How long does it take to drive around the perimeter road of Iceland?

Q: How long does it take to drive around the perimeter road of Iceland in August? And how much to rent a car? I am headed that way for my family reunion this August.

Bernhard Smith, Prineville, Oregon, USA


A: The Ring Road which encircles the island is approximately 1,333 kilometers. Assuming that it takes around one hour to complete 100 kilometers, you can drive around Iceland in 12-13 hours. But I wouldn’t recommend driving non-stop.

In August (however depending on whether you’re traveling early or late in the month) you usually don’t have to worry about slippery conditions on mountain passes, but it’s better to be prepared for everything.

To be able to enjoy the journey, I wouldn’t estimate any less than one week for a Ring Road journey. Our photographer, Páll Stefánsson would disagree with me, but he is a keen driver.

I’d rather make many stops along the way to go sightseeing and explore parts of each region on foot, by bike or, better yet, on horseback.

My advice is to plan your journey thoroughly beforehand, especially if your time is limited, and decide where to spend each night. But don’t make a very strict plan and allow some time for surprise happenings or being spontaneous.

As for how much a rental car costs… I’ve heard it’s expensive but the price differs between car rental companies and seasons. You can compare the prices of car rentals here.

How can I buy a cheap second-hand car in Iceland?

Q: Does buying a car require much in the way of paperwork/getting it registered/examined by a mechanic?

I plan on buying one and selling it when I leave (a month or so later), as that’ll be way cheaper than hiring one.

But will this require a huge amount of time and money? Also, is there a good site for browsing for used cars?

Caspian, Western Australia


A: At the Hekla dealership in Reykjavík, I was told that it will hardly be worth the time and money to buy a used car for such a short period of time. Very few of the used cars they sell cost less than ISK 1 million (USD 7,800, EUR 5,800).

In addition to the price of the car, you have to pay insurances and an automobile tax. It is also questionable that you would be able to sell it again before you leave. With all the used cars currently on the market, that could take time.

If you buy a car in Iceland to use it here, but not just take it out of the country, you have to have a kennitala, an Icelandic ID number, which I believe is only issued to those who live in the country. You can contact the National Registry if you want to check whether there are any exceptions.

If you want to take a look at the used cars currently available at Hekla, they are listed on this website. It is in Icelandic but the information is pretty standard: tegund means “model,” ár refers to the year the car was made, ekinn states how far the car has been driven in kilometers, verð means “price” and tilboðsverð “discount price.” If you click on the make of the car you can see a picture of it.

But the website is probably the best place to look. It has information about sales agencies and available cars in English. You should contact difference agencies and compare terms and prices.