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 travelled 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 a ruin the paintjob.

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

No Speeding

Fines for speeding in Iceland can be enormous. Look for the speed limit signs and always adjust your speed to the driving conditions.

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 F, FG, G, H, Q, 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.

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 obliged 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. Many stations in the Reykjavík area and larger towns of Iceland have automats in operation after closing, which accept VISA and EURO credit cards as well as notes.

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 rent-a-car 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.

Useful Websites

  • Safetravel.is

    The Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue

  • Vedur.is

    Weather forecasts from The Icelandic Meteorological Office

  • Road.is

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

  • The 112 app

    The Icelandic emergency number app with location based services

 

 

PLEASE NOTE: The information given on our website is provided "as is". Europcar Iceland do not accept responsibility of ensuring the information provided is up to date or forms the basis of any agreement or is of a nature that can be used to verify any legal issue. Europcar Iceland are not liable for any issue arising from the information contained in our website pages. The only agreement in force will be the rental agreement signed by the renter on collection of a vehicle. You accept these terms if you select to view or use the information provided on our website pages.