In 2016, over 1.2 million tourists visited Iceland, a huge number for a country of only 330 thousand inhabitants. Because there are no railroads in this North Atlantic country, the clear majority of visitors rented cars to venture out beyond the island’s only major city, Reykjavík.
Iceland’s four seasons, summer, autumn, winter and spring, offer differing driving challenges to visiting motorists.
Summer is always recommended as the best times to visit Iceland for tourists wishing to tour the island by automobile. This three-month period, defined as beginning June 1st through the end of August, is the absolute best time to drive the 828-mile-long Route 1, the Ring Road, that circles the entire island along the coast.
Not only is the land at its most spectacular beauty, but the driving conditions along the paved highway and side dirt and gravel roads are at their safest driving conditions. In other seasons, ice and snow force the closure of many of these secondary roads that lead to some of the most interesting natural sites like glaciers and geysers.
Motorists must always be in touch with the weather conditions in Iceland regardless of the season. Summer can bring in the occasional rain storm, and high winds are always a potential hazard. With that in mind, the summer driver will all the campgrounds and restaurants open and enjoy mostly 24 hours of midnight sun daylight.
The months between September 1st and the middle of November are considered by many to be the second-best season for motoring tourists. The skies are clear and the landscape is still in full bloom, a bonus for serious photographers. You will find the first snow on the surrounding mountains, but on the positive side, Route 1 is open and less crowded than in the summer. Most of the more popular visitor attractions are also still open, and like the highway, less jammed with fellow tourists. And for the more adventurous, the popular interior Highland area is usually open thorough the month of September.
Winter, the period from November through February, is considered the most difficult time to visit Iceland. Tourists must deal with extreme cold temperatures, harsh snowstorms, icy roads, and very few if any hours of daylight.
Restaurants and services closed in most of the towns and villages outside Reykjavík, and very few campgrounds are open. But winter in Iceland does offer some famous attractions like the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, and other natural wonders like waterfalls and geothermal geyser areas. Rather than rent a car during winter, guided bus trips are recommended.
Icelanders will be the first to admit that the Spring months of March through May are the least desirable time to visit their country. Most of the landscape is still bathed in lifeless shades of winter gray. Wet and muddy roads are a constant problem. The grassy plains have yet to spring back into color, and most plants have yet to regain their color drained by the winter snow and cold. Photographers and nature lovers will do best to plan their visit for summer or autumn.
Rental agencies like MyCar, found on the web at Mycar.is, have a wide variety of automobiles for rent that fit the needs of every motoring visitor who wants to travel the island and see the sights. The rental specialists at Mycar.is will ascertain your needs and match you up with a car that make your motoring adventure the most memorable.
To assure yourself of having a car available when you arrive, especially in the summer, be sure to make your car rental reservations far ahead of your tip date.