Driving seems to be the way to get around Iceland. We found the options for public transportation to be lacking, especially in further to reach destinations, so to get where we wanted to go, we knew we needed to drive.
Things to should know about getting gas in Iceland.
1. Most Gas Stations are Self Service
Many of the gas stations you’ll pass are actually pretty small and very self service. If you are unsure of how to pump your own gas than perhaps you might have some issues. Thankfully doing so is pretty straightforward, just be sure to use the right fuel for your car (otherwise it could be a rather disaster). Some of the larger stations do offer full service which in some cases is a big plus (especially if the weather is terrible)
2. For the Self Service, Chip & Pin is Required
If you are European this is probably not a big deal. But if you are American like I am, than this is potentially a big problem. As most Americans don’t have chip & pin available to them (if you have a chip it’s almost universally chip & sign). So what to do? You should call your credit card company and see if you can get a pin assigned to your card. Some of the better credit cards (particularly travel cards with no foreign transaction fees will sometimes allow you to get one in relation to foreign travel). Still having an issue? A bank ATM/Debit card with a pin can also work as well although certainly not my first choice security wise)
3. You can use pre-paid Cards
For those without chip & pin you can buy pre-paid cards that will work on the pumps. We had to do this on a few occasions when we really needed gas and our cards did not work. Honestly this is not the most recommended option. You can save the cards to use on another gas station however which is a plus but also a pain to feel the need to lock up money into a pre-paid card.
4. Who Owns the Pumps?
One of the biggest issues we noticed that if we had an issue with the pump (or an issue paying or getting authorization), that the pumps and the stores next to them are not associated with them. This tends to be more of an issue in smaller locations in smaller towns such as along the golden circle.
5. Fill up when you can if you are not near a city
I used to have a travel habit of always using the bathroom whenever you find one, especially when out traveling. Filling up for gas is pretty much the same thing. Outside of the cities, distances between towns (and between gas stations) can be large, so be sure to keep a keen eye on your gas gauge and fill up even if you think you might be “ok” for a bit longer. Better safe than sorry.
6. Gas (like everything else) is expensive in Iceland
Gas in Iceland is certainly not cheap. And that is something that needs to be factored heavily into your travel requirements. Trying to rent a fuel efficient car is definitely recommended (depending on where you plan to drive). Remember that there are a lot of unpaved roads and hard to navigate roads in Iceland that require (or are recommended) a 4WD vehicle. We would that gas in Iceland hovers around $7 USD (~830 ISK) a gallon (~ 1.8 USD (~214 ISK) a liter.
Gas Stations in Iceland
There are several gas station companies in Iceland. N1 is definitely the most prolific of the stations around the island. Several of the N1 stations are larger stations with food options as well at the station (we stopped at one with a Quiznos after a really late northern lights viewing)
Gas Station Companies
* * * * * *
Have you traveled to Iceland? Any other gas purchase advice for driving in this country? Let us know either through email or comments!