Guide to the art of hitch-hiking in Iceland

Iceland hitch-hiking

Iceland hitch-hiking

Have you ever thought about travelling through vast lava fields in the company of true-born Icelanders? There is such an option – hitch-hiking! Hitch-hiking in Iceland can become one of your most unforgotten adventures. Some people can react: “What?! Hitch-hiking in Iceland? But there is almost no traffic!” That sometimes might be true, but it’s possible, and in addition very popular. In the summer Icelandic roads are infested with adventurous newcomers, who chose this way of travel, recognising it as the most fascinating. When you come to Iceland in the summer time you can be amused by such an unexpected view. Imagine three groups standing pretty close to each other, which are fighting for the attention of drivers, who are passing them not too often. Of course, we are talking about clashes of this kind in the complete wilderness, for example, just by a neat tongue of a glacier.

Hitch-hiking in Iceland is widely known and popular and Icelanders have for hitch-hikers a great dose of sympathy and respect. We have hitch-hiked almost in every corner of Iceland and we can absolutely say that it’s been one of our best experiences ever.

Iceland hitch-hiking
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Encounters, conversations, people. It’s definitely the most important reason, why we hitch-hike. Hmm… Thumbs up? If you start to have such thoughts, that’s a sign that you definitely should try hitch-hiking. In Iceland, it’s just a great fun and really fantastic experience. Hitch-hiking is a great way to really get to know the underbelly of a country. In just one day you can have plenty of really interesting conversations, which certainly would not occur while driving a rental car or travelling by bus. When you are hitch-hiking, you have an opportunity to meet a random cross-section of people. Icelanders are a pretty introverted nation, so it’s almost impossible to discover the secrets of their souls when you are travelling in Iceland for only two or three weeks. Unless… you hitch-hike!
Then Icelanders always surprised us. Sometimes within a few minutes, all barriers broke and we discussed some topics, which we usually do not bring up even with good, Icelandic friends.
Travelling this way, you can get to know simply unbelievable things taken from the Icelandic life. You can hear fascinating stories which took place in the shade of majestic volcanoes and giant glaciers. We can tell you that you won’t find such stories in the media, books or anywhere else because they can be revealed only in person. While hitching, Icelandic soul lives it up!


Iceland hitch-hiking
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Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. If you worry that you would find yourself in an uncomfortable or even a dangerous situation, don’t be afraid. You won’t meet any wicked thief, clever serial killer or a different bandit with an equally infamous soul. Fortunately, in this country, no one ever heard about them. Here even the president offers a lift. That’s right! Once two hitchhikers from the United States after a long time of waiting somewhere in the middle of nowhere, finally grabbed the opportunity to move on. Fortunately for them, one very friendly woman decided to take them with her. They had a very nice conversation for the next few hours, and when they got where they planned to, they said goodbye. The following day while they were reading a local newspaper in a café, they nearly fainted with shock. On the front cover, they saw a picture of their benefactor. It turned out that the woman who offered them a lift the previous day, was no one else, but… the president of Iceland – Vigdís Finnbogadóttir.


Iceland hitch-hiking
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How to start? Rather easily. All you need is a willingness, a bit of patience and of course a positive attitude. All drivers accurately read your body language, so be sure that you don’t stand scruffy. Remember to dress neatly – when an opportunity to wash your clothes arrives, do it. While hitch-hiking, the first impression is all you have. There will be no second chance to convince a driver. So stick out your thumb confidently and send positive energy. A disarming smile certainly will be your secret weapon. Like always in Iceland, the weather occasionally won’t spoil you (read: strong wind and heavy rain or snow). But when your occasion is coming, it’s better to remove all kinds of Gore-Tex and Windstopper covering your face. Eye contact is very important, so when it’s just the opposite (warm and sunny), take off your sunglasses for a while.
Remember that for this way of travelling you need time, sometimes a lot of time. You should be flexible, open minded and prepared for lots of surprises. Every day will give you a new portion of amusement, and every day will be different. This is what makes hitch-hiking so exciting. There is no need to irritate if you don’t get where you planned (a good tip: don’t plan too much). It’s the journey which is fascinating, not getting to some place.


Iceland hitch-hiking
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Where to go? Straight ahead! And seriously, for the beginners and first-time visitors to Iceland, we definitely recommend the Ring Road. You can travel on this road without any bigger difficulties and you can find lots of Icelandic attractions situated along this road and very close to it. In some parts of this route you can feel like in the end of the world, but don’t worry – someone will come, in the end, it’s the main road, the only main road in Iceland.
If you are more experienced and/or you have more time, you can try other roads than the Ring Road. If you have any doubts about the traffic on the road you would like to take, you can always check it on the website It shows how many vehicles a day (from midnight) appeared in a selected location, and this is a very trusted source.
We have hitch-hiked along the Ring Road, but also on many other roads, where the traffic is much lower. Once we travelled around the whole island, sticking to the Ring Road, but occasionally doing some longer detours. We have hitched all the East Fjords, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Vestmannaeyjar and the north of the country. When it comes to exploring the Highlands, it’s much more complicated, because the traffic there can be extremely low. A couple of cars a day here, is nothing uncommon. And on some Highlands’ roads you can see literally no traffic for days. We haven’t done similar trips, but we’ve met some people who have. If you are thinking about it, we have one advice for you, when you get off, always arrange in advance a pick-up at a certain point, if someone is going to come back using the same route. But if you become friends and want to spend together a whole day, or two, nothing prevents you. Just remember not to overuse the friendliness of your drivers. They also want to have some privacy, even if they don’t say it explicitly.


Iceland hitch-hiking

Tell us, if you have any experience with hitch-hiking in Iceland? If yes, how did it go? Or maybe you are planning to hitch a little? And if you aren’t, let us know what’s your attitude to hitch-hiking? Do you sometimes take hitch-hikers? Perhaps you have some stories to share. Write about it in the comments. And remember – hitch-hiking is not just a way of getting from point A to point B, it’s much more than that: it’s a way of life!

Comments (2)

Great hitchhiking photos. Thumbs up 🙂

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