Earth > Europe > Northern Europe > Scandinavia > Iceland
|Currency:||Icelandic króna (ISK)|
|Hitchability:||<rating country='is' />|
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Iceland is an island country in the North Atlantic. It is a member state of the Schengen Agreement.
It is a very good country for hitchhiking, as the people (though shy) are nice. Waiting times can sometimes be long since there are not so many cars. In the summer time (June-August), it can be very easy to get a ride. Many Icelanders, and even more tourists in rented cars, are driving around the small country, and are always happy to pick you up. 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. Even in the summer you can still be caught by a snowstorm. 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. The emergency number is 112.
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 eur 55 to eur 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 Faeroe 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 Faeroe Islands 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!
The cheapest low cost companies flying to Iceland depart from Denmark (Copenhagen) and U.K. (London, Manchester, Edinburgh) and most often if you have to pay for your trip is so much cheaper than the ferry (up to eur 50 one way from/to Scotland!). There is a precedent from a French TV program ("Nus et culottés", search for episode, "Avionstop en Islande" or similar) where the two protagonists try to hitchhike private planes from several Scottish airports and in the end do succeed from the most northern one, Wick. As for any different means of transportation that is not car (e.g. boat hitchhiking) the waiting time are so much longer, but if you are lucky you could find a lift in a couple of days; plus it appears the Scottish locals as the airport staff is nice welcoming and willing to help hitchhikers. Give it a try!
A relatively easy route, hitching a ride from Reykjavik to Akureyri in the north-east 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, check out the spots in the Reykjavik article. 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. Because many places are remote and weather cold and rainy, remember to be well-dressed, and caring plenty of water and food (and preferably a tent). Wild camping is permitted is all Iceland, except natural reserves. Only rule: don't leave anything behind! Don't spoil this beautiful country!
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 motorway 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.
A common starting point from Reykjavík onto the ring road is to take Bus 15 to Mosfellsbær and walk along Route 1 until you find a suitable spot (See map).
Hitching from there to Borganes is relatively easy; there are many cars passing, so the wait is not that long. Hitchhiking in the Snaefellsnes peninsula is a very beautiful experience. The road to Stykkisholmur and then to Olafsvík is relatively easy. You might want to spend the night in Grundarfjörður as it is probably the nicest town in the area. From Olafsvik to Hellnar or Arnarstapi, the waiting time can be longer, but with patience it's also doable. You can hitch from there to Borganes and from there it's also easy to hitchhike to the highlands to Husáfell, and back. Elfin would suggest finding a ride in Olafsvik going all around the tip of the peninsula as from Hellissandur the road, Utnesvegur, is very tiny and it's hard work finding a ride in Hellissandur or onwards, especially outside the tourist soon. Locals have no point of driving there.
Hitching to and around the Myvatn area is very easy. Myvatn is a very tourist spot in the summertime. You can easily move around the lake to see the main atractions, and you can also hitch to Krafla volcano and to Namaskard colourful springs (which are a few minutes from the lake). Another famous spot is Askja, but this is very difficult mountain road, and as such there is very little daily traffic. The weather is very dramatic at this place with absolutely no facilities, in hundreds of kms around.
The Southern Rim: Hitching from Reykjavík to Egilsstaðir
Hitching from Reykjavik to Egilsstaðir, some 700 kilometers, is doable in a week or even less (down to two days) if you're in a hurry. Like anywhere, getting out of a major city (Reykjavík) is difficult (read up on the good spots in the Reykjavik article), 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, within a couple hours, but the next leg/road from Hella to Höfn is more difficult to hitch, although with some patience you will get your ride, too. You can ask for lifts from Hella to Vík, then to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Skaftafel, and then to Höfn. The last leg, from Hofn to Egilsstadir, is the hardest route to hitch on motorway One (the motorway 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 Höfn, there are two ways to get to Egilsstaðir: you can hitch from Höfn until you get to the juncture between motorway 1 and a mountain route - this may be faster, but only doable with a 4x4, and there is no way it is anywhere near as scenic as to continue along motorway 1 - the untouched nature between Höfn and Breiddalsvík is magnificent. From Breiddalsvík you take the road that goes through Breiddalur (a wide valley) and eventually gets you to Egilsstaðir.
Hitchhiking is also easy on the road between Selfoss and Gulfoss, it is a popular road in summer, although with less traffic than road N1. You can stop at Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall. From Gulfoss onwards, lies the Kjölur road (F35), hitching here is much harder because only 4W vehicles transit there, and only a few per day. Even in summer weather can be cold at this place.
From Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is a camping site and the start of the most popular hike in Iceland, Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk, usually known as Laugavegur trail. Getting to Landmannalaugar demands driving some distance on a dirt road, passable only by 4x4 vehicles (an "F" road), so notice you can't just find random cars going there. However, due to it's immense popularity, it's possible to hitch there (at least in the summer), although patience is important, as always.
Important Note: When coming from the Reykjavik area, do not be tempted to use the shorter route, which is going on Route 1, continuing until Route 26, and taking that to the north until route F225. This is a much longer dirt road going to Landmannalaugar, so practically no drivers will choose it. Instead, get off Route 1 on Route 30, and continue north-east (changing to route 32), until you meet with route F208 heading south. This is the most popular route to get to Landmannalaugar, and you can get picked up. However, this might take a day or two.
- Hitchhiking in Iceland Photo Gallery (English)
- Tips for Hitchhiking to Iceland at casarobino (English)
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