Hitchhiking in Iceland – Can it be Done?

Hitchhiking in Iceland is fairly easy but can have its own difficulties. The easy part is that you are likely to get picked up by one of the first cars that drive your direction, the difficult part is that in most areas of Iceland, you could be there for hours before you see first car. I have never been to another country where hitchhiking would be as easy as in Iceland, as far as the number of cars that will not pick you up goes. Basically, anywhere else in the world, as hitchhiker you will see far more cars pass by you, even if the driver is all by him/herself. That’s hardly any case in Iceland, however given the size of Iceland vs its population along with number of tourists, most of the country is very remote with very little traffic.

Hitchhiking in Iceland - It Can Be Easily Done, Photo: Nicolas Haeringer, Flickr

Hitchhiking in Iceland - It Can Be Easily Done, Photo: Nicolas Haeringer, Flickr

It’s a hitchhiking general rule of thumb that young females will have more luck picking up a ride, but even as a male I’ve never had any type of issues at all. Your age and/or gender seem to play insignificant role and drivers will likely be willing to give you a ride if they can, no matter who you are.

When I drove a rental car around Iceland, I picked up a couple of hitchhikers myself. One was a lady in her late 30’s. I picked her up at the exit of the Skaftafell National Park and she went with me all the way to Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. She said she only waited there for a few minutes but there were many cars leaving the park so it appeared as a decent location for hitchhiking. Few days later I picked up young couple at the turnoff towards Dettifoss waterfalls (which was the worst gravel road in whole of Iceland in my opinion) and these two were stuck there for a few hours. I was third car that passed by there since they started hitchhiking hours ago. Since they were a couple, each with backpacks, a tent and sleeping bags, I could imagine that previous two cars did not have enough room to take them. I was by myself, hence it was OK.

As a general rule, I think that hitchhiking is easy in Iceland – it does work. One only has to take into account that the traffic is very scarce outside of larger towns. If you’re in a neighborhood of Reykjavik or Akureyri, you’ll get a ride right away. However if you’re in a more remote areas (which is at least 80% of Iceland), you could be stuck there for a while before you see first car coming your direction.

This can also be easily noticed from driver’s perspective. I know that outside of bigger towns, I would be driving for hours before there is a car in oncoming direction. Some days I would not see more than a dozen cars on the road, other than my rental, and that’s on Ring Road. It gets even more scarce inland.

To sum it up – if you can plan your hitchhiking trip out in such a way that you’re always dropped off in bigger towns, then you’ll have no problem moving from place to place by just the means of a lifted finger. Plan out your itinerary before hand and always know which is the biggest town or a popular tourist spot on the way and make sure you don’t get in a car that doesn’t go all the way there. Popular tourist spots always have many people on cars around, so if you pick a spot on the road close to the turnoff from where they are joining the main road, but not too far so they see you before they reach full cruising speed, the chances of getting picked up are very fair. Not to mention that if you get picked up by a local, it is quite possible you will be invited for supper. Hitchhiking in Iceland is fun and can be easily done with a bit of forward planning.

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