Driving in Iceland

 

Driving in Iceland is quite different from many other countries:

In Iceland, you drive on the right side of the road and overtake on the left. Special caution must be shown when a paved road ends and you drive onto a gravel road which often is narrower and slippery.

 

Please take extra care when approaching one of the many single-lane bridges which can be found all around Iceland, even on the ring road number one.

 

Seat belt use is required by law. All passengers must wear seat belts at all times, including children. Children under the age of seven must be secured in an approved child restraint.

 

 

The Highway no. 1 (Ring Road) speed limit is a maximum of 90 km per hour. On gravel roads in rural areas, the speed limit is a maximum of 80 km per hour. At times you may need to drive at a slower speed due to road, weather, or traffic conditions. In urban areas, the general speed limit is 50 km per hour.

 

Icelandic Roads

Paved Roads:  Most major highways are paved. Highway no. 1, commonly known as the Ring Road, is the most traveled route around Iceland. It is open throughout the year, but weather conditions can cause temporary closures during winter. The total length of the Ring Road around Iceland is 1,339 km.

Gravel Roads:  Keep in mind that gravel roads can be very narrow and slippery, often with potholes or washboard surfaces. Reduce your speed and slow down even further when approaching oncoming traffic as dust could obscure your vision and loose stones could chip your windscreen and ruin the paint job.

Highland (F) Roads:  Passenger cars and 2wd vehicles are strictly forbidden on roads that are marked with an "F" on public maps. This also applies to Kjölur (road 35) and Kaldidalur (road 550). The highland roads are also often very narrow and are not made for speeding at all. In addition to not having an asphalt surface, the mountain roads are often very rough and windy. Journeys may therefore take longer than expected.

Iceland Drivers Safety Class

Take the Safetravel drivers test

No Speeding

The speeding fines can be very high and additionally, the police may insist on immediate payment. Icelandic roads are not constructed for speeding so please drive safely, respect the speed limit and enjoy driving in Iceland.

No Off-Road Driving

Driving outside marked trails is prohibited and is subject to nature conservation law.

Highland Driving and River Crossing

Driving rental cars on roads or tracks with no road number is forbidden. No insurance covers damages to the chassis of the vehicle nor damages caused by driving in or across rivers or any kind of waterways. Driving outside marked trails is prohibited and is subject to nature conservation law. Keep in mind that fords over glacial rivers keep changing. On warm summer days, the flow increases as the day progresses. Heavy rain often causes rivers to swell, sometimes making them uncrossable even for large and well-equipped vehicles. Glacial rivers usually have less water in the mornings. Deaths have been caused by underestimating the water volume in rivers. Before crossing a glacial river, it is necessary to examine its velocity, depth, and bottom by wading into it. If you find that you would be unwilling to wade across the river on foot, you should not attempt to drive across it. Seek advice from experienced drivers and watch how and where they cross. Crossing rivers is only allowed on four-wheel-drive Jeeps such as car groups O, F, FG, G, H, I, R, K & X. Ensure that the four-wheel-drive has been engaged before driving into the water. Drive very slowly but steadily in first gear and use the low range if available.

Do Not Stop on the Road

Icelandic roads are often narrow. Do NOT stop on the road in case you or your passengers want to take a picture. Instead look for the nearest safe exit and pull off the road. A photograph of a horse is not worth risking your own or anybody else’s life over.

Road Closures

In wintertime roads are frequently closed due to snow and/or wind. This is often done with a fence across the road. Do not drive past such fenses. Sometimes you can find rescue personnel on location to guide you the right way and give you information about the closing. Information about closing of roads can be found on safetravel.is and on road.is

Headlights on

Some newer car models require you to manually turn on your headlights in order to save energy. According to Icelandic law the headlights must be turned on while driving, all year round. Automatic front LED daytime running lights that can be found on most current models are alone not sufficient for driving in Iceland, so make sure you remember to turn the headlights on each time.

Mind the Doors in Strong Wind

Damage to doors and fenders can occur if doors get blown up when opened in strong wind. In order to avoid such damage, it is important to take into account the wind direction and park the car with the front end facing the wind. Remember to hold the door handle firmly when reaching for the opening lever.

Do not park facing against the traffic

Drivers who park the wrong way could risk being fined. Vehicles must be parked the same way as flow of traffic.

Roundabouts

Rules on who should give way in multilane roundabouts differ quite a bit around the world. The biggest variation is whether the inner or outer lane should give way. To make life simple we want to point out to you that in Iceland it is always the outer lanes that give way for inner lanes. This applies to all multilane roundabouts in the country no matter how many lanes there are.

Please Note:

  • Special warning signs indicate danger ahead, such as sharp bends, but there is generally no separate sign to reduce speed.
  • Please choose a safe speed according to conditions.
  • Motorists are obligated by law to use headlights at all times, day and night.
  • In Iceland, all driving off roads or marked tracks is prohibited by law.
  • Passengers in the front and back seats of an automobile are required by law to use safety belts.
  • Icelandic law forbids any driving under the influence of alcohol.

Filling Stations

In the Greater Reykjavík area, most filling stations are open every day to 23:30. Opening hours around the country, where the pumps are privately operated, can vary from place to place. Most stations in the Reykjavík area and larger towns of Iceland have automats in operation, which accept debit and credit cards as well as Apple Pay.

Opening of Mountain Tracks

Most mountain roads are closed until the end of June, or even longer because of wet and muddy conditions which make them totally impassable. When these roads are opened for traffic they can only be negotiated by 4x4 vehicles. Please make sure when you reserve your Europcar rentalcar that the selected vehicle qualifies for such use. For some mountain tracks, it is strongly advised that two or more cars travel together. Also, before embarking on any journey into the interior collect as much information as possible regarding road conditions from a travel bureau, tourist information office, or the Public Roads Administration, tel.: +354-1777, daily 8:00–16:00. Always take along a detailed map.

More useful stuff 

The Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue

Safetravel.is

Weather forecasts from The Icelandic Meteorological Office

Vedur.is

Road conditions from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (IRCA)

Road.is

Map based app that displays alert's from The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration

GET ANDROID

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