GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT DRIVING
If you experience Iceland by car, you can explore the country comfortably and travel in a relaxed manner. Nevertheless, winds and weather changes are the order of the day and can affect driving in and around Iceland. Driving through the highlands of Iceland, where the roads are marked with three-digit numbers, must be prepared quite differently, as the highlands are uninhabited and any kind of service is not readily available. These highland stretches can only be travelled with four-wheel drive vehicles (4x4).
Iceland has a well-developed road network around the island and right-hand traffic and seat belts are compulsory. The ring road and many secondary roads are also passable in winter. An EU driving licence is sufficient.
We recommend that you obtain information on driving in Iceland from the website www.drive.is before travelling. During the journey you should pay attention to current weather information (en.vedur.is), current road conditions (www.road.is, map at umferdin.is or tel. +354 1777), travel warnings (www.safetravel.is and https://safetravel.is/driving).
The roads with single-digit numbers (so far only Ring Road No. 1) are passable by normal cars; there are stretches of hard gravel roads with ruts and potholes, otherwise asphalted. Roads with two-digit numbers are passable by normal cars and partly still unpaved; they represent the second most important traffic connection in Iceland. Roads with three-digit numbers are passable by normal cars, but the decision to drive on them is up to the driver, as they are less well maintained than the one- or two-digit roads. Highland routes (F-roads and routes 35 and 550) are not tarred. The roads are only passable in summer and only with highland-capable rental cars with four-wheel drive (4×4). More information on the opening hours of the highland routes is available below.
NO OFF-ROADING, NO STOPPING AT THE ROADSIDE
Driving off official roads is strictly prohibited and subject to very high fines. This refers to unmarked, unofficial roads. Off-road driving can cause considerable damage to Iceland's nature, especially to the moss.
Even if the perfect photo motif is waiting outside, never simply stop your vehicle right at the side of the road. Hard shoulders are very rare. Rather, use lay-bys and parking spaces and, if necessary, walk a little further to get back to the photo spot.
MAXIMUM SPEEDS ON ISLANDS ROADS
- inside built-up areas: maximum 50 km / h
- outside built-up areas: 90 km / h
- on gravel roads: 80 km / h
DRIVING WITH LIGHTS ON ALL DAY
In Iceland, it is compulsory to switch on the dipped headlights when driving, regardless of the time of day or weather conditions. The parking light is not sufficient. Due to rapidly changing weather conditions and therefore reduced visibility, this is a simple safety aspect that can prevent accidents.
ROUNDABOUTS IN ICELAND
When driving in Iceland, roundabouts can be found in almost every town. Vehicles in a roundabout have the right of way and you only use the indicator when leaving the roundabout, not when entering it.
There is a special feature with two-lane roundabouts, which one encounters from time to time in Reykjavik. Here, the inner lane always has the right of way, i.e. you have to stop in the outer lane to allow the vehicle to leave the roundabout. Actually, the vehicle in the inner lane should indicate this by setting the indicator, but unfortunately this is often not done. Those who want to exit directly at the next exit use the outer ring. In addition, it is not permitted to change lanes within the roundabout. Here you have to drive off, turn around and get back into the right lane. So - caution is advised and a defensive driving style is advised.
As the highlands are uninhabited and no services are available, trips must be specially prepared. The highland routes (marked by the suffix "F") as well as the Kaldidalur (road 550) and Kjölur (road 35) routes, for example, can only be driven in four-wheel drive vehicles expressly approved for these routes by the rental car company.
What you should bear in mind when planning:
The highland roads are open from around mid-June to early September, depending on weather conditions and the state of the bridgeless rivers. Information on road conditions is available from the Icelandic Road Administration (www.road.is) and the larger petrol stations. (Note: In contrast to the highlands, the ring road can be used all year round. However, sections may be closed for short periods. Smaller feeder roads, such as to Dettifoss, are usually closed in winter).
Petrol stations are often far apart, so you should fill up in good time, especially in remote areas. Please note that some petrol stations require a credit card with a 4-digit PIN! Check before you leave whether your credit card has a PIN. In winter, also make sure you have at least a half-full tank of fuel and snacks for your day trips.
Overnight stays in the highlands must be planned, as there are only a few huts with sleeping bag accommodation. These should definitely be booked in advance.
Bridgeless rivers and streams require the utmost attention. Glacier rivers in particular can be dangerous, as fords change in a very short time
Average opening of the Highland Roads:
|F 26 Sprengisandur||01.07.|
|F 35 Kjölur||15.06.|
|F 88/ F894 zur Askja||21.06.|
|F 52 Uxahryggur||06.06.|
|F 206 Laki-Spalte||20.06.|
|F 208 Sigalda-Landmannalaugar||17.06.|
|F 208 Landmannalaugar-Eldgja||28.06.|
|F 752 Skagafjardaleid||06.07.|
|F 208 Skaftartunga-Eldgja||08.06.|
|F 821 Eyjafjardaleid||09.07.|
|F 210 Keldur-Hvanngil-Skaftartunga||05.07.|
|F 225 Landmannaleid (Domadalur)||19.06.|
|F 862 Hljodaklettar||13.06.|
|F 261 Emstruleid||30.06.|
|F 902 Kverkfjöll||20.06.|
|F 550 Kaldidalur||16.06.|
Self drive tour in winter
Due to road conditions and less daylight, we plan shorter daily stages in winter. To drive safely on snow-covered or icy roads, we offer vehicles with good tires (from Nov. with spikes) and if possible with all-wheel drive. on. In contrast to the highlands, which are no longer passable from the beginning of September, the ring road can be used all year round. However, sections may be closed for short periods. Smaller feeder roads, such as to Dettifoss, are usually closed in winter. Plan your daily stages prudently, be flexible and inquire about the weather and road conditions on the Internet, in your accommodations, at gas stations, etc. Ask the Icelanders for their assessment. Ask Icelanders for their assessment of the weather - they are used to harsh winters and are usually good at assessing whether a trip can be made without hesitation. Also, make sure you have at least a half-full tank of gas, as well as snacks for your day trip. And if the weather doesn't cooperate, treat yourself to a relaxing day at your lodging. You'll be rewarded for slower travel in winter with frozen waterfalls, dancing auroras, and far less crowds than in the high season.