitchhiking – As previously mentioned, Iceland is by far one of the safest and easiest places you could think of to hitch a ride with a stranger! With thousands of fellow explorers doing it here per year, there’s honestly not much to worry about with sticking out that thumb and hitching a ride. We made it a point to give rides to as many people as we could, and even ended up making some new friends along the way. So if you’re looking to test the waters, letting out your inner-adventurer and giving hitchhiking a shot – then Iceland is definitely the place to do so!