Earth > Europe > Northern Europe > Scandinavia > Iceland
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Iceland is a good country for hitchhiking. It is a member state of the Schengen Agreement. People are shy but are nice. There aren't many cars though. With the astronomical bus prices, hitchhiking will be a great help to your Iceland trip budget. Most of the cities and towns in Iceland are small enough so that you can easily walk out to their edge to hitch. Beware of the Icelandic climate. While not very icy, it can be very miserable with a cold rain and strong winds, even in August. If you want to hitch through the middle of the country on roads where only SUV can drive, make sure that the lift you get can take you the whole way. You don't want to get stuck in the middle - it's like being on the moon! There is a website where you can check the degree of traffic on any given route. It's made to keep weather/road conditions up-to-date, and is updated every few hours.
Hitching to Iceland
In Hanstholm (during high season) or Esbjerg (low season) (Denmark), there is a ferry of the Faroese "Smyril Line" that goes every Saturday (Tuesdays during high season) to Seyðisfjörður (in the east of Iceland) via Tórshavn (Faroe Islands).
There hasn't been any account of people who hitched the ferry, but there are tariffs for cars including two or four persons. This should mean that there is at least in theory the possibility to travel with somebody on the ferry for free. The regular fares are quite reasonable for a 48-hour trip though - from €55 to €107 (as of 2010, plus couchette/berth) depending on the season. There are no trucks on board, they leave containers at the port and they are picked up at the arrival by other trucks. There are many more people going between Denmark and the Faroe Islands than from there to Iceland. As a single traveller, you can easily find a ride on board, especially on the way back from Iceland. A possibility to pay less is to buy a ticket to the Faroes only, and do the rest of the trip for free. Once in Tórshavn, you have to get off the ferry for about 8 hours, and then come back. In order to go back on board, you have to show your key card at a desk with an old lady, but if there are people waiting, you can just walk by and nobody will give you trouble. Your key card to the cabin will most likely still work, and in fact, even one from another time! Otherwise you can just hang around the deck, even with your luggage. Food on board is expensive, you should buy enough stuff for 2 days upon leaving. In Denmark, you can try walking directly into the ferry without being noticed, if you are willing to take the risk!
A relatively easy route, hitching a ride from Reykjavik to Akureyri in the northeast is easily doable in a day; the journey is less than 400 km, and many cars are going all the way between the two cities. This is a good route for beginners, given the safety and relatively short distance. One may, however, want to allow for two days each way, especially on the return trip to Reykjavik, since getting a ride from Akureyri is much more difficult.
To leave Reykjavik, take a bus as far out of the city along Route 1 as you can--bus fare is usually about 500 kr to get to Akranes, a village north of the city. Don't stray too far from the villages, in case you can't get a ride or bad weather rolls in, but it is typically easier to flag down cars outside of settlements.
Stick your thumb out, wave to cars, and have fun; it shouldn't take too long to attract a ride. Most Icelanders under 40, and many above, speak excellent English; in fact, they may begin the conversation in that language. Make sure that, if they can't take you all the way, it will at least be possible to drop you off near or in a village.
From Akureyri, it is possible to hike beside Route 1 to the town's edge. Rides are more scarce here, since there are fewer long-distance travellers. There is some traffic between the city and villages down side-roads; if someone can only take you to a highway intersection, make sure the village is within walking distance. Weather changes rapidly in Iceland, even more so on the north coast. It's no fun to be stuck out in an arctic blizzard all day, miles from the next town.
The Southern Rim: Hitching from Reykjavík to Egilsstadir
Update April 2010: The Southern part of the Ring Road (n.1) is temporarily closed near Skógar, due to the glacial flood triggered by the last of the 3 volcanic eruptions. Hitching to and from the ferry is only possible via Akureyri. It is a bit less scenic than the South, but there should be more traffic in the North now. Seyðisfjörður-Reykjavík and back is easily hitchable in 2 days, with a recommended overnight stop in Akureyri.
Hitching from Reykjavik to Egilsstadir, some 700 kilometers, is doable in a week or even less if you're in a hurry. Like anywhere, getting out of a major city (Reykjavik) is difficult, but many people on Icelandic roads do drive long distances. People are nice, and Iceland is ridiculously safe, with the exception of some dogs and cows that like to chase hitchers. Getting to Hella is easy and can be done in less than a day, but the next leg/road from Hella to Hofn is more difficult to hitch, although with some patience you will get your ride, too. The last leg, from Hofn to Egilsstadir, is the hardest route to hitch on Highway One (the highway that goes all around the Icelandic coast). For the rest of the route, there are generally five cars, or less, per hour. That does not mean it is hopeless to hitchhike on such roads: on the contrary, it is very often the fewer cars there are, more likely the drivers will not ignore a lone hitcher in the middle of nowhere. After Hofn, there are two ways to get to Egilsstadir: you can hitch from Hofn until you get to the juncture between Highway 1 and a mountain route - this may be faster, but there is no way it is anywhere near as scenic as to continue along Highway 1 - the untouched nature between Hofn and Breiddalsvik is magnificent. From Breiddalsvik you take the road that goes through Breiddalur (a wide valley) and eventually gets you to Egilsstadir.
- Hitchhiking in Iceland Photo Gallery (English)
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